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Welcome to our monthly Ask a Pub Pro feature where a publishing professional answers readers and writers' questions regarding the stories they love or their work in progress. This month, Stephanie Diaz, author of the Extraction series, joins us to answer questions on chapter breaks and unusual time periods.
We'd love to have you send in your questions for next month's column. Please send questions to AYAPLit AT gmail and put "Ask a Pub Pro Question" in the subject line. If your question is chosen, you'll get to include a link to your social media and a Tweet-sized blurb of your WIP.
Come on! Get those questions in!
Ask a Pub Pro with Stephanie Diaz
From Farida Mestek:
My question about the book concerns chapters. My YA fantasy novel is divided into four more or less equal parts, each having its individual title, but there are no chapter breaks within the parts. How important are chapters in this particular genre and for this audience? Should I attempt to introduce them within the book even though I can't decide where to end one chapter and to start the next one or can I leave it like that?
Chapters are helpful to readers because they allow for pauses in the book, places where the reader can take a breath or step away and easily come back. YA fantasies tend to be on the longer side, so not including chapters could make it hard for readers to get through the book. You don't necessarily need to have a new chapter every ten pages or even twenty, but I would recommend working some scene breaks into your novel, aside from the four parts. Look for the spots where scenes have a natural ending.
Check out some YA fantasies to get an idea of what scene breaks should read like, if you're unsure. The Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo has some great examples.
I'm writing an historical in a very unusual time period and am not sure it will be marketable. Is there any way to sort of test the market to find out if agents/editors/readers would even consider this time and setting?
There isn't any way to test the market other than to query your work once it's finished and see what agents have to say. However, I would highly recommend finding critique partners to share your idea with and read your manuscript before you start shopping it, so you can get a sense of whether it will appeal to readers.
There are also some really wonderful agents and editors who occasionally have #AskAgent and #AskEditor Q&As on Twitter. Keep an eye on those hashtags, and you may be able to get an answer by running the time and setting of your book by someone in the industry.
About the Author:
Twenty-two-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her first novel, Extraction, while studying film at San Diego State University. She is also the author of Rebellion and the forthcoming Evolution. When she isn't lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fangirling over TV shows. Visit her website at www.stephaniediazbooks.com and follow her on twitter at @StephanieEDiaz.
The uprising has begun. It's been seven days since Clementine and Logan, along with their allies, retreated into hiding on the Surface. The rebels may have won one battle against Commander Charlie, but the fight is far from finished. He has vowed to find a way to win—no matter the cost. Do the rebels have what it takes to defeat him and put an end to this war?
As Clementine and Logan enter a desperate race against time to defeat Commander Charlie—and attempt to weaken his power within his own ranks--they find themselves in a terrifying endgame that pits them against a brutal enemy, and each other. With every step, Clementine draws closer to losing Logan...and losing control of herself.
Continuing with the mesmerizing saga that started with Extraction, Stephanie Diaz blends science fiction, epic romance, and heart-stopping adventure to create a world that no reader will soon forget.
Next week the Poetry Seven will share the sestinas we have been working on. This is a tough, tough form. While writing, I looked for good examples for inspiration. The poem A Miracle for Breakfast by Elizabeth Bishop is probably my favorite. In the video below you can hear it read and reflect along with Michael Joyce, Professor of English at Vassar, on the poem's meaning.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe. Happy poetry Friday friends!
Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.
Dolphins are famous not only for their playful personalities, but also their striking level of intelligence. After half a century studying their minds, scientists have learned a lot about how dolphins think, and the nature of their intelligence. You’ve probably heard a lot about dolphins over the years, but how much do you know about the latest scientific research into dolphin cognition? Take the quiz and find out!
This post is the first in an ongoing series we’ll run answering questions about book marketing and publicity.
So, here you are: you’ve gone through the long, grueling process of writing draft after draft of your book. You’ve gotten an agent, who then sold it to an editor. You’ve revised and revised, until finally it’s ready to go to print. And now…you wait.
Authors often ask me: What can I do while I’m waiting for my book to come out? Here are five of my top suggestions:
1. Develop your list of contacts. It may seem obvious, but one of the most important things you can do while waiting for your book to be released is to simply put together a list of all your professional and personal contacts who you think should know about your book. This includes family, friends, coworkers, professional contacts, fellow writers, and contacts from any communities you’re personally connected to: religious communities, volunteer organizations, even neighborhood restaurants where you’re a regular. Don’t be shy! All of these people will be excited to find out that you’ve published a book, and many of them will want to support you by buying a copy. Create a clean list of email addresses so that when the book is released, you can easily send out an email to everyone to let them know (even if you are connected to many of these people on Facebook, studies show that they will be more likely to make a purchase from a direct email). After that, don’t forget to add new contacts to your list as you meet new people at conferences or events.
2. Reach out to your local bookstore about hosting a launch party. As soon as you have a release date for your book, get in touch with your local bookstore to see if they would be willing to host a launch party for you. Many bookstores are happy to do this, especially for local authors. Launch parties at bookstores are a win/win: you get a space for hosting and don’t have to worry about handling book sales yourself, and bookstores get an influx of people who are excited to purchase books. Coordinate with your publisher to make sure you pick a launch date when books will definitely be available.
