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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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26. Environmental destruction - it's still happening...

My forthcoming novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET has a strong environmental message... Young Jack lives in a southern Appalachian mining town completely denuded by a century of poor copper mining practices. There are no birds, no bugs, no trees - the only living things in his world are the people in the community that he loves. And although I wish I could say it was completely made up, my story is based on a real time and place in 1986 in Copperhill, Tennessee near the Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia state lines. And while Copperhill went through an amazing reclamation, it's a story that could happen in many American towns and still does.
      Earlier today, a friend sent me an article at the News Observer: US House votes to allow dumping of coal mining waste into streams - posted March 25, 2015 - that's not 1986, that's yesterday. My friend said the article reminded her of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. And indeed it reminds me too.
     It's part of why I wrote the story. Because if the adults of today can still make such debilitating decisions towards our environment, maybe our children are our only hope. Maybe they will save us. Maybe they will read A BIRD ON WATER STREET and see how it relates to environmental issues in their own back yards - whether it be mining, fracking, waste disposal, clear-cutting, you name it. Because the story in A BIRD ON WATER STREET is symbolic of hundreds of stories just like it - of other areas that are still waiting for their revitalization - for their adults to wise up and do the right thing.
     Some of the reviews for A BIRD ON WATER STREET explain it best:

"Dulemba expertly weaves the strands of Coppertown's environmental, economic, and personal relationships and gives a life-affirming portrait of a Southern Appalachian town needing and ready for new life. Jack's story is set in the late 1980s, but could replicate the experience of countless miners' children in this country and the world, in the past century and the present."

"Important lessons for young people abound as it evokes the environmental and financial devastation a big industry and personal greed can have on the innocent lives of workers, their careers, and where they've chosen to live."

"Ultimately hopeful, this story will give readers a first look at the kind of environmental and social issues surrounding large industry that they'll encounter later in books like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle.""
     Yes, mother nature is resilient. Yes, she can make a comeback. But we must never forget that our actions can make our earth uninhabitable for humankind. Mother Nature doesn't need us - we need her! It's a lesson we must learn for our own survival.
     CLICK HERE to learn more about A BIRD ON WATER STREET.

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27. Coloring Page Tuesday - Spring Chicken!

     It's Spring chicken! We just celebrated the Vernal Equinox. Hubbie and I have been searching out sunbeams to have lunch in - ahhhhhh! How about you? Are you glad spring is here? Does it look like spring where you live?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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28. SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day this Friday!

This Friday, March 28th, at the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I host our 7th annual Illustrators' Day for the Southern Breeze chapter (Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle) of the SCBWI. It has been my pleasure to make this opportunity available for the up-and-coming illustrators in my area, and this year we have an amazing line-up. Our speakers are: Lucy Cummins, Art Director for Simon & Schuster, Paula Wiseman Books; Cheryl Willis Hudson, Vice President of Just Us Books; Ruth Sanderson, award-winning illustrator and my boss in the Hollins Universtity MFA in Writing & Illustrating program; and Loraine Joyner, Art Director from Peachtree Publishers, who has been our amazing mentor this year. CLICK HERE to see the details or register (late fees will now apply).
     Illustrators' Day is followed up by SPRINGMINGLE, our annual regional Spring conference in Atlanta, which lasts through the weekend. It's going to be an amazing time - hope to see you there!

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29. Technical Difficulties

Dulemba.com is experiencing technical difficulties with our hosting company today. Sorry for the inconvenience! I'm trying to get it resolved asap!

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30. Divergent Trailer

It opens this weekend. Gosh, I hope it lives up to the book.

If the video above gives you any trouble, click the image below.

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31. Guest Post on Nonfiction Picture Books by Heather Montgomery - GIVEAWAY!

If you're looking for a speaker to invite to your school - Heather Montgomery is your gal. She is so animated, hilarious, and passionate about her subjects, you will be mesmerized by how fascinating she can make seemingly ordinary things! I am honored to have Heather here today to talk about her craft...

Writing Nonfiction that Speaks to a Child

      From dissecting a dead rattlesnake to painting my face with dirt, I’ll do just about anything to pass my love of science and nature on to kids. But when I started writing about nature, I hit some roadblocks. It wasn’t until I stepped back and considered lessons from my previous career – interpretation (not interpreting French, Spanish or even American Sign Language but interpreting nature or history) – that I “got it.” Ten books later, those lessons are still serving me well, so I thought I’d pass them along.
      In 1957 Freeman Tilden wrote the book INTERPRETING OUR HERITAGE which is, to this day, the fundamental text for both naturalists and historical interpreters. Freeman presented two principles that he believed were central to good interpretation. I believe they are also central to good informational texts.

Big Ideas
      The first of Tilden’s principles speaks to the purpose of our work. Effective writing “is the revelation of a larger truth that lies behind any statement of fact.” Think about it: why does a random list of facts not make a good book? Because it does not lead to the revelation of some greater truth, a “big idea.” Well-crafted writing guides the reader towards an “Aha!” moment, towards a greater comprehension of the way the world works, and/or towards an epiphany about themselves.
      How do you reveal such a big idea in a short piece for children? In writing WILD DISCOVERIES: WACKY NEW ANIMALS, I asked myself a series of questions: What? So what? Now what? Those simple questions became critical guideposts on the journey to writing the book.
     1) “What?” I found a jungle of amazing facts about a hot pink creature that had never been discovered before, a worm that shoots slime out of its face, a monkey that took 30 years to discover, … The torrent of information I collected was overwhelming.
     2) “So what?” I learned that important scientific discoveries are still going on today – every single day. WOW! That’s a big idea. The answer to this second question showed me that I needed to select only material which supported this point and cut material that did not. Suddenly my overwhelming pile of information was manageable. It helped me sequence that information so that my reader could experience the same “Aha!” I had. And, it allowed me to lead into the final question.
     3) “Now what?” Go outside and make your own scientific discoveries! Children everywhere are helping with the discovery of new species. My reader can too!
      Tilden’s second principle was that your work should “capitalize on mere curiosity for the enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” Curiosity, such a natural human drive, is stimulating and novel ideas or approaches please the human brain. The trick to successful nonfiction is to make use of that natural instinct to “enrich.”
      How do you write an article that reveals big ideas and enriches reader’s lives?

