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Blog: Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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We've talked about role-playing games, or RPG and now we've segued into chatting about a gamer book by Ned Vizzini. This is a review repost in honor of Mr. Vizzini's blog tour, so enjoy again! And if you're here reading for the first time,... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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My bud Nate Evans has a new picture book just perfect for boys. It's called BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Machines, dinosaurs, what's not to love? I asked Nate about it...
Q. Congratulations on the release of your latest picture book BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS (co-authored by Stephanie Gwyn Brown, illustrated by Christopher Santoro). You must have been in a very loud mood when you wrote this. What was the inspiration?
A. It’s been a long road to publication. Stephanie and I wrote this manuscript 10 years ago. It began as a mash-up of my love of gigantic, noisy things: dinosaurs and construction vehicles. I mentioned the idea to a friend, but she thought it needed more – she suggested I tell the book in rhyme. Then I mentioned the concept to another friend, and he suggested that it needed even more – he told me it should be an ABC book! Both of these friends were well-published authors so I decided I should listen to their advice. I was stumped until I hit upon the title: “A Building Crew of Dinosaurs” as the working title. While I was wrestling with the verse and rhyming aspect of the manuscript, I met Stephanie at an SCBWI schmooze. That schmooze was my literary gold mine because, as I got to know Stephanie, I discovered she was an amazing poet. And she loved the rhyming, ABC concept. We decided to collaborate on the project. She thought about things for a few days and then came back with a couple of amazing verses. She really helped to set the tone for the vivid, and loud, language. Lines like:
“Digging, driving, drilling, filling.
Dinos tough and rough and willing.”
Q. You've collaborated on several books now, including the Jellybeans series and Ponyella with Laura Numeroff (Ponyella and two of the Jellybeans books ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list). Do you prefer collaborations or writing on your own?
A. When I was a kid I loved TV shows about groups of friends collaborating on projects and having fun together. Shows like the “Monkees” and the “Banana Splits.” (I also always wanted to be in a rock and roll band, another very collaborative effort.) So why I then proceeded to pick one of the loneliest professions in the world, I have no idea. I sat, alone in my studio for years. After a while, I was sick of it. There’s so much about collaboration that I love: the camaraderie, the brainstorming, the ability to toss a problem back and forth to find a solution. I’ve found that problems that will stall me out for days, or even weeks, as a solo creator will be solved almost instantly in the context of a collaboration. Collaboration for me increases the joy of my working process. And when the combination is just right, like with Stephanie and me on “Bang! Boom! Roar!” the working process feels almost magical.
Q. You're also an illustrator. What's it like having another illustrator put your words into pictures?
A. It is amazing! Of course, the illustrators I’ve worked with are the magical Lynn Munsinger, and the amazing Christopher Santoro. I’ve admired Lynn’s work for years, and when I saw Christopher’s artwork for “Bang! Boom! Roar!” I was floored. I almost literally could not believe my eyes: he’d done much more, taken the visuals so much further, than I could ever have imagined. His artwork is incredibly colorful and lively and full of texture and detail. To me, the illustrations for this new book feel like scenes from an extraordinary animated movie.
Q. Along with picture books, you do chapter books. How is your process different for those?
A. Writing chapter books feels very different to me – the breadth of concept, the language and wordplay, the scope and detail of an adventure. Over the last few years I have been teaching myself to write for older and older kids. So from picture books, I jumped to First Chapter books (“Dragon Bones” for Random House Stepping Stone; “Humpty Dumpty Jr., Hardboiled Detective” and “Beast Friends Forever” for SourceBooks). And, as of several days ago, I’ve just sent my agent my first middle-grade novel manuscript. Now I’m exploring the possibility of writing for teens. It gets tricky because I believe most authors have a natural voice that fits comfortably with a certain age group, and when you try to evolve beyond that age group you have to be very vigilant and careful. You need to pay exacting attention to choice of concept and format and narrative voice and tone. This is another aspect of collaboration that for me is very important. By teaming up with another author, it’s a wonderful way to broaden your writing skill set for the project.
Q. This is a great boy book - what with all the machines and dinosaurs and rhythmic sounding text. Do you think it's easier to write for boys, since you are one and all?
A. Well, once again I have to point to collaboration for my answer. I do feel more at home with boy themes and loud language and exciting action. But when I collaborated on several picture books with the fabulously talented Laura Numeroff, she wanted to write some sweet girl adventures. Working with her, we wrote some very cute stories filled with lots of glitter and pink. I’m very proud of those books, but I certainly couldn’t have written them on my own. (I do have to mention that I did look to my two nieces for added inspiration: one loves to play soccer and other sports, and the other is a beautiful dancer.)
Q. Finally, how else are you getting the word out about your new book?
A. At the moment I’m really concentrating on school visits. It is so much fun getting out and interacting with kids in a school environment. It’s a wonderful way to get a chance to talk about my latest book, among other things. It’s also incredibly inspiring to spend time with so many different types of kids.
Here's a great video to give you an idea how the book goes...
GIVEAWAY!!! Leave a comment to be entered in the random drawing for a free, signed and dedicated copy of BANG! BOOM! ROAR! A BUSY CREW OF DINOSAURS. Must live in the continental USA to win and include your email addy in your comment (spelling it out is fine). No addy, no winnie! The drawing will be held next Wednesday.