3. Refine your online presence. Now is the time to make sure that your online presence is everything you want it to be and contains all the most updated information about you. This means, first and foremost, having a clean and updated website. Put a book cover, release information, and any reviews you’ve received on your website as soon as possible. You may feel like only your mom visits your website now, but once your book comes out, traffic will increase, and your website should be in top shape before then. You should also use this time to decide which, if any, social media platforms you want to use. Delete accounts you don’t use instead of letting them languor un-updated for years (or, at the very least, add links that redirect people to your website) and start getting in the habit of updating content regularly on any platforms you want to use.
4. Come up with a list of topics related to your book. Book releases today are almost always accompanied by blog tours or some other type of blog coverage. You can do your part to get ready for this by putting together a list of topics related to your book on which you would be willing to write guest posts or answer questions. These could include anything from the research you did for the book to your playlist of songs you listened to while revising. Be creative! Share this list with your publishers so they can use it when shaping their pitches for bloggers. They may also work with you to shape some of these topics into longer pieces to pitch to online or print publications.
5. Get to know local opportunities. Spend some time looking into any local or state book awards for which you might be eligible, and pass them on to your publisher to make sure they are submitting your book. Are there any book fairs or book festivals in your area? The deadlines for getting on panels at these events are often many months before the event happens, so the earlier you find out about them, the better the chances that you’ll be able to participate. Don’t assume your publisher already knows about everything; while publishers have extensive lists of awards and book festivals, no one knows your area better than you, and you may find something they’ve missed.
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to bother your publisher! Even if they’re busy, they’ll appreciate the work that you are doing to prepare for your book release and be happy to work with you.
What am I missing? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll answer the question: What do I need to include on my author website? (use the links in the top left sidebar to subscribe so you won’t miss it.)
Sore throats are an inevitable part of childhood, no matter where in the world one lives. However for those children living in poor, under-resourced and marginalised societies of the world, this could mean a childhood either cut short by crippling heart failure or the need for open-heart surgery.
Hi! I’d like to introduce you to Mimi Kirkland. She plays Lily on Austin & Ally this season. Her character is a spunky and energetic fan who begins taking music lessons from Ally so she can hang out with the star. In real life, Mimi loves to spend time with her family and enjoys participating in outdoor activities such as bike riding, swimming, and playing tag with her 2 sisters and her dog.
Photo courtesy Disney Channel
AND . . . she has offered to answer YOUR questions! Do you want to know what it is like to be on a Disney TV show with Laura Marano and Ross Lynch? Now is your chance to ask.
Leave your questions in the Comments and come back here on March 13 for Mimi’s answers!
Lisa Genova has written a new novel entitled Inside the O’Briens. The story follows a police officer who is afflicted with Huntington’s disease named Joe O’Brien.
Here’s more from the press release: “Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching what may be her future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life.”
Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has set a publication date for April 7th. Genova established her writing career with the 2009 bestseller Still Alice which dealt with the illness of Alzheimer’s disease. Julianne Moore, the star of the Still Alice film adaptation, recently won the Academy Award in the Best Actress category for portraying the character Professor Alice Howland.
In this series of Teaching Author posts, we’re discussing the areas of overlap between fiction and nonfiction. Today, I’m thinking about creative nonfiction.
What is Creative Nonfiction? According to Lee Gutkind (known as the “Father of Creative Nonfiction”), “The words ‘creative’ and ‘nonﬁction’ describe the form. The word ‘creative’ refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques ﬁction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonﬁction—factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonﬁction stories read like ﬁction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.”
One critical point about writing creative nonfiction is that creativity does not apply to the facts. Authors cannot invent dialog, combine characters, fiddle with time lines, or in any other way divert from the truth and still call it nonfiction. The creative part applies only to the way factual information is presented.
One way to present nonfiction in a compelling, vivid manner is to take advantage of the techniques of poetry. When I wrote the nonfiction picture book Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move (gorgeously illustrated by Pam Paparone), I made a conscious effort to use imagery, alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia while explaining how seeds get around. When she called with the good news, the editor called it a perfect blend of nonfiction and poetry. Yippee, right?
You've ALL been amazing and we hope you've learned from the feedback the process provided. But here are the top 25 titles you've been waiting for! Congrats. If you find yours below you should revise and get your pitch and first page back ASAP! You have until February 27th at 3PM EASTERN. Then I will begin posting the pitch and first pages for each of you. If you choose not to revise, I will post the same entry as last time with a new random number. If you are following along and want to read the amazing work of our contestants you can find it posted at http://adventuresinyacontests.blogspot.com
Let’s try something a little new. I’m only human. I like to rant and rail about various children’s books being lamentably out-of-print as much as the next guy. But I also acknowledge that in the current publishing state in which we live it is simply not possible to keep all books in print.
That said, there really are a couple books out there that I think deserve another chance at life. Now I’ve done variations on this kind of post before. Last year I wrote the piece Baby, Remember My Name: Picture Book Gems of Years Past. In 2010 there was also Two Down! One to Go. But apparently I haven’t done a consistent series on books I’d love to see resuscitated. Why not start today?
