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1. The Difference Between Dreamers and Achievers

Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.

Bootcamp2014Last week was our annual FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair

Over the last 17 years, it has become THE copywriting event of the year. And this year, 400+ aspiring and professional writers joined us in Delray Beach, Florida to have industry legends teach them how to build successful copywriting businesses — and to meet with over 75 marketers looking to hire AWAI-trained copywriters.

A lot happened in those 4 days … too much to cover in a simple blog. But I do plan to bring you some of the best ideas you can use on your journey to making a very good living as a writer.

Today I want to share with you something my partner Katie Yeakle — one of the Founders of AWAI — shared during her opening remarks …

She started by asking the audience a simple question:

         How do you explain why some people are able to achieve things    that seem impossible — while others only dream about changing    their lives?

And then followed it up with some of the popular examples of AWAI members who have achieved real success …

How does someone like AWAI member Joshua Boswell go from being over $200,000 in debt, with creditors knocking at his door and 7 children to feed — to making $20,000 a month working 20-30 hours a week?

         How does AWAI member Sean McCool go from being a guy who    failed English in both 7th and 10th grades to being a highly-respected writer who contributes directly to the bottom line of multimillion-dollar companies?

         How does AWAI member Starr Daubenmire go from being down-sized at age 60 … to a brand-new career that let her live her dream of spending 3 months in Italy … writing in the mornings, painting and exploring in the afternoons?

         How does AWAI member Cindy Cyr go from being in a job where   she couldn’t take time off to be with her sick sister … to today   where she spends half her time traveling the country with her 14-year old recording artist son, while still earning six-figures?

         Why is that some people succeed at copywriting … yet so many others don’t?

         What accounts for the difference?

         Is it education?

         Sean would deny that. So would million-dollar copywriters Clayton Makepeace and Dan Kennedy. Those guys didn’t go to college.

         Is it a natural talent for copywriting? 

         Cindy liked to write. But she didn’t even know what copywriting was.

         Is it sales experience? Not for Starr. She was a quality control  coordinator in an office. No selling going on there.

Master Copywriter Will Newman was a math teacher for kids with special needs; Krista Jones, AWAI’s very first $10K Challenge winner was an engineer …

         So what is it?

         The real answer to that question is right here in this room …

         The answer is: they took decisive action to change their lives

And then what Katie talked about next is what I’d like to talk to you about now. And, that’s the decisions that need to be made before you can successfully move forward towards living the writer’s life.

Before any of the people Katie mentioned took action, they had to make the very first decision of all … and that was if they truly wanted a change in their lives.

They all answered yes.

Next, they needed to decide how they were going to accomplish it.

Joshua, Sean, Starr, and Cindy all wanted to make a living writing and decided the best way for them to accomplish that was to pursue copywriting.

So they decided how they’d learn the skills …

They decided what support they needed …

And they decided what changes they’d need to make in their current lives to make that happen.

Next, they decided to follow through.

At every stage it was the same — a decision followed by action.

So today, I want you to give some more thought to what your version of the writer’s life looks like … what will your life look like when you’re making a living as a writer?

And then start making decisions and taking action …

If you’re just starting out, the first decision you may need to make is whether or not you want to make a change in your life. Is now the time?

rebecca_matter-150Or it may be deciding which path you want to take … whether it’s copywriting, content writing, web writing, or something else. (Check out my recent post on the top 7 opportunities for writers.)

And then comes the critical (and exciting!) part: taking action.

I’ll help you with that in the coming weeks!

 

Until then …
Rebecca

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2. ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Teaser Released

Marvel has unleashed a teaser for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The video embedded above features “Ultron trying to tear apart Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the rest of the world.” What do you think?

An internet leak compelled the company to release the trailer earlier than planned. The theatrical release date for The Avengers sequel has been scheduled for May 01, 2015. (via The Verge)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Author Interview: Susan Kuklin on Writing Nonfiction & Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

From the promotional copy of Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, words and photographs by Susan Kuklin (Candlewick, 2014).

A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens. 

Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. 

Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. 

Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.

What was your initial inspiration for Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out (Candlewick, 2014)?

First came an email. A librarian/friend wrote to me about the need for more YA nonfiction literature about LGBTQ teens. Although this is a subject I care about deeply, I was in the middle of another book – No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row (Henry Holt, 2008)–and so I tucked it away into the nether region of my brain. Nevertheless, the topic kept popping back up.

What was the timeline from spark to publication and what were the major events along the way?

The timeline from spark to publication was about six or seven years. The spark that helped me focus on transgender youth rather than the entire LGBTQ community was a conversation I had with my cousin, who is pansexual and a generation behind me.

She told me about a transgender friend who said to her, “When looking for love and friendship, it’s the person, not the gender, that counts.” That comment got me thinking. At the time the “T” in LGBTQ had not been talked about much in books or in the media.

The major event was meeting the staff at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Clinic’s Health Outreach to Teens program, [HOTT]. They do incredible work there, and are so thoughtful towards their clients. With their help I knew I had a book.

Then, of course, meeting each participant was a Big Time major event.

What were the literary and artistic challenges in bringing the book to life?

Every day brought a new challenge that had to be explored creatively. 

Susan photographs Christina shopping.
My process is a bit unusual. I write in the first person because I believe that it offers a more direct, intimate relationship with young readers. To do this, I need to capture the individual’s voice and convert it from tape to paper. But it’s also necessary to balance the person’s voice and experiences with a clear literary narrative.

Each chapter must add something new to the subject. The chapters need to have rhythm and arcs, highs and lows.