Principles to Write By (Adapted from Interpreting Our Heritage):
     • Writing that does not relate to the reader will be sterile. In WILD DISCOVERIES, I selected only new animals which were weird and thus related to a kid’s fascination with wacky animals.
     • Information, in and of itself, is not good writing. With every new animal presented in the book, I included some tidbit about the process of scientific discovery in order to move the reader towards my big idea.
     • Writing nonfiction is an art that incorporates many other arts. It took me much practice to artfully blend the scientific vocabulary and literary descriptions that would appeal to a broad audience.
     • Writing must speak to a whole as opposed to the parts. To make the most of this story, I had to address the whole concept of discovery and new species instead of focusing on one animal or aspect of the process.
     • Quality nonfiction for children is not a watered-down version of adult literature, but rather, it takes a different approach. I prioritized a child’s sense of adventure and humor in selection of animals and anecdotes so that I could appeal to their unique perspective on the world.
     • The main purpose “is not instruction, but provocation.” In this book, I could have presented only the fun, educational information about these newly discovered animals, but the power was in provoking the idea that a child, too, can make discoveries and add to our knowledge about the world.
      So, try these principals yourself. Appeal to your reader’s sense of curiosity, reveal big ideas and enrich lives with your writing. Then, thank Tilden for your successful submissions!
Heather's favorite writing spot.

Tilden, Freeman. 1957, Interpreting Our Heritage. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.

Heather has kindly agreed to give away a free, signed copy of WILD DISCOVERIES. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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32. Friday Linky List March 21, 2014

What Does 2 Billion Books Sales Look Like?: Infographic at GalleyCat

"How To Write Children's Picture Books" by Tara Lazar at writetodone via Nathan Bransford

From Writer unBoxed (via Cynsations): On the Care and Feeding of Writers by Julianna Baggott and her husband David G.W. Scott

10 Painful Refection Letters to Famous People Proving You Should NEVER Give Up Your Dreams at Distractify

From boingboing, "Mor, the ultimate villain-name syllable": Why so many villains have the syllable "mor" in their names

At The New York Times: "Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books?" by Walter Dean Myers

Followed up by "The Apartheid of Children's Literature" by Christopher Myers also at the New York Times. Please read both - this is an important topic.

"How Much Money Does a Writer Make" Laura Purdie Salas once again shares her income break-down from the past year (only in her newsletter - so subscribe if you'd like to follow). This is how it works - a little bit here, a little bit there, and the bottom line seems about right.

Finnish Education Chief: 'We Created a School System Based on Equality' at The Atlantic - interesting.

At The Writing Barn: "Rejecting Rejection, with author Sarah Aronson"

Jim Lee on How to Draw Hands (video)

At the Children's Literature Network: A Conversation: Why is Historical Fiction Important?

From Publishers Lunch: The shortlist for the Hans Christian Anderson Award is up at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The winners will be announced at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.

Children's Choice Award Finalist Stirs Controversy at PW. I'll say! *whew*

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I love books that celebrate various cultures around the world, such as AT THE SAME MOMENT AROUND THE WORLD written and illustrated by Clotilde Perrin. It's glorious in its simplicity and wow, what a talent Clotilde is! As so many of the creators I've been featuring lately (what is up with the French!?), Clotilde is French, so Chronicle is helping us talk to her via a translator...

Q. Hi Cotilde - as a francophile, I'd love to know where you live in France?
A. I live in Strasbourg, it’s in the northeast of France.

Q. Is the children's book market very different in France, or do you find yourself targeting the American or English-speaking markets specifically?
A. I work a lot in France at the moment but I’m absolutely ready to begin working in the American and English market. I think that my style will work very well for young American and English readers. I will be delighted to have this experience.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. What has been your journey to publication in children's books?
A. I’ve published around thirty books, four of which I wrote. My first book that I wrote and illustrated was LE COLIS ROUGE, published in 2007 by Editions Rue du Monde. It’s a wordless book where you follow a character on a bike with a hat and a red package. It’s a mysterious package, and my character travels across incredible universes—and at the end you discover what’s inside the package. This book was very important for me because I could draw whatever I wanted and whatever I wanted to pass on to my readers. My images were teeming, filled with little details.
     Next, I made TOUT AUTOUR DE MOI, a book for the very young, a book you can read with all your senses. I really wanted kids to have fun with the book, discover that they could look at it upside down, lying down, that you could read it repeatedly, wherever you felt like with whoever was with you. There too, I liked that my books allowed my reader to undertake his own storytelling inspired by my images.
     In 2011, I made AU MEME INSTANT SUR LA TERRE [what became At the Same Moment, Around the World in English]. In France, this book was published in an accordion format. It’s a book-object that you can read but also then stand up and turn into a globe so you can find your way to the center of the world and travel all around it.
     In 2012, QUI VOILÀ was a little book that told of the arrival of a baby, his first day on earth. Now I’m working on new books in a littler format, more intimate. To be continued . . .