Let’s be systematic about this, though. Can’t be asking for any old thing to be republished. And since I’ve already talked your ear off about the remarkable out-of-print Newbery Honor winning book The Winged Girl of Knossos (seriously, bring it back) let’s try something a bit more recent, eh whot?
Publisher: Blue Sky Press (an imprint of Scholastic)
When Was It Published?: 2009
Is It Out-of-Print?: Yup.
Why Should Someone Bring It Back?: Well, here’s the plot as I reviewed it back in the day:
“One day, while sitting in a plant in a pot, a caterpillar named Oscar makes the acquaintance of a high flying butterfly by the name of Bob. Bob’s on his way to Mexico, and he assures little Oscar that one day he’ll have a pair of wings too and can follow. Bob is intrigued by this notion, and even though the other caterpillars mock him, he teams up with a local bookworm Edna to learn about butterflies and Mexico. By the time he’s ready to go for a long sleep, Bob has learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases. But oh no! When he awakes, Bob discovers that he’s not a butterfly at all but a measly moth! Yet buoyed by Edna’s faith in him, Bob determines to go to Mexico anyway. And if you happen to travel to Mexico someday and see a moth sitting there, you might hear him say, “Mi nombre es Oscar!” loud and happy and proud. A section at the end provides English to Spanish translations as well as some useful facts about butterflies and moths.”
Now as far as I can ascertain, this is pretty much the ONLY picture book I’ve ever encountered that took the idea of butterflies flying South for the winter to Mexico and decided that the logical thing for any butterfly to do would be to learn the Spanish language. It’s a brilliant notion! Add in the art, which is reminiscent of 1930s Walt Disney cartoons (in a good way) with lots of straw boaters and ukuleles, and you’ve got yourself a lovely book.
Think about it. Spanish language words pepper the text. The book deals with the subject of handling your disappointment in a strong, smart manner. And you’ve got the metamorphosis aspect to boot.
The time has never been better to bring this puppy back in print. Go for it, Scholastic!
Earlier this week ALSC held an online forum to continue the Day of Diversity conversation from Midwinter. I chair the committee, Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers, so I thought about the conversation in terms of special populations served by our libraries. “Special populations” is rather weird terminology (“underrepresented” may be a better term). What is considered a special population really depends on each library’s community. A special population in Richmond, CA may not be a special population in Nashville, TN. Even within a city, special populations may vary from branch to branch.
Forum attendees generated lots of suggestions about how to make our libraries more diverse, welcoming places for everyone in the community. This is a huge task – one that requires ongoing assessment to learn who is underrepresented in your community and at your library, one that requires ongoing training of library employees. To this end, I searched library-related continuing education websites for upcoming professional development opportunities focused on services or resources for diverse or underrepresented populations.
Here are some upcoming professional development opportunities:
Library Juice Academy Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca
March 2-27, 2015 $175
“Participants will discover new books, rhymes, songs, plans and resources that they can immediately put to use in their bilingual storytime programs.”
University of Wisconsin – Madison Library Services for the Hmong Community
March 10, 2015 FREE
This webinar will discuss “barriers that prevent Hmong from using libraries and share the Appleton Public Library’s successful outreach strategies for reaching out to Hmong patrons.”
RUSA Spice it Up with Pura Belpre! April 30, 2015 Registration fee varies In this session attendees will learn about these award-winning titles and “discover how they enhance multicultural collections as well as contribute to instructional strategies.”
These are but a few online opportunities for you to learn more about diverse populations that may seek library services in your community. Another way to learn is to get out of the library and into your community. Attend cultural meetings, local chapter meetings of the (insert special population here) association, and special events. Think about who you don’t see in your library and find a way to learn more about that population. Then make a plan for proactively invite them in.
Africa Hands is chair of the Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers committee and author of Successfully Serving the College Bound (ALA Editions). She’s @africahands on Twitter.
Given the scope and the length of time I’ve been working on the African American National Biography (over 13 years and counting), selecting just a few biographies that were somehow “representative” of the overall project would have been an impossible task. Instead, working with The Root’s managing editor, Lyne Pitts, I chose four entries that showcased some of the diversity of the collection, but focused on hidden or barely remembered figures in black history.
A memoir by Kim Gordon, founding member of Sonic Youth, is out this week from HarperCollins’ Dey Street Books.
In Girl in a Band: A Memoir, the indie rock icon talks talks about music, being an artist, marriage and motherhood. She also discusses the difficulties of doing a show in South America with her ex-husband/bandmate Thurston Moore. Here is an excerpt:
They say that when a marriage ends that little things you never noticed before practically make your brain split open. All week that had been true for me whenever Thurston was around. Maybe he felt the same, or maybe his head was somewhere else. I didn’t really want to know to be honest.
A request for a blurb about a favorite book with a Native teen character prompted me to re-read Cynthia Leitich Smith's Rain Is Not My Indian Name. I've recommended it several times, here on AICL and elsewhere, but I haven't done an in-depth review essay about it yet.
