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Results 1 - 25 of 210,689
1. New Agent

Alexander Slater of Trident Media Group is looking for children's, middle-grade, and young adult authors.


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2. peoplewithcats: Dolly Parton, 1960.


Dolly Parton, 1960.

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3. How to write about violence

If you’re going to write mysteries, thrillers, horror novels, or many other types of books, you’ll need to decide how to approach writing about violence and physical harm.

There are at least three ways to approach it:
1. Slow it down. Each step makes it clear just how bad it is.
2. Make the readers fill in the blank. Their solutions are usually far more affecting than yours, because they will think of the things that frighten them the most.
3. Underplay it. Use short, simple declarative sentences. Think Hemingway.
black eyes
A couple of years ago, I was running in my neighborhood when I fell, cracking the bridge of my nose, and scraping my face, hands and knees. I knew it was bad when I saw the expression of two guys I waved down to ask for help. Here are three ways to describe what happened.

Slow it down
“Running up 45th, April’s toe caught a crack in the sidewalk. The next thing she knew, she was in the air. Time slowed down, the way it did when you reached for a glass and knocked it over instead. She got her hands up in front of her as the sidewalk tilted at a crazy angle. Her palms skidded along the dirty concrete, but her momentum wasn't slowed.

Oh no, she thought, not her face! – then there was the solid surprise of her nose meeting the unmoving sidewalk.

And still April fell. Her front teeth hit the concrete, wavered, decided to stay put.

Finally she was still, face down, unmoving on the cool Sunday morning.

Make the reader fill in the blank
One minute April was running, mentally writing her next blog entry. The next thing she knew she was flat on the sidewalk. Something was terribly wrong. Her face felt wet.
The woman standing by the side of the road was frantically waving her arms. At least Josh thought it was a woman. Her face. Jesus Christ, what had happened to her face?

Underplay the prose
She ran up the hill. It was a Sunday morning. Her thoughts were elsewhere.

The sidewalk had lifted at an expansion joint. Her toe caught the crack. She fell very hard. She lay on the cement. Maybe she was okay. It was just a fall. She started to move but something grated inside. Her mouth tasted like rust.

Next to her was a bush with white flowers. She stared at it. Her vision was growing dark at the edges. The bush would look good in her garden.

She closed her eyes and was still.
More examples of fill-in-the-blank
I think the fill-in-the-blank idea can be the most powerful of the three. Here are two examples, one short and one long:

Five miles up the road, he opened the window and threw out the first of Karen Reid's teeth.
—The Intruders, Michael Marshall (the book does not say anything else about what he did to Karen Reid - but doesn't your mind supply a few details?)

She swam against the grain of the ocean, using a short and sharp stroke and a smooth kick.

She did not see the murky shape drifting toward her. It was more than half-submerged, and it had eyes. When she barged into it, the silent mass reared up.

Her scream was muted, most of it locked in her throat.

On the beach, her sons threw sand at each other and the man with the device unearthed a nickel. The lifeguard rearranged his legs in a way that the girls below could see the filled harness under his neon swim trunks. A stray cloud blotted some of the sun.
One of the boys pointed with his shovel. "Look at Mommy."
—Widow’s Walk, Andrew Coburn

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4. Harts Pass No. 210

A HUGE thank you to all that stepped in and responded to the recent forest fire in our valley. A week now since things really took off and major damage was done east of Winthrop and south to Pateros, but a cooler, wetter and less windy last 24 hours has helped immensely.

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5. My tweets

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6. What's your favorite means of travel? (link)

Here are some fun SF and fantasy travel options from Stubby the Rocket's blog (Tor.com): There and Back Again

My favorites are the TARDIS and a Stargate--also Moya, a wardrobe, ... (From the Comments)

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7. I Shall Not Hate

I Shall Not HateIt’s admittedly sh%tty that it takes a horrific and ongoing event in a region to make me finally pick up a book about it. But the ever-escalating Israel–Palestine conflict finally made me move Izzeldin Abuelaish’s I Shall Not Hate from the black hole that is the to-be-read-at-some-stage list to the I-need-to-read-this-right-now one.

Like Desert Flower, which I blogged about a few weeks ago and which was also plucked from a similar almost-never-read fate, I Shall Not Hate both gripped me from its opening paragraphs and had me rueing that I had taken so long to get round to reading it.

Izzeldin (I think this is his first name, but I’m breaking with convention to follow the book’s style and refer to him that way—methinks it was a deliberate decision to humanise him and I have to confess I like it) is a Palestinian doctor who works to help patients of all backgrounds and creeds. He for a long time worked in an Israeli hospital, making time-consuming, humiliating daily and weekly trips to travel from his home in Gaza to his workplace.

