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<<September 2012>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, dated 9/2012 [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 4,275
1. DESIGNER - w:form

wenche nevalainen runs a danish design company called w:form. wenche exhibited her new collection 'elephant & apple' at the formex fair in stockholm, sweden in august. after positive feedback, she decided to put her design in production, along with her circus themed collection. you can see more online here at w:form.

2 Comments on DESIGNER - w:form, last added: 10/5/2012
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2. TEXTILES - gudrun sjödén

gudrun sjödén is swedish brand which has been around for over 30 years and has just opened their first store in london (as well as being available to by online). co-founded by gudrun and björn sjödén in 1976, gudrun is still the creative director and the design force behind the brand which she runs with a strong eco-conscience. she also takes off every monday and tuesday to paint, creating

0 Comments on TEXTILES - gudrun sjödén as of 10/1/2012 5:04:00 AM
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3. Michael Henry Heim (1943-2012)

       As Susan Bernofsky reports at her Translationista weblog in Saying Goodbye to Michael Henry Heim (1943-2012), the noted translator -- remarkable for the number of languages from which he translated, and recipient of numerous major translation awards (see his UCLA faculty page for a list of many of his translations, publications, and awards) -- has passed away.
       Quite a few of his translations are under review at the complete review, including Dubravka Ugrešić's Fording the Stream of Consciousness and The Ministry of Pain (as well as several of her works that he co-translated), as well as A Bohemian Youth by Josef Hiršal, and Wonder by Hugo Claus.

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4. Dayton Literary Peace Prize winners

       At The New York Times' ArtsBeat weblog Julie Bosman reports that Winners Named for Dayton Literary Peace Prize (though not, I note, at the official site, last I checked ...).
       The winners apparently are: in fiction, The Sojourn, by Andrew Krivak -- yet another prize for admirable Bellevue Literary Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and, in the non-fiction category, To End All Wars, by Adam Hochschild.
       They'll be honored 11 November (for which they will have to travel to Dayton).

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5. The Forbidden Kingdom review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Mitchell's Jan Jacob Slauerhoff's 1932 novel, The Forbidden Kingdom, just out from Pushkin Press.
       Okay, the Mitchell comparison probably isn't quite fair -- but aspects of this really are eerily Mitchellesque. And I've rarely come across a novel that shifts so easily and comfortably from being one kind of novel into something entirely different -- very impressive, how Slauerhoff pulls that off. The rare book that's a real surprise (and just plain good, too).

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6. Baptistry and Moon, 6 AM, Florence, Italy

I was there, alone and jubilant, waiting for the moon. It broke, at last, through the clouds.

4 Comments on Baptistry and Moon, 6 AM, Florence, Italy, last added: 10/9/2012
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7. Colin. Carson. Nashville. Tonight.

Carson Ellis and Colin Meloy; photo credit: Autumn de Wilde

Carson Ellis and Colin Meloy
(Illustrator/author photo for
Wildwood; Photo credit: Autumn de Wilde)

Hello, dear Imps. A quick calendar note:

If you live in or near Nashville, author and musician Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis will be speaking this evening at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, and I’ll be introducing them.

They’ll be discussing last year’s Wildwood, as well as the sequel, Under Wildwood, released this month (and both released by Balzer & Bray).

My favorite thing about this event is that it’s happening with the support in one way or another of Humanities Tennessee, Parnassus Books, the Nashville Public Library, and the children’s theatre — four of the best things about Nashville.

Here’s the info. Will I see you there?

[Note: The above photo was taken from my 2011 interview with Carson.]

2 Comments on Colin. Carson. Nashville. Tonight., last added: 10/3/2012
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8. Three Questions for Rudy Ch. Garcia Regarding His Debut Novel, “The Closet of Discarded Dreams”

Most La Bloga readers know Rudy Ch. Garcia as a founding member of this blog and through his weekly posts. He is also a quasi-ex-member of the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, holds a B.A. in writing from the University of Colorado-Denver, and works as a Denver-area bilingual elementary teacher.

But he has been toiling in the fields of literature for a while now. For example, before I knew much about Rudy, I had the pleasure of accepting his detective-fantasy story “LAX Confidential” for Latinos in Lotusland (2008). That piece displayed great wit and a wickedly cockeyed view of reality. Rudy’s next publications clearly follow this path. His Southwest fantasy “Memorabilia” won an honorable mention in a Writers Digest contest and then appeared in the anthologies Needles & Bones (2011), and Crossing the Path of Tellers (2012). He has also published other stories that blurred several genres of literary traditions: SF-fantasy, humor-fantasy-horror, and just plain fantasy (though nothing is “just plain” with Rudy).

And now readers are being treated to Rudy’s debut novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams (Damnation Books). The publisher describes this book as follows:

A young Chicano battles insanity in a surreal world where everyone endlessly belives humankind's abandoned dreams. Except for him. Will VN vet fraggers, Lenny Bruce, a Midget Godzilla, vampires, Neanderthals, a Black leper, Marilyn Monroe, Che, and Chrisie the Bruiser prove foes or allies? When the rebellious captive discovers special powers, his desire to escape contends with empathy for the Dreampeople. But can he create his own identity and rally them to overcome the Closet's mysterious secret?

Sounds like a trip, doesn’t it? Well, I can attest that it is. I wanted to pose a few questions to Rudy about his novel as well as the writing process, and he kindly obliged.