Recently, I’ve begun adding my voice to the narrative of my books as a way to change the pace, describe someone or something, or impart additional information. Although challenging, that’s part of the creative process. I love working this way.

How have you approached author marketing for this title?

I’m the world’s worst self-promoter. But I’m very happy to talk about my books at conferences, libraries, schools, blogs, and other media.

For Beyond Magenta, my wonderful publicist, Erika Denn at Candlewick Press, created a stunning press release that was to sent to media, libraries, colleges, and other venues. She also sent the release to LGBTQ organizations and publications. The Internet is a great publishing tool. Erika, along with my agent, friends, and I sent announcements, reviews, and articles to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. I blogged. Tweeting and re-tweeting helped the book reach a larger audience.

What advice do you have for authors when it comes to connecting a book that reflects a specific community but speaks to all readers?

At the end of Beyond Magenta, in my Author’s Notes, I wrote why it’s important for everyone to connect with the book. An Author’s Note gives writers the chance to make our themes known.

I believe it was Eldridge Cleaver who said, “If you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem.” I hope my readers agree.

You’re a well-published author of children’s-YA nonfiction. For those new to your work, could you share with us a bit of your publishing history, highlighting as you see fit?

This is a big question because I’ve published over thirty nonfiction books with wide-ranging subjects. One of the joys of being a nonfiction author is that I get to learn about so many diverse topics.

I choose an issue and then go beyond the sound bites and “fifteen minutes of fame” to illustrate how real people deal with real events. I do it through interviews, research, and photography.

My photo essay, picture books for children are about simple events that loom large in a young child’s life [When I See My Doctor (NA), When I See My Dentist (NA), How My Family Lives in America (Simon & Schuster, 1992), Families (Hyperion, 2006)].



For slightly older kids there are photo essays with more text about other cultures [Kodomo: Children of Japan (NA)], and some about how objects or events in their lives are created [Fireworks, How a Doll Is Made (NA)].



I love ballet and modern dance so I’ve tried to do as many dance books as possible: Reaching for Dreams: A Ballet from First Rehearsal to Opening Night, with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater (Lothrop Lee & Shephard, 1987), Dance, co-authored with Bill T. Jones (OP), The Harlem Nutcracker, co-authored with Donald Byrd (OP), Going to My Ballet Class with the Robert Joffrey Ballet School (OP), and Beautiful Ballerina, written by Marilyn Nelson, with my photographs of the school of the Dance Theater of Harlem (Scholastic, 2009).

My young adults books are more text driven than photography driven, and are about very serious subjects, such as, teen pregnancy (What Do I Do Now? (Putnam, 1991)), prejudice (Speaking Out: Teenagers Take On Race Sex, and Identity (OP)), and suicide (After a Suicide (OP)).

I’ve authored books about our criminal justice system (Trial (Henry Holt, 2001), No Choirboy (Henry Holt, 2008)) and more about human rights (Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery (Henry Holt, 2008), Beyond Magenta (Candlewick, 2014)).

It’s been my good fortune to work with many interesting people from all walks of life. I hope they’ve enlightened my readers because they sure did inspire me.

To name but a few, Bill T. Jones (Dance) motivated me to break aesthetic rules and stretch beyond my potential. Human rights activists (Irrepressible Spirit (OP)), and buddies who helped people living with AIDS (Fighting Back: What Some People Are Doing about AIDS (Putnam, 1989)), and Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer and law professor who represents poor people on death row (No Choirboy (Henry Holt, 2008)), restored my faith in humanity. Getting to know these and other people in my books has helped cynical me understand that there are very good people in this troubled world of ours.

What advice do you have for other nonfiction children’s-YA writers?
  • Be totally passionate about your subject. 
  • Fall hopelessly in love. 
  • Honor that love by being faithful to its truth. Only write truth
  • Tell a good story. Then revise, revise, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite more. 
  • Find new and creative ways to make your subject jump. 
  • Don’t forget truth
  • Listen to criticism but make objective decisions about what to change and what to leave as is. 
  • And, hey, read lots of nonfiction.

On the illustration front, what are the advantages and challenges of photography?

It seems to me that people, especially kids and young adults, like seeing people like themselves in books. So I would say that’s a big advantage. It surprises me that there isn’t more photography in fiction, nonfiction, and picture books.

The biggest challenge is that a photograph is but a moment in time. It’s rare that you can go back and re-shoot. If, after six or seven months, the designer begins work and asks for a photo of the subject doing such-and-such, you’re stuck. An artist can redraw, a photographer usually cannot.

What advice do you have for photographers interested in creating books for and about young people?

Christina reads Susan's first draft.
Write a very strong proposal about a subject that you care about deeply. Check out which publishers seem to lean towards the kind of books you want to do. Put together a portfolio of your work and especially use images that backs up your proposal.

What do you do when you’re not writing and/or shooting pictures?

I like to have fun. I go to lots of concerts, dance, theater, and museums.

I’m also a foodie who loves restaurants and cooking dinners for my husband and friends.

My husband and I try to take one big trip a year. I study Italian but that’s not always fun.

I’m a big reader. I love reading long, thick books that keep me lost in a story for days–and nights.

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4. Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

This is our second “Walking and Talking” installment by the clearly multi-talented Steve Sheinkin.  This week?  Jenni Holm discusses how she works and gives some background on the blood, sweat and tears that went into The Fourteenth Goldfish.WalkingJenniHolm1 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

WalkingJenniHolm2 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

Be also sure to check out the first Walking and Talking with . . . John Corey Whaley.  Big thanks to Steven too for letting me post these!

share save 171 16 Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!