He is the first Palestinian to have accomplished such things, with even his residency requiring special permission for him to cross the border to do his research. It also meant someone had to cover for him if he was prevented from crossing the border for some arbitrary security reason.

A pragmatic optimist who believes medicine can bridge the seemingly insurmountable divide between Israelis and Palestinians, his thesis is that healthcare is one of the few things that transcend ideological differences and fighting.

By treating Jewish patients as a Palestinian Arab, he’s simply showing care and concern for human beings. This, despite experiencing a horror at the hands of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) that would make it understandable that he could hate Jewish people: Three of his daughters and his niece were killed by an IDF bomb aimed directly at their family home.

The IDF apparently has pinpoint-accurate technology that presumably enables them to, well, not make bombing target mistakes. So it remains unclear how—and no one’s accepted responsibility for—the house of a Palestinian doctor widely known to be working to help both Jewish and Palestinian people, came to be blown up. What’s clear is that Izzeldin lost three daughters and a niece without warning and for no valid reason, and just months after the family had lost their mother, Izzeldin’s wife, to leukaemia.

His words on the matter are gracious and humbling: ‘If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I could accept it.’ I can’t help but wonder how he must be feeling during this latest round of fighting.

My understanding of the region’s contentious history is hazy at best, and I worry I’ve used wrong titles and terminology in this blog post (apologies if I have, and please feel free to let me know), but I feel that Izzeldin affords me insight into a deeply troubling experience.

Izzeldin has a way of expressing the issues that is both matter of fact and beautiful: ‘Gaza is a human time bomb in the process of imploding,’ he writes. And later:

The primitive and cheap Qassam is actually the most expensive rocket in the world when you consider the consequences—the life-altering repercussions it has created on both sides of the divide and on the Palestinians in particular.

Of the region’s sabra plant he says:

It’s a cactuslike succulent that has been used for thousands of years as a hedge to mark the borders of Palestinian farmlands. The prickly exterior hides a sweet fruit; the rubbery leaves are beautiful in their way, each one unique, with protrusions like stubby toes. For sixty years the land has been bulldozed, reassigned, and developed as if to scrub out any vestige of the Palestinians who lived, worked, and thrived here. But the enduring sabra plant remains like an invincible sentry, silently sending the message ‘We are here, and there, and down by the river and over near those woods and across that field. This land is where we were.’

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founder, once said of how Palestinians would cope with the loss of their land that ‘the old will die and the new generations will forget’. That’s a ruthlessly naïve and stupid thing to say, and it clearly hasn’t happened. Izzeldin advocates not forgetting or glossing over the past, but instead trying to forge a future that has both sides working together. His overriding belief is that, extremist leaders on both sides aside, people at the grassroots on both sides simply want to live in peace. He writes:

We know that military ways are futile, for both sides. We say that words are stronger than bullets, but the bullets continue to find their targets. My philosophy is simple, it’s the advice parents give to children: stop quarrelling with your brother and make friends—you’ll both be better off.

It’s difficult not to be incensed by the circumstances and occurrences Izzeldin describes in the book, including how then leader Ariel Sharon was concerned roads weren’t wide enough for his tanks, so he bulldozed people’s homes to obtain that room. Or the numerous examples he outlines of power-abusing tedium to stall and deny him and other Palestinians travel, both into Israel and overseas.

There’s also the time he accidentally left his briefcase behind at a border crossing and the guards, despite knowing him and seeing him cross the border weekly for work, blew the briefcase up. They saw him as a potential terrorist. He justifiably felt they should have seen him as a man who simply forgot his suitcase.

New York columnist Mona Elthaway wrote of him: ‘He seems to be the only person left in this small slice of the Middle East with its supersized servings of “us” and “them” who refuses to hate’. I consider that an incredibly, insightfully apt description.

There are no winners in the current conflict. Reading or watching anything and everything about the region—or the world more broadly, right now—makes my chest tight with despair. Yet Izzeldin’s book—and the man and his approach to life—offer me small hopes and enormous admiration and gratitude. I’m not imploring you to pick the book up at this moment in time, because that would be timely-ly sh%tty. But at the same time, I am.

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8. My Worldcon Schedule

The Worldcon program was published today, and just from a quick glance I can already tell that I am going to be a) worn off my feet running from panel to panel, and b) overcome by agonizing choices between conflicting but equally awesome events.  I'm truly looking forward to this convention. My own excellent slate of panels is below.  In addition to these, I will be on hand at the Strange

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9. Sparky!