DO: How did you come upon the idea for your novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams?

RCG: The answer to that question is a mini-epic. I've usually skipped dream sequences in novels, rarely finding them satisfying, so when I was a member of the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, I wondered about a world filled with people's dreams. What would it be like, how could the dreams coexist, would there be conflict or would it be a Heaven? And what if you found yourself there but you had no dream? How could you escape? Would you even want to and why? And if you were a Chicano, how would your experience be distinctive?
Then I wrote the short story that is similar to the first chapter of the novel, and NCWW mentor Ed Bryant said it was written in the vein of Borges, which inspired the chingaus out of me. Shortly thereafter, the group did a write-a-novel-in-a-month exercise, and I managed to complete the novel's first draft in 45 days. After years of polishing, it finally got published.

DO: What was the hardest part about writing it?

RCG: This fantasy novel is about the most surreal world imaginable. It's not another planet, it's another dimension where Dreampeople live in a planet-size world that's contained within a rectangular prism, like a long box. So I had to wrestle with: how oppressive would it feel to live where the horizon stretched for thousands of miles, but there was only about twenty feet of space from floor to a flat ceiling above you. And how could I convey not just the physicality but also the psychological experience to readers?

Many times while working on it, I would almost get flashbacks of barrios I lived in Texas and Colorado. How we had open skies, but not much space, and I kept connecting the low ceiling in the novel to how it felt living in the projects or in small homes not meant to hold big families. I wasn't writing a parody of a barrio, but if readers take it that way, then maybe I succeeded in conveying to them at least the oppressiveness that the Chicano in the novel suffers. Working so much on that aspect of the novel finally led to The Closet itself taking on a personality. That was a surprise to me.

DO: You've now been interviewed and done book readings for your novel. What has been the reaction to it?

RCG: I've got several reviewers, both Latino and not, who really love the book and are some of my biggest fans, already asking about a sequel. Reviewers seem consistently surprised not only about how different and loco The Closet world is, but also that the character is Chicano and has no name. I sometimes think of him as being prototypical Raza; we call ourselves so many things, are given so many labels, and historically had our Spanish or indio names taken away from us or had them Anglicized. I'm not surprised that my Chicano hero's struggle is intertwined with his search for identity, a name, and a meaning to his life in The Closet. In that sense, he's like all of nosotros.

As for readings, over fifty people turned out for the Denver debut and were more attentive than any primary class I ever taught. I'm pleased so far that my reading performance hasn't run anyone out of the room.

What I'm most interested in learning from the readings and readers is how the Anglo reader will empathize with the Chicano protagonist. And for the Latino reader, whether that character will hook them to enter The Closet and read the kind of fantasy novel that mostly only Anglos have enjoyed in fiction. In either case, I'm not done, and I don't just mean with sequels. It's long past time that Chicano writers avoided genres where Anglo writers have benefitted from large audiences. Vamos a ver, y gracias, Daniel.

[Rudy Ch. Garcia will tour So. Califas from October 10 through 15, and So. Central Texas from October 25 through 31.  He is available for readings, signings, interviews and tamaladas, he says. To learn more about the novel and how to contact Rudy, go to the book’s website.]

1 Comments on Three Questions for Rudy Ch. Garcia Regarding His Debut Novel, “The Closet of Discarded Dreams”, last added: 10/2/2012
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9. Create a Caption: Liddia the Boxer Puppy

CreateacaptionCreate a Caption: Liddia the Boxer Puppy

Look at how cool this Boxer puppy named Liddia is. She looks way too cool for school, just chillin' at the park, letting it all hang out.

LiddiaShe looks like a trend-setting pooch to me. If I had to come up with a caption for this, I think Liddia would say:

"Blue leashes? Blah! So last year. It’s all about the purple now."

What caption would you give this photo? Share away in the Comments!

En-Szu, STACKS Intern (a.k.a. MidnightMagic5)

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10. Drawing In Church 9/30/2012

1 Comments on Drawing In Church 9/30/2012, last added: 10/1/2012
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11. Behind the Scenes (and on the stage) at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Our last blog found us in the desert flying high (practically) aboard the space shuttle Endeavour . . .


This blog takes us from There to Here . . .


That's right! We were in New York for the quite bodacious Brooklyn Book Festival . . .

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Peepy and I headed to the Green Room to get ready for our panel and to apologize to our Scholastic publicist, Lauren Felsenstein . . .

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(That's Lauren, on the right, with newly minted Scholastic Publicity assistant Rachel Howard. The apologies were because when I landed in NY, I was beyond exhausted, having not slept in two days. So, I emailed Lauren and said I would have to miss anything going on on Sunday. Um. Oops. I had meant Saturday. Sunday was the book festival.)

Our moderator, Lisa Graff, and fellow panelist Amy Ignatow were hanging out in the Green Room, too . . .

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As (the other) Lisa prepped in the glow of literary-ness, we spied our friend E.B. Lewis (again) sharing a snack with Peepy. Then we were instructed to storm the stage, or at least head toward it . . .

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Our panel was on humor and though we tried to be high minded, I won't deny that the words "fart" and "barf," were mentioned more than once. (FYI, the person who is not Lisa, Lisa or Amy is Eric Wight.)

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(I had no idea I that my arms flailed around that much.)

We had a blast! After, agent Barry Goldblatt, tried to talk Peepy into signing with him for her epic fashion memoir/astrophysics tell all . . .