Q. AT THE SAME MOMENT AROUND THE WORLD is charming and seemingly simple. How did the idea come to you and how much research did you have to do to get it right?
A. The idea had been stumbling around in my head for a fair bit of time to tell a story about something happening at the same instant—this elusive idea that so many things could happen at the same moment. Then, the inspiration to take a journey around the Earth turned the idea into a coherent vision. I felt like I was travelling in my studio during the several months I worked on the book. It was very exciting to choose the countries that I wanted to show. I wanted readers to discover countries both well- and lesser-known, to show that at the same instant it could be beautiful and hot in one corner of the globe, and in another, it could be cold; it could be snowing. I didn’t want to make a book that was purely didactic, but rather to introduce in my paintings details that were poetic and cultural, little hidden gems that the reader could find. I really like when I can engage the reader in the experience of my paintings.

Q. The book has a narrow and tall proportion that's different from average picture books. Why did you choose that layout?
A. The object transformed itself. The choice of format allowed me to create a big frieze of all the countries in the book. Chronicle Books published it in a different format, more classic, but the pages stayed the same. All my paintings follow each other, so they are visually connected. The geographical map locating where the characters live was made especially for the English edition.

Q. Your illustrations are so engaging. What is your method?
A. My paintings tell a lot. I draw a lot of details as well, so my readers aren’t passive. You have to enter my world and read all the “winks,” the little gems, to understand the whole thing. I really like the work of Jerome Bosch, a Flemish painter of the 15th century. These paintings are filled with stories; they overflow with details. It takes a good amount of time to really read each painting, and that’s what I like. You travel in the image, you meet characters, ambiances, objects; you have fun there!

Q. Are you able to celebrate the release of AT THE SAME MOMENT AROUND THE WORLD way over in France? How are you celebrating your gorgeous accomplishment?
A. I would really like to, but here in France there is nothing planned. I would love to come visit you and drink champagne to this superb moment!

I would love that too! Thanks so much for visiting dulemba.com!

Chronicle is kindly giving away one free copy of AT THE SAME MOMENT AROUND THE WORLD to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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34. My favorite page in A BIRD ON WATER STREET

You'll find this page in the back of A BIRD ON WATER STREET. It tells you about how environmentally responsible the publishing process was for the book. See, my publisher, Little Pickle Press is a Certified B Corp (from the website):

Striving to be the change it seeks, Little Pickle Press has proudly become a B Corporation.
      B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
      Today, there is a growing community of more than 600 Certified B Corps from 15 countries and 60 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
      We are thrilled to announce that for the second year in a row, Little Pickle Press has been named among the “Best for the World” B Corporations. The second annual “Best for the World” list recognized 66 companies across 20 countries and 25 industries, and we are honored to share this distinction with other dynamic, socially-responsible companies.
A BIRD ON WATER STREET takes place in the Copper Basin area around and in Copperhill, Tennessee - an area environmentally devastated by a century of poor copper mining practices. Back in the 1800s miners cut down every tree in site to fuel the smelting heaps, which ran 24/7. The sulfuric dioxide that billowed out of those heaps created acid rain, which killed off everything else. There were no bugs, no birds, no trees for 50-square-miles.
     Reclamation efforts began with the CCC and continue to this day, and my book centers strongly on the hopes of thirteen-year-old Jack who wants to see the land returned to its previous glory.
     So, as you can imagine, it was very important to me that my book be printed using environmentally responsible practices such as recycled paper and soy ink. And that's exactly what Little Pickle Press did, and does. They're a publisher for the future. And I am extremely proud to be a pickle!

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35. Coloring Page Tuesday - Frog and Bee

     Here in Georgia, the daffodils are blooming, the turtles are poking their heads above the water's surface, and I imagine frogs are hungry... But this frog should perhaps rethink his lunch. Eating this little buggie might be a bad idea. What do you think?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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36. ABOWS reviewed at ForeWard Reviews

ForeWord Reviews is one of the preeminent reviewers for new books and I'm thrilled that A BIRD ON WATER STREET got a good one!!! They said...

"...trees come to symbolize a coveted life. A Bird on Water Street unfolds as a lucid, matter-of-fact account of the environmental toll wrought by the mining industry, and of Jack’s decision to search for a different future."
"Dulemba ably captures the scarred community in grief and celebration."
"A one-company town falters, and amid the human drama, nature begins to reclaim what had been lost."
     CLICK HERE to read the entire review! YAYYYYY!

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37. Almost Home!

Meet our future friends from Adam Rex's THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY, which is being turned into a movie by Dreamworks! Can't WAIT!

If the above video gives you any trouble, click the image below.

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38. NOTHING FANCY ABOUT KATHRYN & CHARLIE by Kerry Madden - Guest Post and Two Huge Giveaways Including a Writing Workshop!!

Kerry Madden is the author of some of my favorite books set in Appalachia (GENTLE'S HOLLER, etc.) and of southern creators such as Harper Lee. She has a lyrical soul when it comes to relaying the stories and relationships of southern folk. And Nothing Fancy is no exception. Kerry is here today to share her thoughts...