Children's books about kids who want pets but aren't allowed them are a dime a dozen. So it's a challenge to come up with a new spin on such a hackneyed  topic. Offill (11 Experiments That Failed) not only is up to the task, she's created an exceptional picture book in the process.

 The wistful girl who longs for a pet of her own isn't deterred when her mother says her only option is a creature that "doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed." Ever resourceful, the girl does her research and orders a pet that meets her parent's criteria: a sloth. The newly christened Sparky is anything but. It takes Sparky so long to fetch a ball that its owner is able to go inside and have dinner while waiting.

It's clear that the girl wants more from her pet, more than Sparky can provide, yet it's also clear that a sloth is better than no pet at all. After a disastrous talent show in which Sparky fails to distinguish himself before an audience of three--the girl's mother, the school crossing guard (who approves of Sparky's because he never runs in the street), and Mary Potts (a stuck-up fellow classmate with pet issues)--the young narrator makes peace with her pet's limitations. The book concludes with Sparky and the girl on a branch, content to be in each other's company as they appreciate the sunset.

In his first outing as a picture book illustrator, Appelhans, an animation artist, uses an understated palette to showcase Offill's droll humor. Like Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back), he manages with a few strokes of his brush to get a lot of mileage of of a creature who shows minimal emotion. In fact, Offill and Appelhans do such a great job of making sloths appealing, their readers might pester their parents for one of their own.

by Jenny Offill
illustrations by Chris Appelhans
Schwartz & Wade, 40 pages
Published: March 2014

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10. Cycling in Alsace


Since we were already in Germany visiting friends in June, we decided we might as well stay a little longer and do some exploring. Yep, I know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do it, and I’m very grateful.

The theme to this side-trip was something like “Easy Biking and Eating in a Pretty Place within Driving Distance from Hannover.” I had this dream of one of those tours where they move your luggage from spot to spot, but none of those were really very kid-friendly. The Alsace region of France fit the bill for a DIY version. My French is completely rustig, so it was very nice to be able to speak German. (Sorry France, I do love French—I just need a refresher course!). Alsace is that part of France that was once part of Germany, then France, then Germany, now France.


Since it had to be easy biking, I went for the flattest part of Alsace, which happens to be right next to the Rhine river, just at the border to Germany. I found a family apartment near Rhinau, and we could borrow adult bikes for free. Kid bikes we rented from the nearby tourist office. I have to say France does a great job with its tourist offices—-very handily placed and staffed.


Oh, btw, in case you didn’t know, that is NOT the Rhine in the above picture. That would be a canal.

Not having a bike rack made for some logistical challenges, but still, we managed to get in a couple of days of nice long (for us) rides in between the eating and the castle-viewing. We stayed in the same spot each night and just turned around when we’d had enough.

We may also have been dragged to  taken a day to visit Europa Park, an amusement park everyone kept talking up to our kids, despite our gestures to keep mum (thanks a lot, folks!).

Picnicking on bike rides was a highlight, though we could rarely manage to get very far without eating everything up. The kids did great, though.

Another highlight: riding the ferry (free to all) back and forth over the Rhine.

Rhine Ferry Crossing

I’d love to do a longer (mile-wise) trip sometime and cover more ground. I like being able to ride from town to town—-something so cool about that. Speaking of which, there are plans in the works for a cross-town urban bike trail (including joining up some existing trails) in the Charlotte area, and I couldn’t be more excited.

In case you missed the bit about the first part of this trip, click here.

Currently reading: Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? She has such a fabulous voice.

What about you? What have you been up to? We were just visiting with family (in the U.S.) and are now home again.

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11. What Messages Do You Receive From Your Dreams? by Donna McDine

What Messages Do You Receive From Your Dreams?
By Donna M. McDine

While working on your latest manuscript do you feel like you are living and breathing your characters? To the point, where you can’t get them out of your head, even in your dreams. What do you think your dreams are trying to tell you about your characters? Do you think they are trying to relay specific messages to you to include in your manuscript?

I know the non-writer’s out there who are reading this may think the above statements are outlandish and should land me in the local psych ward or at the very least to a therapist’s office. Please know I’m not delusional, I’m practical in this case. As an author, the creation of our characters is personal and they do indeed become part of us. Making it often times difficult for us to shake our characters actions and moods even in the twilight state of sleep.

One particular instance when my dreams began knocking me upside the head about one of my characters was the slave Jenkins I created for my first children’s book, The GoldenPathway. Jenkins originally was created for the Institute of Children’s Literature book course, but for one reason or another I shelved this manuscript. Quite some time passed and for what I thought was bizarre at first I began dreaming about the Underground Railroad and having dogs chase after me in the dark woods. When I shared this recurring dream with my sister, she was the one that connected the dots and brought up my long shelved manuscript. After her encouragement I “dusted” off this manuscript and resurrected Jenkins and David, hence the birth of The GoldenPathway.

