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I adore: authors from the anthology The Letter Q from left to right, Brian Selznick, Arthur Levine, David Levithan ('s ear) Sorry, I have a pic that has David's lovely face also. Will post soon. But that's what I get for taking candids.
Can you see him? It's George R. R. Martin.
Marie Lu is gorgeous and charming! I'm going to wait and buy Prodigy in hardcover so I can match my copy of Legend, haha! Can you develop OCD in your 30's? Because I just might be doing that.
Best part of the day: I hugged R. J. Palacio. She is awesome. I almost cried on her. You should read Wonder.
I love this illustration, which comes from freelance illustrator, designer, and comic artist Jake Parker.
Jake is the creator of the Missile Mouse graphic novel series, published by Scholastic, and he has also worked for Blue Sky Studios. While at Blue Sky, Jake created sets and environments for such films as Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Rio. Right now, Jake—who lives in Utah with his family—is working as a freelance artist, creating picture books and comics.
Most recently, Jake embarked on a project to fund The Antler Boy and Other Stories, a collection of short comic stories he’s been writing and drawing over the past eight years. There’s more information in the below video, as well as lots of art. (For the record, I haven’t seen The Antler Boy yet, but this doesn’t stop me from featuring Jake’s art today.)
I thank Jake for visiting. Be sure to visit his site for more of his work (and previously published books); the “characters” page is particularly fun. His blog is here. I hope we see more of Jake’s art in even more picture books in the near future.
Oh, and I have to start out with his tattooed Santa, though it’s nowhere near Christmas. I love him too much — and maybe he’ll help us cool down a bit, even if he himself seems to be in swimming trunks. (more…)
My husband was recently watching a documentary on the making of one of our favorite films (and books) To Kill A Mockingbird...
It gave me pause...I am a card carrying Southern Woman. After all I have more than one deviled egg plate. No self-respecting Southern Woman would NOT have a deviled egg plate. In fact you can't even be in the Souther Belle Society without having one. I did have a china pattern - in a previous life - held open houses for church, posessed the appropriate attire for funerals and weddings, could whip a casserole for the bereved or someone with a new baby in 2.5 min. and not even blink if I had to hostess a wedding, funeral or homecoming at a moments notice. I was young and didn't know better. Ask me now and I might need interevenious adavan.
Yes, when I was younger I was a girly girl, I played dolls, paper dolls, wore dresses every day, could leap puddles holding my train case purse in a single bound, wear loafers and bobby socks and could kill anyone with kindness. We were born that way. Out of my four girls, only one was partially a girly, girl. the rest detested dresses, and I won't even go into their antics as a tomboy. But I managed to scar them by making them wear dresses, hats and gloves on Easter Sunday. They remind me of that torture once in a while.
I was the only little girl on my block of Darling St. - yes, I lived on Darling street in a pink brick house. My Daddy built be a playhouse with a real glass sliding window. It held baby cribs and dolls, doll cloths, tea sets, etc. I saved my allowance (25cents), go to the Good Will and buy net formals from the 50's and my Mom would fit them to me. So my dress up dresses were also in the playhouse. I don't know how many times my Mom would go to Weingartens (our grocery story) with my little girl friends all dressed up in net formals. We were the original princesses. No one called us that, we were Southern Bells. My house we THE house all the neighborhood girls wanted to play. The boys always dressed as cowboys and indians and tried to attack us. Boys. It makes me sad to think that my play house now holds lawnmowers and lawn chemicals. Does the owner even know the magic it once held?
Now don't get me wrong, I was a playmate with my brother and learned to catch snakes and lizards, run through the woods, give some one an "indian rope burn" and play Tarzan and swing off the roof of our house on the tiny branches of the trees. Mom would have whipped our hid if she knew half the stuff we did. That was fun but I knew what I was supposed to do and how to act. Even if I did regress occasionally.
When I lived in Natchitoches, Louisiana as a young Mom, I got to be an extra in Steel Magnolias. I wore on ugly had an dress and set in a bench in the wedding scene for 12 hourse for a 3 min. scene in the movie. But I was also a tour guide to the plantation houses and I learned to get my hooped skirts into the suburban in a flash and drive down Cane Rive to my job, be my "sugary sweet" self and then go home to 4 kids and cook dinner.