Blog: Charlotte's Library (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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The Atomic Weight of Secrets, or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black, by Eden Unger Bowditch (Bancroft Press, March, 2011, middle grade, 339 pages) is the first book of The Young Inventors Guild, a historical sci fi story of five brilliant children. Their parents were extraordinary too, so much so that one day in 1903, when the mysterious men in black came calling, they had to go. But the men in black had a plan for the children too, one that involved sending them off to rural Ohio, where they went to their own special boarding school, under the loving care of Miss Brett (the first adult to ever read out loud to them--the brilliant parents were too busy being brilliant to have much time for their kids).
Twelve-year-old Jasper Modest (a young inventor) and his six-year-old sister, Lucy (gifted with a perfect memory), were taken from London. Nine-year-old Wallace Banneker, determined to follow in the footsteps of his family of African American scientists, inventors, and mathematicians, was taken from New York. Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, brilliant both mentally and musically, was taken from Toronto. And the oldest child, the thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, taken from the luxurious home of her parents, Indian scientists, is fiercely determined to find out the secret of the Mysterious Men in Black who have torn apart their lives for no clear reason.
And they are indeed Mysterious. "In black," for them, includes black tutus. Black bear suites. Black scarfs concealing their faces, which are shrouded by black sombreros, Easter bonnets, and the like. All manner of grab bag bits of clothing, concealing them utterly. And they are not exactly forthcoming to the children--which is to say, they don't say anything.
Although the children's strange school is a virtual prison, and their weekend trips to loving foster mothers carefully orchestrated to make escape impossible, this bizarre situation is one where the children can thrive, becoming each other's first true friends. All the delicious food they want, adult attention and love, and beautiful lab equipment.
Except that there is no getting around the fact that their parents are missing (and though they might have been distant, un-nurturing parents for the most part, this is still disturbing), the men in black are their jailors, and if they want answers, they are going to have to escape. And being brilliant young inventors, the answer comes to them--they must build a flying machine...
This is a book that requires from its reader an acceptance of the bizarre. The children's situation is like a dream, and the reader knows no more about the men in black then they do (although this reader, at least, has read more science fiction than the kids have, back in 1903, and has a theory....what do they actually look like, under all that black concealment???).
Acceptance is also required regarding the pacing of the book. We meet all five right at the start of things, just as they are about to try to escape. But then the author goes back to the start of things, but doesn't introduce us properly to all of the kids at once, instead, doling the introductions out at intervals. She doesn't rush it--we don't get Wallace Bannaker's back story, the last one, until page 182, which I found extreme. So it wasn't until the final third of the book that I felt I had a really firm handle on the kids, and could really appreciate their interactions and character arcs. Likewise, although the book starts with the escape plan getting underway, it then goes back to tell all the story up to that point.
So I read much of the book with a slightly uninvested feeling (though I liked the kids, enjoyed the details of their strange school life, and was curious to learn more about the mystery). It was not till the story catches up to closer to where the book begins, with the great escape project well underway, that the pieces all clicked for me. At that point, all the disparate gifts of the kids combine to make things really start humming, the tension grows, and the reader waits with baited breath for the Great Reveal....and realizes she's not going to get it. Nope, no little wrapping up the plot threads here, just waiting for the next book...
Still, though I have reservations, it never occurred to me to put it down. And I think it might work well for the right young reader--smart, lonely kids in particular!
(Thanks to Wallace and Faye, this is one for my list of multicultural sci fi/fantasy, and it's also one for my spec fic school list too!)
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Blog: Noblemania (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: paperwork (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I am delighted that my new novel for adults is published today.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 27, 2012
Novelist J.K. Rowling has earned some divided early reviews on Amazon. As of this 10 a.m. ET writing, she counted 14 reviews: eight were five-star reviews and six were one-star reviews. The majority of these early reviewers have not read the book.
Most of the one-star reviews were written by customers complaining about the steep price of the book. Those reviews even generated a five-star review from somebody who had not read the book:
Even if this book wasn’t that great I would still give it five stars to make up for those ridiculous price reviews. They don’t contribute anything. The price for the Kindle version is high, yes, but so what? If you don’t want to pay that much then don’t buy it. Just don’t ruin the star rating with useless review. By the way, even though I gave this book five stars for the reason I mentioned, I am sure I will very much enjoy it.
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Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Jennifer duBois, author of A Partial History of Lost Causes; Stuart Nadley, author of The Book of Life; Haley Tanner, author of Vaclav & Lena; Justin Torres, author of We the Animals; and Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn, will be honored as this year’s 5 under 35 authors at the National Book Awards.
The National Book Foundation will celebrate these authors at a party at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn on Monday November 12th, the night before the National Book Awards ceremony. Musician and author Alina Simone will interview these honorees at the event. The interviews will be posted as videos on the Foundation’s website.
Crime novelist Elmore Leonard will receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards. GalleyCat will be in the house to cover the event.
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Blog: Jo Knowles (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I am hoping to get lots of submissions today for my "Notice More Challenge." You can leave submission here or in my previous post by 8pm EST tonight!
What did you notice?? I can't wait to find out!
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Actor Samuel L. Jackson has recorded Wake the F*** Up, a campaign video for the Jewish Council for Education and Research that parodies his enormously popular audiobook reading of Adam Mansbach‘s Go the F*** to Sleep.
We’ve embedded the video above–what do you think? While the video supports Barack Obama, his campaign did not endorse the video ad.
