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20676. ‘Book of Life’ Launches with $17 Million

This weekend the $50 million Fox/Reel FX film "The Book of Life," opened in the United States with an estimated $17 million.

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20677. Monday Mishmash 10/20/14


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Curse of the Granville Fortune Releases Tomorrow!  I can't believe tomorrow is the big day! My middle grade fantasy will be available 10/21.
  2. Out of the Ashes on Goodreads  You can now add Out of the Ashes, book two in the Birth of the Phoenix Series, on Goodreads.
  3. #IntotheFireChallenge  Halloween will be here before you know it, so get your review of Into the Fire up on Amazon to be entered for a chance to become a phoenix in the third book in the Birth of the Phoenix Series. You could also win signed copies of all three books in the series.
  4. Beth Fred's Writing Class  My friend Beth Fred is teaching another class through Colorado Romance Writer. It's called The Art of Blurb Writing. Sign up here.
  5. Witches Three Tour  I signed at Books-A-Million in Exton, PA last Saturday along with Jennifer Murgia and Molly Cochran. Jen and I will be signing at BAM in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA this Saturday from 1-3pm. Come see us if you're in the area.
Here are some fun pictures from last Saturday.


That's it for me. What's on your mind today?



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20678. An Interview with Elli Woollard, creator of Woozy the Wizard

woozyWoozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well written by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy is the first in a new and very funny series of readers for children just gaining confidence in reading alone.

Woozy is a terribly well-meaning wizard who’s keen to help his friends, but more often than not he gets somewhat mixed up and his spells don’t quite do what they’re meant to. With the help of his pet pig Woozy flies around trying to sort things out, and in the process it becomes clear that whilst it may not be magic, it is certainly something quite magical that helps put the world to rights.

Lots of humour, great rhythm and rhyme (enormous aids when practising reading because they help with scanning a line, and predicting how words should be pronounced), and clear, bright and colourful illustrations all add up to a lovely book perfect to give to your emerging reader.

To celebrate the publication of I interviewed the author of Woozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well, Elli Woollard, about her work. Given Elli is a poet, I challenged her to answer me in rhyme….

Zoe: Rhyming seems to be in your blood. Where did this passion come from?

Elli Woollard: The thing about me is I sing quite a lot
(I rather enjoy it; the neighbours might not),
And I guess if you’re singing for much of the time
Your mind sort of slips into thinking in rhyme.

Zoe: How does your blog, where you regularly publish poems/works in progress, help you with your writing?

Elli Woollard: My blog’s like a sketchbook for scribbles and scrawls
And all of my mind’s muddly mess.
I write them all down, and sometimes I frown,
But some make me want to go ‘YES!’

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Zoe: What would your ideal writing location/environment be like and why?

Elli Woollard: A hot cup of coffee, a warm purring cat;
There’s not much more that I need than that.
Working at home is really quite nice
(Except when the cat thinks my fingers are mice).

Zoe: What was the most magical part for you in the process of seeing Woozy the Wizard come to life as a printed book?

Elli Woollard: Writing, writing, is ever so exciting,
Especially when you’ve finished and say ‘Look!
All of my creations now come with illustrations!
Bloomin’ heck, I think I wrote a book!’

Zoe: What tips do you have for kids who love to write poetry?

Elli Woollard: Use your ears, use your eyes, use your heads, use your feet,
Stand up proud, read aloud, and just listen to that beat.
Feel the rhythm, feel the vibes of the poetry you’ve heard,
And think about the magic that’s in every single word.

Zoe: Which poets for children do you like to read?

Elli Woollard: Donaldson (Julia), Rosen (Mike),
Lear (Edward) and Milligan (Spike),
I could go on, and write a long list,
But so many good ones I know would get missed.

Zoe: Thanks Elli! I’m already looking forward to the next outing for Woozy, in spring 2015!

2 Comments on An Interview with Elli Woollard, creator of Woozy the Wizard, last added: 10/20/2014
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20679. ONE THING STOLEN: a single copy available to a U.S. reader

I have a single copy of ONE THING STOLEN, my novel about an impossible obsession set against the backdrop of Florence, Italy, available to a U.S. reader.

I invite those who are interested to leave a comment indicating one thing you most associate with Florence—a building, a landscape feature, an icon, a dish, a way of walking, a kind of weather, anything. I will then attempt to write a blog post referencing every single comment.

(I anticipate a mean mind twister.)

The winner will be randomly chosen on November 15th.

Perhaps you wonder why I have just one copy to give away? The answer is that I've been busy creating packages for the many people who helped make this book a reality.

Dr. Bruce Miller, for example, of the University of California-San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, who shed light on the disease that my young Nadia faces.