     I came to write Nothing Fancy About Kathryn & Charlie by accident. To put it very simply, Kathryn Tucker Windham was a white storyteller, and Charlie Lucas was a black folk artist, and they were best friends who lived next door to each other in Selma, Alabama. They met when Kathryn was 81 and Charlie was 49. I’d given my UAB students an assignment to write a picture book about friendship. We’d been reading James Marshall’s George & Martha stories, and Kathryn and Charlie reminded me of George and Martha in their playful silliness, curiosity about the world, and deep respect and affection for each other. And since I was making my students write a picture book, I figured I should try to write too – maybe even show them it was done. Ha.
     Charlie under a portrait he did of Kathryn

     It took me two years to shape the story, long after that class ended and many more drafts. It also took taking a picture book/storyboarding workshop with my daughter, Lucy, from the wonderful picture book writer, Ann Whitford Paul, in Los Angeles, whose book, Writing Picture Books, is the text I teach with regularly. Eventually, I wrote the book, and Lucy illustrated it in the garage that my husband, Kiffen made into her art studio. One of my favorite illustrations of Lucy’s is the Spanish moss page when Kathryn and Charlie go for a drive in the cemetery. She cut up an old green sweater to create the Spanish moss hanging from the trees and used real bark from our tree outside. She wanted to shape all her illustrations the way Charlie approached his sculptures and painting – finding art in all kinds of places and materials.
     But to go back to the very beginning, I met Kathryn Tucker Windham when I was writing the biography of Harper Lee (Viking) and here is a little of that story when I visited her at her home in Selma, Alabama in 2007 with my husband, Kiffen, that was published in Five Points: A Journal of Literature & Art in 2008. That visit planted the seed because I just loved her on sight.
     I ask Kathryn about Harper Lee and when she read To Kill A Mockingbird, and Kathryn says, “She’s delightful. Fun to be with. . . I don’t remember when I read it, but it’s a wonderful book. When she nominated me to the Alabama Academy of Honor, I was shocked. I still am shocked. I met her when I was inducted, and we’ve been friends for about five years. She’s so much fun. Nobody knows this. Her sister, Miss Alice Lee, is a lovely woman.”
     I tell her the story that I had heard about Miss Alice Lee when she was on the committee to select a minister for the Methodist Church. One man’s name came up and all Miss Alice said to the committee was, “I’m too old to be preached to by a fool.”
     Kathryn bursts into laughter, and we stand up to stretch. It’s been an afternoon of stories and sweet tea. We go outside to visit Charlie Lucas’s art in her backyard. Charlie is Kathryn’s best friend, and he lives next door and together their two backyards have bloomed into his sculpture garden. His work is everything from wheels to ironing boards to shovels shaped into faces and bodies with secrets and stories behind each piece. On the garage hang four long ironing board faces, all coveting something. Kathryn says, “One of those ironing board sisters has had a baby, but they’re not saying who. There’s the baby above them. The judge will decide.”
     We take some more pictures of the sculpture garden, and soon it is time to say good-bye. Kathryn says with a big smile, “Come on back anytime! And bring your mother too.” She addresses this to Kiffen as we’d told her what a storyteller she was after raising thirteen children. She waves until we drive out of sight.
     The red Alabama sun sinks in the sky behind us, and I recall the storyteller’s Donald Davis’ quote: "How do you kill Grandma? Don't tell any stories about her. If one generation passes without telling and hearing stories about family, it's as if those people and events never existed." I think of the story Kathryn told us of an old man who was listening to her storytelling at the National Storytelling Festival, and how it brought back so many memories of his own boyhood. He had been estranged for years from his brother, but after listening to her he called his brother right there in the storytelling tent. I think of her how she described her father, a man who told her when she was growing up, “Don’t you ever get involved with things – it’s the people in this world who are important.” He told her it wasn’t the “three R’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic” that mattered. He said, “You need the 4 L’s. Listening, learning, laughing, and loving.”
     So Kathryn was irresistible to me as a subject. I kept visiting her after I moved to Alabama, and I met Charlie too. I sent her drafts of my storybook, and she gave me notes to fix what I’d got wrong. Eventually, Mockingbird Publishers published Nothing Fancy About Kathryn & Charlie in 2013.
     And in the summer of 2013, I traveled with my daughters, Lucy and Norah, (and dog, Olive) to rural Alabama libraries across the state to offer art and writing workshops for children with creative grant from UAB to cover travel expenses. We took Lucy’s original art from the book to share with it to the young artists, and together we read them the story of the friendship between storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham and folk artist, Charlie Lucas of Selma, Alabama.
     Kerry and Lucy
     In addition to Lucy’s art and our combined storytelling, we also brought our own found objects – buttons, strings, twine, material, markers, glue, shells, sticks, paper bags, popsicle sticks, art paper – and we encouraged the kids to make their own art. Much the way Charlie Lucas makes art out of objects found in dumpsters, trashcans, and fields, we suggested to the children that they look around at everyday objects and see the potential of making art.
     Kathryn's tomatoes by Lucy
     From our workshops, the children made trees out of all the found objects. Some made cherry, plum apple trees with red, purple, and green buttons while others made coconut trees with little brown buttons and strips of material. Some kids built popsicle-stick tree-houses in the branches, while others made tire swings out of twine and rubber bands. We talked of how trees carry stories, and we asked them to share their stories and look for art and stories in unexpected places just like Kathryn and Charlie did. Other kids drew their hearts, and some of even drew hearts in trees. We hung some of the children’s in the libraries we visited.
     Charlie by Lucy
The most challenging workshop was in Monroeville, Alabama when 100 kids showed up to the workshop. The librarian, parents, and volunteers jumped in to help us get the art supplies to each kid, which meant two buttons per kids instead of a seemingly endless supply. The librarian, Bunny Hines, declared it “a goat-roping,” and later, the children’s author, Eve Bunting, told me that should be my next storybook. It was a magical time traveling around Alabama with my girls meeting young artists and librarians all over the state from Trussville to Birmingham to Scottsboro to Greensboro in Hale County to Selma to Gadsden to Choctaw County to Fairhope to Monroeville to Dothan ending in the summer in Alabaster.
     Here are more links to the trip and how the story came back to be written, but it was a magical summer to get to travel with my girls and my dog to these wonderful old libraries all over Alabama and get kids to make trees and tell and write stories. I also felt like Kathryn was there in the face of every laughing kid, since she passed away before the book was published. I miss her everyday.
     Mockingbird Publishing
     A Tale of Two Friends
     The Storyteller and the Artist
     Professor spent summer sharing lessons of friendship
     Nothing Fancy Blog Tour (with pictures)
     Kerry's writing nook...