Yahoo has more about the video: “Adam Mansbach, who wrote the book, also penned the script for the video (set to dramatic, kid-action-filmesque music), which follows a young girl as she goes from room to room of her house, attempting to reenergize her jaded family into taking part in the Obama campaign this time around like they did four years ago. Though Jackson wasn’t signed on to star in the spot when Mansbach wrote the dialogue, he did revise it for the movie star, a task he calls ‘great fun.’” (Via WWLA & Slate)
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Blog: Mattias (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Blog: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children and More (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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To BE or Not to BE A Self-Published AuthorBy Anne Duguid
Just under a week ago, Bob Medak wrote an interesting article for Writers on the Move discussing when is the best time to build an author platform. But the last line stopped me in amazement.
"Authors," he wrote, " should have their book published the way they wrote it."
To my surprise, no one even queried the statement, far less took him to task. But as a judge for the recent Global e-Book awards and member of an enthusiastic Kindle publishing group, I have to disagree or at least urge caution on any author thinking of going it alone.
So many potentially good books cannot achieve the success their authors deserve because:
• poor editing leaves muddled sentences, glaring grammatical mistakes and confused plot lines
• poor formatting renders books irritatingly untidy and difficult to read
• poor spelling and proofreading stop the reader from concentrating on the story or information provided
• the cover does not have sales appeal
A reader who is disappointed in the presentation of a book will not buy from the same author again in a hurry.
Advantages of Self-Publishing
• Publish the book the way you, the author, wrote it--but please employ an editor and proofreader.
• Have the last word in the design of your own cover--but consult a good graphic designer or at least visit a site like The Book Designer. The designers' comments here on the great range of book covers submitted for awards are helpful and informative and teach what makes a cover attractive to buyers.
• Check and recheck your formatting till it is absolutely perfect.
• You have complete control over your own work.
• You can publish as fast or as slowly as you like. You make your own deadlines.
• You have the joy of learning all the ins and outs of the business.
Advantages of Traditional Publishing
• The editors, proofreader and cover designer will be provided. They are professionals and will advise on what sells.
• The formatting will be handled by someone who knows the job and the pitfalls.
• A good publisher, editor, cover designer will listen.
• You will have more time for writing.
There is of course the downside.
• The length of time between contract signing and publication date.
• Less income as you have effectively outsourced the work of publication.
• You may not have the book published the way you wrote it but then and again it might just be a smidgeon better.
Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUpPublishing.com and her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers (http://slowandsteadywriters.blogspot.com) far more regularly than she managed in 2011.
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Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat (Putnam, for ages 4 to 8)
Synopsis (from Indiebound): Practice makes perfect in this kick-butt fractured fairy tale.
When the big bad wolf threatens their village, three pigs sign up for different martial arts lessons to prepare to take him down. Pig One and Pig Two don't stick with their training, though, and are no match for their foe. But after practice and dedication, Pig Three becomes great at karate (including perfecting the perfect pork chop!) and saves the day.
Why I liked it: I rarely talk about picture books on this blog, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to wish Corey Rosen Schwartz (Hop! Plop!) a happy book launch. I was privileged enough to read this clever tale in manuscript form. It's a fun and funny picture book with a rollicking and ingenious rhyme scheme. A painless way to help kids realize practice is important. Plus there's plenty of martial arts action! Go, Corey! Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: The Leaky Cauldron (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Reuters has released statements on The Casual Vacancy from various official sources:
"Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly cliched that 'The Casual Vacancy' is not only disappointing — it's dull." (New York Times)
"The Casual Vacancy is no masterpiece, but it's not bad at all: intelligent, workmanlike, and often funny," said Theo Tait in the Guardian newspaper.
Andrew Losowsky of the Huffington Post website, said Rowling's foray into adult fiction was worth publishing, but perhaps did not match the giddy anticipation surrounding its release.
"Would this book be published if it weren't for the name on the cover? Almost certainly. Would anyone pay much attention to it, and its message? Probably not." (Huffington Post)"Though some sequences feel a few drafts short of being ready, others are written with a fluency and beauty that suggest that there could be more and better works to come from her pen." (Huffington Post)
In The Independent newspaper, Boyd Tonkin believed Rowling was at her best when describing the younger characters.
"The teens of Winterdown belong in a bolder, richer book than some of the parental caricatures," he said. "All the social and hormonal turbulence that the later Potter volumes had to veil in the euphemisms of fantasy appear in plain sight here." (The Independent)
The conservative Daily Telegraph broadsheet took umbrage at Rowling's skewering of the middle class.
"While Rowling gives due respect to the poorer, damaged characters, higher up the social scale she is busy carving grotesques," wrote Allison Pearson in a three-star review. (The Daily Telegraph)
The rest of the article can be read here.
UPDATE: Washington Post captured a few more reviews:
“In this one 500-page book, Rowling re-traverses the Potter series’ entire tonal journey: a gradual darkening in which snide comments on small stakes give way to sharp commentary on big ones. The election unearths tensions. The tensions ruin lives. No amount of Reparo spells can undo the things that are done; we’re not in Hogwarts anymore.”
“This isn’t a book that’s easy to fall in love with, the way Harry Potter was with its charming, winning hero and his plucky friends, saving the world from evil with the help of a powerful spell or two. Even with its moments of humor, it’s a hard story where some people just don’t get saved, because really, they never had a chance.”
“Rowling clearly knows how to create a universe that’s compelling, consuming even, but Pagford is no such place. Rather, it is little more than a backdrop, a stage set, its lack of depth an emblem of Rowling’s inability to engage us, to invest us sufficiently in her characters, young or otherwise, to reckon with the contrivances of her fictional world.”