Emily Rosner and Maurizio Panichi, whom I met in the Florence bookstore, Paperback Exchange, and who helped me understand the 1966 flooding of the Arno and the Mud Angels who came to the rescue; Maurizio's own experiences are woven through this story.

Laura Gori, who directs the Scuola del Cuoio, and where I learned the art of leather working from a master.

Mike Cola, a dear friend and Renaissance man, who talked to me about birds.

Kathy Coffey, who sent, through the mail, the book that I needed, following her own trip to Florence.

My brother-in-law, Mario, who helped me with translations.

Wendy Robards, who read early on and kept me grounded.

My students Katie Goldrath and Maggie Ercolani, who deeply inspired me.

And a few others.

Leaving me with one galley for posterity's sake and one for one of you.

I hope you'll let me know of your interest.

0 Comments on ONE THING STOLEN: a single copy available to a U.S. reader as of 10/19/2014 7:42:00 PM
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20680. Too Many Notes

One of my favorite scenes from any movie is this one.

I know the joke is about banal criticism, uttered by a witless fop who knows nothing about music, but I also think — maybe it doesn’t apply to Mozart, but I know what the emperor (who I will always see as Principal Rooney in a ridiculous costume) means. Music can have too many notes. It can be overly notey. Have you seen the winnowing rounds of American Idol, when every vocalist wants to show their stuff by hitting as many notes as they can on their way through a syllable in the lyrics? Too many notes. Cut a few.

Writers are more used to be critiqued on economy, and though it’s obviously not shared by all acclaimed novelists (even famous ones), most of us would roll our eyes at an author who claims their bloated novel has “just as many words  as the piece requires.”

I think, in many ways, my first three novels have too many notes. The first draft of Mudville had so many notes it was a cacophony; you have no idea how many subplots and backstories were  shoved into it. A lot of that was cut, but if I had a fresh crack of it I think I would boil it down to two thirds its current length.

I think that middle grade has gotten overly long and notey as a genre, to be honest. Why when I was a kid (waves cane) when I was a kid there was nary an elementary school book that topped page 200 and you could read the whole thing in one sitting. And books were made out of paper!

That being said, I’ve been working on something since January that is still only 10,000 words long — I’ve had the file open for most of the year, so it’s not for lack of working on it, but it is painstaking and doesn’t want to write itself, and doesn’t want to go away. It’s either my masterpiece or I’ll never finish it. No matter how much you love economy, 10,000 words ain’t going to cut it. 20,000 is all right if you’re Andrew Clements, but for most of us 40K is short. Will I ever get there?

If I do, this is my masterpiece. But you can’t expect it until (does math) 2018, and that’s if I find a publisher three days after writing THE END on the last page (by the way, nobody actually does that, it’s figurative).

I have told people about it, even entire schools full of people, but I haven’t blogged about it, and not many people have read it.

Here’s the first sentence:

Rafael Reyes ran up bleacher steps of Tetelo Vargas stadium flapping his arms and pretending to fly.

That sentence — believe me, I’ve worked on it enough — that sentence has no superfluous notes.

 


Filed under: Miscellaneous, Writing

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20681. On being a young writer

Being a writer is such a weird profession, with a huge chasm between the hopes/expectations/romantic ideals of what being a capital-W Writer involves and the reality of the thing. Which is not at all glamorous. It's mostly hard work and uncertainty and awkwardly fielding questions about how much money you earn at every social event for the rest of your life.

It's hard to tell whether my experiences of being a writer are specific 'young writer' experiences, or things that affect new writers regardless of age. I think anyone who dreams of becoming a writer, at any age, has a concept of what being a writer will be like and finds the reality of it to be something else entirely. I dreamt of being an author from the age of seven. My childhood was consumed by writing. I got a book deal age fifteen, and my debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, was published the next year. It was thrilling and surreal to see my novel on the shelves of a bookshop, but the actual publication day felt totally normal - there was no real transition to feeling like a proper writer.

I wrote a guest post about my experiences as a young writer and what I've learned along the way, for the Writers' Bloc blog. They're celebrating young writers (under the age of 31) with a series of posts in October, so well worth a read! You can read the rest of my piece here.

(Sidenote: The editor of Writers' Bloc is the lovely writer and book blogger Sam van Zweden, who interviewed me on her own blog way back in 2010!)

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20682. Star of the Team by Beverly Stowe McClure

teamA girl.

A dream.

An accident.

A dream shattered.

Eleven-year-old Kate Taylor dreams of being the star of her basketball team, Angels. When Kate’s tooth is knocked out at one of the games and her mother, who is also her coach, says she can’t play until the tooth the dentist replants heals, Kate’s dreams are in jeopardy. Add Emily, the new girl at school who claims she’s the best, and Kate faces a challenge to prove that she is the star.