We have TWO giveaways with three potential winners this week! Kerry is generously giving away two copies of NOTHING FANCY along with a copy of GENTLE'S HOLLER Must live in the continental US to win - enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Kerry is also offering a SKYPE writing workshop. WOW! Please only enter this one if you are a writer and can put a small workshop together! Since it's via Skype it can happen anywhere!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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39. Friday Linky List - March 14, 2014

All Things Children at ABA - from PW

At The Horn Book - An Interview with Neal Porter (who will be speaking at our 2015 SCBWI Springmingle conference in Atlanta!

Emma Dryden at Write For Kids: What Children's Writers Must Know to Succeed Today

Sarah Harrison Smith - Children's Book Editor for the New York Times interviewed at teenreads. Really interesting!!!

At The Guardian (via PW): "Parents push to end gender division of boys' and girls' books" - good!

Also from PW via the Toast: The Concise Roald Dahl - for instance: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is described as "A small boy becomes the owner of a multinational food and beverage conglomerate after witnessing the deaths of several children."

From Cynsations and Adventures in YA Publishing: What would make you [agents] stop reading when reviewing sample pages?

At Time: 8 Ways to Say No Without Killing Your Reputation

At Salon, "No one cares about your novel: So writers, don't be boring"

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40. MY BLUE IS HAPPY by Jessica Young - GIVEAWAY!

When you work in kidslit, you get to know a lot of people on the same path - some who are published, some who still dreaming of the day, some who are well-published, and some who are celebrating their first publication after years of struggle. I LOVE celebrating my friends who I've watched work so hard finally be rewarded. Although really, we're the lucky ones to receive the gift of their wonderful books!
      Such is the case with Jessica Young's MY BLUE IS HAPPY (illustrated by Catia Chien - Candlewick Press). Jessica is a volunteer with the Mid-South SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and an art teacher too. I got to hear her read her new book at the Southern Festival of Books last October in Nashville, Tennessee and I'm just so happy for her, I had to have her on...

Q. Jessica, what has been your path to publication?
A. I started experimenting with writing in 2004, after having my first child and reading picture books for the first time since I was a kid. I’d never taken a writing course, and I had no idea how the publishing process worked. For several years, I submitted pieces off and on, targeting publishers I thought would be a good fit. Thankfully, an author pointed me towards the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. At my first workshop in 2007, an agent critiqued several manuscripts, and she and I kept in touch as I worked on revisions. Although she wasn’t looking for new picture book clients at the time, her encouragement was enough to keep me going until I found my wonderful agent, Kelly Sonnack.
     I continued to revise after signing with Kelly, and we submitted My Blue to two editors who had seen previous versions of the story and given me comments. One of them wound up passing on it. The other offered some suggestions, and I started revising accordingly. I also got a critique at the Midsouth SCBWI conference. The critiquer, amazing Candlewick editor Kaylan Adair, gave constructive comments that resonated with me, but I didn’t think I’d be able to execute them. I sat in the hotel lobby after the conference was over and started pushing and pulling the text. About a month later we submitted it to her, and I was thrilled to accept an offer from Candlewick. Then I started revising again.
      Looking back, I counted eighty-nine revisions of My Blue. I’m so grateful for the help of my tireless critique partners and other readers who gave great feedback on the story, and my fantastic agent and editor who took a chance on it and guided its evolution, as well as Catia Chien, the wonderful illustrator who brought the text to life with her evocative, colorful images.

Q. As an artist myself, I understand how personal color can be. You're also an art teacher, how does color inspire you and this story?
A. I’ve always paid attention to colors. The roots of my ideas about subjectivity and asserting one’s individual perspective probably go back to when I was a kid, and so do my vivid memories of color – from foods, to fabrics, to the hues of the different landscapes I grew up in. More recently, I was thinking about paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period (after seeing them at an exhibit) and listening to blues music, contrasting them with my own blue associations. Those ideas sparked the title, and the rest of the story followed.

Q. Do you find yourself wearing certain colors or surrounding yourself with certain colors to influence your mood? (Or do you find your mood influenced when you see certain colors?)
A. While I’ve never tried to influence my own mood with color (though maybe I should!), there are definitely things I wear because of their color – my favorite jeans, like in the book, and a russet-colored corduroy jacket and hunter green cords. I love mossy greens, rusty red-oranges, and blues, but there are lots of other colors I appreciate. I’m drawn to certain combinations of color and texture as well. For instance, I might appreciate the bright red-orange of crepe-paper-y poppy petals, but that hue might be too loud for me in another form. I tend to gravitate towards saturated, rich color palettes like those you’d find in illuminated manuscripts or stained glass.

Q. I love the line, "...my gray is as cozy as a curled-up kitten | And the sound of soft rain on the roof." I feel the same way!
A. Thanks, and yes – yay for gray! As much as I’m drawn to saturated, intense colors, I also love more subtle neutrals like the grays, browns, rusts and pale green-golds in fall fields or feathers or birds’ nests. I especially like them when they’re paired with more vibrant hues.