I won't ever give up my Southern Belle membership card, wear white shoes after labor day, smoke in public like Princess Margret, wear velvet after Febuary and will always use mayonaise and white chicken meat to make chicken salad - not dark meat and Hellmans! But I could care less about being in the Jr. League or who made what Sorority in college. There is more to life than that!
My kids grew up laughing at the silly rules I taught them about Southern Ettiquete. They don't adhear to those rules except - say yes mam', no mam', please and thank you, always mind your p's and q's. Don't cuss in public, never spit, open doors for ladies, ladies first and always try to help.
I met with the editors of Dover Publishing a while ago. They publish a lot of classic books on art instruction from days of yore. I told them that most of what I know about drawing and painting comes from studying their books. They asked me for a list of my ten favorite art instruction books with a blurb about why I love each one.
Bridgman's legendary figure drawing demonstrations at the Art Students League of New York have inspired generations of artists, from Norman Rockwell to Frank Frazetta. His dynamic, chunky form analysis reminds students of the big shapes and how they interlock with each other, which is easy to overlook when faced with the subtleties of the actual figure.
John Vanderpoel, who studied in France at the Académie Julian, offers a classical approach to figure drawing, noteworthy for its timeless grace. His approach focuses on the important planes of the figure understood in terms of simple light and shade. Male and female models are analyzed in many detailed drawings of parts, such as the head, neck, torso, and limbs. The plates are so good that it would profit a student to systematically copy all of them.
HARLEQUIN AND MILLS & BOON LAUNCH GLOBAL WRITING CONTEST WITH PUBLISHING CONTRACT PRIZE
NEW YORK, LONDON, TORONTO, SYDNEY June 21, 2012
Harlequin, a leading publisher of books for women, and Mills & Boon, their international romance imprint, today announced the inauguration of a global English-language writing contest that offers aspiring authors the chance to win a publishing contract. The free 24/7 online conference, So You Think You Can Write (soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com) will take place September 17–21, 2012 and will be the first event to combine the strength of the publisher’s two iconic brands—Harlequin (North America) and Mills & Boon (Europe, Australia and Africa), taking advantage of an international presence and audience.
So You Think You Can Write allows hopeful romance novelists to spend a week with more than 50 editors from Toronto, New York and London through social media tools including podcasts, videos, webinars, blogs, live chats, community discussions and Twitter events. Aspiring authors will attend a virtual romance-writing “boot camp” designed to teach them how to write a romance novel that will attract the attention of publishers.
So You Think You Can Write has been organized in such a way as to help participants prepare completed manuscripts for submission to the So You Think You Can Write contest by the deadline, October 13, 2012.
Entrants into the contest portion of the conference will experience the path a professional writer undertakes from the genesis of a story idea all the way through to the publication of a novel. Participants will initially be asked to submit a first chapter accompanied by a maximum100-word pitch. An online vote, open to the public, will narrow the field down to 25 contestants who, along with three “wildcard” entrants selected by Harlequin, will then be required to submit a finished manuscript. Harlequin and Mills & Boon editors will select three finalists whose manuscripts will be judged in an online vote, again open to the public, and a winner will be named and awarded a publishing contract to write a series romance novel for Harlequin/Mills & Boon.
Harlequin and Mills & Boon editors believe that by engaging aspiring writers, showcasing the tremendous appeal of the romance genre and offering expert insights into crafting the perfect story, they can help promising novelists hone their skills and achieve their dreams of writing for one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women. For more information please visit soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com.
My first novel, Wuftoom, is about a boy who, at the start of the book, is aware of something nobody else knows: He is not sick with an unknown disease; he is transforming into a monster. The monster visits him at night and waits for Evan to fully transform, telling Evan that life will be better once he joins them. Of course, the Wuftoom don’t believe they’re monsters, and they don’t see themselves as ugly and disgusting the way Evan does. Once you are a monster, the whole meaning of the word changes.