I also had a similar experience with the creation of A Sandy Grave. After reading the news article of a washed up dead whale on a California beach I began dreaming about the ocean repeatedly. This time, I didn’t need anyone to put two and two together. I took my dreams as a positive force to get down to the nitty-gritty of the non-fiction research aspect and then creating engaging characters and storyline to be intertwined into one story.

I encourage you to keep pen, paper, and small flashlight (so you don’t wake your significant other) by your bedside for these often inspiring moments. This way you can write down your dreams immediately upon waking or for the times you are jolted awake by your characters screaming at you. Don’t ignore these instances, instead grab these creative outcries and use them to your advantage.

I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences with your dreams, whether they are writing related or not.


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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12. Chanel

Why do people pay big bucks
For something by Chanel?
I realize that they’re selling to
A wealthy clientele…

But I really just don’t get it.
Every pocketbook or such
With that famous logo goes for
What most folks would say too much.

And by that, I’m talking thousands
Just to own, what seems to me,
Quite an ugly choice of purses
With a fancy pedigree.

Still, so many women want them
And I really wish I knew
What’s the root of their attraction,
For I haven’t got a clue.

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13. CAT SAYS MEOW by Michael Arndt - Interview and Giveaway

I’m teaching Design in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia this summer. Since I began this venture, I’ve been paying more attention to really well-designed picture books, like CAT SAYS MEOW by award-winning graphic designer, Michael Arndt. He took a break from his busy schedule to answer some questions…

Q. Michael - Can you explain your love affair with design?
Hi Elizabeth, or should I say "Meow"? Thank you for having me here. How much time do you have?
      I have always liked to draw. I am the youngest of 5 children. My grandfather was a sign painter and would hand letter all his work with sable brushes and paint. My dad was a landscape architect and 4 out of we 5 kids studied design. Whether nature or nurture, we all liked to draw. I wanted to be an illustrator but through a series of circumstances ended up majoring in Graphic Design instead at the University of Cincinnati. Unfortunately they didn't have an illustration program so the first couple years there I spent trying to transfer to a school that did offer illustration. My design professors at UC campaigned for me to stay, saying that Graphic Design was a perfect foundation from which to go on to do several things in the visual arts field, even illustration. It turns out they were right! By the time I graduated I was hooked. Friends call me the consummate designer because I eat, drink and breathe it. It really is a love affair. Architecture, package design, interior design, furniture design, you name it. I love it; I surround myself with it; I search the world for it; and love to create it. I've been known to search for months for the perfect food and water bowls for my dog and cat (of course they ate and drank in the meantime!) I happen to be one of those people who believes that good design enhances our quality of life and our environment has a profound impact on our life experience. For a designer that is even more so. Beauty in, beauty out. And let's face it, who doesn't like to be surrounded by things that they find beautiful AND that function well?

Q. I like to think I’m a type geek, but I have a feeling your passion is above and beyond. What are your thoughts on type?
Graphic designers are communicators. I am fascinated by all things visual and all things relating to communication and so type falls perfectly in the overlapping middle area of this Venn diagram. I also love and respect words and language (my own native English and foreign languages). Type, in our culture at least, represents individual letters and sounds (the components of both written and spoken language) and therefore a method of writing and reading. Type makes thoughts and speech visual and tangible. It is also an entity unto itself with its own history. For example, it reflects the medium which created it (serifs come from the process of chiseling stone as well as painting with brushes). The form type assumes I believe can even reflect the sound that it makes. The sinewy curves of the letter "S" somehow mimic the "S" sound itself. The rounded curves of a lower case "m" almost seem to be an illustration of the two lips that in fact create the "M" sound when they force air out of the mouth. Type also has it own visual character derived from size, proportion, weight, color, texture, and shape. There is an inherent beauty in all its varied permutations. Type even reflects trends and time periods. Most interesting and fun to me is the fact that each letter, and in turn each typeface, has personality! I don't think it is a coincidence that the individual letters are called 'characters' as I see the characters in the Roman alphabet as being almost anthropomorphic. Their proportions approximate human ones and therefore there is a pleasing familiarity to them. Not only does type represent the denotative meaning of a word, i.e.: the letters C-A-T arranged in that order represent a feline animal in English, but the typefaces are definitely connotative as well; that is, their visual form suggests different attributes and personalities. The possibilities to then use this to communicate a message are endless. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Type to me is really just shapes or pictures and therefore the visual iteration of them tells its own story. I always like to say, the style of a typographic message should by itself communicate its content, even if you cannot the read the language in which it is written.