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(As you can guess, Peepy is being courted by all the top agents. She hasn't made a decision yet, but when she does, we will let you know.)

Next, we got ready for the Guys Read panel. Um, but Lisa, you say, or he says, or she says, or someone says," you are not a guy."


However, I write lots of books with guy protagonists, I am not afraid of snakes, and I don't get grossed out easily, so that qualified me to be the moderator!

Here's our panel . . .


Er. That wasn't the panel. That was a photo Lauren accidentally took of the floor. THIS is our panel . . .

(Despite what the name tags say, from left to right, is Gordon Korman, Jon Scieszka, Angelina Jolie, and Joseph Bruchac.)

(Find the photo of Gordon and I wearing our good clothes. And this is the time Gordon and I tried to decimate each other while Jon cheered us on.)

It was standing room only, and when I introduced everyone I made the dudes do guy-ish things . . .

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It was so fun! I asked math questions (not), and even things my facebook friends had suggested. For example, fellow author Peter Lerangis suggested I ask, "Who does your hair?" (They are all bald-ish.)


Later, there was a book signing session . . .


I also ran into a lot of friends at the festival, like scary (if you don't believe me, check out his serial killer novel) Barry Lyga . . .


Paul Acampora was there with his daughter!

(That's not his daughter, that's Peepy in the photo.)

John Bemelmans Marciano was kicking back with friends, and Dan Yaccarino was upside down. . .

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Oh, and look, it's (I'm not sure) . . .


But I know who that is! It's Wendy Mass!!!


The festival was spread out and the weather was PERFECT . . .

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The bookmobile had a wonderful selection of titles . . .

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For more KidLit fun at the Brooklyn Book Festival, check out the Publishers Weekly photo roundup and see if you can spot the peep!

NEXT BLOG: Dining and snacking with authors and illustrators. Plus, THE HUNGER GAMES, almost . . .


In the meantime, here's a video (with a very unattractive screen grab) that includes me touching Jon and Gordon's bald heads . . .


Wheeeee . . . BOBBY THE BRAVE (SOMETIMES) is now out in paperback!

October Events:

October 3, 5:30 - 8:30 pm
Houston, TX -- Barnes and Noble, Vanderbilt Square
St. John's School Bookfair - open to the public

October 6
South Pasadena, CA Moon Festival

October 26 - 25
PCTELA Conference, Lancaster, PA

Disclaimer: No proofreaders were harmed (or even used) in the creation of this blog.

Want to check out Lisa's NEW AND IMPROVED website? Simply CLICK HERE.

Interested in having Lisa speak at your school, library or conference? CLICK HERE for more information.

Lisa Yee
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12. FINDING FACES by Penny Dolan

Earlier this week, I went to see a musical concert.

I wasn’t wildly keen to go. In fact, for several days before I’d been doing that kind of inner writer grumble about how I needed to be working – though I wasn’t - on the currently struggling tome and how what I needed time and space and peace and quiet and . . . .  You know the sort of thing, I’m sure. It was a mild internal strop that might have appeared as a huff and glower every hour or so.

However, I went, and two things happened. The concert was actually enjoyable, enthusiastic and funny. And - which is why I am not going to tell you the name of the band - I found just the face I’d needed for ages.  (The one below isn't it!)

Please don’t start thinking about truly gross tv makeovers or transplants. The face wasn’t for me personally. I needed it for a significant character in the above-mentioned tome.

 I had searched around for images on the web. So often the faces offered there are not quite right, or too full of an established or celebrity persona to be truly useable. For example, even if one chose Johnny Depp in his quiet and thoughtful J.M. Barrie mode, I am sure that Captain Jack would come swashbuckling into the writing before very long.

There were difficulties about the look I required. The face (and head) needed to have a certain lean, bony elegance but also be capable of being disguised for more than a midnight moment. So there’d be trouble if I’d added a prominent purple nose, or shock of bright ginger hair, or flashing emerald eyes or a crooked scar running from forehead to chin, or worse, all four, even if I was writing him like that. (I wasn’t!)

But now I’m feeling peaceful. I’ve seen The Face. It’s a good, malleable sort of face and I’ve seen the build and the movement of the body that goes with it. The face I saw is strong and thoughtful (and probably a deeply wonderful and caring person) but not so strong that I can’t layer nasty intentions and a cunning mind upon the poor innocent chap.

Of course, he won’t be the same. I will – as one does – take that flicker of memory, transmute that image into someone else entirely, and add all the nuances and personal history that this entirely new fictional person requires. All that will be left is the faintest echo of a face possibly once seen across a crowded hall. The Face has become something and someone else entirely

So today, returning to the tome, I am pleased. Now I have the face, a certain part of the struggle might become easier. He’s important: the main antagonist in an exciting adventure. I’m just sorry he can’t take his musical instrument along with him.

So that’s how it works for me, how a fictional character grows in my particular head. Sometimes I’ll stitch together – seamlessly – fragments from more than one person: a gesture here, a tone of voice there, a clothing detail from somewhere else.

I’m always fascinated by the way that other writer’s work. Some have amazing scrapbooks of postcards and cuttings, or artist’s notebooks filled with drawings of characters that are good enough to be illustrations. I even recall, ages ago, the author Anne Fine showing the Christmas magazine cover that gave her the idea for the central character for The Angel of Nitshill Road.