“Rowling’s strength was never her prose. It was her ability to create unforgettable characters and weave stories that held us captive. The magic simply isn’t there in ‘The Casual Vacancy.’ Indeed, the spell has been broken.”
“Rowling does a nice job laying out her 20-plus characters’ endless pretensions and weaknesses, which she punctures with gleeful flicks of a surprisingly sharp comic blade.”
“Rowling captures the humanity in everyone, even if that humanity is not always a pretty sight. And – though creating Harry Potter was more than enough – if Rowling wants to convince the world that she can cast other spells, she has succeeded.”
“As in the Harry Potter books, children make mistakes and join together with a common cause, accompanied here by adults, some malicious, some trying yet failing. Minus the magic, though, good and evil are depressingly human, and while the characters are all well drawn and believable, they aren’t much fun.”
It should take no longer than 4 seconds. It's not pushy. It's not ballsy. It's just smart. Really.
I've been arguing with authors about this for years. For some reason they think its tacky. And this week it came up again at the Digital Book World confrence (That's Bob Mayer's reacap of the 1st day of the con.)
Again people seemed surprised it should take that short a period of time.
People are all busy. We give up fast. If you have a potential reader interested you want to hook her quick. While she's looking for a way to buy her phone could ring. Don't lose her!
Don't hide the buy the book links or make them artfully subtle - having them front and center and easy to see is not crass.
My favorite saying is "no one can buy your book if they've never heard of it" and you might add "and if they can't find it."
I did the 2 second spot the buy link test with a group of 50 writers recently and only 10% passed. Do this with your site - ask some people to look at it and find the buy the book buttons. Time them. Then do a little redesigning. Getting sales is not being too ballsy.
Blog: Sarah McIntyre (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Last night my graffiti-knitting studio mate Lauren O'Farrell and I put on our best fish faces and went along to the launch at Waterstone's Piccadilly of the new book by writer David Almond and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas.
Here's the lovely cover artwork by Oliver, using paint and collage from a travel magazine and cut-up endpapers of an old book.
Paul Black from Walker Books and Mary Byrne from HarperCollins asked me to chair the event, and it was lovely seeing these guys, I'm big fans of their work. Lauren took this photo as my PA for the evening. (We take turns being each other's PA!) Oliver and David had only met each other for the first time that day.
It's always fascinating seeing people's early sketches for their books. Oliver let us see some of his ideas for the cover:
Actually, we were able to see the slideshow of artwork thanks to the hero of the evening, Alex Fitch, who gave up going to another event and stepped in with his iPad to let us run the slideshow off that when the Waterstone's laptop couldn't be found. Thank you, Alex! He recorded the event, and you'll be able to listen to excerpts from it on his bi-monthly book show, Book List, on Resonance FM. (You can listen to earlier episodes here.)
It seems that no one gets out of drawing when I chair an event. Oliver drew us a piranha:
Photo tweeted by Walker Books @BIGPictureBooks
And David drew one, too!
Photo on left tweeted by Walker Books @BIGPictureBooks
David read from The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas:
He's from Newcastle and lives in Northumberland, and I love listening to the Northern tones in his voice and the expression he gives to his reading. Here's a sample of him speaking about another book, but you can get the sense of it:
And here are a couple pages from his writing notebooks. Lots of lovely scrawl and doodles.
And a detail:
For Oliver, The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas is a slight departure from his usual way of working, bringing in more charcoal and grey tones. I love this scene of the story's hero, Stanley Potts, with his new employer (and surrogate dad), Dostoevsky.
Dostoevsky and his daughter, Nitasha, run a Hook-a-Duck stall in a travelling fairground.
The book starts out with Stan living with his aunt and uncle. His Uncle Ernie is a real entrepreneur; after the factory where he worked was shut down, he turned their house into a fish canning plant. Ernie didn't go to school anymore, but canned fish all day, every day, from 6am. Ernie's quite an abusive father figure because his fish always come before everything else. Aunt Anna gives Stan one day off work for his birthday (and has to threaten to go on strike to make Ernie let him go) and Stan wins and befriends some goldfish at the fairground down the road. But Ernie gets a wild idea that tinned goldfish will be the Next Big Thing and fries up Stan's goldfish before he's even out of bed the next morning. Gutting. Here's a sketch of that, and some final artwork of fish from the book:
But even though Ernie's such a terrible dad, there's a stirring moment in the book when he and Stan lose themselves in the joy of running their canning machine. Here's Oliver's sketch and final drawing:
I commented that there were a lot of people in the book who could be construed as 'well dodgy', but who turn out to be a rather comforting part of the new community where Stanley finds himself. Kind of a nice antidote to our society where strangers are immediately seen as potentially harmful to children. Here's Stanley meeting the great Pancho Pirelli, with his entirely invented heroic history, who inspires Stan to think he can swim with piranhas, just like Pancho. (Will he? Will he SURVIVE?)
Oliver talked about about his studio in Brooklyn, where he keeps loads of old books, scraps and cuttings carefully filed away under different labels. (He even has a suitcase labelled 'Nothing'.) This video from the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog gives you a peek:
Oh, and go on, here's a trailer from the Lost and Found animation, adapted from Oliver's book by the amazing Studio AKA:
Besides this book, we also got to peek at Oliver's new picture book with HarperCollins, This Moose Belongs to Me.