Q. You combine the sounds each animal makes to come up with the shape of the animal. You’re dealing with design and human senses on so many levels in this book. How challenging a project was this?
The designs weren't as challenging as you might think as that is what I do on a daily basis: use type and image and juxtapose them or even combine them conceptually and physically to create a synthesis of image and meaning. What WAS and continues to be challenging is coming up with which animals to feature and deciding what their sounds are! Not every animal makes a sound and if it does, it is not necessarily easy to transliterate that sound into human speech and then into letters that can be readily agreed upon. In fact, some of the animals in the book "go" instead of "say," meaning their sounds comes from their body like the rabbit thumping (its foot) or the squirrel chomping (on an acorn) whereas the others "say" things with their voices. Interesting anecdote, some animals had to be changed in the editing review process to conform the spelling of their sounds to traditionally agreed-upon spellings in English of what their sounds are. For example, I originally had the horse NAAYing phonetically. I then agreed to change it to say NEIGH based on historical precedents in children's literature. In the case of animalopoeia, this meant not just changing the copy but redrawing the corresponding animal itself from scratch. Luckily my editor, the designers at Chronicle, and I all were happier with the new horse. The "I" supplied a nice white blaze and the "H" became a tasty piece of hay. We also modified the hummingbird and rabbit due to changes in spelling. This resulted in the hummingbird gaining a flower and the rabbit losing a set of whiskers!

Q. Did some of the animals come more easily than others?
Definitely. The dog was the very first animal I came up with as anybody who knows me personally knows how much I love (read: am obsessed) with dogs, especially my own dog Clooney, who for the record—since this is an interview—is the cutest and best dog in the world. The cat was next and he/she (I haven't assigned it a gender) was very easy, perhaps the easiest. Cats say meow and "M" is a perfect set of ears, "E" and "O" are nice, round, eye-like characters, and what better letter for feline jowls than a "W"? The cow was likewise fairly easy and quick to come to life. The most challenging from a design standpoint were probably the chick, the rabbit, and the turkey. And in case anyone was wondering, the frog is my personal favorite illustration, just because I like the range of fonts used.

Q. This isn’t your typical picture book - what was your journey to publication with CAT SAYS MEOW?
Thank you, Elizabeth. A lot of reviewers have in fact called it unique-and I think they mean it as a compliment! I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I am neither a writer nor a traditional illustrator. As a Graphic Designer I naturally come to this with a different perspective and approach I suppose. animalopoeia (lower case intentional) started as just a cat and dog from which I had planned to create a small line of letterpress cards that I had planned to market by myself. After drawing the cat, the cow came to me fairly quickly and once I had expanded beyond pets to then farm animals, it was fun to see how many I could do. I quickly had 6, then 12, after a while 18, and by the end of about three months, a nice round number of 24. At that point I realized that both the number of animals and the format (Cat says meow, Dog says woof...) easily lent themselves to a familiar children's book format. I figured I had nothing to lose by putting together a prototype using an online book printing and binding service, and mailing it off to Chronicle Books along with a brand presentation, something I also do routinely in my 'day job.' I only sent it to one publisher, Chronicle Books (and told them such in my cover letter), as not only have they been my favorite publisher for years but I thought they would be the right ones to publish it if anybody were to. Luckily they agreed! I fully realize how truly lucky and unusual my story is (first book idea, first proposal sent, only one publisher submission) and live every day in gratitude and a bit of residual disbelief!

Q. Graphic design covers so much in our world - why did you concentrate on a picture book?
Yes! Graphic Design is EVERYWHERE in our world and the kids of today are more visually savvy than ever due to exposure to well-designed, smart visual interfaces from companies such as Apple Computers, apps, websites, etc. Why did I concentrate on a picture book? In a way it naturally evolved from the greeting card idea, but truth be told, deep down inside I suppose I always wanted to be an illustrator and in the end do a children's book as it is such an ideal project! The soul's desires have a way of rising to the surface! With picture books I get to be (actually am probably required to be!) fun, imaginative, simple, creative, different. Best of all children's book creators get to create a piece of someone's childhood and even learning experience. Librarians and teachers (our unsung heroes in my opinion) have been without doubt the biggest supporters of "Cat Says Meow and other animalopoeia" for its educational aspects. At first that surprised me (after all, I have no formal experience in childhood education) but on further thought, I realized that educators and designers have actually the same mission at the end of the day. To communicate information in a way that is simple, clear, interesting, and ultimately... memorable. When viewed that way, it starts to make sense that a graphic designer could, would and maybe even should do a children's book. Actually, there is long tradition of graphic designers who have done children's books from Saul Bass to Paul Rand to Bruno Mari so I am in illustrious company and honored and humbled to be so.

