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Viewing Blog: Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Most Recent at Top
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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. Coloring Page Tuesday - Gorilla

     Yes, I have a lifeguard gorilla image too. But really, can you ever get enough gorillas? That's what I thought.
     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! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! 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.
AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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27. St. Lucia!!!

Hubbie and I just returned from a week at St. Lucia! It was a spur of the moment thing - we'd entered a silent auction hosted by our friend Frank Corollo of Keller Williams Realty to help raise money for our local Museum School. On a lark we put our name down for St. Lucia, and guess what? Nobody else did! So off we went to the St. James' Club on Morgan Bay!
     There's too much to write about - it was such a fabulous trip! It was my first time to the Caribbean and our first time at an all inclusive. And whereas I usually need a few days to unplug - this vacation kicked in fully from day one! Here are some photos:

The view from our balcony...


A sunset - this doesn't do it justice...

Rainbows actually foretell rain (which it did for about 15 minutes)...

We went into Castries to shop - the cruise ships go there too (they are HUGE):



The "Basket Man" made us a palm frond hummingbird:

We also ate at one of the best restaurants on the island - the Coal Pot:


Where I had Caribbean Lobster - omg:

One day we took a boat cruise. It was awesome, but it rained on us nearly the whole time as we went to the Volcano's sulfur baths (you scour yourself in the mud before climbing back into the very hot water:

A lovely waterfall (then a wet lunch and amazing snorkeling - no pics):

Our group sort of bonded - we made tons of new friends! Click the image to see a larger version in a new window:

Actually, we hung out at the pool bar quite a bit. Have you ever had a "dirty banana"? So good!

If you have ever spent time at a resort like this, you'll know what this flag means:

The birds were amazing, mostly doves (surprisingly enough), but I love this photo of the very cranky-looking blackbirds. All the restaurants were wide open, so they flew through often. And a few cats made the rounds every meal for scraps.

The island is so stunningly beautiful. I have to say, the entire trip far exceeded any expectations we had. Here's a fishing village:

And the view from the upper pool (we had 4 to choose from, along with the SEA:

Lots of folks get married there, and who can blame them? It's definitely a honeymoon destination and I so enjoyed all the shiny new couples running around so in love. They were so cute and it made Stan and I feel young again too!
We LOVED St. Lucia and hope to go back some day!!!!

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28. It's Paper...

Not. It's actually computer rendered to look like paper. And its pretty cool!

It's paper from Pingo van der Brinkloev on Vimeo.

"This is a personal project. I wanted to make some infinite loops for istockphoto and I wanted to make a paper shader. The finished clips are actually only 4-5 seconds long but they can go on for ever. Then I felt like putting it all together for a little.. Mindfulness-short.

Everything is straight out of cinema4d. Sounds from freesound.org

Enjoy!"

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29. Vicky Alvear Shecter's HADES SPEAKS - guest post and giveaway!

One of my favorite things about my blog and newsletter is when I get to help celebrate a close friend's new book - like today. Vicky Alvear Shecter has a new non-fiction mid-grade out called HADES SPEAKS. And like it's predecessor, ANUBIS SPEAKS, it is full of fun, snarky history through the eyes of an ancient god. Vicky dropped by to talk about it...


The Funny Thing about Funny Things

      Most of us have watched videos of babies cracking up over strange noises. If you look closely, many of the videos show that right under the surface, the child is trying to manage his or her fear of either an unexpected noise or something unfamiliar. The video of the baby with the mother who sneezed is a perfect example of this—first come surprise and terror, then laughter. Click the image to watch the video at Youtube in a new window.

      I bring this up because I think sometimes we forget how important laughter is, not just as entertainment, but for helping us manage our fears. By laughing at something, we are not undone by it. We become masters of it.
      Now, I could say that I “write funny” about mythology because I’m trying to give kids an outlet for processing the weirdness and darkness of mythological stories, but I’d be lying. The truth is, I write with humor about mythology because so much of it—to me anyway—is downright hysterical. I have an eleven-year-old kid inside of me who likes to crack up over absurdities. Just for the sheer pleasure of it.
      Still, that’s not to deny that laughter or humor is a powerful tool for managing fear. Especially for kids.
      Even so, an irreverent or humorous approach sometimes makes adults uncomfortable. That’s why I loved this review from a school librarian (Ms. Yinging Reads – CLICK HERE to read) that acknowledged this truth with Hades Speaks! A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead: “I prefer a more serious treatment of the gods (D’Aulaire, Hamilton)…but I know that most of my readers prefer the funny spin on the myths.”
      Right. Let’s meet kids where they are and inspire them to learn more!
     In Hades Speaks, Hades tours the reader through his dark and spooky realms. We meet unhappy ghosts, blood-sucking hags, bats that flap nightmares into your sleep, terrible tortures, and a three-headed dog with poison spit. Scary, right? But not so much if the guy telling you about it is furious that his little brother (Zeus) got the bigger piece of the pie and it’s not fair that everyone likes him better. Or if he keeps getting tricked by a not-so-smart demigod. Or if he gets his feelings hurt that his people didn’t build him enough temples.
      Suddenly, Hades’s world is not just dark, but humorously dark. I hope readers enjoy their trip over the River Styx—as well as meeting Cerberus, dodging monsters, and peering into the pits at Tartaros. I also hope they end up giggling their way through it too!