What does the word monster mean? My Oxford American Dictionary defines “monster” as “an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.” But how do you create something ugly and frightening? Here’s my take on how to do it:
Start with something everybody thinks is gross, like a worm.
Make it waaaay bigger than a normal worm.
Give it a face, but don’t give it a face just like a human’s, with ordinary eyes, nose, mouth, and teeth. Make the eyes different, take the nose away, change the shape of the mouth (I picked a shriveled hole), add fangs.
Give it a distinctive voice: a rasp, a tone, a chortle. And finally,
Give it a (disgusting) smell.
Click to purchase.
Now think long and hard about this monster. Draw it. Give it a name. Put yourself in its shoes. If you looked like that monster, what would be a monster to you? If you had a body like a worm’s, maybe it would be weird to see people walking around with knees and elbows and stiff bones. If you had fangs, maybe it would be strange to see people with short, dull, stunted teeth. If your voice was raspy, maybe it would be scary to hear someone talking in a sharp, clear, high voice.
Now think about what you would do if you saw this disgusting giant worm-like monster. Would you scream? Would you cry? Would you beat it with a stick? Would you call it mean names and tell it to go away? Well, now you know why monsters always seem so distrustful of people. Not that they don’t have their bad sides. All I’m saying is, monsters have their own perspectives. And if you were turning into one, you’d have to learn that sooner or later. You might even begin to appreciate the “monster” you have become.
In the deep recesses of my closet, buried underneath a stack of old tax returns is the unpublished manuscript for my first attempt at writing a middle grade time travel adventure. Clipped to the manuscript is a letter from an agent in New York City. It has been a few years now since I read the letter but one sentence is seared into my brain for eternity: “I stopped reading at page 71”.
I remember thinking at the time: how could anyone stop reading at page 71? Especially when things really get rolling on page 72! After equal amounts of soul searching and chocolate, I came to the realization that maybe the agent was right. Maybe there wasn’t enough to hold a reader’s interest.So I made a secret vow (secret ones are the best kind – if you break them no one will ever know). My vow was to write another middle grade time travel adventure novel; one so compelling that no one would be able to put it down before the end.
Here are my four keys to writing the un-put-down-able middle grade adventure novel:
Guest column by Richard Ungar, whose latest book is TIME SNATCHERS (March 2012, Putnam), a futuristic adventure that received a starred review in Booklist. He also has four picture books published. Some writing awards he has won include a 2009 Storytellers World Resource Award, a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and a 2007 and 2004 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice Selections. Find his author website here.
1. Hook Them In: Don’t begin your novel by telling all about the town that your protagonist lives in or how he is dressed. Sure, setting and description are both important but they can be woven into the story. Instead, start with an action scene with your main character thick in the middle. If you can come up with a killer first sentence even better but don’t dwell on it. In fact, don’t dwell on anything very long… Keep things moving!
2. Use Humor: Humor not only keeps your readers engaged but also helps relieve some of the tension after a particularly intense scene. Humor doesn’t have to be spoken. In fact, it’s mostly not. For instance, it can be situational – in Time Snatchers, the evil boss has a bodyguard who is obsessed with doing crossword puzzles. In one scene he applies a chokehold to the protagonist, Caleb, demanding that he help him come up with a ‘four letter word for a Chinese sailing vessel or food with zero nutritional value’. Caleb knows the answer (it’s ‘junk’) and really wants to help, but because he’s being choked he can’t get the word out. Okay, so maybe I’m the only one who finds that funny.
3. Keep Things Moving: the obvious way to do this is to keep your characters jumping from one exciting
Full credit to the good people of Sterling for keeping a handy coffin on hand!
So Friday actually was a bigger kick-off of than I initially led you to believe, and on the conference floor it was all anyone could talk about. I alluded to it briefly but hadn’t expected the conversations about it to blossom the way they did. Apparently on Friday evening there was a Booklist / Guys Read program with a roster of folks talking on the subject. Even if I had heard about it and had skipped my dinner I wonder if I would have gone. I mean, we hear about Guys Read and we expect the same old, same old boys-should-read-more topics. Not even. It started off evenly enough with Jon Scieszka doing the honors. But by the time it got to Andrew Smith (The Marbury Lens) things got interesting. According to my sources Mr. Smith thought to question the notion that boys really are more reluctant a readers than girls. With statistics and facts under his belt he proceeded to throw the very nature of the problem into question. That would have been shocking enough and the librarians in attendance would have gone home murmuring how very interesting it all had been.