Will Kate succeed? Or will Emily ruin Kate’s plans?

PURCHASE AT:

Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/k5y1mky

 

Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/18r6ox4bev

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories. 

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com


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20683. Adventures in YA Publishing Is Looking for an Interview Coordinator and an Interview Formatter

Hi all,

Due to illness, we are losing our Interview Coordinator effective immediately. We're heartbroken, because Katharyn Sinelli has very big shoes to fill. So big that we're effectively going to split the position in two to make it more manageable for a non-superhuman to accomplish.

Here's what's involved:

Interview Coordinator

1) Check the list of upcoming YA books and enter the title, ISBN-10, author's name and release date into our database.
2) Check contact information for authors, enter to database, and click the send button to generate automated interview requests.
3) Respond to response emails from authors and enter interview answers into the database and into a scheduled post as they come in.
4) Pass interest for WOW Wednesday posts and Craft Posts to appropriate editors

Interview Formatter

1) Check the scheduled Saturday interview posts, bold questions, pull book data from the database and cut and paste into interview post.

What do you get in return?  Be part of the team behind a two-time 101 Best Websites for Writers site. Learn from and interact with great authors. Help set new policy and directions for the site. Plenty of room to make things your own.

Interested? Contact us at ayaplit at gmail dot com! Please include a resume or synopsis of your experience and why you're interested. Please also include a couple of references. : ) Thanks!

0 Comments on Adventures in YA Publishing Is Looking for an Interview Coordinator and an Interview Formatter as of 10/19/2014 9:34:00 PM
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20684. Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions

PBlogo

Polis Books is an independent digital publishing company actively seeking new and established authors for our growing list. We are currently acquiring titles in the following genres. Submissions in the following genres should be to submissions@polisbooks.com.

We are currently acquiring:

• Mystery

• Thriller

• Suspense

• Procedural

• Traditional crime (i.e. ‘cozies’)

• Science Fiction

• Fantasy

• Horror

• Supernatural

• Urban Fantasy

• Romance

• Erotica

• Commercial Women’s Fiction

• New Adult

• Young Adult

• Humor/Essays

We are not currently acquiring:

• Children’s Picture books

• Graphic novels

• Short stories or stand-alone novellas

• Religion

Submission Requirements:

• Query Letter

• Three Sample Chapters

• Author Biography (include information about personal blogs, Twitter handle, or other social media outlets you feel we should be aware of)

Query letter and sample chapters should be emailed as attachments (not in body of email) to:

submissions@polisbooks.com

They will reply requesting more information on a submission-by-submission basis. 

They give a small advance and 40% royalties.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, need to know, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Publishing Industry, Royalties Tagged: Acquiring new and established authors, Digital Publishing Company, Polis Books

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20685. Penland Part 2

My one week course covered a great deal in a short period of time. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time as I felt that I always wanted to be working, both because I had paid a tidy sum to be there and because I couldn't  wait to try out what I was learning. One of the really cool things that Brian demonstrated for us was how he made what he calls, "butter houses" by throwing a cylinder on the wheel and altering it by flattening, cutting and shaping the sides.





We also learned how to use a shur form tool (which I had never heard of before) to shape and thin a clay body. We learned a nifty way to work with slabs, how to finish a cut piece with a coiled rope of clay, how to make and attach handles with out having to pull them (yeah!!), how to use white slip over a red clay body to draw or paint on it to add interest, make spouts for pitchers, construct complex multifunctional pieces and decorate with terra sigilata.






.
Our studio assistants were a couple of crazy talented guys named Brooks Oliver and Don Reynolds whom Brian kept referring to as Brooks & Dunn, which became the running joke. These guys are both very accomplished artists who were always willing to help, were full of knowledge and just lots of fun to be with. If you want to get into the heads of two very interesting people, read Don's biography and Brooks's artist statement. 


Brooks Oliver




Don Reynolds

For my next installment: the people I met including artists and their studios around Penland



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20686. Dante’s Inferno and the Non-Fiction Writer: by Terry Jennings

I am pleased to bring you a post from a writer friend TERRY JENNINGS, whose specialty is CHILDREN’S NON FICTION.  here’s Terry:

If Dante had been a non-fiction writer, in the Divine Comedy he would have put a circle in hell for writers whose overriding vice is Pride of Research. I never read the Divine Comedy but I did read Dan Brown’s Inferno and I know Dante liked those little circles where you would burn for eternity to expiate your sins. So if at any time there is a writer’s confessional, I would have to own up to that vicious sin—researching so much and having such pride in my cool factoids and data that sometimes I forget that the research should play a supporting role, not be all consuming like the fires of hell. And the part that makes this whole thing vicious is that along with pride can come a bit of arrogance and infallibility. I’ve done all this research and I know all there is to know, right? Recently, during the editing of my fact-based picture book, Sounds of the Savana (Arbordale, 2015), fate (or my sweet editor, whichever you choose) knocked me off my high horse.