I asked Oliver what the book was about and he laughed and replied, 'Communism'. Wilfred meets a moose, names the Moose Marcel and decides he owns the moose. They play and the moose follows most of the rules Wilfred sets for it. Here's a development sketch:
But when Marcel wanders off and Wilfred discovers him with an old lady who calls it Rodrigo, he is most perturbed. Another sketch:
Oliver doesn't lose his friend, but by the end of the story, realises that he can't own a friend, that a friend has to come willingly. Here's some artwork from the book:
Oliver compared it to Native Americans taking money for their land from Europeans and laughing at them, thinking they had been tricked, because, after all, who can own land? Jeffers explained how he painted his characters on top of older landscape paintings by other people. See how it works with this beautiful cover design:
Oliver said he tracked down the original owners, some deceased, and got permission from the relevant people, either to paint directly on to the paintings or to transpose his separate paintings onto them in Photoshop. He grinned and said, 'It's like I'm collaborating with dead people'. Here are some happy fans at Waterstone's, displaying the special slipcover version that comes with a print:
And it was lovely meeting Oliver's brother. I think he said his name was Rory. They look very much like brothers.
If you missed seeing Oliver this time, he's doing another event on Monday at Gosh! Comics on Berwick Street in Soho, where he'll be talking with Lisa Dwan about his new painting book, Neither Here Nor There. See more book images over on the Gosh! Events page.
And comics fans will also be pleased to hear that David Almond and Dave McKean are launching a new illustrated book/ graphic novel in May, called Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf:
Thank you to Paul, Mary, Gary Deane and the team from Waterstone's, Walker Books and HarperCollins for setting up this event, and to Lauren and Alex for all your help. At the end of the talk, there was a massive signing queue, and I signed some books, too. Then I left...
...and Lauren and I made our way to the deep, dark cavern that is The Phoenix Artists Club for the launch of a comic collection by brothers Gary Pleece & Warren Pleece called The Great Unwashed. It's published by Escape Books, the same gang who run Comica Festival and the Comica Social Club: comics expert Paul Gravett, graphic designer Peter Stanbury and events coordinator Megan Donnolley. (But their jobs all overlap and they really do all three.)
Here's Lauren with comics dudes John Miers and Mike Medaglia. Do come along to the monthly Comica Social Club meetings, they're a great place to talk shop and hang out with other comics creators and comics readers.
Blog: Janet Reid, Literary Agent (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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***and win a prize!
The more specific your answer, the better your chance to win.
All decisions are entirely subjective. Two people are barred from entering or coaching any one else about the entry (you know who are J&J!!!)
Post your guess in the comments column of this blog.
One guess per person, please.
The prize is a book of course!
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Blog: educating alice (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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…not the creator. Having been on one of the Newberry committees I can say with complete certainty that this is what happens. Committee members are looking intently at the books through the lens of the official criteria. They absolutely DO NOT consider the authors, illustrators, editors, or anything else of that nature. They are looking full-on at the work and nothing else.
However, those of us outside the committee room are aware of those creators and it can be hard to not think about the love and thought and care they put into their books when considering them in terms of awards. But I believe it is important to understand that this cannot be considered, not just for Newbery but other awards like the National Book Award too, I would guess.
This came to mind as I read Ian Parker’s New Yorker profile of J. K. Rowling, “Mugglemarch,” some of the responses to it (say this one), and now the first reviews of The Casual Vacancy. While it is pretty impossible for any competent reviewer (and here we could get into the whole debate about reviewing but I won’t) to consider this title without considering Rowling and Harry Potter, those on a committee that works as does the Newbery would absolutely have to do just that.
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Blog: Manga Maniac Cafe (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Graphia, review, YA, Young Adult, Add a tag
Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
May Contain Spoilers
This book had me extremely freaked out at several points during the story, and I could not put it down. Well, I did have to put it down once, because everyone else had wandered off to bed, it was dark, and I was FREAKED OUT. I just could not sit in the living room by myself and continue to read, damn my easily frightened heart. So I carefully marked my place, set the book down, and waddled off to bed, already counting down the hours until I would be home from work and able to read again. It was probably for the best; it was a work night anyway, and the weekend beckoned just a few hours away.
I loved Embers, also by Laura Bickle, for both the heroine and for her cuddle-worthy elemental, Sparky. I read a lot of books, and if I can remember most of the plot and even character names months after I have finished, it was a great reading experience. When I saw that she had a YA title coming out, I was beside myself with excitement. Would I enjoy it? The Hallowed Ones intrigued me for another reason, too. Katie is Amish, and she is about to set off on her Rumspringa, the time that young Amish are permitted to live with the English away from their communities, in order to determine whether or not they wanted to return and be baptized, and fully accepted as adults in their society. Being baptized also meant putting aside non-Amish things, and having additional pressures to conform to accepted behavior. I wondered if I would find Katie an interesting person. She is supposed to be humble and agreeable, and not make waves. Guess what? She is a fascinating heroine, strong, brave, and more than willing to make waves when she thought that an injustice was being committed. This got her into a lot of hot water with the Elders, but Katie just could not step aside when she thought that someone needed her help. Unfortunately for her people, everybody needed help after a devastating catastrophe befalls the Outside.
I can’t remember having read another book with an Amish protagonist, so I don’t know how authentic Katie is, but I liked her a lot. She never backed down when she was needed, regardless of how unpleasant, and in several instances, how downright horrifying, the task was. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, because I want you to be as freaked out as I was. Let me just say that there are evil, awful monsters Outside, and they are ravenous. They are scary. They are strong. And worse of all, they are smart. With the Elders denying that a darkness has descended and threatens to survival of the human race, things are looking particularly grim. An Amish community, with its wooden houses and lack of technology, isn’t the first place I would choose to make my last stand with the world ending around me. There are no radios, TV, or internet for the news, and cell phones? Forget it! You aren’t going to be able to send urgent, terrified text messages to your friends and family because they don’t have those there! Several times I was struck by how difficult communication would be even without the end of days. Heck, if I wanted to talk to my neighbors on the other end of the community, I would have to walk there. Or hitch up my horse and drive there. Thank goodness I know how to drive a buggy.