5 Comments on Walking and Talking with . . . Jenni Holm!, last added: 10/23/2014
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5. An Interview with Amazon Best Selling Author Linda Watkins

BookBuzzr author Linda Watkins recently had an opportunity to celebrate. Her book – Mateguas Island – recently hit the number 1 spot on Amazon in the Horror > Occult category.

The screenshot below was taken on October 14, 2014.

linda-watkins-amazon-rank

We reached out to her to learn more about her journey…

Hey Linda! Always a pleasure to connect with a fellow Carnegie Mellon alum! Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Linda Watkins with her dogs

Sure. My family is from New England. We moved to Michigan when I was young and that’s where I grew up. After college – at Carnegie – I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where I spent most of my adult life, working as a financial analyst at Stanford Unversity School of Medicine. When I took early retirement, I moved to Oregon for a brief time, then on to Chebeague Island, Maine, where I resided for seven wonderful years. Chebeague is an “unconnected” island – there is no bridge or causeway; access is only by ferry or private boat. It was there that I wrote MATEGUAS ISLAND. Last year, for personal reasons, I gave up island life and moved to Western Michigan where I live today.

I’m single and live with my three aging rescue dogs, Splatter, Spudley and Jasper,

Why did you start writing?

I think I’ve always been writing. When we were young, my sister and I used to write satirical sketches based on the era’s most popular tv westerns. Later in life, at work, I wrote “long forms” and business plans while, at home, I wrote songs, poems and bits of whimsy to share with family and friends. A novel, however, was something I never attempted until approximately four years ago when I started MATEGUAS.

I think there were two things that spurred me to actually sit down and write this book. First was a challenge from my sister who is also a writer. Second was the invention of the iPad! I got one of the first ones and it freed me from being tied to my computer. I could write anywhere – in my car, waiting in the parking lot on the mainland; on the ferry, going to and from Chebeague and in the wee small hours of the morning when my characters refused to let me sleep – they wanted their story told!

What’s the story behind ‘Mateguas Island’?

Well, as I mentioned above, I lived on an island not unlike my fictional one. Living on an unconnected island, there are times, most especially when a storm is coming (I experienced 2 hurricanes and an untold number of nor’easters while I lived there), that one can feel an overwhelming sense of isolation and claustrophia. These emotions play well into a story based in the supernatural. Also, you’ll note my main characters moved to the island from northern California – just like I did.

Since horror is the genre I most enjoy, I decided to write a horror story, using a fictional island as the backdrop. It began, initially, as one of those “house” stories – you know, there’s something evil lurking in the walls, etc. However, my characters had other things in mind and they led me to the story that is now MATEGUAS.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Gosh – the people you meet in your mind! And, you can do anything to them that you want! Also, your hours are your own – you can write in the early morning, late at night or whenever the spirit moves you. It’s so much fun creating a story – I can’t really describe it – it’s wonderful.

What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

As a self-published writer, I have to do all the promoting of my work myself and I can’t say I really enjoy it. I’d rather be writing. But promotion is a necessary evil and I have to do it!

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a morning person. I’m usually up around 5:30 – 6:00 am. After I let the dogs out and brew that first cup of coffee, I’m at the computer – reading emails, scheduling tweets, answering messages on FB and posting book promos there. After all that is done, I walk my dogs, feed them and then it’s back to the computer again, either doing promo stuff or writing/editing.

In the early evening, I’m again back at the computer doing promos. After dinner, it’s down time – I stop work and just relax.

What are some of the things that you did to market your book?

I’ve tried quite a few different things. I do Facebook promos in the numerous groups that feature books, I tweet and retweet, I’ve been on several different horror blogs as a guest, and joined in promotional events featuring book giveaways. I’ve also placed my novel on a number of websites that feature books. Outside of cyberspace, I’ve done signings and participated in charity events, giving away copies of my book

It was a BookBub promotion, that I’m now in the middle of, that catapulted me to the #1 Bestseller Ranking.

How did you learn about your book hitting the number 1 slot on Amazon?

As I mentioned above, I had a promotion going on, so I was watching the stats very carefully. The first day, the books were flying off the virtual shelves so fast, the Amazon ranking couldn’t keep up with them! I think the lowest number I saw was 123 in all paid, which blew my mind. Getting the #1 ranking in Horror/Occult, ahead of Anne Rice and Stephen King and lots of other amazing writers, was just too awesome!

Who designed your book cover for you?

The photos on both the front and the back are ones I took on Chebeague Island. The colorization and lettering, etc., were done by a fellow writer, H. William Ruback, who also has a graphic design studio – www.incolordigitaldesign.com.

How did you get your book and author websites created?

Another fellow writer and good friend, Steve LeBel (The Universe Builders), helped me set them up initially. The rest was done by just trial and error. I learn best by doing, not by reading about doing!

How did you manage to reach out to your first few reviewers and get them to read your book?

My book is published under Argon Press which is actually a consortium of writers. The aforementioned Steve LeBel set up a website for Argon and, in that website, members of the general public have the ability to download ARCs (advanced reader copies) of our unpublished work. I obtained several reviews from those readings.

In addition, I reached out to reviewers who have pages on Facebook asking them if they would be so kind as to read and review my work. I also sent MATEGUAS to the Midwest Book Review and Readers’ Favorite organizations in order to obtain editorial reviews. At the same time, I entered the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest and was so thrilled and elated when MATEGUAS won the Gold Medal in Fiction-Supernatural.

When is your next book coming out? Can you tell us a little about it?