Q. Do you have a favorite color? (Dare I ask!)
A. It’s so hard to pick just one, but I really do love blue.

Q. Have you been using MY BLUE IS HAPPY in any of your art lessons? Do you have suggestions for teachers on how they could use the book in their classrooms?
A. I’ve used it with all of my classes from preschool though eighth grade. At first I wasn’t sure how much the younger ones could absorb literary devices like alliteration and similes, but when I broke down the similes and had students construct them one step at a time, even the youngest were able to identify a color, generate a list of color associations, then come up with other adjectives to describe those things. Then they made their own color similes and illustrated them. We also talked about antonyms and adjectives. In the older grades, there are so many angles to take: color and art (ie – Fauvism, Impressionism, symbolic uses of color, etc.); individual differences and subjectivity; cultural significance of color; literary devices; the science behind color perception. I have a lot of Common-Core-linked teacher resources and activity pages on my website that I hope will be useful for teachers and librarians: jessicayoungbooks.com.

Q. How have you celebrated the release of your first picture book? (Did you have a party?)
A. My book launch was at our incredible neighborhood indie bookstore, Parnassus Books. We had bluegrass music and blue foods and color-based activities. I was so happy to celebrate the birthday of MY BLUE with family and friends, old and new. Reading the book for the first time with my kids was a real celebration, too.

Q. Are you writing more for us? (I hope so!)
A. Yes! Right now I’m working on a chapter book series – FINLEY FLOWERS, about a creative, crafty girl with a million ideas that sometimes get her into trouble. The first two will be published in Spring 2015 by Capstone Kids, and the next two in Fall 2015. My second picture book, SPY GUY, will be published by Harcourt in Spring 2015, and I’m really excited about Charles Santoso’s illustrations. I have a bunch of other picture books I’m working on as well, and a YA that’s a long-term project!

Thanks for stopping by dulemba.com!
Thanks so much for having me! I hope I can see you in person soon!

Candlewick is kindly giving away a free copy of MY BLUE IS HAPPY to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
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MY BLUE IS HAPPY. Text copyright © 2013 by Jessica Young. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Catia Chien. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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41. Coloring Page Tuesday - Leprechaun!

     Happy St. Patty's Day (on Monday)!!! Don't forget to wear green! And remind your students/kids/readers, the treasure isn't gold - the treasure is in BOOKS!!!!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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42. ABOWS is a SIBA OKRA Pick!

I am THRILLED to announce that A BIRD ON WATER STREET, my debut historical fiction mid-grade, is a Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) OKRA PICK! Per their website:

The Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell. These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southerners love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of southern titles not to be missed each season.
     SIBA offers incentives to indie bookstores to feature and display Okra Picks in prime locations in their stores. In other words, this incredible honor means that when my book is officially released on May 7th, you will probably be able to walk into just about any bookstore in the south and find my book prominently displayed!
     If you're a book person, you know what this means. If you're not, I can't tell you how incredible this is! I was bouncing all over my house when my publisher called to tell me - I hardly believed it! How exciting that my book, my book, seems to be resonating - seems to be striking a chord with readers. It's what every writer dreams about. Wahooo!!

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43. Bunnies & Kitties

A Cuddly Collection of Fur and Friendship by Cate Holly. I don't know why - but this video cracks me up! It makes my husband want to start drinking... Hm.

Click the image below if the video above gives you trouble.

When I worked at a children's clothing company, the word "cute" became a hot-button. We banned ourselves from saying it, mostly because it was said so often it drove us all crazy! Maybe that's part of why this made me giggle. (It's been long enough since I worked at the clothing company, I'm no longer scarred.)

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44. Ghostcube

This is just cool! And mesmerizing to watch...

Click the image below if the video doesn't load correctly for you.
Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up.

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45. TEACHERS! Educational specials for ABOWS

Teachers, Little Pickle Press has put together pre-order specials for you. You can get copies of A BIRD ON WATER STREET with signed bookplates and Skype visits (with me) through
Click the image to go check it out!

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46. Coloring Page Tuesdays - Weasel Doing Homework...

A special edition of Coloring Page Tuesdays and e's news went out today with BIG NEWS about my new historical fiction mid-grade A BIRD ON WATER STREET. CLICK HERE to go see.
     This week I share a sweet little weasel doing a good job keeping up with his homework!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.

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47. You Are Not Lazy

If you’re like me, the word “lazy” is a hot button. Maybe you got called that a lot as a child. Maybe much of your adult life has been acting out against that label, to prove it wrong... or maybe that’s just me. But maybe you are like me and you heard it way too many times growing up. “Lazy, lazy, lazy.”

Then came aging and experience.

As I’ve matured I’ve come to realize that nobody is lazy. I should qualify that… nobody is lazy when it comes to something they care about. Not meeting that deadline that looms ever closer? Maybe it’s because it’s something you really don't enjoy doing. Working a job you hate? Maybe it’s because you care so deeply about what (or who) you’re working it for. Not writing that great American novel? Maybe it’s because you think you should, not because you actually want to.

Lazy is the opposite of caring. When we care, we do.

I’m an illustrator (along with all my other labels). A good friend of mine used to work in cut paper. I couldn’t imagine going through the intricate stages it took her to draw, finalize, create the papers, and cut every single little piece. For her, it was therapy. For me, even though I did the same sort of process with my digital art, it would have been excruciating. As another friend said about cross-stitching, yet another exercise I have no patience for, “When I cross-stitch, the whole world just becomes those little squares.” It was therapy.