I thought the beginning of the story was a little slow, but now that I have finished the book, I don’t think that anymore. We needed that calm before the storm, to establish both Katie and Elijah’s personalities, their role in their society, and what their hopes were for the future. Katie firmly believed that she and Elijah would go on Rumspringa together, and after kicking up their heels, they would both be baptized, and then eventually they would be married and start a family of their own. Everything was laid out in a simple path, and all she had to do was follow it. But then the unthinkable happens, and there is no Outside anymore. When the Elders, in an abundance of caution, closed off their community, Katie begins to question everything that she once accepted without a qualm. She disobeys the Elders, and soon she has first hand knowledge of the evil they are up against. Things don’t look good, and Katie thinks that it is just a matter of time before everyone in her knows and loves suffers an unspeakable end.
While I liked Katie, I think that the Hexenmeister is my favorite character. There is just something about a crazy old guy who turns out to be a magical bad-ass that appeals to me. While he lived on the fringes of his society because he was quite odd during times of peace and contentment, during the end of the world he was just the guy to have on your side. He, too, was strong and unwavering, even when confronted with the corruption that seethed within their community.
The Hallowed Ones is an exciting, and at times, terrifying read, with a strong heroine ready to do whatever is necessary to save the lives of her family. Without technology on her side, Katie has to rely on something many of us have forgotten how to use; her own cunning and common sense. I enjoyed this book very much, and can hardly wait for follow-up.
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Today's guest is the lovely Joan Swan, an award-winning author of sexy romantic suspense, who occasionally throws in a paranormal twist or two for some extra spark. In her day job, she works as a sonographer at UCSF Medical Center. She lives on the central coast of California in beautiful wine country with her husband and two daughters. You can catch her on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.
Big thanks to Martina for having me today!
I confess—I am a closet hoarder of craft books and a deep lover of all things writing craft. Hearing the perfect cadence of a sentence or the fresh turn of phrase stirs my emotions as effectively as my favorite song on the radio.
So I believe in enjoying that learning process. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the information I strive to share about turning points here today.
One of my favorite places in a romance is when my hero and heroine reach the point of no return. That place where one or both make the decision to do something, say something or feels something that changes everything in their current reality. Something that changes the existing relationship. From that point on, there is no going back to the way things were.
This can happen in one pivotal location, in a baby-step progression or in a push-pull pattern, where the hero and heroine take two steps forward and one step back. For me, as long as it’s done well, I don’t care what method is used, I still love these turning points. The action—or inaction, their realization—or lack of one, is a conscious investment in their new future; a commitment—to themselves and to the other person. And I thrive on the emotion involved in making that choice.
In BLAZE, book two in my Phoenix Rising series which released a couple days ago, the romance is a reunion story, so my hero and heroine make many realizations over the course of the book. It’s a push-pull scenario as they work through both their external and internal conflicts.
The scene I want to share to illustrate one of these emotional turning points is late in the book. My heroine, Keira, in BLAZE has far more emotional baggage than my hero, Luke, and it has taken her far longer to accept the fact that she can’t go back to the way her life was before she crossed paths with Luke again.
In this scene, Keira has been up all night after another argument with Luke, struggling with her demons.
Sleep had completely eluded her. Keira’s exhausted eyes gazed beyond the guest bedroom window where the caramel sunrise nudged the indigo night into another hemisphere. Mountains blanketed with pines and aspens waited silently for the change from shadow to light.
Even going on fifty hours without any rest, Keira’s mind continued to fight. Her heart continued to struggle. But worse and most painful, her soul continued to reach. For Luke.
At times over the night, she swore it was a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. At times she’d come so close to letting it have its way. Going to Luke and promising him anything if he’d just vow to love her forever in return. Love her like he used to. Before everything went wrong.
And that was the very memory that kept her pacing the room instead of lying by his side—all that had gone wrong.
The soft carpet beneath her feet had flattened from hours of travel. She threaded both hands through her hair and yanked at the strands. Her scalp pulled, the sting a welcome relief to the tension that made her think her head would explode.
“Why am I so screwed up?”
Stupid question. Stupid, stupid question. She knew exactly why. The real question she’d stopped asking a long time ago, but which was creeping up now in her moment of helpless crisis, was why me? She’d never had the luxury of self-pity. Besides, she wasn’t the type.
“So knock it off.” She pulled her hands from her head and shook her hair back. “Just go out there and deal with it. Stop being such a coward.”
Here, Keira moves from stewing over her problems to getting sick and tired of going round and round with it in her mind and draws that line in the sand for herself. For some characters this can happen fast, for some it can take an entire book. What matters is that the layers have been removed beforehand so that when she gets to this point, she is ready to take the next step, because an emotional realization without an intellectual correlation and a commitment for change is a setup for the same problem occurring in the future. And in all fiction that ends on a positive note, the reader needs to believe that what the author has set up within the book will continue into the unseen future to have that sense of satisfaction in a good read.
She realized how messed up she was. She got it. The problem was, Luke didn’t.