Then came Mr. Snicket.
Daniel Handler gets up there and proceeds to read a passage from what I believe was The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. The dirtiest, sex-drenched series of words the ALA Conference may have ever seen. Like the Stephen Gammel speech of old, reports after the fact vary on how long the reading actually was. Whatever the length, the audience sat stock still in shock. The point? Mr. Handler made it clear that if you want boys to read you give them books with sex in them. That’s what boys want to read after all. A librarian later confirmed that recently she was getting a lot of guys requesting and loving John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Sure the literary qualities are grand, but what they really like? The blow job scene (a scene that periodically gets the book banned and that I have since entirely forgotten).
SO! Between Smith and Snicket the conference floor was a veritable buzz on Saturday!
When preparing to descend to the floor you need to be on your toes. I’ve done enough of these things, so I went through my routine.
The first thing to do is to grab your Annual Conference Program and Exhibit Directory, a sprawling mass of author signings, booth locations, events, speakers, and maps. If you want your day to make any sense at all, you have to chop away at it until it’s in some kind of workable condition. In my case I tend to produce something that looks like this:
That’s just a wish list. There’s no way I’ll see all those folks, but at the very least I should be able to get to the booths. Now if you are invited to a lunch or dinner with a publisher, it’s a toss of a coin whether or not they’ll have the book you so desperately want. I knew I had an Abrams lunch coming and I knew Barry Deutsch would be there so the chances that the new Mirka graphic novel would be on hand were fairly good. But what about that new historical fiction graphic novel series by Nathan Hale? Would they have that as well? Impossible to say. That’s why you have to plan ahead. Carefully I determined what might be available (the new Adam Gidwitz?), what I’d ask about, and what I needed. Not too much, mind you. A suitcase can only hold so many things.
I only read my first Jack Heath book, HitList, recently. I have reviewed it on this web site, January 11. It was a fast-paced thrill-a-minute book for boys which had a strong female protagonist and, unlike my one attempt to read Matthew Reilly, I actually cared about the characters. And the ending wasn't what you might expect.
On his website, Jack expresses his frustration with a certain big bookseller he calls ChaoSonic, and their undercutting the competition. You wouldn't think a best selling writer like him would have books out of print or a publisher unable to afford to release his books, would you? Personally, I don't think the GST helps either, but Jack is much younger than me and has grown up in the GST era, so hasn't seen the difference.
Maybe it's time to offer to overseas publishers or even self-publish as some other well-known writers have done.
I have a bunch of things I want to write about, but I want to post this info about next year's trip.
South Central College will host a student trip to South Africa May 20-June 7, 2013 (dates may vary slightly). Cost will be in the neighborhood of $3200-3400.
People who are not students at SCC are welcome to go on this trip, too, but students will be involved in a related course during spring semester.
This trip will be a journey in understanding humanity, exploring the history of human rights, and being immersed in South African culture by spending fourteen days on the ground in country.We will see the country, strive for an understanding the historic culture, and connect with people. The trip will include experiencing Cape Town, District Six (political basis for the feature film “District Nine”), Port Elizabeth, the Red Location Museum (Apartheid Museum), Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years), Eden Campus Tertiary School of Business Administration, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Sedgefield “Garden Roots,” an African safari, Elephant park and Ostrirch park, and personal connections with South African students.
Scott Fee, MSU professor of Construction Management, will be our group leader. He has taken groups to South Africa several times and was instrumental in the founding of Eden Campus TSBA.
Let me know if you're interested or have questions!
I’m excited to be working on a new story called FLIGHT SCHOOL. It’s a whimsical tale featuring an irrepressible penguin. I’m still in the early stages of the creative process so will wait till later to share more story details, but wanted to share this video of me drawing penguins. I often create my characters by drawing animals from life – observing how they move, noticing small details of their features.
Then slowly, as I keep drawing, my imagination takes over.