Normally, my problem is not to include every tidbit and morsel in a manuscript. That is a sin I have worked hard to overcome. I figure I have slaved to get those lovely little gems and I have to put them somewhere. They have to be of use. I try dropping them into cocktail conversation. For instance, “Did you know that vervet monkeys have different kinds of vocalizations for different predators?” Or “Did you know spiny mice slough off their skin if a predator catches them? All that nasty owl will get is a piece of skin—and the mouse’s skin regrows by the next day. Imagine that!” I eat up that kind of stuff, but it makes people around me fall asleep.

Since I can’t use them socially, I want to include all my new knowledge in my manuscript. After many rejections, however, I have learned to listen to the wise and include only what works organically in the story, what drives the story forward. I have had to, sadly, leave a lot of wonderful information behind, condemning it to that nether world of unused facts. At first it was hard, but working with Arbordale has eased the pain. They have back matter in each book. A place where I can display many of my beloved nuggets. And if there’s not enough room in the back matter, they have a website with lots more information and activities. And when I remembered my own website could be a third bucket into which I could drop the remaining morsels, I danced a jig.

Now that I have the perfect place for all my darlings, the stories flow more easily. They can be even more engaging. I don’t have to explain that sound waves are deflected by temperature differences in Sounds. All I have to do is have a lioness roar on one side of the lake and the wildebeest hear her as if she were right next to them. Then . . . in the back matter or the website, I can put all sorts of amazing stuff about how the layer of cool temperature over a warm lake can deflect the sound wave so that it travels farther than when the temperature is uniform. I can let them know that in a 60 mile circle around Mount St. Helens, no one heard the eruption. They saw it like a silent movie—all because of the temperature difference between the roiling volcano and the layer of cool 8:32-in-the-morning atmosphere above it.

Pride of Research can also lead to avoidance.  There is many a time when I’m almost ready to let the book go but I talk myself into just a bit more research so I don’t have to let my baby out into the world so everyone will say it’s ugly. Or the writing’s going bad and I dive headlong into a new strand of investigation so I don’t have to face my shortcomings.
With Pride of Research also comes a certain arrogance. Admit it. I know you’re out there. Just like me. We check and triple check every fact and have three page bibliographies for an 800 word piece. It doesn’t have to be overt self-importance. It can just be that cozy warm feeling that we’ve done your job well. We always try to do our job well. Carolyn Yoder (editor at Calkins Creek, an imprint for historical children’s books) would be proud.

IMG_7974

That, however, is exactly how my pride of research came tumbling down around me.
“So, the illustrator wants to know what kind of owl would eat a spiny mouse?”
My sweet editor at Arbordale sent shivers of shame down my spine. In Sounds of the Savanna, “sound” shows up through predator and prey interactions. Since predators silently sneak, swoop, snatch, and stalk and prey squeak, squeal, heeaw, kerchew—actually make sound—when caught or almost caught, I foolishly concentrated on the prey. Every stalked critter, big and small was thoroughly researched. Its demeanor, its diet, its vocalizations, how it takes care of its offspring and of course, which animals preyed on it were minutely scrutinized. And it goes without saying I already knew they lived on the Savanna because that was my first criterion for choosing the species. But the predators? I had given them nary a thought. The research on the spiny mouse said owls eat them and that was good enough for me. Without much thought I could write that the owl swoops on silent wings with deadly talons—beautiful, although generic, tags—and that was sufficient. Was it arrogance or just plain forgetfulness? I know better. When I wrote my book about the recovery after Mount St. Helens’ eruption, I had tons of lists of the trees and animals that lived on the mountain and approximately when the species returned. I can’t believe I didn’t check on the spiny mouse’s predator. Turns out the Verreaux or Milky Eagle Owl loves spiny mice. And it didn’t take me too long to find it. Phew!

If that had been all, I might have come out with my dignity bruised, but still extant. But not long after the owl came the question about the vervet monkeys and their predator. Vervet monkeys have a vocalization for snakes. What snakes? All I could find was boas. My idea of a boa is huge. Vervet monkeys, not so big. I suggested they avoid the conundrum altogether by having the snake hidden in the grass. But by now I was absolutely distraught. Really? Two unidentified predator species? How could I? I checked to make sure there were no more hanging in the breeze and it turns out there weren’t. The other predators were well known dudes like leopards and lions, animals an illustrator can draw without getting down to differentiating between species.