GIVEAWAY!
Vicky has kindly agreed to give a free, signed and dedicated copy of HADES SPEAKS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below:

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30. Friday Linky List - October 3, 2014

Today's list may be a little short because hubbie and I are vacationing (finally) in St. Lucia... I'll post some photos when I can! Meanwhile, here are a few...

Darcy Pattison will offer online video writing courses through Udemy.com's platform. Read more about it HERE. (She's good - this is worth your time to have a look.)

From PW: Hachette U.K. Creates Unified Children's Division - This is big news! Perhaps this will give them a stronger platform from which to compete with the bookseller-who-must-not-be-named.

Love the PW cartoon "Tales From the Slush Pile"? They finally have a landing page for the creations of Ed Briant - GREAT!

From Huff Post (via my agent) - 10 Gorgeous Quotes From Banned Books

From The New York Times via PW: Turning a Book Tour Into a Literary Circus (and a Hot Ticket)

Our new office:



At Boingboing via my hubbie - the Real Life Sherlock Holmes

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31. TO DARE MIGHTY THINGS: THE LIFE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT by Doreen Rappaport - GIVEAWAY!

One of my relatives was a Rough Rider for Teddy Roosevelt, so I've always been fascinated by him from that point of view. Add to that our National Parks system was his doing, and he's just a fascinating guy. Then came Doreen Rappaport's TO DARE MIGHTY THINGS: THE LIFE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT beautifully illustrated by C.F. Payne. I'm so hooked! And I'm happy to have Doreen here today to answer some questions about it!

Q. Doreen, Congratulations on this beautiful achievement! What was your initial draw to Teddy Roosevelt?
A.
My husband who collected political presidential memorabilia, has been after me to do Teddy as he was such an interesting, astounding man.

Q. You obviously did a ton of research to write TO DARE MIGHTY THINGS. Did you find it especially challenging to gather such in depth information?
A.
The research in some sense is the easiest part of doing a book. The hard part is finding the "hook" on which to tell the story. There are many important major biographies on Teddy. I started with them and then went to their "footnotes" to get to primary sources. I also ready Teddy's books and visited his home on Long Island.

Q. Did you learn anything that surprised you?
A.
I don't think I realized before I did the research what a fearless person he was. I don't necessarily agree with everything he did, but he stuck to what he believed in was best for the country and pursued it. He's one of the great founders of the conservation movement As much as he loved "the hunt," when he realized that hunting was destroying the Dakota territory, he jumped right in to do something about it.

Q. I love the way you structured the story with facts and quotes throughout. How did you come up with that?
A.
My first book which combined quotes and my narrative was Martin's Big Words and that gave me the idea to combine words by the people I decided to write about to give children a close, firsthand look and feel of what these people were really about.

Q. Indeed, MARTIN’S BIG WORDS blew away the children’s kid lit world and won several awards including the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, a Caldecott honor, a Coretta Scott King honor, and an ALA Notable Children’s Book Award - among others. I don’t think there was enough room on the cover for all the stickers it earned! What was it like when all those awards started coming in?
A.
It's wonderful to win awards, but the real award is to write a book that YOU think is a good book and contributes to children's literature.

Q. The story itself is written so beautifully - not at all like one might expect from a non-fiction story. How did you keep it sounding so fresh and lyrical?
A.
I work very hard on it.
Me: :)

Q. What was your reaction when you saw the luscious illustrations by C.F. Payne?
A.
I was bowled over by C. F. Payne's art and still am.

Q. One of the most interesting design decisions on this book is the lack of a title on the front cover - just that big close up of Roosevelt. (The title is on the back cover.) Did you love that straight out or did it have to grow on you?
A.
This idea came again from Martin's Big Words. The cover of that book is Dr. King with an enormous smile on his face--an unusual way to see Dr. King, to think about Dr. King, to gain another perspective about him, and so we decided as the books progressed to put only a face on the cover and the title of the book on the other side.

Q. There's a whole series of these now, yes? You must be so proud of these beautiful books!
A.
I am.

Q. I hope the books are being used like crazy in schools. How do you choose which ones to focus on when you do a school visit?
A.
I focus on all of them.