The next book is the sequel to MATEGUAS, aptly titled: RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND. The novel is in the final editing stages now. My goal is to have the editing done by the end of October, then its on to formatting, etc. I have the front cover done – the back and spine will come later when I prepare the print version. I hope to publish the eBook by mid-December 2014. The print version will come later – probably in January or February of 2015.

As for the story, it takes place ten years after Karen Andersen and her family leave Mateguas. Karen’s daughters are now eighteen and want to return to the island to find out what really happened that night of the storm when everything changed. Karen, now married to Dex, naturally, does not want to go, but is eventually persuaded. There will be some major surprises in store for them on Mateguas, but I’m not going to give away anything here. Suffice to say, there is plenty of supernatural stuff going on as well as a healthy dose of romance. A brief excerpt of the novel can be found on my website, www.mateguasisland.com.

RETURN TO MATEGUAS is the second full-length novel in a three book series. I’m writing the final novel in my head right now and, once Return is publshed, hope to get started putting it down on paper! My goal is to publish that book by the end of next summer.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family._________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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6. The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg

Categorical Universe of Candice PheeCandice Phee marches to the beat of her own drummer. Candice might tell you, though, that she doesn’t see any drummers around, and that she’s sitting still at the moment, thank you. Candice is very literal, and very sure of her world. She knows quite well that none of her schoolmates like her, but she likes everyone anyway. I’ve seen several reviews which assert (as does Candice’s friend Douglas Benson’s mother) that she must be autistic, or somewhere ‘on the spectrum.’ Candice’s response? “I’m me.”

Candice’s outlook may be generally positive, but this doesn’t mean her world is an easy one–her baby sister died of SIDS; her mother has had a double masectomy and is (understandably) suffering from depression; her father had a business blow-up with Rich Uncle Brian before Candice was born, and has been frustrated in his job ever since. More than anything else, Candice wants to fix her family. She knows it won’t be easy, but she has to try. And when Douglas Benson confides that he believes that he is from another dimension and needs to get back to his real family, Candice is skeptical, but can’t quite bring herself to NOT believe him.

Candice is one of the most endearing, engrossing characters that I’ve read about in a long time. From her hilarious interactions with her teachers (regular and substitute) to her philosophical worries about her pet fish (does the fish think of her as a deity? Is it ethical for her to allow the fish to think so?), to her heartfelt attempts to heal her family’s wounds, every moment in this lovely novel was affecting. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion, so there’s no reason for the author to write a sequel, but I wouldn’t be at all upset to spend more time with Candice.

Posted by: Sarah


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7. Expectation, Event, Reaction

This month, as you pre-plot for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that every story and plot idea you brainstorm encompasses 3+ potential scenes:


1) Anticipation
          Anticipation of an upcoming event, creates curiosity and sets up tension in the reader not knowing, will the protagonist be successful or not?

2) Event
          The actual event the protagonist has been anticipating with expectation creates external dramatic action

3) Reaction
          How the protagonist reacts to the event gives clues to the reader about how she internalizes what just happened

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises


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8. Jodi Picoult, Cary Elwes, Mac Barnett, & Jon Klassen Debut On the Indie Bestseller List

As You WishWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending October 19, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #2 in Hardcover Fiction) Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult: “For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.” (October 2014)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. DMC No. 1 Arrives: Biff! Boff! Boom!

Felipe Smith/Darryl Makes Comics

Felipe Smith/Darryl Makes Comics

Hip-hop pioneer Darryl McDaniels, a founding member of Run-DMC, who turned to comics for courage as a kid facing bullies in Hollis, Queens, has created a new superhero who takes the stage in DMC No. 1, the first in a new series of comic books from Darryl Makes Comics.

McDaniels told George Gene Gustines of the New York Times:

“I was a kid who had my lunch money taken away. …To get to my house was terror. Spider-Man took me to a place where everything was great. …Comic books were educational — they were empowering but also inspiring.

“I always wanted to do something with integrity. I didn’t want to be another rapper messing up another genre just because he has a hit record.”

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, editor in chief of Darryl Makes Comics, noted the attention from a diverse fan base the comic book DMC was garnering at conventions like the recent Comic Con in Manhattan. “It’s Asian, it’s white, it’s Latino, it’s black, it’s 13-year-olds, it’s 63-year-olds.”

Bringing his vision DMC to the page, McDaniels worked with a team including Miranda-Rodriquez, Atlantic Records executive Riggs Morales, and story consultants Damion Scott and Ron Wimberly. The artists who bring DMC to life are Sal Buscema, Carlos Rodriquez aka Mare 139, Chase Conley, Jeff Stokely, Felipe Smith, Mark and Mike Davis aka The Madtwiinz, Shawn Crytal, Chris Sotomayor, and Deron Bennett.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. Tip for aspiring writers & illustrators: Make a routine and then stick to it.

A tip for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators: Try not to let yourself get sucked into too much fussing over preparation and ritual. Make a routine and then stick to it.

Now to follow my own advice...

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11. Agent Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Lit on Wanting Diversity, Comp Titles, and Book Love!

Welcome, Saba!

Saba Sulaiman is the newest member of Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She joined the team after working as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, where she worked primarily on their romance line. She's looking for up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir, both in adult and YA. She's also actively looking for MG. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba




1. What is it about a manuscript that excites you? 

A strong, gripping, mature voice, well-rounded characters, and an instant emotional connection. I want to be invested in the story as soon as possible, and I love stories where there is a clear and relatable conflict. 

2. What is on your wish list? 

I'd love to see any story that incorporates diverse characters and backgrounds, and does it well. Throw in a unique twist to a classic story. Invert a tried and tested formula or trope, and make it compelling enough for me to get on board with it. I hesitate to be too specific because I'm open to almost anything within the genres I represent, but I'll definitely pay more attention to manuscripts with these qualities.