I have been chastened, however. I promise to never let my pride of research make me blind to the shortcomings of my manuscript ever again. I will continue to do my job well, even better than I have because as non-fiction or fact-based fiction writers for children we are passing that information on to kids, and perhaps some day some one will take our book and use it as fodder to his or her pride of research.

Bio:

Terry Jennings began writing in 1999. Her first piece “Moving Over to the Passenger’s Side,” about teaching her fifteen-year-old to drive was published by The Washington Post. She has written a few other articles for them and Long Island News Day, as well as Ranger Rick, and a family humor column in my local newspaper, The Reston Connection.

She also writes educational text for the Smithsonian Science Education Center and other educational outlets. Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story (Sylvan Dell, 2012) was named Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers’ Association and the Children’s Book Council. Her other book, The Women’s Liberation Movement: 1960-1990 (Mason Crest, 2013) was named to the Amelia Bloomer Project’s recommended feminist literature for women birth to 18. Sounds of the Savanna, a book about sound as told through predator/prey interactions in the African savanna is on its way with Arbordale Publishers. It’s due out fall of 2015. Terry is currently working on a historical novel about the Cuban Revolution (1959-1961) loosely based on my childhood along with a couple of other picture books–one on Magnetism and one on Erosion.   IMG_0003

Contact her at:

website: Terrycjennings.com
science blog for kids: kcswildfacts.com


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20687. Bleeding for my art

This is one little humble pimento olive - the kind you put in your cocktails. I haven't eaten many of these, not being much of a martini drinker, and was surprised to find I actually like them!



But that's not the whole story here. Look closely at the bottom edge of this drawing. See all those little red marks? They're BLOOD. I had a small cut on my hand that I didn't even know about, and accidentally rubbed the edge of the drawing. Eww. And then, hours later, I did it again, with a different scrape on the other hand. I know! I couldn't believe it either. 

Luckily, they were all along the bottom edge, so I was able to just trim them off. People on Facebook seemed to think it added value to the art, but I'm not so sure. I think its just icky.

So here's how it looks all cleaned up (blood, and also the background) for prints. 



I can't seem to look at any food now without seeing it in this 'top, side, and section view' way. I find myself analyzing things in the grocery store for their drawing potential, trying to visualize them cut open, and lined up like this. I've bought a few things that didn't turn out to be very good subjects, but luckily since its all food it just gets worked into dinner or a snack.

Oh, this was done with Prismacolors on Bristol, and is 4" x 9".

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20688. Dante’s Inferno and the Non-Fiction Writer: by Terry Jennings

I am pleased to bring you a post from a writer friend TERRY JENNINGS, whose specialty is CHILDREN’S NON FICTION.  here’s Terry:

If Dante had been a non-fiction writer, in the Divine Comedy he would have put a circle in hell for writers whose overriding vice is Pride of Research. I never read the Divine Comedy but I did read Dan Brown’s Inferno and I know Dante liked those little circles where you would burn for eternity to expiate your sins. So if at any time there is a writer’s confessional, I would have to own up to that vicious sin—researching so much and having such pride in my cool factoids and data that sometimes I forget that the research should play a supporting role, not be all consuming like the fires of hell. And the part that makes this whole thing vicious is that along with pride can come a bit of arrogance and infallibility. I’ve done all this research and I know all there is to know, right? Recently, during the editing of my fact-based picture book, Sounds of the Savana (Arbordale, 2015), fate (or my sweet editor, whichever you choose) knocked me off my high horse.

Normally, my problem is not to include every tidbit and morsel in a manuscript. That is a sin I have worked hard to overcome. I figure I have slaved to get those lovely little gems and I have to put them somewhere. They have to be of use. I try dropping them into cocktail conversation. For instance, “Did you know that vervet monkeys have different kinds of vocalizations for different predators?” Or “Did you know spiny mice slough off their skin if a predator catches them? All that nasty owl will get is a piece of skin—and the mouse’s skin regrows by the next day. Imagine that!” I eat up that kind of stuff, but it makes people around me fall asleep.

Since I can’t use them socially, I want to include all my new knowledge in my manuscript. After many rejections, however, I have learned to listen to the wise and include only what works organically in the story, what drives the story forward. I have had to, sadly, leave a lot of wonderful information behind, condemning it to that nether world of unused facts. At first it was hard, but working with Arbordale has eased the pain. They have back matter in each book. A place where I can display many of my beloved nuggets. And if there’s not enough room in the back matter, they have a website with lots more information and activities. And when I remembered my own website could be a third bucket into which I could drop the remaining morsels, I danced a jig.