So, if you aren’t off scanning the scurrying crowds for the face you need, where do you get your characters from?

Penny Dolan

A BOY CALLED M.O.U.S.E, (Bloomsbury)

8 Comments on FINDING FACES by Penny Dolan, last added: 10/2/2012
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13. /Sponsor/ Depositphotos

A Huge thanks to Depositphotos for sponsoring this week’s RSS Feed!

Depositphotos, headquartered in Florida, the US, is the most rapidly growing stock agency in the world. It currently offers more than 9 mln stock photographs and vector images sold under royalty free license. In addition to that, Depositphotos accepts videos for sale. All the files submitted for sale are carefully checked and selected by the agency’s moderators. With its user friendly interface, a generous promotion programme, flexible payments options and efficient client services, Depositphotos is one the most attractive market places both for those in need of high-quality files for their projects and those, who would like to sell their images and video.

You can find out the latest updates of the agency in Depositphotos’ official blog.

Interested in sponsoring the Grain Edit Feed? Visit our sponsorship page for more info.

A Huge thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s RSS Feed!

©2012 Grain Edit - catch us on Pinterest , Facebook and twitter

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14. PiBoIdMo 2012 Guest Bloggers and Mascot

I know you will probably say, “Tara, you had me at Peter Brown…”, but you will no doubt flip at the entire spectacular line-up of authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals I’ve secured for this year’s Picture Book Idea Month, affectionately known as PiBoIdMo ’round these parts.

Plus, we have an adorable mascot this year: Doodle! She’s the doggie pal of artist-couple Peter Harren and Kayla Skogh (who are equally adorable), and she’ll be making several cameos throughout the month of November!


PiBoIdMo will kick-off on October 24th with a guest post from….


That’s right! One lucky former PiBoIdMo participant will win a guest blogging spot to write about how past events have inspired you, what you’ve done to gear up for the event, and how you sort through that fat file of ideas to pick ones to pursue.

All you have to do to be eligible is:

  • Blog about PiBoIdMo and what it means to you.
  • Link back to this blog post.
  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling me you’ve done so.
  • Complete all of the above by October 15th.

I will read all your entries and pick the blogger who most exemplifies the spirit of this annual event.

And now, without further ado, here are your guest bloggers!

Peter Brown
James Burks
Priscilla Burris
Kelly DiPucchio
Amy Dixon
Kate Dopirak
Ame Dyckman
Donna W. Earhardt
Marcus Ewert
Deborah Freedman
Tiffany Strelitz Haber
Peter Harren
Charise Mericle Harper
Julie Hedlund
Carter Higgins
Ward Jenkins
Mike Jung
Ella Kennen
Diane Kredensor
Emma Ledbetter, Assistant Editor, Atheneum
Kelly Light
Deb Lund
Tracy Marchini
Wendy Martin
Diana Murray
Laura Murray
Debbie Ohi
Carol Rasco, CEO of RIF
Aaron Reynolds
Laura Sassi
Liz Garton Scanlon
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Kayla Skogh
Tammi Sauer
Melissa Sweet
Will Terry
Audrey Vernick
Robert Weinstock
Tamson Weston, Editor & Consultant
Timothy Young

Stay tuned for more PiBoIdMo announcements in the coming days!

13 Comments on PiBoIdMo 2012 Guest Bloggers and Mascot, last added: 10/1/2012
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15. Cover Reveal: Jenny Plague-Bringer by J.L. Bryan

About the Author:

J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, dogs Violet and Tiger Lily, and cats Shadow and Sue. 

J.L. Bryan links:

Book Summary:
Jenny Plague-Bringer (The Paranormals #4) by J.L. Bryan
Expected Pub: 10/23/2012
Jenny has enjoyed a year of quiet seclusion, but her peace is about to be shattered by two new paranormals who are searching for her. Their intentions are unknown. The timing couldn’t be worse, because Jenny can’t use her pox without risking the life of the baby growing inside her…

Cover Reveal:


First three books in the Paranormals series *autographed*
Open to US, Canada, and the UK.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

14 Comments on Cover Reveal: Jenny Plague-Bringer by J.L. Bryan, last added: 10/7/2012
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16. Walt Whitman, Me, and You!

Walt Whitman said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you."

What do you say?   Finish the sentence that our good friend Walt started:

Keep your face always toward the sunshine and  ___________________________________.

22 Comments on Walt Whitman, Me, and You!, last added: 10/8/2012
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17. All About THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME: Behind the Book, Q&A, and Giveaway!