Smith is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. "Citizen" means that she is amongst the people the Muscogee Nation counts as a citizen. Their page on Citizenship has a lot of useful information.
A lot of people don't know that each Native Nation has its own way of determining who its citizens or tribal members are. A lot of people claim they're Native but don't know what Nation. For them, it is more of a romantic idea based on a family story about an ancestor who someone in their family said was Indian. Often, that ancestor was "a princess." A common experience for me--indeed, for a lot of Native people--is the well-meaning person who approaches me at a lecture (or online) and tells me they are part Indian. If they reference an Indian princess, I--as gently as I can--tell them there was no such thing, that the idea itself is rooted in European's who erroneously viewed Native peoples with a European lens in which royalty was the rule. There's a lot to read about Native identity. I suggest Eva Marie Garroutte's Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America.
Quick! What comes to mind when you hear "American Indian" or "Native American"? Chances are, the image you have is one of Native peoples of the past, not present. And, that image in your mind is likely one that reflects a stereotype, not reality, in terms of who we were and who we are. Smith's book can interrupt that stereotypical imagery. Set in the present--not the past--it is a terrific story.
Let's take a look, together, at some parts of it that stand out to me.
Cassidy Rain Berghoff is the main character in Rain Is Not My Indian Name. When the story opens, it is New Year's Eve. Rain is minutes away from being 14. She's out with Galen--a childhood friend--but they're tentatively moving from friendship to a romantic relationship. He's got a birthday gift for her: a pouch that she immediately recognizes (p. 6):
I remembered seeing it last June, displayed on a Lakota trader's table at a powwow in Oklahoma City. Aunt Georgia had taken Galen and me on a road trip to visit family, and he had trailed after me down crowded aisle after aisle.
Later that day at the powwow, Galen had gone off to get popcorn, but clearly--he'd been observing Rain as they walked down those aisles and seen her linger over that pouch. Sweet! In her description of that pouch, Smith tells us it has seed beads. Most readers probably won't notice that detail, but Native ones do! There's a huge difference in a pouch made by a Lakota person and one you'd buy at a tourist shop that sells "Indian" beaded items. The one with seed beads is exquisite. The one from the tourist shop is tacky. Rain knows the difference; Native readers of Rain Is Not My Indian Name will know the difference, too.
After Rain and Galen say goodnight and head for their homes, Galen is struck by a car and dies on his way home. Rain learns about it the next morning (her birthday). The phone rings, waking her. She stretches, beneath her star quilt. She's devastated when her grandpa tells her about Galen. Of course, she doesn't say more about the quilt, but it is another point that Native readers will notice. Star quilts figure prominently in Native culture. Here's one (to the right) made by a dear friend, Chantelle Blue Arm.
I chose this one (Chantelle has done many) because she titled it Cotton Candy. In the moments before Galen gives Rain the pouch, she thinks back to second grade field trip when Galen had persuaded her to leave the group with him in search of turquoise cotton candy.
Understandably, Galen's death is a blow to Rain. She pretty much retreats from life for six months, which moves the story to the end of June. Her aunt, Georgia, is coordinating an Indian Camp. Her brother, Fynn, has been hinting that he wants her to sign up for it (p. 12):
But Indian Camp? It sounded like the kind of thing where a bunch of probably suburban, probably rich, probably white kids tromped around a woodsy park, calling themselves "princesses," "braves," or "guides."
My guess is that many of you--especially if you are regular readers of AICL--are nodding your head. Indian-themed camps are a mainstay of American culture that feed stereotypes! Rain's aunt, however, is not doing a camp for white kids. This one is for Native kids. Rain speculates that her aunt is thinking about what Native kids learn in school (p. 13):
At school, the subject of Native Americans pretty much comes up just around Turkey Day, like those cardboard cutouts of the Pilgrims and the pumpkins and the squash taped to the windows at McDonald's. And the so-called Indians always look like bogeymen on the prairie, windblown cover boys selling paperback romances, or baby-faced refugees from the world of Precious Moments. I usually get through it by reading sci-fi fanzines behind my textbooks until we move on to Kwanza.
Rain's got some attitude--and I love it!
See the baby-faced refugee to the right?! Rain is obviously indignant at having to deal with this sort of thing year after year.
She has a way to cope, but let's step into reality for a moment. Native kids in today's schools have to deal with this every year. Why should they have to deal with that at all?!
What Rain did was check out. She disengaged. I'm using "disengaged" deliberately. The word is in a 2010 report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, about Native youth and their experiences in school.
And the complexities of African American and American Indian history
Now let's take a look at a racial issue Rain struggles with.
The character, Queenie, is African American. Prior to the time of the story, Rain and Queenie were good friends. That started to shift when Rain learned that Galen and Queenie were interested in each other, romantically. In one of her journal entries (they open each chapter), Rain recounts a conversation she and Galen had about dating African Americans (p. 28):
Galen's bangs fell forward: "Would you go out with a black person?" he asked.
Somewhere in my memory, I'd been told it was okay to be friends with black people, but not more than friends. "I guess," I answered. "Worried about your mom?"