Q. So many people who dream of creating picture books, never think of non-fiction. Yet, that's your specialty. What are your thoughts about non-fiction?
A.
I absolutely adore fiction, but the amazing thing about real life is that it's as exciting and dramatic as ANY fiction writer could dream up.

Q. Doreen, thanks so much for stopping by and I look forward to more lovely books from you!

GIVEAWAY!
Disney has kindly agreed to offer a free copy of TO DARE MIGHTY THINGS: THE LIFE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT to one of my lucky winners. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below:

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32. Why Write Mid-Grade?

Most authors of mid-grade novels get the question at some point, "Why do you write for teens? Why not write for adults?" And within the kidlit community, "Why write mid-grade? Why not Young Adult?"
      As a picture book author/illustrator, I'd heard the stories of such conversations, but I thought it was a cliché, a myth of the writing community, until word about my new mid-grade fiction, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, got out, and I started getting the question too. Happily, I have an answer.
      Adult and Young Adult novels seem to me to be mostly about solving a problem, or finding that perfect mate, or re-discovering oneself. I skip all that and go back to the beginning, when a main character isn't re-discovering anything - they are discovering who they are for the first time.
      To me, it makes for an unpredictable scenario. A young mind is one that isn't yet set in its ways. A young teen doesn't yet know if they are good or bad, if they make good decisions or not yet. It's all new territory and the pendulum could swing either way. Are they a person who stands up for what they believe in, or somebody who goes along with the status quo - with what's expected of them?
      And if a first kiss gets thrown in there while we're at it, where's the harm in that? Because no kiss will ever again feel like that first kiss. It's all about firsts really, when the world is still a wonder. When a teen is trying to make sense of it all. Really, it's a sensation we never lose in life, which is why I find it especially profound to explore those emotions when they're happening for the first time. It's why mid-grade may very well be a sweet spot for me. I hope for my readers too!

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33. Coloring Page Tuesday - L is for Lemur

      Adding to my alphabet of reading critters, I give you a lemur! They're so cute with their long ringed tails. Do you suppose they like to read THE JUNGLE BOOK?
     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! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! 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.
AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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34. Green Earth Book Awards announced...

This award list, sponsored by The Nature Generation, is especially on my radar since A BIRD ON WATER STREET has such a strong environmental message and this award is all about promoting environmental stewardship. Happily, ABOWS will be eligible for consideration for the next list (published in 2014). But for the 2013 books, the list has just been announced. And the winners are:

   Jennifer O’Connell – The Eye of the Whale a Rescue Story (picture book)
   Kathi Appelt - The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (children’s fiction)
   Suzanne Goldsmith, Washashore (young adult fiction)
   Melissa Stewart and Higgins Bond - A Place for Turtles (children’s nonfiction)
   Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie– Inside a Bald Eagle’s Nest: A Photographic Journey Through the American Bald Eagle Nesting Season (young adult nonfiction)

   And in celebration of their 10th anniversary, The Nature Generation donated 10,000 books to DC area schools and each of the authors met with students to talk about what they can do to be good environmental stewards. Very cool.

   AND THERE'S MORE!
   TeachingBooks.net has compiled all of the online materials about this year's winning books, authors, and illustrators - CLICK HERE.

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35. The Rainbow Connection

Need a cheer up? Can we ever tire of hearing Kermie sing The Rainbow Connection? Nope. Still makes me cry happy tears.


If you can't see the video in your feed, CLICK HERE.

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36. THE CURSE OF THE BUTTONS by Anne Ylvisaker - Guest post and GIVEAWAY!

Today, I'm happy to welcome Anne Ylvisaker as she talks about her new mid-grade...

     One of the joys of reading a novel is sinking into the setting, getting to know a distinct place at a particular time. As a writer, discovering the setting of a story is one of my favorite parts of the process.
      When I begin writing a novel, I have a who, and often a what, but finding the where and when usually takes some exploration. I try my main character in different settings to see what feels right. I pour over photographs, walk the streets where I live, and drop my protagonist into different time periods and places until I find their story.
      My middle grade novel The Luck of the Buttons (Candlewick, 2011) was originally set in 1970s Minneapolis, Minnesota until a Grant Wood painting inspired me to set Tugs Button’s story, and then her cousin Ned Button’s Button Down (Candlewick, 2012) in fictional Goodhue, Iowa, circa 1929.
      For my newest book, however, the setting came ready made. The Curse of the Buttons (Candlewick, 2014) is Tugs and Ned’s Great-granddaddy Ike’s boyhood story. Because bits of Granddaddy’s life slip into The Luck of the Buttons and Button Down, I knew his adventure would be set during the Civil War, and this time there was a real town I was anxious to use. My husband was born in Keokuk, Iowa, and from the first time I heard the name, I loved to say it out loud (KEY-u-kuk), and hoped to find a story to set there.
      I love river towns and Keokuk is the ultimate river town. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, one of my favorite river town storytellers, even lived in Keokuk for a time. Called the Gate City, Keokuk’s place at the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers puts it on a line between north and south, east and west. This unique geographic situation made the city particularly valuable and volatile during the Civil War. Thousands of soldiers mustered in Keokuk. Freedom seekers crossed the Des Moines River and found their way north through the town. Sympathies were divided even among family members.