3. What are some things you love to see in a query?

Other than what's standard, I like to see comp titles -- but please don't compare your book to a huge bestselling book that everyone's heard of! You don't have to include comp titles in your query, but if you do, show me that you really know what's happening in your genre by making them specific.

4. Are you an editorial agent?

Yes I'm very hands-on! I'm happy to work with authors to polish their work, and I don't believe in presenting manuscripts that aren't quite ready to be looked at yet. That having been said, please don't query me with first drafts! I have to be convinced that you've already been through multiple revisions and that you know your craft inside out before I'll consider working with you.

5. Character, world, or plot? 

Character all the way!

6. What do you like to do for fun?

Well, other than reading (surprise!) and my other hobbies (see my webpage!) I mostly bother my friends and think a lot about my next meal (I take food very seriously.)

7. What genres are you drawn to most?

In YA, I'm generally drawn to contemporary realistic stories, but I'm also open to magical realism and historical YA with spunky, edgy heroines. 

8. Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability? 

Emotional connection. Market trends come and go, but I need to connect with the manuscript in order to be able to back it 100% and make editors fall in love with it.


9. Why did you become an agent?
I read and talk about books for a living -- I think that says it all :)

0 Comments on Agent Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Lit on Wanting Diversity, Comp Titles, and Book Love! as of 10/23/2014 6:42:00 AM
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12. A Visit With the Open Book Foundation

Guest blogger iconIllustrator Frané Lessac shares a recent school visit that she and her husband, author Mark Greenwood, did in Washington, D.C. with An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation

One of the highlights of our recent US tour was our visit to Washington, D.C. and our Open Book Foundation day, working with three second grade classes at Savoy Elementary.

The foundation’s mission is to promote literacy among disadvantaged children and teens in the greater Washington, D.C. area by giving books to students and providing access to authors and illustrators – and what a unanimously positive experience it is for all involved!

Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary

Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

We conducted a ‘Meet the Author and Illustrator’ presentation followed by an art activity. At the conclusion of each presentation, the Open Book Foundation gave each student a copy of our book, Drummer Boy of John John, to take home, signed and personalized by the people who actually wrote and illustrated it.

Frané Lessac demonstrating the illustration process

Frané Lessac demonstrating the illustration process (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

Here are a few of the student reactions we received:

“You mean we get to keep the book? We don’t have to bring it back?”

“I can keep this book for my entire life. Even when I grow up?”

Wow! While the students might still be talking about the experience, so are we! The Open Book program is as uplifting and rewarding for authors and illustrators as it is for students. We will never forget the look of joy on the faces of the students, who couldn’t wait to take their new books home and share the experience with their families.

Creating art during the visit

Creating art during the visit (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

The fabulous Open Book experience breathes life into writing and art and the process of bookmaking, and opens up the world of reading to students. The Savoy Elementary students were so excited to leave each of our sessions clutching their very own book.

We cannot express our gratitude enough to the Open Book Foundation for the joy and excitement they bring to disadvantaged children. The Foundation’s program of bringing authors and illustrators to their schools, and providing books for their students, classrooms and libraries, is a wonderfully positive step to introduce a lifelong love of books and reading.

Frané and Mark with some happy readers

Frané and Mark with some happy readers (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

To learn more about An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation, visit their website.

Frané LessacMark GreenwoodFrané Lessac has illustrated more than thirty-five books for young readers, several of which she has also written. Her husband, Mark Greenwood, is the author of numerous children’s books published in both the United States and his native Australia. They live in Fremantle, West Australia.


Filed under: Activities and Events, Educator Resources, Guest Blogger Post Tagged: An Open Book Foundation, literacy, nonprofits, Washington D.C.

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13. Sebastian Robertson's ROCK & ROLL HIGHWAY: THE ROBBIE ROBERTSON STORY

Decades ago--and now, too--I revel in the music of The Band. I was amongst those who went to see the film The Last Waltz. Of course, I bought CDs, too. At the time, I knew Robbie Robertson was Native, but didn't know much else about him. Today, I'm pleased as can be to share Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story. Here's the cover:



Thanks to this book, I've had the opportunity to learn a lot more about Robertson. Released this year (2014) by Henry Holt, the biography is written by Sebastian Robertson (yeah, Robbie's son). The illustrations by Adam Gustavson are terrific.

Robertson is Mohawk.

The second page of Rock and Roll Highway is titled "We Are the People of the Longhouse." There, we learn that his given name is Jaime Royal Robertson. His mother is Mohawk; his father is Jewish.

Allow me to dwell on the title for that page... "We Are the People of the Longhouse." That is so cool... so very cool... Why? Because this book is published by a major publisher, which means lots of libraries are likely to get it, and lots of kids--Mohawk ones, too!--are going to read that title. And look at young Robbie on the cover. Sitting on a car. Wearing a tie. The potential for this book to push back on stereotypes of Native people is spectacular!

In the summers, Robertson and his mom went to the Six Nations Indian Reservation where his mom grew up (I'm guessing that "Indian Reservation" was added to Six Nations because the former is more familiar to US readers, but I see that decision as a missed opportunity to increase what kids know about First Nations). There were lots of relatives at Six Nations, and lots of gatherings, too, where elders told stories. The young Robbie liked those stories and told his mom that one day, he wanted to be a storyteller, too.