I always appreciate it when Roger Sutton writes about Maurice Sendak. His appreciation, respect and friendship always shines through. In a recent Horn Book post, Roger writes about what winning the Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild ThingsAre meant to Maurice.
In the course of his ruminations, he mentions that in his opinion, though many Caldecotts have been awarded, only three books are ones he would truly consider "classic": Make Way for Ducklings, The Snowy Day and Where the Wild Things Are. At first I was like, "Wait! What about the winner the year I served on the committee; or the year this colleague served or that colleague...?" But then I stopped and thought.
The three books mentioned are truly touchstones. When I served on the Caldecott, I used Make Way for Ducklings to train kids and adults on how to help your eye see excellence. The warm brown lines on creamy paper were the only color, yet those illustrations were so powerful and told the story so well, the text was barely needed to convey the plot, emotions and story. This book is the quintessential Caldecott winner for me.
Re-thinking and re-reading Roger's post and going over the list of seventy-five Caldecotts draws me to the much the same conclusion as Roger. I might quibble here and there. But he has named true touchstones of children's literature. What do YOU think?
Froi would do anything for his queen, so when she asks him to travel to nearby Charyn and assassinate their king, he agrees without a second thought. But it's not going to be as easy as slipping in with a dagger in the dead of night. Froi has to pose as a young nobleman who's come to the palace to impregnate the princess, the last in a long string of unsuccessful attempts. Only when she's conceived a child will the curse of infertility that's lain on the country for eighteen years be broken.
Froi finds himself drawn into this drama, because the princess is irresistible. Oh, not for her beauty or her charm, because she has neither, but her ferocity, her secrets, and her strength under an unbearable situation. As Froi fights his way through the thickets of schemes and danger in the Charynite palace, every answer just seems to lead to more questrions. How did the curse come about? Why is the princess's mother locked away? Who exactly is Gargarin, his prickly companion?
And most importantly, what does Froi himself have to do with it all?
This was a behemoth of a book, weighing in at nearly 600 pages, and not light ones either. It's a complex tapestry of a novel, with multiple plotlines, secrets, and schemes to follow. I stuck with it for the characters. Froi, impulsive, hot-tempered, and unexpectedly sweet. Quintana, both damaged and powerful in ways that keep being discovered. Gargarin, Arjuro, Lirah, the older generation who are inextricably entwined in Charyn's curse.
It's also an examination of love, family, politics, and power, and how they're forever intertwined. Each is affected by the other, and very often in ways you can't predict.
While Froi's story is the central plot, there are two threads back at home in Lumatere that didn't work quite as well for me. As individual stories, yes, but I couldn't work out until near the end what they had to do with Charyn or the central plot, and I suspect that I'll have to wait for the third book, Quintana of Charyn, to really understand all the ins and outs.
I'd shelve this next to the Attolia series for the complexity of politics, the fate of countries and the fate of individual hearts.
This is what happened when I poked the Rolleiflex at people at the Cilip Greenaway/Carnegie awards. One of my books was nominated but didn't win (because the awesome "A Monster Calls" won EVERYTHING, deservedly) and I was there to have tiny cakes and be interviewed by children. A good opportunity to practise my photography skills, I figured... Here you go:
Hey Ben! I found the close-up lens! No don't look! Just be natural!
The Barbican serves EXTREMELY SMALL CAKES. I took several away in my handbag.
After the ceremony everyone relaxed in the greenhouse.
David is happy because Walker Books totally dominated the awards. Or maybe it's to do with his hat.
Sometimes I seriously question whether or not I should be as open on here as I am about depression and OCD and therapy and all the crazy that is me. I wonder if people I know in real life will find it and think differently of me or if I ought to be reminding myself that the internet never forgets and this could come back to haunt me one day. But last week I was reminded why I'm open when an in real life friend came and told me she had read about my depression on here and wondered if she could tell me about hers. Totally worth the risk.