Two and a half years ago, I received a few sample chapters of an unsolicited manuscript that made me laugh out loud from the very first page, so I immediately wrote to the author and asked her to send me the whole thing. It was called The Encyclopedia of Me, and it was the brilliant story of twelve-year-old Tink Aaron-Martin. When Tink gets grounded, she decides to use the time to write an encyclopedia of her life, encompassing her family, with two loving parents and two older brothers, Lex and Seb (the latter of whom is autistic); her hairless cat, Hortense; her fickle best friend, Freddie Blue Anderson; and, as the summer unfolds, a new interest in skateboarding and an equal interest in the blue-haired skateboarding boy next door, Kai (whom the much more assertive Freddie Blue just might like as well). The manuscript at that time alternated portions of the encyclopedia with straight-narrative sections. I loved the format, but what I loved even more was the voice, which was capable of hilarious observations like this one: 
Seb frequently smells as bad as Lex, but different. This is mostly because he staunchly refuses to shower more than three times in a week. If you are ever not sure which twin you are dealing with, breathe deeply. If your senses are kickboxed into an eye-watering stupor by the stinging stench of cheap cologne, it’s Lex. If they curl up and die due to the overwhelmingly hideous moldy pong of sweat, combined with the antiseptic, lemony zing of hand sanitizer, it’s Seb. Easy, see?
But Tink's voice was also capable of great sensitivity and thoughtfulness, in contemplating Freddie Blue's behavior or her favorite tree. All the characters felt as rich and flawed and warm and complicated as many real people I know. Tink is biracial, but it's simply a fact of who she is, not the source of any angst (beyond an inability to get her hair to behave). And Karen fully dramatized some great set-piece scenes, like the one where Freddie Blue, Tink, and Kai try to spend the night in a department store. A terrific voice, wonderful characters, the ability to execute some great scenes, genuine emotion, and that aforementioned laugh-out-loud humor all made me fall in love with the book, and I signed it up as soon as I could.

Over the next year and a half, Karen and I worked together to absorb the narrative sections into the encyclopedia entries and turn the entire book into an encyclopedia, with the plot unfolding alphabetically from A-Z. This involved (nobody who knows me will be shocked to hear) a lot of outlines at first, as Karen cataloged all her plot events and encyclopedia entries and mapped them onto each other; and then a lot of cutting and adding, tweaking and refining right up through the proofreading stages, as we juggled entries, photos, and footnotes in within our allotted 256 pages. But the book remained both intensely emotional and very funny -- a perfect tween-girl smart read, and equally great for fans of YA writers like E. Lockhart or Jaclyn Moriarty. Recently I asked Karen some questions about herself and the book.
First things first:  What would your own encyclopedia entry look like?

Rivers, Karen (June 12, 1970 - forever). (Karen prefers not to die.) Author of many wonderful novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Born in British Columbia, Canada, she went to college for ages and ages and studied a little bit of almost anything, having contemplated at various different times careers in theatre, journalism, law, and medicine. Then she worked at the phone company and some equally scary places before becoming a writer full-time. She has always loved giant sets of encyclopedias because they contain all knowledge! (As well as for their beautiful gold-edged pages, of course.) She has two splendid children who never fight or spill things, and a dog who -- if properly inspired by a squirrel -- can actually climb trees.  (Only one of those statements is not 100% true.) She can usually be found walking slowly up or down the mountain behind her house, thinking things or taking photographs, or -- on a good day -- both. 

Which came first with The Encyclopedia of Me, the story or the format? How did the other one follow?

I think the story came first, or rather, the character. At the time that I started to write this book, I think my kids were just babies. My older son, my stepson, is autistic. And at the time, his autism was really consuming our lives. Most of our waking hours were spent dealing with certain situations, supporting him, or talking about his autism and how we were going to deal in the longer term. One of the things we talked about was what it would be like for siblings to have an older brother for whom different rules applied. That was basically the germ of the idea of the story, simply that it would be the sibling's story and the autism would merely be on the periphery and normalized because that would be all the sibling would ever have known. It was so much in my consciousness, in a way I think it was my way of trying-on-for-size what that might be like.

When I began to write, Tink originally was going to read the entire set of encyclopedias, inspired by A.J. Jacobs's The Know-It-All. As I wrote, it seemed implausible that she would get past the first As (I started reading them again myself and was struggling by the third entry), so she started to make up her own. It evolved from there. I know people roll their eyes when author's say "It wrote itself!"  But in this case, the format decided itself and it was something of an accident. Originally, it was straight narrative with the entries scattered throughout, but then we decided to take a stab at making the whole book fit the format. In addition to working well with the story (I think!), it was also fun and challenging to write. Sometimes it even felt impossible.  

This is going to sound as crazy as the "It wrote itself!" comment, but I will say that it's much more satisfying to write a book that's really really hard to write, from a technical standpoint. It makes me understand, on a completely different level, why people climb Everest for fun. Having successfully done it once, I have all kinds of ideas for other novels structured like specifically formatted books, such as cook books and etiquette books and ... the possibilities are limitless!

What attracts you to encyclopedias?

The idea that a book holds all the answers. Of course, now I'm grown up, I understand that knowledge changes and evolves, and looking at old encyclopedias, you realize they are full of things that we subsequently now know more/differently/better.  But as a child, they were flat-out the answer to everything. I think Wikipedia is similarly attractive now, but it isn't quite the same.  You don't randomly flip through Wikipedia while lying on the hall carpet on an endlessly long summer day, discovering things about Sri Lanka or the endocrine system that you never knew. The magic of random discovery has pretty much been lost with the loss of print encyclopedias, which makes me sad. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't currently HAVE a set of encyclopedias, but I wish that I did.   I'm slightly hoarder-like and collector-inclined, I think I would like to have sets from various different decades, just to play compare-and-contrast with them (I have dictionaries and etiquette books and medical books across decades, which are lots of fun). But I live in the world's smallest house! So that might not work.

What sort of challenges did you face in working the story into an alphabetical, encyclopedic form?

There was a very real risk that the plot was going to be compromised by trying to force it into a mold. Making the story flow was incredibly tricky (as you know!). The last thing we wanted was for anyone to read the book and be conscious of the manipulation of the plot to fit the alphabet, so we made a real effort to simply tell the story as a straight narrative that incidentally was displayed in alphabetical order. 