Luke, the sick, crazy bastard, looked at her as the mother to whatever brood he had dreamed up in that gorgeous head of his. And he pushed and pushed and pushed. Every time he brought up the subject, as he’d done last night, she felt like he was smothering her. As if he’d crushed a pillow over her face and she had to kick him in the balls to get him to let up so she could breathe.
She was trapped. Because now that she’d seen him again, kissed him again, touched him again, realized she’d never stopped loving him, she knew why her attempts at life—a real life—for the last three years had failed. Miserably.
She needed him. She wanted him. He had been the part of her life that made it rich and spontaneous and joyous and . . . meaningful. Through the fights, the fun, the loss, the love. It was Luke. Luke made her feel like . . . herself. Luke made her feel real. Unique. Authentic. Luke made her feel alive.
Without Luke, she worked. She ate. She trained.
Without Luke, she existed.
You won’t let me in. Not really. You always hold something back. You always have a safety net. An out.
As far back as her memory would take her, Keira had lived with a bag packed and hidden away. A change of clothes, snacks, her favorite blanket, a stuffed animal. Yes, she always had an out.
But if she was going to make it work with Luke this time, she’d have to go all in. She knew that. Which was why she was still in her room pacing, not out in the family room with everyone else eating breakfast like a normal person.
Because she was so not normal.
“This is ridiculous. I can’t keep living like this.”
She didn’t know what the answer was. Didn’t know how they’d find it. But she was committed to crawling through those dark spots to figure it out, as long as Luke was crawling with her.
Keira turned toward the door. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “We’ll talk.” She nodded once. “We’ll fight.” Her lips compressed. “We’ll fight some more.”
Resignation sank in and her chest grew heavy. “We’ll . . . probably fight a lot . . .”
Tears of fear snuck into her eyes. For a flicker of a second she considered rejecting the idea. Then her mind darted toward returning to her life in Sacramento. To her eighteen hours at work. Two hours at the gym. Four hours in bed—alone.
A void opened in her chest. Trying to live without Luke was like trying to breathe in a smoke-filled room. Trying to run under water. Trying to hold back an ocean wave.
She reached for the doorknob and hesitated. As if she was split in two, one half of her urged her to stay put, keep her mouth shut. But the other half, the half that knew she couldn’t keep living this way, pushed her feet forward.
And this is where she’s fused her emotional turmoil with an intellectual conclusion. She’s strategized a reasonable short term plan and her heart is in the right place. She’s acting like the heroine she is.
When she pushes her feet forward – and in the remainder of the scene – moves on in search of Luke with conviction to set things right once and for all, as a reader, I’m not only invested in her success, but I believe the outcome will be favorable, despite the rough bumps that are obvious to both the character and the reader.
You can read how Keira and Luke started out in the first chapter of Blaze, here.
What is your favorite point in a story? As a reader? As a writer?
BLAZE by Joan Swan
The hotter they come, the harder they fall…
With a man like him, every mission becomes personal…
Ever since FBI agent Keira O’Shay started tracking a young boy named Mateo, she’s felt a connection even her empathic abilities can’t explain. She needs to save Mateo from the cult leader holding him hostage. Nothing can interfere with that—not even the reappearance of Luke Ransom, the hot-as-hell fire captain she’s regretted walking out on for three long years.
Losing Keira left Luke vulnerable—in every way. When they were together, the powers each possesses were mysteriously enhanced. But it’s the sexy, surprising woman beneath the tough exterior that Luke’s really missed. Even if she betrayed him utterly. And even if agreeing to help her uncover a government conspiracy means watching his life and his heart go up in flames again…
Want to win a copy of Blaze?
Joan has very generously donated a copy for giveaway. Enter below to win!
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Blog: I.N.K.: Interesting Non fiction for Kids (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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My suburban D.C. boarding school observed the tradition of attending all inaugural parades no matter the students’ take on current events. Miss Keyser was a formidable presence, but I went up against our headmistress ahead of the field trip. And lost. “Everyone goes, Ann,” she said. “Everyone.” And that was that. So, at age 15, I fumed in the parade stands as Nixon rode by waving with Pat from an open car.
|John Lewis, Jim Zwerg, Ann Bausum in 2007.|
“So you see, you and John and the Movement and the spirit of goodness just all flow through me in a very powerful and inspiring way. That's where the words come from. Thank you for living them so that I can write them down.”
|Memphis strike. Courtesy U. of Memphis Special Col.|
Even if I haven’t walked in a protest march, I’ve retraced the routes of many, from the picket marches women led to the White House during World War I, to the blacktopped ribbons traveled by Freedom Riders in 1961, to the well-worn Memphis route paced in 1968 by sanitation workers during the strike that drew Martin Luther King, Jr., toward his death.
Blog: ROOTS IN MYTH (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I will admit the Class of 2k8 holds such a special place in my heart! I loved being a part of this class so much! I can't believe it's been four years since 2008! Like all the debut groups before and after us, our class had a wonderful bond. And much of that was due to our fabulous co-presidents! I've already featured Marissa Doyle, and today I am thrilled to feature our other co-president, Jody Feldman!
Name: Jody Feldman
Debut Group: Class of 2008
Debut novel: THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES
PJH: Okay, so it’s been nearly 4 years since you graduated from your debut class. Personally, I miss the heck out of knowing what my classmates are up to. So give us the low-down. What have you been up to in the last few years? New books? New degrees? New pets? What has been going on, and what do we have to look forward to from you in the future?