Q. Have you caught the bug? Will we see more fun works like this from you?
The bug has caught me and swallowed me whole! It is a dream from which I hope to never awake! Yes, with any luck you will see more. I already have more in the animalopoeia series in various stages of design and proposal and several more books, most of them—but not all—for children. Ideally any book I might do would be enjoyed by people of all ages as many reviewers are saying "Cat Says Meow" is. The common threads I aim to incorporate in future books are my love of design, animals, language, philosophy and desire to create something different, meaningful, and educational. The work that excites me most and that I admire from others is potent in concept and content but clean, clear, and minimal in its execution.
      Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth. This was fun! That's all for meow...

CLICK HERE to follow Michael on Facebook.

Chronicle (with Michael) has kindly agreed to give away one free, signed copy of CAT SAYS MEOW to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below.

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14. Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun - 7/25/14

Feeling Beachie

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs. 

The statements:

  1. I find ____very _________.
  2. My favorite _______ is_____.
  3. Why do I always _______?
  4. My favorite time of the day is ____ because ____.
My Answers:

1.  I find taking too much on at once is very overwhelming.
2.  My favorite way to spend the day is reading and blogging.
3.  Why do I always do things myself and not ask for help?
4.  My favorite time of the day is when I first wake up because I take my daily walk.

How would you answer any of these questions? 

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15. How The Month of July Got It's Name

Interesting Facts!

July, unlike June, is named for a mortal, albeit one who devised and ruled an empire. Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, and historian who conquered Gaul (what is now part of Italy, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands), changed the structure of the Roman government into a dictatorship, was assassinated in legendary fashion, and most importantly for our purposes, helped make the calendar what it is today.
Caesar is responsible for the year as we know it having 365 days, and for the existence of a leap year every four years. How did this Julian Calendar change things? The early Roman calendar had an intercalary month called Intercalans that was 27 or 28 days long, added once every two years after February 23rd. For years including Intercalans, the remaining five days of February were omitted. Our contemporary calendar is still pretty much the same system Caesar instituted more than 2000 years ago.
July was named in honor of Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar died, Quintilis, which was his birth month, was renamed with July. Quintilis means “fifth month” in Latin, which represents where this month originally fell in the Roman calendar.

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16. Free Fall Friday – Possible Opening & Kudos

Another wonderful illustration by Amal Karzai. Thought it showed the feeling of this post. Website: http://www.amalillustration.com Blog: http://amalimages.blogspot.co.uk/

There might be a spot opening up at the Avalon Full Manuscript Critique Writer’s Retreat. If you are one of the people who have been kicking yourself for not getting in for this opportunity to get a critique with Agent Ammi-Joan Pacquette from Erin Murphy Agency or Agent Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties, send me an email and I will get back with you.

WOO HOO! It seems like a number of you jumped on the post where I told you about Schoolwide.com had a call out for submissions, because I’ve heard from a number of writers this week who have heard back from them. Most have received very nice letters showing interest in their manuscript and asking for revisions, which is great and could be a start of something big, but Sheila Fuller had her book ALL NIGHT SINGING accepted. Congratulations Sheila!

Christopher Behrens’ finished his book, found an illustrator whose work has been on The Today Show, used Jim Whiting and Writer’s Digest for editing, then self-published his book Savanna’s Treasure this past spring.

Kirkus gave him a good review in June and now The Community Life Newspaper wrote an article the book.  If you would like to read the article, here is the link: http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/books/longtime-dpw-employee-pens-first-children-s-book-1.1052358

Savanna’s Treasure is available everywhere online and in all formats, including the ebook.

Two of the comments from Kirkus:

“…story enriched by an inspiring animal alliance….a good fit for early readers.” —Kirkus Reviews


Good job Chris!


Check back next Friday for the First Page Results.


Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: authors and illustrators, Conferences and Workshops, Illustrator Sites, Kudos, opportunity Tagged: Amal Karzai, Christopher Behrens, Free Fall Friday, Schoolwide.com, Sheila Fuller

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17. Advancing the plot without dialogue

Hi again, and thanks again for your help. It's simply fantastic that you are willing to lend a hand. I find that I'm leaning really, really heavily on

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18. Environmental Book Club

The Plant Hunters by Anita Silvey turned out to be as marvelous as I thought when I started it last week.

The Plant Hunters deals with the naturalists who went all over the world hunting for new plants. While Silvey brings her book up to the present day, for the most part, she's dealing with seekers from the past, particularly the nineteenth century, a period when the search for new knowledge sent lots of people out into the unknown.