Describe your favorite writing space and time.

I love to write during the day because it's a novelty. For the last seven years, most of my writing has been done at night on a laptop in bed (for warmth), after the kids are asleep. I've seen more of 3 a.m. than I'd like to have seen! Now my kids are in school full time and I can sit (!) at the dining room table and write while actually properly awake. It remains to be seen if this improves the quality of my work.   
What novels were the biggest influence on you when you were a young reader? And what encyclopedia did you grow up using?

I read so voraciously as a child and a young adult that isolating books now to say they were more or less influential than any others feels like I'd be contriving an answer to fit what I feel an author should say, as opposed to the truth. The truth was I read everything, absolutely everything that I had access to, in massive volumes. We did not watch TV (or at least the TV we had had a blown picture tube, so we could only watch about 30 minutes a day before the tube gave up, and it involved using pliers and getting electrical shocks to turn it on). We read. I read between seven and ten books per week for most of my childhood/teen years.    

When I say we read everything, I really mean it. My mum was briefly in a Danielle Steele phase, and I read those as eagerly as I read Little Women or A Wrinkle in Time or Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. Or Flowers in the Attic, for that matter.  My dad read mostly books about war and tall ships, so I have this absurdly detailed understanding of tall ships based on reading the Horatio Hornblower series repeatedly. There was never really a distinction made between "adult" books and "kid" books in my family; nor was there any fuss made about genre fiction vs. literary fiction. They belonged to Book Of The Month club, which I don't think exists anymore, but involved getting condensed versions of popular books in a bound volume every month. We loved those. It's impossible not to be influenced by everything you read; whether it's good or bad, there is something you can take away from it. I suppose it's only a matter of time before I write a tear-jerking romance that is set on a brigantine.  

As an adult looking back, I'd say if I wanted to be inspired by anyone's career, I'd pick Judy Blume.  She really perfected the whole "You are going to be OK" genre of realist YA.  Madeleine L'Engle I think redefined the parameters of middle-grade fiction, blurring lines of fantasy and reality, and I love her for that. I love everyone who tried something new or different and just really went for it, both back then and now. 
You’ve written a number of novels about this preteen/early teen stage of life, and especially the family/friends/young romance conflicts that I think are the bread-and-butter of older middle-grade. What attracts you to writing about this time period? Was it a significant time in your own life?

I learned a while ago (after I was already writing YA) that a person's frontal lobe doesn't fully develop until they are in their early twenties. I'm paraphrasing (and possibly mis-remembering), so don't quote me on this, but I believe the gist of it was that until the frontal lobe finishes developing, people are actually biologically unable to view the world in a not-entirely-egocentric way. The idea that people (and characters) are limited by this brain development to seeing the world in this utterly up-close way at all times is fascinating to me. It explains why I can remember with 100% clarity, things that happened to me, who I had a crush on, what I wore, and how I felt when I was young, but I have only vague recall of what I said or did or wore in the intervening decades. The intensity of that stage of life is what draws me to it again and again. The first time you feel something, it's so powerful. Kids are figuring out who they are, like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, except more like a Choose-Your-Own-Character. The possibilities are endless, which makes teen and pre-teen characters so much fun (and so endlessly interesting) to write.

As a teen/pre-teen, I never felt quite comfortable in my own skin.  Now, when I talk to the kids who I perceived as problem-free and popular and perfect, I find out that they struggled with similar feelings. Who knew? It seems as though everyone always feels like they are slightly on the outside, looking in. In a way, I want to send a missive to my younger self that effectively says, "Look!  Everyone else feels the same way! You are going to be OK!" Except maybe now I can send the bulletin to my readers:  You ARE going to be OK. I promise.

Giveaway! Even though the hardcover is now in stores, I have a few ARCs of this still lurking around my office, and I'd be delighted to see them go to good homes. Your challenge:  Write a brief encyclopedia entry either for yourself or for the main character of your work-in-progress, and post it either in the comments below or on your own blog/journal/Facebook. (If you do it on your own website, please leave a link here.) I'll decide a winner by the 15th. Thanks!

8 Comments on All About THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME: Behind the Book, Q&A, and Giveaway!, last added: 10/5/2012
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18. Nonfiction Monday

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday, the weekly meme highlighting nonfiction books for young readers!  I'm happy to be hosting today.  Please leave your link below using Inlinkz; and comment if you have the time.  I'll be visiting each site later in the day.  Thanks for participating.

 Today's big news for bloggers?  Nominations are open for the Cybils, the only book (and now apps, too!) awards given by the blogging community. 
Book bloggers, pick your favorite book published between October 16, 2011 and October 17, 2012, and submit it online at the Cybils site.

For those of you who are not book bloggers, keep an eye out for the winners, which are announced on February 14th.  The Cybils fill an important niche.  Unlike their better-known counterparts, the Cybils seeks to award books that meet high standards and have a high "kid appeal."

Since we're all about nonfiction on Mondays,  here are the nonfiction categories:
Nonfiction Picture Books and Nonfiction: Middle Grade & YA
  For more details, read the Contest FAQs.
Check out the other categories as well and start nominating!