Now that I have the perfect place for all my darlings, the stories flow more easily. They can be even more engaging. I don’t have to explain that sound waves are deflected by temperature differences in Sounds. All I have to do is have a lioness roar on one side of the lake and the wildebeest hear her as if she were right next to them. Then . . . in the back matter or the website, I can put all sorts of amazing stuff about how the layer of cool temperature over a warm lake can deflect the sound wave so that it travels farther than when the temperature is uniform. I can let them know that in a 60 mile circle around Mount St. Helens, no one heard the eruption. They saw it like a silent movie—all because of the temperature difference between the roiling volcano and the layer of cool 8:32-in-the-morning atmosphere above it.

Pride of Research can also lead to avoidance.  There is many a time when I’m almost ready to let the book go but I talk myself into just a bit more research so I don’t have to let my baby out into the world so everyone will say it’s ugly. Or the writing’s going bad and I dive headlong into a new strand of investigation so I don’t have to face my shortcomings.
With Pride of Research also comes a certain arrogance. Admit it. I know you’re out there. Just like me. We check and triple check every fact and have three page bibliographies for an 800 word piece. It doesn’t have to be overt self-importance. It can just be that cozy warm feeling that we’ve done your job well. We always try to do our job well. Carolyn Yoder (editor at Calkins Creek, an imprint for historical children’s books) would be proud.

IMG_7974

That, however, is exactly how my pride of research came tumbling down around me.
“So, the illustrator wants to know what kind of owl would eat a spiny mouse?”
My sweet editor at Arbordale sent shivers of shame down my spine. In Sounds of the Savanna, “sound” shows up through predator and prey interactions. Since predators silently sneak, swoop, snatch, and stalk and prey squeak, squeal, heeaw, kerchew—actually make sound—when caught or almost caught, I foolishly concentrated on the prey. Every stalked critter, big and small was thoroughly researched. Its demeanor, its diet, its vocalizations, how it takes care of its offspring and of course, which animals preyed on it were minutely scrutinized. And it goes without saying I already knew they lived on the Savanna because that was my first criterion for choosing the species. But the predators? I had given them nary a thought. The research on the spiny mouse said owls eat them and that was good enough for me. Without much thought I could write that the owl swoops on silent wings with deadly talons—beautiful, although generic, tags—and that was sufficient. Was it arrogance or just plain forgetfulness? I know better. When I wrote my book about the recovery after Mount St. Helens’ eruption, I had tons of lists of the trees and animals that lived on the mountain and approximately when the species returned. I can’t believe I didn’t check on the spiny mouse’s predator. Turns out the Verreaux or Milky Eagle Owl loves spiny mice. And it didn’t take me too long to find it. Phew!

If that had been all, I might have come out with my dignity bruised, but still extant. But not long after the owl came the question about the vervet monkeys and their predator. Vervet monkeys have a vocalization for snakes. What snakes? All I could find was boas. My idea of a boa is huge. Vervet monkeys, not so big. I suggested they avoid the conundrum altogether by having the snake hidden in the grass. But by now I was absolutely distraught. Really? Two unidentified predator species? How could I? I checked to make sure there were no more hanging in the breeze and it turns out there weren’t. The other predators were well known dudes like leopards and lions, animals an illustrator can draw without getting down to differentiating between species.

I have been chastened, however. I promise to never let my pride of research make me blind to the shortcomings of my manuscript ever again. I will continue to do my job well, even better than I have because as non-fiction or fact-based fiction writers for children we are passing that information on to kids, and perhaps some day some one will take our book and use it as fodder to his or her pride of research.

Bio:

Terry Jennings began writing in 1999. Her first piece “Moving Over to the Passenger’s Side,” about teaching her fifteen-year-old to drive was published by The Washington Post. She has written a few other articles for them and Long Island News Day, as well as Ranger Rick, and a family humor column in my local newspaper, The Reston Connection.

She also writes educational text for the Smithsonian Science Education Center and other educational outlets. Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story (Sylvan Dell, 2012) was named Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers’ Association and the Children’s Book Council. Her other book, The Women’s Liberation Movement: 1960-1990 (Mason Crest, 2013) was named to the Amelia Bloomer Project’s recommended feminist literature for women birth to 18. Sounds of the Savanna, a book about sound as told through predator/prey interactions in the African savanna is on its way with Arbordale Publishers. It’s due out fall of 2015. Terry is currently working on a historical novel about the Cuban Revolution (1959-1961) loosely based on my childhood along with a couple of other picture books–one on Magnetism and one on Erosion.   IMG_0003

Contact her at:

website: Terrycjennings.com
science blog for kids: kcswildfacts.com


0 Comments on Dante’s Inferno and the Non-Fiction Writer: by Terry Jennings as of 10/29/2014 4:01:00 PM
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20689. Be inspired.....