People have told me that I’m patient, especially with my art, or my writing, or with with my students. They’ve said I am not lazy… and I relish the declaration. But it’s only true when it comes to those things, because those are things I care about. And for that, I will never have enough time and never put in enough effort, because I care about them. For somebody else, however, it would be drudgery.

But I’m lucky. I know what it is I care about - I know what I want. I'm convinced most people go through life never knowing what that is - never knowing what would truly fill their soul. Knowing what you want is, in itself, a gift to be cherished and nourished. Because knowing what you really want will drive you - you will work for it and never feel (or seldom feel) like you are working at all. It will feed you more than drain you. People will call you anything but lazy as you pursue that deep desire with the work ethic of a stubborn ox.

So, if you feel inclined to label somebody as lazy (even yourself), I’ll bet the real problem is, they (or you) haven’t figured out what it is they care about yet, what they really want - that activity that lights their creative spirit on fire. Caring motivates us. Deep caring drives us to action. And in those activities, we could never be labeled as lazy.

So if that’s a label you think might fit you, maybe it's time to reevaluate. Ask yourself, ‘What do I really care about—what do I really want.’ And be honest. You may find that whatever you’re doing is supporting those things more strongly than you originally thought. And if they’re not supporting you… then maybe it’s time to think about doing something else – something that you will have imminent patience for – something you really want and for which you would never be called lazy.

Learn more about my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.

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48. HELLO, MR. HULOT - Giveaway!

I have a treat for you today. HELLO, MR. HULOT is not your average picture book. It's based on the comedy act by French treasure, Jacques Tati. Born in 1907, you can see an example of his work in "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot" or "Mr. Hulot's Holiday":

      Click Here if the video above gives you any trouble.
      Jump ahead several decades and David Merveille has translated the sublime comedy of Mr. Hulot into fantastic graphic images of 6 vignettes on a facing page with a charming resolution on the left after each page turn. Marveille is genius at choosing the just right moments to exemplify the humor and irony in each scene. Children will love the humor, while adults will cling to subtle, mature jokes that children won't catch. All said, this book is now a treasure too!
     David is French, mais bien sur, so I am thrilled to have him visit today via a tranlator at NorthSouth...

Q. David - How did you first hear about Jacques Tati?
A. My first encounter with Tati was a disaster. I was 14 years old and was forced to watch "PlayTime“ on TV that night as it was considered a classic. After a quarter hour I couldn't take any more and escaped. I was so bored as I had the impression that nothing was happening. Luckily, a few years later I had a chance to reassess when I saw "Les vacances de monsieur Hulot“ (The Holidays of Mr. Hulot) and became a huge fan.
(Notice how the before and after works...and click to see the image larger in a new window.)

Q. What is Monsieur Tati or Mr. Hulot's status in French culture?
A. For all Francophiles Tati remains one of the biggest (not just in size) stars of the French screen. Even though he only made 6 feature films, he left an indelible mark on the film industry.

Q. How did you tackle this daunting project? And how did publishers respond to it?
A. My first book with the character of Monsieur Hulot "Le jacquot de monsieur Hulot“ (The Grey Parrot of Mr. Hulot) was published in France in 2006. For me it was clear that he had great potential in a children's book. First of all, his recognizable silhouette, which already existed on the magnificent posters by Pierre Etaix. The visual humour of the character, the love of detail, the architecture, all that for me, made him pre-destined to be a hero, or rather anti-hero, for children. My publisher, as well as Jaques Tati’s heirs, supported and encouraged me. They have been enthusiastic, given me confidence and some very good advice.

Q. I love your seemingly simple graphic images and will be showing off your work to students in my Design class at Hollins University this summer. How do you approach a piece? Do you choose shapes first, colors first?
A. When I was a child I read, like most Belgian children, Herge's "Tintin“ comics. A crucial influence! I am an heir of the "clear line" style. Sometimes, this feature of mine disappears but I always have the desire to stay legible, to keep my style, to stay true to myself.
      For example "Hello Monsieur Hulor“ is a comic book. I went back to this style to keep the readability, but for my next book, I've been using acrylic and less clear strokes. For me, every book has to have its own style, where the drawings service the story. What is also important is to reinvent oneself, to keep the pleasure of creating alive.

Q. Mr. Hulot's humor is so subtle. How did you choose the moments to illustrate?
A. I submerged myself in Tati's universe, his subtle wit, his burlesque humour, the psychology of the Hulot’s character, which all has a certain poetry to it.

Q. Were these all scenes from his movies, or did you make them up?
A. I amuse myself by concealing references to the films in my drawings. I smuggle in certain interiors, characters or vehicles. I do not set out to adapt the films or specific jokes but rather invent new stories and new jokes in the style of the master.

Q. What do you think Jacques Tati would think of your creation which honors Mr. Hulot in such a lovely way?
A. Jaques Tati explicitly expressed the wish that his character Hulot would appear in films by other directors, as was done by François Truffaut in "domicile conjugal“. Therefore I think he would be pleased to see that his character is still alive and kicking in 2014. I also think he would be happy to see children laughing while reading my books. But I should also add that Tati was one of the greatest perfectionists of all time anywhere! I'm sure he would have had plenty to say about my work. I try to rise to his level but it is of course impossible. I try to do my best without feeling the pressure of Jacques Tati looking over my shoulder while I’m drawing. That would be counter-productive and paralyzing. One should not be afraid to develop the character Hulot, to modernize it a bit. It would be a mistake to stay fixed on one form.