That life--as a storyteller who tells with music--is wonderfully presented in Rock and Roll Highway. Introduce students to Robertson using this bio and his music. Make sure you have the CDs specific to his Mohawk identity. The first one is Music for Native Americans. Ulali, one of my favorite groups, is part of that CD. Check out this video from 2010. In it, Robertson and Ulali are on stage together (Ulali's song, Mahk Jchi, is one of my all time favorites. It starts at the 4:39 mark in this video):




The second album is Contact from the Underworld of Redboy. Get it, too.

Back to the book: Ronnie Hawkins. Bob Dylan. They figure prominently in Robertson's life. The closing page has terrific photographs of Robertson as a young child, a teen, and a dad, too.

Teachers are gonna love the pages titled "An Interview with My Dad, Robbie Robertson" in which Sebastian tells readers to interview their own parents. That page shows a post card Robertson sent to his mother while he was on the road. Things like post cards carry a good deal of family history. I pore over the ones I have--that my parents and grandparents sent to each other.

Deeply satisfied with Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story, I highly recommend it.  

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14. 10 Writing Techniques from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

9781599631431_5inch_300dpiOctober conjures up images of crackling fires, shivering leaves, the grinning teeth of a jack-o-lantern … and, if you’re a fan of classic horror, that iconic, fanged master of the night, Count Dracula. We feel there’s no better time than October—National Dracula Month—to share some writing tips and techniques that authors can learn from Dracula and apply to their own horror stories.

As you read this excerpt from chapter one of Dracula, try reading Bram Stoker’s text first, and then go back and read it again, this time pausing to digest the annotations from Mort Castle, in red.

Thirsty for more? Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics: Dracula, by Bram Stoker with annotations by Mort Castle, is available now! More than just an annotated version of the novel, this edition presents sharply focused, valuable techniques for writers who want to learn more about the techniques Bram Stoker used—and why he applied them.

JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL

(Kept in shorthand) [1]

[1] That Harker’s diary is kept in “shorthand” immediately reveals something of the man’s personality: With shorthand, he can record his impressions rapidly. Even a modern, ultra-fast-paced, totally plot-driven thriller has to have some characterization by finding small ways to provide “a bit of character” such as this.

3 May. Bistritz.Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; [2] should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule. [3]  

[2] Stoker, had he been writing in our era, might well have launched Dracula far later into the story at a much more dramatic moment, giving us, perhaps, Harker’s escape from Castle Dracula.

Television and films frequently use a technique called in medias res, starting “in the middle of things” (from the Latin) in order to hook the audience. Then, with the hook set, the writer fills in, usually via flashback, what readers need to know to get back to “the middle of things.” (More about flashbacks later.) Modern fiction writers have latched onto this technique. Beginning writers often begin way before the true beginning of the action. It is a typical flaw. What Stoker gives us here is almost in medias res; while there is no great dramatic action, Harker is placed in a physical location at a specific time. We know he is a traveling man, and we sense that he is a man on a mission. After all, he is concerned about the trains running on time. He has, we sense, places to go, people to see, things to do.

The narrative arc of the story has just about commenced.

[3] Observe, writer, an absolutely masterful transition. Transitions get characters (and readers) from “there” to “here,” from “then” to “now.” It is easy to mess up transitions by thinking it necessary to detail every moment/movement between “there” and “here” and “then” and “now.” That is simply not so.

It will keep the story moving to simply write the equivalent of: He took the bus across town. This is Stoker transitioning a la “took the bus across town,” and it offers something more than a movement between locales: It shows Harker’s journey from the familiar Western European locales to the exotic East.

We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) [4] I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here, indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.

[4] It is with Harker’s little note to self that he begins to really come alive. This little note of domesticity reveals much of just who Husbandly Harker is. We start to like him because we are getting to know him.

A well-developed fictional character is someone who is every bit as alive and just as unique an individual as anyone we know—really well—out here in RealityLand. When a character is well done, we get to know the character so well that we like or dislike, love or hate him.

Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania; [5] it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey Maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.

[5] Time to bring it out, this Ancient Commandment for All Writers: Write what you know.

You might be thinking: But Bram Stoker never visited Transylvania.

And if a writer doesn’t know it, he or she must conduct research. We must therefore assume Stoker, like Harker, did serious research—research on a deeper level than might be provided even by that respected canon of our time, Wikipedia. It’s credibility that is at stake. (At stake … sorry. Can’t help it!) You never want your reader to think that you, the author, do not know what you are writing about.

In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West, and Szekelys in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. I read that every known superstition [6] in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting. (Mem., I must ask the Count all about them.)

[6] With the derisive word superstition, Harker reveals himself again as a sober and reasonable man. He’s preparing us for his becoming royally unhinged not so long from now. This is foreshadowing, albeit done in a subtle manner.

Effective foreshadowing can give readers the feeling of “uh-oh” long before a character has any such feeling. It can therefore contribute to the mood of a scene and build suspense.

I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams. [7] There was a dog howling all night under my window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe, and was still thirsty. Towards morning I slept and was wakened by the continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have been sleeping soundly then. I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was “mamaliga”, and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call “impletata”. (Mem., get recipe for this also.) [8] I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so, for after rushing to the station at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before we began to move. It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?

[7] Queer dreams = Foreshadowing again. These are unusual dreams, somewhat disconcerting dreams, strange dreams … they are not horrible dreams that bring on sweats and shrieks. Were Harker to be in such an elevated emotional state at this early point in the narrative, it would be nearly impossible to build to the sustained claustrophobically smothering terror that falls upon him when he becomes the Count’s guest/prisoner.

[8] A fundamental writing rule: Show, don’t tell. If your words put a picture on the reader’s mental movie screen, you are following the rule. If you evoke a sensory response in the reader, you engage the reader.