Quote of the day:


"To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible."



We have a wonderful post today from our guest blogger Natalie Finnigan.  Thanks Natalie for sharing your wisdom for our readers today.

Unusual Inspiration

Everyone has heard of books that have inspired them. Normally it is adult books that have inspired you to work harder, aim higher, love more freely, live better etc, but children’s books can be equally inspiring. Many talk of true friendship, the power of doing the right thing, have morals and strong messages. I’ve recently been reading “Hugless Douglas” and have found inspiration in a different way, which got me thinking.

Yes the moral of the book was good (you can have lots of best friends who love you), the story line engaging and the characters cute (my son and I love the flying/bouncing bunnies) but the unusual inspiration came from a more sedate source. The cows! In the story, the cows are making frothy top milk smoothies for all their friends (banana and strawberry milk smoothies) and, like many parents, I sometimes struggle to get my child to eat all of the right stuff - enough fruit/milk/good things. Milk had recently been a problem in our house…until this book. Now Alex loves frothy top milk smoooooothies (strawberry ones at least) but it was the book that inspired him to try them with enthusiasm.
This got me thinking, we look for the morals, the themes, the strong story lines in the books that we’re reading. We like the rhymes, the repetition, the quirks, the illustrations but are we missing another dimension? Do we look for inspiration for activities to try (making milk smoothies), or fun things to do (making gruffalo crumble or mud gruffalo faces in the woods - maybe even treasure maps!), because, if not, we are potentially missing a great source of inspiration for things our children may greet with enthusiasm that they, otherwise, might dismiss.


About the Natalie:

Natalie Finnigan was born in Suffolk, England, and re-discovered her love for writing rhymes after the birth of her son, Alex, in 2010. Having already published two short, rhyming picture books based on three characters (Alex, Dragon and Spider), Natalie is enjoying branching out into other picture books and is currently writing a pre-teen novel to be used as a teaching text for English as a Foreign Language.
Read on and read always!  Get inspired today to do something great.

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20690. New Literary Agent Alert: Alec Shane of Writers House

Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Alec Shane of Writers House) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

 

alec-shane-literary-agent

 

About Alec: Alec majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing. Alec quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency, where he worked under Jodi Reamer and Amy Berkower on a large number of YA and Adult titles. Twitter handle: @alecdshane.

(Writing a synopsis for your novel? Here are 5 tips.)

He is seeking: Alec is now aggressively building his own list. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. “What I’m looking for in fiction: mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and books geared toward young male readers (both YA and MG). What I’m not looking for: Romance (paranormal or otherwise), straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, travel memoir.”

Submission guidelines:  I accept e-mail and snail-mail queries (although email is preferable), and will usually respond within 4-5 weeks. Please send the first 10 pages of your manuscript, along with your query letter, to ashane [at] writershouse.com with “Query for Alec Shane: TITLE” as your subject heading – no attachments please! If sending via regular mail, please include a SASE with proper postage.

(When building your writer platform and online media, how much growth is enough?)

 

2015-GLA-smallThe biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

 

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20691. keeping my protagonist interesting

Question: I've starting working on a story that I want to write in my spare time, and I've come across a problem that has had me stumped. The premise

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20692. Polis Books Actively Seeking Submissions

PBlogo

Polis Books is an independent digital publishing company actively seeking new and established authors for our growing list. We are currently acquiring titles in the following genres. Submissions in the following genres should be to submissions@polisbooks.com.

We are currently acquiring:

• Mystery

• Thriller

• Suspense

• Procedural

• Traditional crime (i.e. ‘cozies’)

• Science Fiction

• Fantasy

• Horror

• Supernatural

• Urban Fantasy

• Romance

• Erotica

• Commercial Women’s Fiction

• New Adult

• Young Adult

• Humor/Essays

We are not currently acquiring:

• Children’s Picture books

• Graphic novels

• Short stories or stand-alone novellas

• Religion

Submission Requirements:

• Query Letter

• Three Sample Chapters

• Author Biography (include information about personal blogs, Twitter handle, or other social media outlets you feel we should be aware of)

Query letter and sample chapters should be emailed as attachments (not in body of email) to:

submissions@polisbooks.com

They will reply requesting more information on a submission-by-submission basis. 

They give a small advance and 40% royalties.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, need to know, opportunity, Places to sumit, publishers, Publishing Industry, Royalties Tagged: Acquiring new and established authors, Digital Publishing Company, Polis Books

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20693. Does my protagonist's story goal have to involve other characters in some way?