Later (but still in the time before the story opens), Rain and Queenie's friendship ends when Rain learns that Queenie has hurt Galen.
Rain ends up going to Indian Camp--not as a participant--but as a journalist. Her assignment is to take photos of the camp for a news story about the camp. She is surprised to see Queenie there. The reporter, Flash, asks Queenie a question (p. 69):
"What brings you here?"
Queenie squared her shoulders and asked, "Don't you mean 'Why is an African-American girl at a Native American program?"
"Sure," the Flash answered, pen perched, "that's exactly what I meant."
The three Native kids at the camp and Rain observe this interaction, which suggests they have the same--but unspoken--question (p. 70):
Queenie spoke clearly, like she wanted to make sure the Flash didn't misquote her--like she'd have a lot to say about it if he did. "My aunt Suzanne has been tracing our family tree for the reunion next month at her place in Miami," she explained, "and, come to find out, one of my great-grandfathers was a Native American."
The word cousin sneaked onto my tongue, and I didn't like the way it tasted. As if stealing Galen hadn't been enough, now Queenie was barging in on my cultural territory. Granted, she was no guru-seeking, crystal-wearing, long-lost descendent of an Indian "princess," but still...
Then, Flash asks her (p. 70):
"What tribe, Nation, or band?"
We'll come to find out that Queenie's great grandfather was Seminole. The Black Indian thread in Rain Is Not My Indian Name is important. It speaks to Black readers with similar family stories, but it does so with integrity. Rain could so easily have been dismissive of Queenie, but Smith went elsewhere, smoothly describing what-to-do with that family story: research. Queenie's aunt is doing research.
All of this makes the Black Indian thread in Smith's book especially important in today's society.
Coming out this year (2015) are two books in which writers take on Black Indians. I read--and love--Gone Crazy in Alabama--by Rita Williams Garcia. I'm waiting for the published copy to review it.
Already out is The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. I haven't read it yet, but what I can see online indicates that Mildred Jeter is identified as "part African-American, part Cherokee."
In my initial research about Jeter, I saw her described as Cherokee, but I also saw her described as Rappahannock. In my second round of research, I read a chapter about her in That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia by Arica L. Coleman, an assistant professor in Black Studies at the University of Delaware. I'll say this for now: in that chapter, Coleman chronicles the way that race and racial identity are put forth, used, and manipulated by the justice system and the media. It is astonishing.
I opened this post by noting that someone's question prompted me to re-read Rain Is Not My Indian Name. I read it when it came out in 2001. It won Smith distinction from Wordcraft Circle as one of 2001 Writers of the Year in Children's Prose.
Rereading it now--14 years after I first read it--I want to shout from the rooftops to everyone about Rain Is Not My Indian Name. If you don't already have it on your shelves, get a copy and read it. And share it. It is exquisite and has something in it for every reader.
Updating to include books I'll use as I research this topic more:
One of the big draws of KidLitCon is getting a chance to meet your fellow bloggers, find out what their interests are, and discover where they intersect with yours. As you may know by now, here at FW our main focus is on Young Adult fiction, with an... Read the rest of this post
Congratulations to Nikki Loftin on the release of Wish Girl (Razorbill, 2015). From the promotional copy:
Annie Blythe is dying, but she can give Peter Stone the strength to live.
Peter Stone’s parents and siblings are extroverts, musicians, and yellers—and the louder they get, the less Peter talks, or even moves, until he practically fits his last name. When his family moves to the Texas Hill Country, though, Peter finds a tranquil, natural valley where he can, at last, hear himself think. There, he meets a girl his age: Annie Blythe. Annie tells Peter she’s a “wish girl.” But Annie isn’t just any wish girl: she’s a “Make-A-Wish Girl.” And in two weeks she will begin a dangerous treatment to try and stop her cancer from spreading. Left alone, the disease will kill her. But the treatment may cause serious, lasting damage to her brain. Annie and Peter hatch a plan to escape into the valley, which they begin to think is magical. But the pair soon discovers that the valley—and life—may have other plans for them. And sometimes wishes come true in ways they would never expect.
Magical Places by Nikki Loftin from Nerdy Book Club. Peek: "I spent countless hours standing on the crumbling limestone cliffs on the sides of my valley, singing into the constant wind, watching the trees sway and move below while turkey vultures wheeled above. It was the safest place I knew, and the most dangerous."
More News & Giveaways
Lerner Publishing Group Acquires Egmont USA List by Jim Milliot from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "According to Egmont Publishing, after it announced its plans to close the unit Lerner approached the company about buying Egmont USA’s remaining assets. Under the deal Lerner will fold the Egmont titles into different imprints including Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab, Darby Creek, and Millbrook Press."
Becoming a Student of Your Own Creative Process by Dan Blank from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Hours, days, and even years are spent in a state of confusion or frustration regarding how to write better, how to best publish, how to best develop a readership and encourage sales. Each of these, in its own way, is a creative process. Each filled with its own emotional complexity."
Stepping Over the Threshold: The First Children's Book Contract by Carmen Oliver from Donna Janell Bowman. Peek: "I used to think about how incredible it would feel to say I’m published. And I won’t lie; it feels great to get to this point where I’m stepping over the threshold! But not because of the reasons you might think. It’s because I’ve learned so much more about myself."