Author David Morrell advises in any significant scene—that is, one meant to be memorable and not just “something happens”—that it’s a good idea to come up with three sensory triggers.

All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, and round hats, and home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque. The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them. The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.

It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier—for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease. [9]

[9] One more splendid transition. There is not a wasted word here, yet Harker and readers travel from 8:30 in the morning until past twilight, from Klausenberg to Bistritz.

Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—white undergarment with a long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty. When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?” “Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.”

She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirtsleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter—

“My friend.—Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three tomorrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.

“Your friend,

“Dracula.” [10]  

[10] Here Stoker chooses to use subtle irony. Whatever Dracula is, he is no friend to Harker. As a writer, you can do a lot with irony. For example, how many patients likely heard Hannibal Lecter say he wanted to help them?


Rachel Randall is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest Books. Her favorite holiday is Halloween.

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15. YA Historical Fiction: INFOGRAPHIC

The Age of YA 200Historical fiction writers set their stories in a number of different eras. Readers can explore anywhere from the medieval court of King Arthur to the Renaissance studio of Leonardo Da Vinci.

The team at EpicReads.com has created an infographic called “The Age of YA.” It lists 140 young adult books that could help in picking out your next read.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. Publishing Jobs: Rowman & Littlefield, Guilford Press, Oxford University Press

This week, Rowman & Littlefield is hiring a publicist, while Guilford Press needs an online marketing coordinator. Oxford University Press is seeking an acquisitions editor for social sciences, and Basic Books is on the hunt for a publicity assistant. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

rowmanlittlefield130

Find more great publishing jobs on the GalleyCat job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented GalleyCat pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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17. Barnes & Noble to Shut Down its Only Branch in The Bronx

barnes_and_noble_logoThe Barnes & Noble at Bay Plaza, based in the Bronx, will close at the end of the year.

According to David Deason, the vice president of real estate, the decision was made to shut down operations because the landlord plans to raise the price of rent. This branch is the first and only bookstore within this particular New York City borough. It opened in 1999.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “Stephen B. Kaufman, who was a state assemblyman from the Bronx in the 1990s, said he led the three-year community effort to bring Barnes & Noble to the borough after he tired of traveling to Manhattan or Westchester County for his books. Barnes & Noble mostly ignored the entreaties, he recalled, until he and other organizers took their campaign public with petitions that garnered thousands of signatures and contentious news conferences in which they called the chain ‘Barnes & Ignoble.’” (via Bustle)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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18. Indies First Launches The Upstream Initiative

Indies FirstThe organizers behind the Indies First campaign are launching a new initiative called Upstream. The team asks that participating writers sign copies of their books and have them be sold at the independent bookstores of their choice.

Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) has posted a message to his colleagues imploring them to take part. He also encourages authors to promote this program. Here’s an excerpt from Handler’s letter:

“Will Upstream rescue us all from strife and worry? Of course not. But the hope is that it will remind both authors and booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and to improve general esprit de corps at a disheartening time.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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19. Air New Zealand Creates a New ‘Hobbit’-Themed Safety Video

Air New Zealand has unleashed “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made” on their YouTube channel. The video embedded above features the airline’s new Hobbit-themed safety video with appearances from actor Elijah Wood and filmmaker Peter Jackson.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the video is, in itself, a sequel to the airline’s 2012 safety video, An Unexpected Briefing, which brought actors and characters from the Tolkien story onboard one of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER planes.” Follow this link to watch An Unexpected Briefing.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20. Julie Flett's WE ALL COUNT: A BOOK OF CREE NUMBERS

There's a new board book out by Cree Metis artist, Julie Flett, and like her other ones, it is a winner!





Like her previous works, We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is a bilingual board book. In this one, the numbers 1-10 are presented in English and Cree.

Flett's collage work is gorgeous. I love the quiet and bold colors she uses in her compositions. Here's the page for number 1. The text reads "One prairie dog perching."




And here's the page for number 10, where the text reads "Ten elk crossing." 





Flett's book is excellent for parents, teachers, or librarians to read to young children. Obviously, this is a counting book, so counting will happen, but the words!

Prairie dogs perching! Can you imagine showing the child you're reading to, how to perch like a prairie dog? On the page for number three, aunties are laughing. The joy on their faces is, well, joyful! Laugh along with them! Those owls on the cover? They're six owls spotting. It'd be great fun to pause on that page, and peer about, spotting things nearby.

I really like this book. I'm as joyful as those aunties! The pages in Flett's book provide a chance to do something that extends the reading itself, enriching what a young child knows about words and actions.

Though I'm sure Flett didn't have diversity in mind when she came up with the title, We All Count, the title and her book do a beautiful job of saying We--people who are Indigenous or who speak Cree--we count, too.

Your book is brilliant, Julie Flett! Kų́'daa! (That is 'thank you' in Tewa, my language.)

We All Count: A Book of Numbers is highly recommended. Written and illustrated by Julie Flett, it was published in 2014 by Native Northwest.


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21. Book Wars: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson

Book warsBook Wars: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson

Attention all fantasy readers! You’ll want to get in on this week’s book war, because I will be comparing two of the most popular fantasy series there are: Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson & The Olympians.

People have been saying for years that the two series are similar in character and plot, but I’m about to take a deeper look to find out. So, are you a Potterhead or are you a Demigod? Can you be both?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief book coverTo begin the comparison, let’s start with the two main protagonists. Harry and Percy are both unlikely heroes with difficult backgrounds. Harry’s parents were killed when he was just a baby, and he was forced to live with his horrible Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon and his vile cousin, Dudley. Percy was raised by his mother and his awful step-father, Gabe Ugliano. Both children were bullied because they were weak and scrawny and no one really cared about them.