      I read Raymond E. Garrison’s Tales of Early Keokuk Homes, which is full of fascinating snippets of life stories, many from the 1850s and 60s; names, like Albirdie; and jobs people held, like boatman, carriage maker, and butter and egg man. I could imagine Ike’s adventures among those people, walking into Chatham Square Church to discover a clandestine meeting, running down to the levee when a steamboat arrived with the announcement that Iowa’s soldiers were being called up to war.
      While the main character births the idea of a novel, the setting unleashes questions that make the story unfurl. Questions I hope will propel readers through The Curse of the Buttons include: What was it like to live in a town between North and South at the dawn of the Civil War? How did children understand the issues of the war? What were towns like after the most of the men left? What if a boy in Iowa met a boy who was escaping slavery? What if a child was faced with having to make an ethical decision while the adults around him spouted conflicting beliefs? I am excited to share Ike and his summer of 1861 adventures in Keokuk, and hope that readers find as much satisfaction as I did in connecting character to setting, question to answer.

Anne Ylvisaker writes in a tiny cottage in a green belt ravine behind her house in Monterey, California. She is the author of five middle grade novels, all from Candlewick Press, including Dear Papa (2002), named a Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novel, Little Klein (2007), Midwest Booksellers Choice award winner, and three books about the comically unlucky Button family.

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has generously offered a free copy of The Curse of the Buttons to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.

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37. Friday Linky List - September 26, 2014

From Terrible Minds: Ten Things To Never Say To A Writer by Chuck Wendig - Gads I love this, but it is definitely for adults.

At The Guardian: Decoding Russian Criminal Tattoos, in code - fascinating and oddly beautiful

From The Telegraph via PW: Ben Miller: Stopping children hearing scary stories is a 'big mistake'

From The Guardian via PW: Terry Pratchett: how I wrote my first stories as a cub reporter

From BuzzFeed via Shelf Awareness: 15 Hilarious Bookstore Chalkboards like this one from Kaleido Books & Gifts in Perth, Australia:


From The Bookseller via PW: Nearly three quarters of young people prefer print! (I added the exclamation point)

Via PW - MEET THE NEW AMTRAK WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE - 24 of them chosen from 16,000 submissions.

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38. Aaron Becker's QUEST..


Aaron Becker's debut picture book, JOURNEY, took the kid lit world by storm and won a Caldecott Honor. So we've been anxiously awaiting his second, QUEST, which I have to say, is just as brilliant. They're both wordless, epic stories unlike anything the children's lit world has seen before. I am thrilled to have Aaron here today to tell us more about it...

Q. I’ve heard you used a 3-D program to get the castle and other landscape elements just right in QUEST, but there’s still a ton of atmosphere. How did you take a 3-D model and give it such life?
A.
I come from a film background and the 3D training I received was always just a means to an end - in other words, it’s a tool in the belt, but the danger is that things can end up looking computerized as you’ve suggested, just as they do in movies. So I’ve always been very aware of this tendency. By the time I do my watercolors, the information (perspective, lighting, design) I get from the 3D models is really just used like reference, almost like a photograph or scale model might aid an illustrator in their work. It was important to me that anything from the computer world didn’t end up in the final illustrations, so I tend to just work traditionally at that point with ink and watercolor. Occasionally, there’s a light printout of some of the lighting information from the 3D models, but this gets quickly buried underneath layers of paint.

Q. Even though QUEST has no words, the ideas are quite complicated. I love the magic crayons - can you explain the idea behind those a little further?
A.
There’s an entire mythology behind QUEST and the universe of the JOURNEY trilogy; I had to work out a large back story and the markers are an important part of it. In the end, you don’t necessarily find out about all of the myths that drive the adventure at hand, but the details are there and they support a sense of a larger world that’s quite important for fueling the imagination of the reader. In the wordless realm, this is especially important. Without details that are open to interpretation, the books would fall flat. All this is to say - yes, there’s more behind the markers, but no I won’t tell you! Like a magician and his tricks, knowing what’s behind it all ruins the fun!

Q. Is it the power of the rainbow, or simply the power of COLOR that holds the magic in the alternate world?
A.
What do you think? :)
ME: Oh dangit! Hmmm!