Talents & Skills Thesaurus Entry by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "When one thinks of an incredibly strong person, the image of a muscle-bound body builder comes to mind. But while many times that can be an accurate representation, strength can also come in smaller packages."
No Boys Allowed: School Visits as a Woman Writer from Shannon Hale. Peek: "Should I have refused? Embarrassed the bookstore, let down the girls who had been looking forward to my visit? I did the presentation. But I felt sick to my stomach. Later I asked what other authors had visited. They’d had a male writer. For his assembly, both boys and girls had been invited."
Multitasking Is Death to Creative Writing by Michael McDonagh from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "Multitasking impacts the creative process more severely than analytic processes. Writing fiction also involves an element of multitasking in itself."
Interview with Cecil Castellucci by Stephanie Kuehn from YA Highway. Peek: "...I am always writing about the exiled and outsiders, about finding your true tribe and following your heart and about how art can save you. And about real true long lasting life long love, in other words, not necessarily romantic, but the people that you keep forever as you travel along." Watch the trailer!
Reminder: 28 Days Later: "During the twenty-eight days of Black History Month, we profile a different children’s or young adult author and children’s illustrator, looking for the best new and unnoticed works by African-Americans. From picture books to novels, books fresh off the presses to those that have lurked in the background unsung for months or years." See Awards and Grants for Authors of Color compiled by Lee & Low.
Lerner Acquires Egmont USA Titles by Jim Milliot from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "According to Egmont Publishing, after it announced its plans to close the unit Lerner approached the company about buying Egmont USA’s remaining assets. Under the deal Lerner will fold the Egmont titles into different imprints, including Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab, Darby Creek, and Millbrook Press."
Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading In Print. Yes, You Read That Right by Michael S. Rosen from The Washington Post. Peek: "Researchers say readers remember the location of information simply by page and text layout — that, say, the key piece of dialogue was on that page early in the book with that one long paragraph and a smudge on the corner. Researchers think this plays a key role in comprehension. But that is more difficult on screens...."
CLYDE I won't be caged. Not again. I tense at the crackle of the police radio. I check the side mirror. Not yet. I rub my eye-lids, look again. I’m not the only one who’s freaking out. The stink of shock and fear is weighty. I can hear my girl-friend Aimee’s heart thudding in her chest.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the series and this last North America hardcover launch. Most appreciated!
"Kayla is only baby steps into recovering from the death of her first boyfriend and Yoshi, who has legendary experience with ladies, is suddenly faced with the first one with whom he could have a real relationship, a real future, if they both survive."
We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by David Lymburn, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of METROPOLIS. Thanks to everyone else for participating. We hope it was inspiring!
You can also see a gallery of all the other entries here.
And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:
Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).
Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.
Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).
Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!
A 7th-grader reached out because she wanted to interview me about being an agent for an expository writing assigment. Since some of these are questions that I get a lot, I figured I'd answer on the blog. Hopefully the answers are helpful to the student, and may be of some interest to other readers, as well! :-)
1) What role do literary agents play in the writing community?
A literary agent helps a writer navigate and manage their career. Much in the same way most actors have talent agents who help them get fancy movie roles and negotiate their contracts, or basketball players have sports agents who get them sneaker endorsement deals, authors have literary agents who help place their work with publishers.Agents also may help get those books translated into other languages and get made into movies, apps or toys. And an agent helps an author with all kinds of other business matters. Almost every book that you see in the bookstore is there because an agent helped the author place the book with a publisher.
2) Who or what inspired you to want to become a literary agent?
My friend Barry Goldblatt is an agent, and when I met him ten years ago, I thought his job looked super cool and interesting. (He represents Libba Bray, Holly Black, Shannon Hale, Jo Knowles, among many other amazing authors.) I decided I wanted to do that, too! So I got an internship in 2006 or so, then joined my agency in 2007, and officially became an agent in 2008.
3) What did you have to go through to be a literary agent?
Everyone has a different path to becoming an agent. Personally, before I ever started, I first worked for a decade in bookstores as a buyer and events person... So I knew a LOT about books and publishing, and a lot of authors, illustrators and people in publishing. That means when I decided I wanted to become an agent, it was probably easier for me than it would have been for somebody starting from scratch. I still started out essentially as an unpaid intern, but I was able to move up a bit more quickly than usual.
Still, what might have looked like "overnight success" to an outsider was, in fact, the result of 15+ years of work. 4) Was it hard to get the job?
Again, it's not really a job you apply for and interview and either get or don't get. You don't get a regular paycheck or have to wear a uniform or anything. Instead, it's a career that you build. So, yeah, it's hard to build a successful career - it takes years, and patience.
5) What was the biggest lesson you've learned so far in you career that you would like to share with fresh agents? And what is the hardest thing about being an agent?