JF: It’s like trying to catch up with anyone after several years; so much has happened, but so little to report. Second book, check! The Seventh Level came out in 2010. House remodel requiring a four-month move-out, check! Been back in for about a year. New books, check! Gollywhopper Games 2 and Gollywhopper Games 3 (titles not yet set) coming out in 2013 and 2014.
PJH: If you could summarize to a debut novelist the best part of being a member of an author group like the “Class of” groups, what would you say?
JF: You sign your first contract with all that swagger, then you realize how little you know. Being in something like the Class of 2k8 works on so many levels to give you the support you need whether it’s commiseration, celebration, or especially navigation of the author world. The added exposure doesn’t hurt either.
PJH: Though I absolutely loved being a debut author, I’m really thrilled with all the experience I’ve gained since. What advice would you give to those who are debuting now? What do you wish you had known when you started out?
JF: You cannot and should not know and do everything; therefore,
PJH: In addition to writing the next mega-million bestselling novel, what do you want to accomplish in the next five years? Do you want to write five more books? Get your black belt in Kung Fu? Walk the Great Wall of China? Let’s hear it.
JF: I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing a romantic-comedy for the big screen. I’ve always wanted to eat pasta in Italy and spend a week on a wind-swept terrace in the South of France. I’ve always wanted to paint something, and I’m not talking about a wall or ceiling or house exterior. All of which could happen in the next five years. Or maybe something else will instead.
PJH: Anything else you want to add? Five reasons to read your book? A picture of your writing space? How you celebrated when you signed your contract? Your choice!
JF: This business has its mysterious ways. I wrote The Gollywhopper Games as a stand-alone. Okay. Yes, of course, I daydreamed about writing a follow-up, but never seriously. And never did a Book 3 creep into in my greatest dreams. But one librarian read the book and suggested it here and there, and this little book that could found its way onto one state list then 16 or so, and that generated enough steam to warrant a couple sequels. Who knew? I sure didn’t. I just wanted to write a book that some kid might want to read all the way through.
PJH: Thank you so much for being here! And good luck with everything in the future!
Jody Feldman blames her 7th grade English teacher (justly or not) for turning her away from writing, yet the world mysteriously led her back. She is the author of The Seventh Level and The Gollywhopper Games. Coming soon, Gollywhopper 2 & 3 (HarperCollins/Greenwillow). You can find her in St. Louis, MO, at www.jodyfeldman.com or as jodyfeldman on Twitter.
Thanks for helping me celebrate former debuts! And if you are a former debut and are interested in being featured, check out this post here!
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Blog: The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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of all our children's education:
|President Barack Obama discusses education in an interview with|
NBC's Samantha Guthrie September 24, 2012. Photo KSL.com.
Mitt Romney on EDUCATION:
|Republican presidential candidate ,Mitt Romney is interviewed by |
NBC newsman Brian Williams at the NBC Education Nation Summit
in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.
Photo: Evan Vucci / AP
My question is considering that the advent of standardized testing has increased to historic levels, causing a lot of teaching to the test, billions of dollars into testing and really the killing of creativity in many ways, how would you as president change this trend and how do you put students directly in your administration and let them have a voice in this policy decision-making process?
ROMNEY: First of all, you will find throughout your life that there are tests, and I don't know a way to evaluate the progress of students other than by evaluating it through testing of some kind or another.
If there are tests that are ineffective or that measure things that are not really relevant, why, obviously, you try to improve the test but you'll have an SAT when you graduate from high school, you'll -- if you want to go into graduate school you'll have an advanced test, GMAT or other test and you'll find throughout your life that there are going to be tests.
And we always complain about them. I complained about them when I was a student. And we don't like tests but there's really no other way we found out to determine whether a student is succeeding or not succeeding and, frankly, whether the teacher is succeeding or not succeeding. So I don't have a better model than saying we're going to evaluate our kids through some kind of a testing system.
When I became governor of mass, we had this graduation exam. I took it because I would hear from teachers we're having to teach to the tests. I took the exam -- and I passed it, by the way, but --
ROMNEY: -- although I took it at home so no one really got to see my answers, but, you know, when it got to the math section, there was geometry, algebra, calculus, trigonometry. I mean, these are the topics there. I don't know what teaching to the test would mean if it were not teaching basic math skills.
On the language side, I read paragraphs and then I wrote down or -- excuse me -- I checked off the things I'd seen in the paragraph. If teaching to the test means learning how to read and write and learning how to do basic math skills, then there's nothing terribly wrong with that. I added science and so people are going to get tested in biology and geology and so forth. This is part of what we expect schools to do.
What I was concerned about before we had these kind of tests is that we might have faculty members go off on a completely different tangent from the basic math and English and science skills our kids need to succeed.
So I'm not going to replace testing. I would love to improve it. That's why when No Child Left Behind was passed the author said we'll let each state create your own test and evaluate how well students are doing.
But I'm going to keep in place the testing. And as with regards to student involvement, I hope students are very involved in the political process and in the process of the quality of your education. I would love to have the students grade the teachers at the end of the year as opposed to just the other way around so that teachers get feedback.
We did that when I got to graduate school. We got to grade the teachers and then it was published. They put it up for the whole school to see in business school, how each teacher did on a whole series of dimensions and it helped. It helped the teachers. I think -- I believe in a lot of feedback.
So far from being a guy who would say let's stop testing, I'd just try and make our testing more effective, expand it in ways that maybe haven't been thought of before and recognize we need to drive the quality of education and it's one tool we have to do it.
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