Harry and Percy also share some similar traits. Harry and Percy both have a “saving people thing” because they always want to help someone in danger. They are also known to be witty and sarcastic, but incredibly loyal to their friends.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book cover illustrated by Kazu KibuishiFinally, Harry and Percy are the “Chosen One” and the “Child of the Prophecy” meaning that they are the only people who can save the world because of a prophecy written about them.

Now let’s compare some of the other characters.

The main female protagonists, Hermione Granger and Annabeth Chase, are both the most intelligent characters in each series. They always know the answer for everything and always have a plan, but Annabeth is more of a warrior than Hermione.

And let’s not forget about the lovable best friends. Ron Weasley and Grover Underwood are the two main characters’ best friends. They are similar in that they are both easily scared, funny, and have a love of food. The only difference would be the fact that Grover has goat legs . . .

And, of course, we have the villains. There are the main bad guys, Lord Voldemort and Kronos, and also the conflicted henchmen, Draco Malfoy and Luke Castellan.

Another similarity in the series would be the plot. Both books are about two children who become heroes and have to save the world. They both involve a prophecy, magic, and myth.

So what do you think? How similar are these two series? And are you a fan of HP or PJO? Leave your opinion in the Comments.

Izzy, Scholastic Kids Council

PS. Emma Rose weighs in on the debate in her video. Ari is also a PJO fan. He says, “The books are exciting. It is fun to see Greek Mythology come alive in the present day. Percy, the son of Poseidon, must learn to survive and protect both the mortal and the immortal worlds.”

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22. How Did I Find My Clients?

I read a forum post this morning quizzing agented authors on where they found their agents. The authors were very nicely answering, but most of the answers were the same: "I did my research and then sent a query letter."

Why was this the most likely way they answered? Because it's the most likely way to get an agent.  It just IS. I know the myth is that you have to "know somebody" but that really isn't true. Which got me to thinking about how my clients found ME (or, vice-versa). And I decided to bust out the chart-making tools again because I know you like that.

So let's break it down:

56% of my clients came to me because of straight up query letters, from the slush. They didn't know anybody, they didn't drop names, they weren't published before, they didn't go to conferences, they didn't meet me first - some of them I still haven't met in person, because they live thousands of miles away!

24% of my clients were people that I'd met somewhere before they queried me. These are people I met at conferences, in a couple of cases, or published authors that I met in my capacity as a bookseller. (There's also a former co-worker in the mix, an SCBWI RA, and one of my neighbors. What can I say, she's a great writer!). The thing is: All these people STILL HAD TO QUERY. It's not like I said, oh, I know you, so sure... they still had to show me something I thought I could sell.

16% of my clients were referrals. This means that somebody I really trust - like an editor who knows my taste, or an existing client - thought this would be a good fit for me, and e-introduced us. But, you guessed it: These people STILL HAD TO QUERY, and show me something I thought I could sell.

4% of my clients were inherited from other agents at my agency. They actually are the only people who were kinda "grandfathered in," and did not have to show me something new to be taken on. However, I also trusted that they could write, that they had great stories in them, and that we'd gel well - and we spoke before I took them on. Still, this does not always work out, so I feel very lucky that these have!


Moral of this story? 

96% OF AUTHORS NEED TO 
WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

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23. ‘Tis the Season for New Holiday Books

The end of summer means the beginning of searching for new holiday books to add to our collection. I usually order new Halloween and Thanksgiving books in September, and new Christmas and Hanukkah books in October (unless Hanukkah is unusually early, as it was last year). Any new general winter-themed books that are not about winter holidays are usually ordered in November or early December.

twas-nochebuena

(image taken from Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s website)

We have such a strong collection of excellent holiday books that any new book that I add to the collection is either something by a very popular author (Jan Brett) or offers something unique to the collection…characters of color, such as ‘Twas Nochebuena by Roseanne Thong or Thanksgiving stories that go beyond describing a shared meal with family, such as The Great Thanksgiving Escape by Mark Fearing.

jeremy_dreidel

We have plenty of Hanukkah books that explain the various activities of that holiday in simple picture book format, so I am always keen to find Hanukkah books that go beyond “we light the candles and spin the dreidel” basics. One of my favorite Hanukkah related books remains Jeremy’s Dreidel by Ellie Gellman for its touching and positive portrayal of a young boy and his father, who is blind.  Books that focus upon the religious origins of Christmas and Hanukkah are also very popular in our community, so Lee Bennett Hopkins’s latest poetry collection, Manger, should enjoy lots of checkouts this season. National Geographic’s Celebrate Hanukkah (part of its Holidays Around the World) is a striking look at how the holiday is celebrated worldwide.

Do you have any new holiday favorites this year, or any titles that you are eagerly anticipating? What Halloween books have been popular with your patrons this year? Talk about it in the comments!

 

 

 

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24. ‘Leaving Time’ Joins iBooks Bestsellers List

Leaving TimeJodi Picoult’s new fiction book, Leaving Time, has joined Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. this week at No. 2.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending October 20, 2014. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks are occupying the first and third spots on the list this week.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump.
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25. Large-Screen Nook Makes Its Debut

large nookSamsung and Barnes & Noble have developed a new big-screen version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. Customers can purchase it starting today at 650 Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores and online.

According to the press release, this new NOOK features a 10.1-inch HD display which is the largest screen that has ever been made available on this device. It weighs 17.28 ounces.

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