Imagine if you turned in an assignment to your teacher on Friday... and instead of getting the grade back the following Monday, you got the grade six months later, out of nowhere, when it had been so long you'd already forgotten about it, gone on summer vacation, become an 8th grader. Now you have to go back and re-do part of that old assignment AND add an essay and make a poster for it, tonight. UGH! What the heck! You don't even TAKE that class anymore! But you have to do it, or you'll retroactively fail. Well.... that's kinda what publishing is like. ;-)
If you are expecting overnight riches and success, you will probably be disappointed. Everything in publishing is extremely slow, and patience is critical. (This is hard for me, as I am rather impatient by nature.)
As for the VERY hardest thing about being an agent -- well, agents get new clients when the authors write us what is called a "query letter." I get hundreds of query letters a week, but I can only take on maybe five new clients a year. It's definitely hard to say no to good projects... but I have to do it, every day. :-(
6) What kind of writers have you worked with? Are there certain writers you work with more than others?
I only work with authors of books for children and young adults. Other agents have other specialties; my specialty is kids and teen fiction.
7) What are some things you need to stay organized?
I use a paper calendar, a google calendar, and a bullet journal for day-to-day scheduling and assignments. To keep track of all my clients and their various projects, I have a lot of excel spreadsheets, plus color-coded labels in gmail, plus a paper notebook in which I have a page for each book we are working on with all the pertinent info on it. I do end up double-entering some of the information, but I have had my computer crash and lose tons of information and it was very horrible, so I always like to write things down on paper, too, rather than rely exclusively on the computer!
8) Did you have to take extra classes in high school and/or college to become a literary agent?
Agenting is essentially an apprentice business - really the only way you can learn it is by doing it, while being mentored by a more successful agent. There are no "agent classes."
I know agents who have MFAs in writing, PhDs in Literature, Masters of Business Administration degrees, law degrees... or, like me, studied something totally random in school, like theatre or history!What you major in doesn't really matter. But what DOES matter, whatever your college major, is that you become quite good at writing clearly and reading critically.
In addition to English (writing and literature) classes, you might also find that classes in contract law, business, marketing, web development or book-keeping come in handy. But they aren't required by any means.
9) Would you do anything over the summer before or while you've been an agent to be a better agent?
Well, sadly, I don't get summers off. :-) Probably you mean, would I suggest anything that YOU might do over the summer to potentially become an agent in the future. IF that's the case: I'd suggest you try to get a job in a bookstore or library.
Read everything you possibly can. And don't just READ... read critically, and pay attention to which publishers make which books. If you do, you'll start to see that different publishers have different styles and specialties. Pay attention to who publishes what. This will come in handy if you become a professional book person later -- book people pretty much always talk about who the publisher is when they talk about a book.
10) What qualities do you need to be a successful agent?
At the very least, a successful agent will probably be a great communicator, and know a LOT about books and publishing.
I hope that helps - let me know if the comments if you need clarification or have other questions.
Digital startup Booktrope is trying to bring together the best of both worlds in publishing: the structure of traditional publishing with the high royalty rates of self-publishing tools.
The company is aimed at small publishers and indie authors who want to collaborate on a book and then share the income the project generates. The company’s site fosters a community of authors, editors, designers and marketing people. The idea is that these creative people can join forces and bring their skills to the table to help develop books. A good editor and a good book designer can really improve the quality of a manuscript that an author brings to the table.
When the project is complete, Brooktrope has the tools to publish the book in print or as an eBook directly to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are no fees. Booktrope takes 30 percent and the team of creators keep 70 percent of the royalties.
Michael Golden is part of an elite class to emerge out of comics Bronze Age(1970-85), along with other legends like Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, and John Byrne. He worked briefly at DC in the late 70’s, before making a name for himself over at Marvel with his dynamic, detailed drawing style on the miniature superhero team, The Micronauts. Golden would go onto create one of the most popular Uncanny X-Men characters, Rogue, with writer Chris Claremont, and enjoyed critical success with his work on The ‘Nam(a war comic written & edited by Vietnam War veterans Doug Murray & Larry Hama).
Michael Golden is also an accomplished advertising, and commercial design artist, but he still finds time to create covers for some of the biggest titles in comics, including The Fantastic Four, and The Walking Dead.
You can listen to a recent podcast with Michael Golden talking about his early days in comics at Panel Borders here.
For the latest news, and art images from Mr. Golden, you can follow his facebook page here.
For more comics related art, you can follow me on my websitecomicstavern.com- Andy Yates
Confession: I don’t really keep records on Poetic Asides, but I’m pretty sure Kristina Marie Darling has the record for most poet interviews in PA history.
Kristina Marie Darling
If this is your first time hearing her name, Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over 20 books, which include Vow, Petrarchan, and Scorched Altar, all available from BlazeVOX Books. Her writing has been recognized with fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.
It’s been fun watching her writing evolve over the years, and in Darling’s collection Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014, it’s now possible to get a sampling of her writing from 12 different sources.
Forget Revision, Learn How to Re-create Your Poems!
Do you find first drafts the easy part and revision kind of intimidating? If so, you’re not alone, and it’s common for writers to think the revision process is boring–but it doesn’t have to be!
In the 48-minute tutorial Re-Creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will learn how to go about re-creating their poems with the use of 7 revision filters that can help poets more effectively play with their poems after the first draft. Plus, it helps poets see how they make revision–gasp–fun!