And by now you're wondering what that has to do with a book about sleep. Sleep has always had a huge impact on my depression, or maybe depression has had a huge impact on my sleep. Either way, I have had periods of insomnia where I would only sleep one of every three nights and I've had periods of hypersomnia (not sure that's a word) where I slept for sixteen hours a day. It's always been a trouble spot for me emotionally. I get really worked up over sleeping conditions and knowing exactly where and what conditions I'll be sleeping in each night. I also have several time consuming/inconvenient rituals that center around going to bed and being in the "right" mood for sleep. I tend to become obsessed with how much I'm sleeping or not sleeping.
So one of my assignments recently in therapy was to do some sleep research and find out what exactly is happening in my body while I sleep and what "normal" sleep patterns look like. So after researching all of my options via Goodreads, this is the book that seemed to best adress various issues regarding sleep from an accessible and scientific standpoint.
Writing The writing fit my criteria of accessible for a non-scientist, but still academic. I have to say though that it was fairly dry. A lot of the information was interesting, but the author's writing made it less palatable. It just came across very much like a textbook. I found myself picking up anything and everything else. It probably took me a good three weeks to finish and I typically read non-fiction of the same length in 3-4 days.
Entertainment Value I feel like I learned a lot. I wasn't really reading it to be entertained, I was reading it to learn whether or not I fit in with normal sleep patterns and whether or not my brain will explode if I get more or less sleep than "normal" (Spoiler alert: your brain will not explode due to over or under-sleeping). The author spends a good portion of the book talking about how dangerous sleep deprivation can be while driving. Which is true, but even chapters that were unrelated seemed to somehow come back to the topic. I wanted to hear more about exactly how crazy I am compared to the rest of the world. Apparently a lot of people drive while sleepy, but I don't, so it bored me. And let's face it people, it's all about me.
Overall Meh. If you're really interested in the topic of sleep and want a fairly wide range of information/fun facts, I'd say give it a try. I'd recommend getting it from the library though. It was rather pricey, even in paperback, and not as interesting as I had hoped.
The fourth in a new series of guest blogs by booksellers who work with children’s authors in different ways. These Sunday guest blogs are designed to show life behind the scenes of a crucial but neglected relationship – the one between a writer and a bookseller.
Booksellers are like writers. You can learn to be one, but in reality you’re born that way.
I was absolutely born a bookseller. Even now, I feel the joy of belonging as soon as I put my nose inside a bookshop. And my bookshop is like me. Like me, it is, well, a bit of a mess sometimes. Sometimes it seems that the books skip around the shelves of their own accord, because it’s also too much effort for them to stay in strict alphabetical order. I always find Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo among the cookbooks. If you ever read it (and you should, my friends) you will understand why. I take it and put it back among the ‘C’s where it should be.
I forgot to say that I sell Italian books …
You’d think it would be difficult to sell Italian books here; a losing bet, even. In fact, English people love Italian books! Those who read Italian books come to our shop to find them in translation and in the original language. Above all, the English love to learn our language. And we Italian booksellers are ready to help them with advice and encouragement.
What do you read when you first come up against Italian literature? My clients cover a big range. They don’t have any qualms about variety … moving from the classics to the latest ‘giallo’ (detective story) because now Italian writers know how to create a great thriller – by dint of being jealous of the Anglo-Saxon writers, we have become pretty good thriller-writers ourselves!
Among my most passionate clients I have many children. They are not discouraged by a foreign or a strange word. They open books, full of courage. They chant the nursery rhymes of Gianni Rodari, even when they don’t understand every word. But the beauty of poetry is that you don’t understand it all straightaway, is it not?
I always offer advice, whether to the grown-ups or to the smallest children. But I also like to leave them the total freedom to fall in love with a cover or an alluring beginning, or a fleeting phrase they find when they open the book somewhere in the middle.
Books should be touched, creased, caressed. I fear a time when they will all be contained inside little electronic devices. But by that time I shall be a lovely little old lady seated on a terrace surrounded by books. I shall reread for the umpteenth time about how Marcovaldo found mushrooms in the city.
My bookshop hasjust transferred to a new address. Now we are combined as The European Bookshop and Young Europeans Bookstore and The Italian Bookshop in Warwick Street W1. When I first heard this would happen, I was desperately sad, but now I have come to the conclusion that walls don’t matter much. What matters is the writers who ar
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