And now, on to Nonfiction Monday - add your link below, then click the "thumbnails" to visit each Nonfiction Monday review.  Thanks for stopping by.
Note: I attended my first KidLitCon Saturday.  Thanks to NYPL, Betsy Bird and everyone involved in planning a great (and free!) conference. Kudos!

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19. Fountain Square and the Columbus Comic Covention Formerly Known as Mid-Ohiocon

Wednesday we tried out a new place for the downtown Illustrators Lunch, Rock Bottom Brewery. We seem to be cursed in our choice of lunch location so I hope this one will be around a while.  '

After lunch, I did a little sketch of the fountain. I have always loved it and it was the brief time of that day with lovely weather.

This weekend, I dipped my toes back in the con pool. Since I am doing my web comic, Pop Smoothie, I hope to make it to more of these. SPACE in April and maybe CAKE in Chicago next year.

It was a wonderful time despite my lack of stuff for sale.

Anyway, here are some sketches I did during the event. I wish I had gotten some of the more elaborate costumes, but they were Saturday for the contest.

Steampunk Lady

Quickie doodle. Who doesn't like fairies and foxes?

0 Comments on Fountain Square and the Columbus Comic Covention Formerly Known as Mid-Ohiocon as of 10/1/2012 12:08:00 AM
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20. The Illusion of Security

In 1992 I was at a crossroads. Try to find a full time job illustrating /graphic designer or take the road of uncertainty and dive into a freelance illustration career. I gambled. To this day I don't really know how I did it. I was married with one kid and they were depending on me to earn a living. My wife had to have been scared but was supportive. My parents I'm sure thought I was nuts - but were also encouraging. My friends said little. I think everyone expected it to last a little while but that eventually I would have to suck it up and get a real job.

Why do we make decisions that go against our passions? I would submit that it's often motivated by FEAR.

We all crave security. We think we want to know what will happen tomorrow. We hate not knowing where we're going.  We imagine horrible things that rarely come true. We want to know what we're going to be. What we're going to do. How and where we'll live. How we'll pay for things. etc. These aren't bad things to want but they do feed our often irrational fears. Personally I don't know anyone who is homeless. I know people who have had to live with relatives - I lived with both my parents and in-laws in the early part of my marriage. My point is that no matter how bad it gets it's still not as bad as what we imagine.

There is no such thing as security.

The person who has a nice house is worrying about their drug addicted child.
The person who has a nice job just found out that his spouse has cancer.
The person who just got a promotion hates her job.
The person who is fully prepared for retirement just learned that her husband has been cheating.
The person who has the nice car, house, vacations feels empty and perhaps suicidal.
The person who has done everything "right" just got layed off because of the economy.
The person who followed the advice of parents, teachers, and councelors owes more money in student loans than his/her job will ever afford.

I have a lot less fear than ever before. I don't chase security. I try to make decisions based on my ability to achieve the goal - not because it's what others think I should do or what I think will make the most money. This has lead to some AWESOME FAILURES! Like my Kickstarter a few months ago. I won't pretend that that one didn't sting. I felt like I got the Sh#% kicked out of me by kickstarter - but it was totally worth it because it armed me.

While those who did it the "right" way might worry about getting a pink slip I find it ironic that by doing it the "wrong" way I have a little less stress about that part of my life. My income comes from many places now and if one falls off - big deal. I earn income from:

freelance illustration
video tutorials
original sales
stock illustration
school visits
youtube partner

Some of these don't pay very much but it all adds up. Earning income from many different places was never written down as a goal or plotted out -it just sort of happened from working each day on that which I love - creating art. The piece above was one of those pieces that painted itself. I was watching the clock while working on it - wondering how hours were melting away as I tried to finish it before I had to run off to class.

15 Comments on The Illusion of Security, last added: 10/15/2012
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21. Toy Story 2.

Watching Toy Story 2 this evening, with a 'gaufre au chocolate et du lait'.

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22. Monday Mishmash 10/1/12

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

  1. Fangs, Fur, and Fey Giveaway  I'll be posting an extra day this week because I'm taking part in the Fangs, Fur, and Fey Giveaway beginning at midnight. Be sure to stop back for your chance to win a free book.
  2. Free monthly newsletter  It's October now, so my free monthly newsletter will go out later today. If you aren't signed up and would like to receive it, you can do so by clicking here.
  3. Rewrite is complete  I finished my rewrite of INTO THE FIRE. I'm so happy with how the story turned out. Sometimes rewriting is easier and better than revising.
  4. Reading  It is so nice to actually have time to read again!
  5. October  October is my favorite month because I love the smell in the air. That crispness that just makes you want to breathe it in. I love the fall.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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23. SCBWI Beams down to the Martian Embassy in Sydney Story Factory in Redfern

Sydney Story Factory Redfern, SCBWI Australia and New Zealand supportTotally cool

Totally fantastic

Totally the MARTIAN EMBASSY!!!!

Find  the Sydney Story Factory at 176 RedFern Street Redfern (Sydney)

Kath Keenan the co Founder of the Sydney Story Factory with Tim Dick, both former Sydney Morning Herald journalists, have worked tirelessly together with the President of the Board Michael Gonski and support of their wonderful board and the generosity of many corporates, professionals and volunteers to create a dynamic:- 

- ALIEN writing space for kids.

It’s free and fabulous.

SCBWI Australia & New Zealand supports it and SCBWI authors Nathan Luff and Wendy Fitzgerald have both run free workshop there.