I’m getting ready to leave for a residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and couldn’t be more excited. I’ll spend my time there working on a new collection of erasure poems, which examines the egregious amount of gender violence in Shakespeare’s tragedies. The fragmented, elliptical poems ask reader to consider whether the literature we’ve inherited has normalized gender violence, since plays like Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello are so present within the public imagination.
Part critique, part excavation, the poems are intended to redirect the focus of scholarly and readerly attention. It is when we become conscious of underlying beliefs and assumptions in culture, and their roots, that change emerges as a real possibility.
Scorched Altar is a collection of selected poems and stories published by BlazeVOX [books]. How did this collection come about?
That’s a great question. I initially contacted Geoffrey Gatza, the fabulous editor in charge of the press, to inquire about the possibility of a Selected Poems.
It turns out that Geoffrey had the same idea himself, and I simply e-mailed first. Since I had worked with BlazeVOX on numerous previous collections, I knew that my Selected Poems was in very good hands.
Was the process of selecting pieces from previous collections different than putting together a new collection?
When I compiled the poems from my previous collections for Scorched Altar, it was a much different process than working on a brand new collection. For me, writing a new poem or poetry book is an intuitive process, and I don’t reflect much on what I’m doing, at least in the drafting stage. If I allow myself to become too self-aware, that allows me to become self-critical, and then no writing gets done at all.
What I really enjoyed about the process of compiling Scorched Altar was that it prompted me to reflect on my body of work as a whole, to see patterns emerge from my writing over the past seven years, and to see progress and growth. The act of examining my poetry over the course of several years also helped me see what ideas, obsessions, and literary forms I returned to most frequently. And as a result, I came away from the process with many ideas for new projects, experiments, and poems that were completely different from anything I’d ever written before.
In many ways, the act of examining my body of work showed me what is possible within it.
Many of your pieces, especially in collections like Correspondence and Fortress, have a very visual element to how they’re arranged on the page. Do you ever perform these in readings? If so, do you have to explain how they’re set?
I think every poetry reading has some element of performance. Whether the poet shouts their poems, or sings them, or invites audience participation, I’m positive that all writers have a constructed persona, which is an extension of the work itself. With that in mind, I love performing my footnote poems at readings.
I typically read them in a completely flat, monotone voice, almost like the bad math professor that just about everyone had in college. I love seeing the audience lulled into a sense of comfort by the unexciting presentation of the work, only to be surprised by the wildly imaginative content.
You’re an active literary critic. Does this inform your writing? Help? Hinder?
I’m glad you asked about my reviewing and involvement with literary criticism. I love reviewing books, because it exposes me to poetry that is completely outside my comfort zone. This is great because it helps me question and interrogate what I normally do in my own writing. It pushes me to try new things and experiment more within my own practice. And it helps me see more clearly where my poems fit within the larger literary community.
The best thing about reviewing, though, is that it helps build relationships within publishing and writing. I’ve met friends, collaborators, and even mentors when working on reviews. And there’s nothing better than free books!
You’ve published 17 collections now. How do you keep the writing flame lit?
By reading and reviewing other poets. As long as you’re constantly being exposed to new ideas, literary forms, and aesthetics, you’ll always have something to write about.
I also run a small press, Noctuary Press, which has been great for my own creative practice. The press primarily publishes women’s writing that takes places across and beyond genre categories. Although I pride myself on my ability to question genre distinctions, reading submissions for the press has shown me the tremendous variety inherent in contemporary cross-genre writing by women. My work as editor has helped me see what’s possible within the hybrid forms I typically inhabit, and it’s a great deal more than I had initially envisioned.
One poet who no one knows but should–who is it?
Erin Bertram. She has several magnificent chapbooks out, including one from Kristy Bowen’s fabulous Dancing Girl Press. I’m just waiting for someone to realize that her first full-length book needs to be published (so I can buy it and read it!).
Who (or what) are you currently reading?
I’m very excited to check out Donna Stonecipher’s Model City and Dawn Lonsinger’s Whelm. I also just picked up Olena Kalytiak Davis’s newest collection, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting for quite some time.
And if you haven’t checked out Carl Adamshick’s Saint Friend, just published by McSweeney’s Books, then you sure are missing out. It’s a terrific collection, even better than his first book, Curses & Wishes.
And usually I ask for one piece of advice for poets, but we’ve done a few interviews together now. So instead, and this is probably still one piece of advice for poets, I’m going to ask you about your amazing organization and follow-up abilities, because you do a better job than most. Could you share how you stay organized and on task for writing, submitting, following up, etc.?
I’m probably going to out myself as a total nerd with this answer, but here goes: Excel Spreadsheets. I keep track of everything (applications I’ve submitted, review copies sent, deadlines for applications) in a couple of gigantic spreadsheets.
If I could offer one piece of advice to poets, I’d say keep records of where you send your work, whether it’s review copies, applications, or poems. If you don’t remember where you sent something, then there’s no way you’ll ever be able to follow up with the decision maker.
And believe me, persistence pays off, especially in small press publishing.