Q. I love the purple bird, a carryover from JOURNEY. Does it have special symbolism to you?
A.
I think of the bird as a sort of R2D2 character that knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in this story. She guides the characters to where they need to be to help push their destinies along. In fact, if you look in the books, you’ll notice she’s always looking in the direction of where I want the reader to look. Sometimes she knows more than the girl and boy about what’s around the corner (or chasing them from behind!) Symbolically, the bird is a symbol of the freedom that comes with being unaffected as a child - the wonder that comes with believing in those magical corners of the world that we usually forget as grown ups. But perhaps I’m giving away too much here!

Q. You’ve been an “overnight success” with JOURNEY and now QUEST too, and yet I know there’s no such thing. What was your journey to publication?
A.
I went to my first SCBWI conference 15 years ago. In fact, I met my current editor at Candlewick at a retreat in 1999. We reconnected many years later, after I returned to art school to hone my skills and worked in the film industry for nearly a decade. So yes, it was a long road, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I think I needed all that time to figure out how I wanted to tell a story.
(Here's an image still in its 3-D mode...

And in watercolor...)


Q. What is your general method and how long does it take you to create a piece?
A.
The most time consuming part of any project for me is getting the story right. The sketches, the constant wrangling, editing, back-stepping - all of the normal trials and tribulations of any writer. By the time I’m ready to do my final artwork, the bulk of my “work” is done. But the paintings do take time. I take my rough sketches and make them tighter, print them out onto watercolor paper very lightly, then do the inking, and then the watercolor. Before any of this, each illustration is planned out extensively on the computer so that all of my compositional and color decisions are already made. At each stage of the process, I like to focus on only one or two things at a time, so with the watercolor, I’m just focusing on pigment and water and not story-telling or design. I’d say these books are taking me about a year and a half from start to finish, with the artwork taking about four and a half months of that.

Q. I know the publicity wheels are keeping you VERY busy, so I appreciate your time and wish you much continued success!!
A.
THANK YOU!

Watch the official book trailer at VIMEO:

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a beautiful, free copy of QUEST to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:



QUEST. Copyright © 2014 by Aaron Becker. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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39. Sign up for my "Creating Picture Books" class at John C. Campbell!


I get lots of requests to teach what I do, so I wanted to give you a heads up... my class "Creating Children's Picture Books" at the John C. Campbell Folk School is coming up on December 3rd. Now's the time to sign up if you're interested! Here's where you can learn about the class at the John C. website: CLICK HERE. And you can read about past classes by clicking on the year: 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008. It's a 4-day long intense class on a gorgeous campus in the North Carolina mountains with fantastic family-style meal times. Camp for adults! It's a small class, so if you want in, sign up soon - it fills up quickly!

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40. Coloring Page Tuesdays - Honey Biscuits

     Where's your favorite reading spot? This bear likes to munch on honey biscuits while reading a good book. Do you have a reading ritual?
     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! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! 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.
AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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41. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Trailer

Again, this looks good! Click on the image to go watch the official trailer on YouTube:

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42. Banned Books Week

Sunday, September 21st kicks off Banned Books Week. Celebrate the right to read - fREADom!!!

Check out this great video by Books Inc. - Click the image to see it on Youtube:

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43. BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Thompson - Guest Post and Giveaway

I've got a slightly different sort of book for you to learn about today... It's called BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Thompson and it's about kids taking charge to change their worlds for the better - powerful stuff! And something I fully support, which is why I was thrilled Laurie wanted to stop by to talk about it...