What Silvey does here that's so terrific is that she doesn't just write bio per chapter after bio per chapter. I thought that might be the case, after reading Chapter One, which is about Alexander von Humboldt. Instead, she organizes her chapters around topics. Say, Chapter 2 Why Did They Do It? While explaining why these people faced danger and made tremendous efforts to bring huge numbers of plants over long distances, she uses real people to illustrate her points. Every chapter is like that. They each are on a subject and the people involved get pulled in that way.

And the nineteenth century illustrations and the black and white photographs are so perfect.

The Author's Note has a great bit on how Silvey got the idea for this book while reading The Orchard Thief by Susan Orlean.

There's also a chapter on thieving westerners robbing other cultures of the crops they depended on. Well, no, that's not how Silvey put it. That's me. Those nineteenth century scholar/adventurers had a dark side, in my humble opinion.

This is a terrific book for older grade school students. It could even function as a quick introduction to this subject for much older readers. It might encourage a few plant hunters

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19. Magic Realism

Magic realism is a genre of art which endows otherworldly significance to ordinary things. The suggestion of death, the hint of history invading the present, or the sense of inanimate objects coming to life is woven into mundane reality.

Robert Vickrey 1926-2011

The movement goes back at least to the 1920s and originated in literature, with a special vitality in Spanish speaking countries. In painting, the movement was defined by the “Magic Realism” show of 1943 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The curators describe artists using "sharp focus and precise representation" to "make plausible and convincing their improbable, dreamlike and fantastic visions."
George Tooker, "Government Bureau," 1956
One of the ground rules to magic realism is that the dreamlike effect has to happen without any overtly fantastical elements, such as dragons, space ships, unicorns, or trolls—or even fantastical effects, such as glowing rays, levitation, or morphing.

"Spring" by Andrew Wyeth, 1978
Andrew Wyeth often combined familiar things from his world in strange ways, such as showing the aging Karl Kuerner lying in one of the last bits of snow on the field opposite his house to suggest the death and rebirth of spring.

Gary Ruddell, born 1951
Among contemporary artists, not everyone fits the description of "sharp focus and precise representation." Sometimes motion blurs and simple backgrounds convey the magic, as with the science-fiction-cover-artist turned gallery painter Gary Ruddell,  whose paintings often deal with points of decision, rites of passage, and the inability to communicate.

Among contemporary photographers, Gregory Crewdson stages off-kilter scenarios of ordinary people in everyday surroundings, but often in states of undress or with weird lighting that he carefully sets up in Hollywood-style shoots. It looks almost plausible, but strangely otherworldly.

In film, magic realism (or the more recent term "magical realism") might include Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie, Jan Jakub Kolski's Venice,  and Alfonso Arau's Like Water for Chocolate.

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20. The Beatles - Good Night For Children

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21. GCC Presents: Judith Tewes!

My Girlfriends Cyber Circuit bud Judith Tewes has a new book launching today from Bloomsbury Spark. Here are the deets!

My Soon-To-Be Sex Life

Charlie is down to her absolute. Total. Last. Resort.

Despite a thoroughly comprehensive list of potential cherry poppers, er…suitors, and careful plotting, Charlie is three weeks into her devirginzation campaign, still untouched, and getting desperate. In the movie of her life, this aspiring screenwriter is giving herself a PG, for please, get some.

Her project goes into freeze frame when her mom checks herself into rehab and packs Charlie off to live with her estranged, or just plain strange, grandfather, Monty. How is she supposed to get a date when she has to go pick up his Depends?

Enter Eric, a hot rehab grad on the road to redemption, and the only one who can make Charlie rethink her strategy. The more she gets to know him, the more convinced she becomes that is the one, and not just another to add to the list of people who will abandon her.

In this hilarious and heartbreaking story of one girl’s detoured road to womanhood, Charlie’s list develops a life of its own – right when she realizes there’s so much more to lose.

About the Author:

Judith Tewes resides in small town northern Alberta, where she: writes, sings, plays bass guitar in an all-woman band, walks her three crazy labs, and suspects she's living the life of a superhero's alias.

The Book Trailer:

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22. what to do with a “too” idea

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Sometimes I get a niggling, squirmy idea that’s “too” something–too much for a picture book, too little for a novel, but it’s perfect for a children’s magazine article. Magazines–remember those? With so much focus on writing book-length manuscripts, it’s easy to gloss over magazines as a great option for your “too” topics (e.g., giant centipedes, yaks in Tibet, Burmese pythons, sculpting, pillow-making, door-decorating–yes, I’ve sold articles about all of those and more).

For the uninitiated, let me take a swing at answering some common questions . . .