Their website.  www.sydneystoryfactory.org.au

SCBWI’s Deb Abela is the SCBWI Sydney Story Factory liaison

Deb and I went to check it out and took Jenny Stubbs from the Ipswich teacher Librarian Network and her sister with us.

We we welcomed by Cath Keenan and got right into it – everything MARIAN & SPACEY!!!!

LOVE IT!!!!!

Sydney Story Factory The Martian Embassy RedfernSydney Story Factory, Jenny and Shirley Stubbs, Deborah Abela, Cath Keenan, SCBWI support

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Artie’s new story The Race for Space was published in the September issue of the Teachers.net Gazette. To read the story please click on the image below. (This story is dedicated to the memory of Neil Armstrong, whose courage and heroism will live on forever)

Artie’s children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet is now available as a free video for kids through StoryCub. A shortlist finalist for the national 2012 Green Earth Book Award, Thurman the turtle is tired of seeing the land he loves cluttered with trash and decides to take action.

To watch the Living Green video on Youtube, please click on the cover below. StoryCub videos are one of the most watched programs on Apple’s iTunes Kids & Family section.


Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law

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25. Mother Goose Musings

When I was a child living in Poland, I had a favorite book of poetry called Sto Bajek (100 Tales Sto By′ek ) by Jan Brzechwa (Yon Bzheh′va.) He was Poland’s equivalent of Dr. Seuss with his unleashed imagination, impeccable meter, wonderful rhythms, and playful language.  He wrote of talking trees and whining vegetables, fish mathematicians and arguing coat sleeves. The humor was preposterous and sure to bring on giggles, and the sounds and wordplay were pure joy. I could not get enough of his poems.

I could read and write before I turned six, and I attribute this to the many hours I spent listening to these verses, hearing the sounds, reciting them, looking at the words, and with my family’s help, putting the puzzle together.

At age seven I immigrated to the United States, and upon arrival my Aunt and Uncle gave me a big book of Mother Goose. Now I had the challenge of learning to speak and write in a whole new language, but results came quickly with this wonderful treasury of quirky old rhymes to inspire and teach me. Little did I know that someday I would extend many of them into picture books.

I always dreamed of becoming a children’s book author and illustrator, but I had no idea that the majority of my titles would be Mother Goose rhymes. It all started over twenty years ago, when my first publisher asked me to write and illustrate something well-known. We decided that nursery rhymes lent themselves well to extension. And so I came up with a story for The Itsy Bitsy Spider, starting with the original verse and then adding new verses to create a simple but not insignificant plot.

To my delight, the book was an instant hit with early educators. Preschool and kindergarten teachers from across the nation, who I met at conferences or who wrote to me, said the book was helpful in teaching children to read. Here are the reasons they cited: Children recognize the title and that piques their interest to look inside the book. Knowing the first verse gives them confidence to learn the rest of the verses. The repetition of the first line in each stanza (The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the...waterspout, kitchen wall, rocking chair...), the predictability of the rhyming sounds, and the added benefit of singing the verses accelerates learning.

Sadly, some teachers also told me that a percentage of their students were not familiar with nursery rhymes. They encouraged me to extend more of these verses into picture books and suggested their favorites: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Row Row Row Your Boat and many others. I was happy to oblige. :-)

In creating these extensions, though I add my own twist, I strive to match not only the meter (which is critical), but also the essence of the original rhyme. In Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I tried to maintain the wonder of a child gazing at the night sky, wishing on a star. In Baa Baa Black Sheep, the focus was on asking the sheep for something: "Have you any wool?" (I had kittens asking for milk, a horse asking for hay, etc.) In Row, Row, Row Your Boat, I continued the adventure of merrily rowing a boat down the stream, though not always so gently. 

Usually I leave the first verse intact. Only once did I make a change and that was in Froggie Went A-Courtin’, which has the line: "with a sword and pistol by his side." I changed it to: "with a rose and chocolates by his side." I thought Froggie stood a much better chance of finding love with flowers and sweets than with deadly weapons. :-)

When I visit schools, I start my presentation by singing one or two of my books to the children. Usually we sing the first verse together and then I sing the rest. Sometimes they are quite surprised by the new verses and try to sing along with me, repeating the traditional one. They are especially surprised by my book Shoo Fly in which I used the original verse as a refrain, but changed it a bit (after the first time).

Original verse/first refrain:
Shoo fly don’t bother me,
Shoo fly don’t bother me,       
Shoo fly! Don’t bother me--       
I belong to somebody.           

Two other refrains:

Shoo fly don’t bother me!
Go fly to Tennessee.
Leave on the count of three--
Can’t you see you’re bugging me?
Shoo fly don’t bother me!
Go spread your wings and flee
Across the great blue sea,
All the way to Waikiki.

"Look how many different “E” sounds I had to come up with: flee, three, Tennessee, Waikiki..." I tell the children. And then I ask them to think of some other words that rhyme with "me."

The sounds of words, and especially rhyming words, certainly enchanted me as a child and instilled in me a love of language. I am honored and gratified to have my books used in classrooms, and I hope the words I conjure up and the pictures I paint bring joy to my wonderful little readers.

To learn more about Iza Trapani and her books, please visit her at www.izatrapani.com and check out her blog, In and Out of My Studio.

Click here for a list of Iza's books, including Haunted Party, the perfect read for a fun Halloween treat!

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