Question: Okay, I have this story where my protagonist's story goal is to reconnect with his brother. The protagonist's brother has grown detached with

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20694. Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Title: A Farewell to Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Stars: 4 Stars


Summary: The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto—of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized—is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

Review: The beginning of the book was a little slow for me. But then I started swearing at Miss Van Campen for being such a mean old lady. It's been a while since I've sworn at a book. Some people just can't leave well enough alone. I like Catherine. Maybe I'm just biased on the name tho. :) The end of the book... Seriously just makes me want to cry. Where is the happy ending? Where's my hopeless romance? Why do you have to be so sad and depressing? OK sorry to many questions for a review. Haha. I do recommend this book. 4 Stars!

0 Comments on Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway as of 10/19/2014 11:12:00 PM
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20695. THE FIRE ARTIST by Daisy Whitney {Review}

Review by Valerie  THE FIRE ARTISTby Daisy WhitneyAge Range: 12 - 17 yearsGrade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 14, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes

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20696. How to Write Fluidly

Question: I've only just begun to write. I highly doubt I'll write a novel one day but I'd like to try. I know I should write every day to better improve

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20697. Reminder! Nov. 1 ALSC Professional Awards Due Dates

This your two-week reminder! Next Friday, November 1 is the due date for three very exciting professional awards. Below is list of ALSC professional awards which are available for submission or nomination. Please consider applying or nominating a colleague:

Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship
Deadline: Extended to Saturday, November 1, 2014

This fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend to allow a qualified children’s librarian to spend a month or more reading at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature.

Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $4,000 award was established with funding from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, in honor of Maureen Hayes, to bring together children and nationally recognized authors/illustrators.

ALSC/Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant
Deadline: Saturday, November 1, 2014

This $3,000 grant provides financial assistance to a public library for developing an outstanding summer reading program for children.

0 Comments on Reminder! Nov. 1 ALSC Professional Awards Due Dates as of 10/21/2014 9:59:00 PM
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20698. 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists

In a year of outstanding achievement by Australian writers, today the Government announces the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists. These awards recognise the role Australian writers play in enlightening and entertaining us, reflecting on our history and taking our stories to the world. Australia’s writers are ambassadors for our stories and our cultural life […]

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20699. Did Jessica Shirvington predict the Apple Watch?

The destructive technology in Jessica Shirvington’s duology may not be as futuristic as it seems  When a certain multinational corporation announced the creation of the Apple Watch, Jessica Shirvington fans were buzzing. Not because they were excited about Apple’s newest product but because the watch bears an eerie resemblance to the M-band technology used in […]

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20700. Too Many Notes

One of my favorite scenes from any movie is this one.

I know the joke is about banal criticism, uttered by a witless fop who knows nothing about music, but I also think — maybe it doesn’t apply to Mozart, but I know what the emperor (who I will always see as Principal Rooney in a ridiculous costume) means. Music can have too many notes. It can be overly notey. Have you seen the winnowing rounds of American Idol, when every vocalist wants to show their stuff by hitting as many notes as they can on their way through a syllable in the lyrics? Too many notes. Cut a few.

Writers are more used to be critiqued on economy, and though it’s obviously not shared by all acclaimed novelists (even famous ones), most of us would roll our eyes at an author who claims their bloated novel has “just as many words  as the piece requires.”

I think, in many ways, my first three novels have too many notes. The first draft of Mudville had so many notes it was a cacophony; you have no idea how many subplots and backstories were  shoved into it. A lot of that was cut, but if I had a fresh crack of it I think I would boil it down to two thirds its current length.

I think that middle grade has gotten overly long and notey as a genre, to be honest. Why when I was a kid (waves cane) when I was a kid there was nary an elementary school book that topped page 200 and you could read the whole thing in one sitting. And books were made out of paper!

That being said, I’ve been working on something since January that is still only 10,000 words long — I’ve had the file open for most of the year, so it’s not for lack of working on it, but it is painstaking and doesn’t want to write itself, and doesn’t want to go away. It’s either my masterpiece or I’ll never finish it. No matter how much you love economy, 10,000 words ain’t going to cut it. 20,000 is all right if you’re Andrew Clements, but for most of us 40K is short. Will I ever get there?

If I do, this is my masterpiece. But you can’t expect it until (does math) 2018, and that’s if I find a publisher three days after writing THE END on the last page (by the way, nobody actually does that, it’s figurative).

I have told people about it, even entire schools full of people, but I haven’t blogged about it, and not many people have read it.

Here’s the first sentence:

Rafael Reyes ran up bleacher steps of Tetelo Vargas stadium flapping his arms and pretending to fly.

That sentence — believe me, I’ve worked on it enough — that sentence has no superfluous notes.

 


Filed under: Miscellaneous, Writing

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