     I started working on Be a Changemaker in 2004. At the time, I was working on another book about ordinary people who had done extraordinary things. This is a common theme in much of my work, probably because I yearn to do extraordinary things despite feeling so very ordinary myself!
      While researching that book, I came across David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, which contains case studies of social entrepreneurs around the world who started innovative programs to solve various kinds of social problems in their local communities. I was so excited by Bornstein’s stories of individuals who had built lasting, meaningful organizations from the ground up and the myriad ways they had directly improved people’s lives. I remember shaking the book at my husband and saying, “You know who needs a book like this? Teenagers! If they knew they were capable of making the changes they care about, the world would be a better place for all of us. Why doesn’t someone write a book like this for them?” Obviously, that was a light bulb moment! I was someone, after all, so I would just have to write the book myself. With a new focus, I turned all my energies toward developing what would become Be a Changemaker.
      The people profiled in How to Change the World were all fellows in an organization called Ashoka, whose slogan is “Everyone a changemaker.” I soon discovered that Ashoka had a division called Youth Venture, which is specifically aimed at empowering young people to make positive changes in their communities, and one of their flagship offices was in Seattle, not far from my home. It felt like it was meant to be!
      Youth Venture invited me to attend a community workshop they were offering. The energy and enthusiasm there was infectious! The teens were thrilled to talk about the problems they saw in their communities and excited to work together to try to find solutions. Seeing them in action validated my ideas for Be a Changemaker. Everyone I met from the Youth Venture staff was supportive, too, despite the fact that I had never even written a book, much less published one! They knew that sometimes passion and persistence can be more important than experience, and their confidence in me was a huge boost.
      I got to work researching, drafting, and revising a proposal. I submitted the proposal for critique, got positive feedback, and kept going. I submitted again, got less positive feedback, and put it away. I learned more. I went back and started over again and again and again, round and round. After six years of this, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere and submitted the proposal to an agent. She liked it but wanted me to address a few issues. Feeling like I only had one chance to get it right, I worked on that revision for an entire year. It worked! Surely the hard part was over, right?
      Anyone who knows publishing knows it’s rarely that easy. It still took a while to find the perfect home for it, and then I had to finish writing it and go through the editorial process under tight deadlines and facing some unexpected medical challenges throughout. After all the initial waiting and painstaking refinement, I worried that the mad dash to the finish might cause me to lose sight of what I had been trying to accomplish and make me miss the mark I’d been shooting for all of those years.
      In the end, though, it turned out even better than I ever imagined. My family was behind me every step of the way. I was fortunate enough to work with a team of people who understood the vision and helped me nurture it all along the way. And, eventually, the process itself ended up coming full circle in the most fulfilling ways: I got to profile Divine Bradley, the inspirational guest speaker at that first Youth Venture workshop, in chapter two of Be a Changemaker; Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, wrote the foreword; and David Bornstein read an advance copy and provided a quote. To an ordinary gal like me, that’s some pretty extraordinary stuff. And looking back on it now, it was worth every minute.

Laurie's favorite writing spot is her Treadmill Desk. Click here to learn more about it.


GIVEAWAY!
Blue Slip Media has kindly agreed to give a free copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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44. MIchelle Knudsen's EVIL LIBRARIAN - guest post and giveaway!

A dear friend of mine - Michelle Knudsen (of THE DRAGON OF TRELIAN, THE LIBRARY LION, etc...) has a new novel coming out called EVIL LIBRARIAN and it is a hoot! I'm thrilled she stopped by to talk to us about it today...

People often want to know the story behind a story — where the idea came from, what the process was from blank page to publication. The later stages are usually easy to talk about, but the beginning part is always hard for me. I try to pay attention, when I first start to get an idea, because I know people are going to ask me about it later ... but I’m usually just so excited to feel an idea coming together that I don’t want to think too much about where it came from and risk messing it up. Ideas can be fragile things when they first begin to materialize. And then of course once it feels solid enough to hold up to more intense scrutiny, often I’ve forgotten what the initial moment of inspiration actually was.
      Here is what I do remember about the very beginning of Evil Librarian: I wrote the first draft of the first chapter in late March/early April 2009. I was in my second semester at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, working toward my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and needed a break from the heavier fantasy novel I was focusing on as my main project. I seem to remember starting it while on a plane, but I may be making that up. It was only the second time I’d attempted a novel in first person (the first being my other VCFA novel-in-progress, started a few months before). I’d been purposely choosing first person at school because it was hard for me; close third person was my go-to POV, and I wanted to push myself to try different and more challenging things. It had been a real challenge with the first novel, slow and sometimes painful, but Cyn’s voice in Evil Librarian came so quickly and naturally to me that writing her story was a pleasure. I had no idea what the story was going to be about when I began. I just started writing. And then I liked it, and I kept going.
     I kept working on Evil Librarian throughout my MFA program (along with my other novel, various picture book drafts, critical essays, etc.), and by the time I graduated I had about 80 pages. I sent those to my editor, who liked them (yay!) and then worked on a synopsis to show her I could figure out where the story was going to go. And then I wrote another, longer synopsis, and then a chapter-by-chapter outline (another first for me) and then eventually I had the whole novel, which went through another couple of revisions under my editor’s guidance and then a lot of last-minute tweaks and fixes until they finally made me stop touching it and it was done.
      One of the hardest things about this book, other than eventually trying to figure out what was actually going to happen in the story, was getting past my fears of trying to be funny. At the beginning, I could see that at least some of the initial pages I’d written were funny; my advisors at school thought they were, and when I read little parts out loud at occasional writerly gatherings, the people listening laughed in all the right places. That was nice. When you read something serious to an audience, even if it’s great, the most reaction you get in the moment is sort of a hushed “hmmmm” sound. But when you’re funny, people laugh. Sometimes a lot. And it feels like very honest feedback — there they are, in the moment, reacting with pleasure to your work. It was amazing. But then I realized I had to keep being funny. On purpose. How could I manage to be funny for an entire novel? What if I couldn’t? What if only the beginning was funny, and then everyone kept waiting for the next funny part and it never came?
      One of my MFA advisors wisely advised me to stop worrying about it. I had enough other stuff to worry about; the plot, for example, since in the beginning I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. And I had Cyn’s voice, and Cyn was funny. So if I just kept going, it stood to reason that more of her humor would come across, and I could trust her to keep my readers engaged and laughing. So that is what I tried to do. And of course there was a lot of other stuff to focus on: not just the plot, but what I wanted the book to ultimately be about, the themes underneath the story, the relationships among the characters, the pacing and the (hopefully) exciting or scary parts and the integration of all the musical theater elements that Cyn and I both loved so much. It ended up being a story about a lot of things, I think, and also brought back a lot of my own high school memories, which were wonderful to re-experience. My high school friends are still some of my best and closest friends today, and although none of them actually make a specific appearance in the book, all of them influenced my take on this story and my vision for what Cyn’s high school experience was like.