Q. Do you have more Mr. Hulot books forthcoming - is this an ongoing passion for you? Or do you have other works-in-progress?
A. I have published around forty books for children, designed a number of posters, done illustrations for the press and advertising, and I also work in animation. At the moment I am working on a new picture book called "Monsieur Hulot à la plage“ (Monsieur Hulot at the Beach). He returns to the set of the black and white movie from 1953 "Les vacances de monsieur Hulot“ (The Holidays of Mr. Hulot). It's in the same retro style, same decor as "Hello Monsieur Hulot“ but like in my other books, new stories, new gags and as always, hopefully in the master’s sprit.

David, thanks so much for stopping by!

The kind folks at NorthSouth have agreed to give one free copy of HELLO, MR. HULOT to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.
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Photo credit Association Clair Obscur.

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49. Friday Linky List

Muggles Can Make Magic, Too! Turning Non-Readers Into Readers and Writers by Dennis Jolley (with Justine Jones) at Nerdy Book Club. Teachers, Media Specialists, and Librarians - you need to read this!!!

At PW Children's Bookshelf: How to Write YA by Seth Fishman. GREAT article!

Did you read my article: "You Are Not Lazy"? I think you should.

At PW: Voices of Experience: Advice from Publishing Veterans

Also from PW via Josie Leavitt: A Board Book Love Affair

At SLJ: Riding High: Brian Floca on the Remarkable Process Behind His Caldecott-winning 'Locomotive'

It's More Than Shopping Local by Josie Leavitt at PW

From Cynsations: Project Mayhem: Considering Common Themes in Middle-Grade Books

Again from Cynsations: Metteivieharrison: Everything You Need To Know To Be a Published Author

From Mary Kole at Kidlit.com: Why an Agent May Not Submit Widely

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50. SCREAMING AT THE UMP by Audrey Vernick - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Crafting a suspenseful plot has always been my weakness. This isn’t all that surprising. As a writer, I look to create the kind of novel I like to read. My favorite books have always been character-based. The movies I love tend to be day-in-the-life stories about interesting characters, films that often lack that formulaic all-is-lost moment near the end.
      You’d probably call them quiet.
      So it wasn’t a huge shock that the first middle-grade novel I wrote ended up being on the quiet side, a coming-of-age-one-summer book. The thing is, it turns out to be totally not fun to write a whole novel and then not sell it.
      My agent and I heard it again and again: there wasn’t enough that set my book apart. It was too quiet. It was a mistake I didn’t want to make a second time.
      Those who know me will not be surprised by how I discovered a potentially less quiet path: I was watching baseball on TV. It was the postseason and the outcome of a number of games was directly affected by bad calls. For weeks it was the main talking point of sports-minded people: the fallibility of umpires.
      I knew the best umpires were chosen to work postseason games but it occurred to me that I had no idea how one became a major-league umpire. A little online research quickly led to the answer. There are two umpire schools in Florida. Who knew?
      I started thinking about this, about setting a novel at an umpire school. Maybe setting was something that could set a book apart. In the interest of full disclosure: as a reader, I’m rarely excited by setting. In fact, it’s one of those things that I think, when done well, isn’t all that noticeable. As a young reader, I appreciated intentionally vague settings—those that allowed me to place the characters’ lives in the framework of my own familiar landmarks.
      But if I started with a really unique setting, maybe I could call that the hook, the thing that sets my book apart.
      As the days grew colder and grayer, I started to think I might be onto something. Umpire school classes are held in January. Florida is warm in January. New Jersey is not. I concluded that research would be essential to the success of this project.
      And somehow I made it happen. I contacted the head of one of the umpire schools, got permission to observe while school was in session. I booked a cheap flight, cheap car, cheap motel. Arranged for my husband to stay with our kids. And I went to Kissimmee, Florida.
      I sat in the bleachers. I watched. I took notes. I took pictures. I talked to the owner and his right-hand man. I started writing in that crappy little motel room. I began with different characters than the ones in Screaming at the Ump. I think those three are still waiting for me—they did not belong at an umpire school. Ump’s main character, Casey Snowden, and his best friend, Zeke, belong in this school. It defines them.
      A funny thing happened after I put my characters in this not-run-of-the-mill setting. A loudish character showed up. A mysterious loud character who may or may not be a former major-league ballplayer disgraced in a steroid scandal years earlier. He helped me take another step away from a too-quiet manuscript.
      I’m tempted to skip the part of the story that involved this book going out on submission and being quickly rejected. The problem wasn’t quietness that time. Maybe ineptitude? I still had a lot to learn about piecing together a novel. But I did figure it out. I even went back and rescued that first too-quiet novel. Both of these manuscripts spent lonely years in the drawer. I picture their main characters, Marley and Casey, both only children, teasing each other like siblings while in there. In their ultimately published versions, I placed them in the same town, a tribute to their time together.
      In Marley’s case, the town is barely there. Setting is far more important to Casey’s story—the whole town is there, but the emphasis is very much upon the imagined campus of Behind the Plate, his father and grandfather’s umpire school, on the grounds of what was once a reform school.
      I’m now working on my third novel. It’s not a shock-a-minute thriller, but some stuff happens. I think that’s probably the extent of plot in my books—some stuff happens that affects the characters. While I lack the desire and the skill set to “write to market,” I do always write with the goal of having some elements that set the story apart. That and stories that require research in warmer winter climates.

Audrey Vernick lives near the ocean in New Jersey where she writes picture books and middle grade novels. You can visit her website: http://www.audreyvernick.com.

Audrey has kindly agreed to give one free copy of SCREAMING AT THE UMP to one of my lucky commenters. Enter below. (Must live in the continental US to win.)
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