What are the benefits of writing for children’s magazines?
Gaining publishing credits. Wouldn’t you love a title or two (or six) to tack onto your next query letter?
Learning to work with an editor. Without exception, all of the magazine editors I’ve encountered are warm, hardworking professionals who care about craft and not simply compiling enough “stuff” to stuff the next issue. There’s real value in building that relationship.
Seeing your name in print. Now, that’s sexy.
And here’s one you might not expect–you can incorporate tidbits from your research for a non-fiction article to bring authenticity and depth to a novel or picture book. When a character in my first novel needed to do a report for school, I had him do it on the giant centipede. I already had lots of info and it suited his character beautifully (even though centipedes are so creepy!) In my second novel, my main character meets an artist who teaches him how to sculpt–much of what I know about sculpting came from a non-fiction article I wrote for Highlights, which involved interviewing a sculptor.

How do you know what magazines want and how to submit to them?
The research process is very similar to determining which publishing house you’d like to approach with your book. Magazines include submission guidelines on their web sites and by perusing the magazine itself (either online, on the newsstand, in the library or by asking for a sample), you’ll get a good idea of the types of content the magazine would welcome. As with book publishers, be sure to follow submission guidelines exactly.

Is it easier to break into the magazine market compared to books?
Well, yes, relatively speaking. Just think about it number-wise. A small imprint may publish two or three books a year. Larger houses can do far more, but they also get an exponentially higher volume of submissions. This results in stiffer competition for every available spot. Now, consider a monthly children’s magazine. Imagine the metric ton of content the editor needs–articles, stories, puzzles, crafts, recipes, jokes and games–for a single issue. I’ve been a magazine editor in the past, for two different publications, and I remember how much pressure it was to create each issue, given the amount of excellent content needed. The greater the need, the better your chances of being able to sell your work.

What if I have professional quality photos to go with my article, can I send those?
Photos can be a selling point with a non-fiction article. Let the editor know photos are available upon request. For that Highlights article I mentioned earlier, I had photos of the artist and his work, which not only enhanced the article, but my payment as well.

Can I actually make money writing for magazines?
You’d have to be extraordinarily motivated to make a steady income via magazine submission sales. The real prize, from my perspective anyway, is in the publishing credit and the experience. Payments vary widely depending on the magazine’s circulation, the type of article and its word count, and any “extras” you’re able to provide, such as photographs. Once your submission has been accepted, you’ll receive a contract which will spell out your rights and the rate you can expect. One hint–if you have a choice, opt for a magazine that pays upon acceptance versus payment upon publication.

Isn’t writing for magazines going to take away from my “real” writing?
Never, ever, ever make the mistake of thinking, it’s “just” a magazine article. It is real writing. Always send your most sparkling work. If needed, do thorough research and document your sources carefully. Your professionalism is a reflection of your ability, true, but your best writing also honors your reader who deserves your finest. Also, keep in mind, it’s not uncommon for magazine articles to be re-printed at some point. So, avoid viewing articles as “throw away” pieces that are only around a month or two. And thanks to the Internet, they can live indefinitely.

If you have other magazine-writing related questions, send me a message via my Contact Page. I’ll be glad to help if I can.

So, that’s what I do with my “too” ideas. I enjoy doing it, and I bet you will too.

In a magazine, one can get – from cover to cover – 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it. ~ Maya Angelou

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23. Life with Jesse Daniels - Upcoming YA Fiction Release

I am very excited to announce that my debut novel, Life with Jesse Daniels is in the hands of my editor and will be released in the coming weeks!!!!!!!! (Is that enough exclamation points?)

When people say something sucked the life right out of them, they're usually exaggerating. Believe me, this is no exaggeration! I spent the last eight years (on and off) working on this book. I first wrote it in 2006. I say "I first wrote it" because it certainly wasn't the last.

I rewrote it.

And rewrote it.

And rewrote it.

And this year, I completely rewrote it. It has come far from what it originally was. Light years.

Okay, just years....

I'm a perfectionist. It had to be perfect. So I edited it about a million times. No exaggeration. And it's finally with my editor! That means (for once) no more changes! Yes, I said for once, because for someone who is not a fan of change, I change the hell out of things! lol

More to follow!

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24. Story in My Head

Question: I have a great idea about a story that includes the villain as the main character, but obviously something happens in their past that makes that

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25. Interview with Sarah Beth Durst, author of THE LOST

We've interviewed versatile author Sarah Beth Durst before--the last time was when we talked to her about her fantasy novel Conjured. We are thrilled to have her back for another interview, because her latest book, The Lost, is a bit of a departure... Read the rest of this post

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