BLOG BOOK TOUR!
Visit other blogs on Mikki's tour for EVIL LIBRARIAN:
WhoRuBlog, http://www.whorublog.com/ - 9/9/2014
Elizabeth O. Dulemba, http://dulemba.com - 9/13/2014
Random Chalk Talk, http://randomchalktalk.blogspot.com/ - 9/10/2014
Books 4 Your Kids, http://www.books4yourkids.com/ - 9/11/2014
Green Bean Teen Queen, http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/ - 9/12/2014
Katie's Book Blog, http://katiesbookblog.com/ - 9/15/2014
Word Spelunking, http://www.wordspelunking.blogspot.com/ - 9/16/2-14
Book Chic Club, http://www.bookchicclub.blogspot.com/ - 9/17/2014

GIVEAWAY
Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of EVIL LIBRARIAN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

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45. Benn Tripp's THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN Trailers...

There's a new book coming out by Ben Tripp called Kit Bristol: The Accidental Highwayman, and the trailers for it are absolutely HILARIOUS! Click the image to see one, but GO HERE to see them all - it's worth your time. SO inventive!

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46. Hispanic Heritage Month 2014

Today kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15th through October 15th. Per the official website:

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.
     Want to help celebrate? Learn or teach some Spanish using my bilingual picture books:

     Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón and Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante.

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47. Coloring Page Tuesday - Crows Nest

     Friday is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Methinks our young pirate might run the ship aground if he keeps his nose buried in Treasure Island instead of on the view in front of him. Arrrrrrr!
     CLICK HERE for more pirate-themed coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! 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.
AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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48. Dinner with a book club!

So for the last eight or nine years, my local postmaster, Stephanie Dover, has been waving her hands over my manuscripts for good luck when I ship them off from the post office. Needless to say, we've gotten to know each other and become friends. She's been so amazingly supportive, cheering on my publishing successes.
     So, I was so flattered when she said that it was her turn to choose the book for her book club and she had chosen A BIRD ON WATER STREET. I was even more flattered when she invited me to dinner to meet with her book club and talk about the book. What a sweetheart, what a sweet thing!
     From the left, Pat, Marie, El, Stephanie, (me), and Bernadette asked great questions - they even asked two stumpers which I have to research now.

     Truly, when a book heads out the door, it is no longer yours - it becomes the property of the reader. I love that, because I love hearing what parts of the story stand out to different people. It means they've made it theirs. They are relating to the story through their own experiences rather than mine. And it is so fun to watch that happen.
     What an absolute treat! THANK YOU Stephanie!!!

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49. A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz - Giveaway!


A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz is sort of like Richard Scarry for the more mature set. It's a series of stories of adorable and endearing characters such as "Doug & Mouse, Connie (a girl with big glasses), Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock," and of course, "Tim" - all in one book. It also reminds me a bit of Hello, Mr. Hulot in it's mini-story, yet graphic style approach. John stopped by to tell us more about it...

Q. John, Congratulations on A CAT NAMED TIM! How did the book come to be?
A.
Thanks! I have illustrated a handful of picture books for kids, and Annie at Koyama Press told me she was interested in publishing comics for kids and young readers, and asked if I’d be interested in something like that. My kids books up to this point have all been written by someone other than myself, so I jumped at the chance to do a book for kids in which I was both the author and illustrator.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. Koyama Press does funky graphic novels and artsy books for a wide age-range. Some of their work is definitely not for kids, while other works are for the kids at heart - like yours. How did you hook up with Koyama Press?
A.
I first met Annie at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We had emailed a few times before then, but hadn’t met. She expressed interest in my comics, and we’ve since worked on a few projects together, including The Big Team Society League Book of Answers, which is a collection of jam comics, and certainly not for young children. My style is heavily influenced by picture books and newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, and while I don’t always do kid-friendly work, I do think I come somewhat naturally to it, and working with Annie and Ed Kanerva has been a joy.

Q. Who do you consider your target audience?
A.
I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I began working on the book. I wanted primarily to take the improvisational process I learned from working on both Team Society League and my comic strip Machine Gum, and apply it to a kid-friendly cast of characters. As the book took shape I saw potential to accommodate children who can’t yet read or are just learning; the scenarios and gags are fairly uncomplicated, and it’s mostly wordless. The minimal dialogue there is is more textural than textual, and I hope that the illustrations and scenes allow children to make up their own stories and explanations for what’s going on.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. There are very few words in A CAT NAMED TIM, mostly series of illustrations with very clever twists. Can you describe your format?
A.
The book is primarily a series of double-page spreads, each one an independent gag or scenario. I don’t know if I can easily sum up the format other than to say that I enjoy playing with the formal elements of comics, and trying different panel layouts and different ways of directing the reader through an image or a series of images. I’m particularly drawn to the idea that comics don’t need to be read solely panel-by-panel, and that inviting a reader to examine the page as a whole, and see different moments in time simultaneously, is something unique to comics and illustration, and a fun thing to exploit.

Q. What is your illustration method and how do you conceptualize the stories behind your narratives?
A.
Each scenario started in my sketchbook as super-rough barely-legible-to-anyone-but-me thumbnail drawing. A sketchbook allows me to get ideas out my head quickly and with minimal fuss. These thumbnails are often only a starting point, and I like to save some of the final problem-solving, details, and specifics for when I’m working on the finished art.
      The illustrations for this book were drawn digitally in Photoshop. The process is similar to the way I learned to draw comics, in which I start with a “pencilled” line drawing of the page that acts as the skeleton of the finished artwork. I put together a palette of colours for the entire book, and I do a quick low-res colour study for each page before starting the final art so that the painting/colouring process itself, which is mostly done on a single layer, involves little to no thinking as all the planning has been taken care of.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. It's truly an unusual book, and yet one that I think will really grow on people. Kids will love studying all the fun things you include in your illustrations. What were your influences with all the little details going on?
A.
You mention Richard Scarry in your introduction, and his books were a huge influence, of course. I loved his books as a kid, and I could spend hours poring over all the little details and miniature dramas in his busy pages. I have so many other influences, but for this book a short list would have to include Richard Scarry, Jim Henson, vintage Sesame Street, Sergio Aragonés, Where’s Waldo? books, Hanna-Barbera, Super Mario games, and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Q. How are you getting the word out about A CAT NAMED TIM?
A.
The book debuts/debuted at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, and I’m doing a joint launch party with Britt Wilson for her Koyama book Cat Dad, King of the Goblins at the kids comic store Little Island in Toronto on October 26.
      I’m grateful to be published by Koyama Press. Annie has fostered a lot of community and good will in the comics world, and that sort of thing (in addition to putting out good books) goes a long way in terms of generating buzz and support.
      You can also follow me on Twitter, @johnmartz, which is my social media platform of choice.

Q. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
A.
Thanks!

Enjoy this great video about John and his work (or CLICK HERE if the video gives you any issues):

John has also been very active with the TD Summer Reading Club in Canada.

GIVEAWAY!
Koyama Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of A CAT NAMED TIM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:

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50. Friday Linky List - September 19, 2014

At Litreactor.com: 6 Tips for Troubleshooting The Novel by Susan Defreitas

Wow: by @donalynbooks No More Language Arts and Crafts: “We must advocate for children’s #reading lives, or they won’t have reading lives.”

Atlanta Magazine has the most thorough article I've ever seen about Pete the Cat: For Pete's Sake. Some of you may know that the line "They consulted local authors" means me. Little known fact that I helped with the first PETE THE CAT: I LOVE MY WHITE SHOES. My name is even in the back. Oh, to have asked for a percentage. *sigh!* At least I have a lovely Pete painting in my dining room as thanks...

From Entertainment Weekly via PW: On the Books: Jane Austen fans set new Guinness World Record when 550 fans showed up wearing full Regency regalia. Pop "Jane Austen Festival" into Google search for images - it's a hoot!

From Talks with Roger (Sutton), a really great interview with Marla Frazee about her new book THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. From her website - "What is more important, style or concept?" Her reply, "I think the most important thing is emotional engagement."

At PW: Enchanted Lion: A Visit with the Brooklyn-Based Indie Publisher

From HuffPost via PW: Why Are Fairy Tales Universally Appealing?

From BookRiot via PW: 28 Books About Growing Up In America's Cultural Melting Pot

At PWs ShelfTalker by Elizabeth Bluemle: Help Shape the Diversity Evolution

From HuffPost: Why I Made a Documentary About What It Means to Be 11 - Gads, I want to see this!! Click the image below to watch the trailer on YouTube:


From The Telegraph via PW: Amazing Roald Dahl cakes that Wonka himself would be proud of - OMG.



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