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<<October 2016>>
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Results 1 - 25 of 237,227
1. Coloring Page Tuesday - Halloween Story Time

     Halloween is Monday - are you ready? If you don't want to hand out candy, and you aren't a business, feel free to hand out my coloring pages instead! CLICK HERE for more Halloween-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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2. महिला और समाज – भारतीय समाज में नारी का स्थान

महिला और समाज – भारतीय समाज में नारी का स्थान – हाल ही में हम महिलाओं से जुडे दो बेहद खास त्योहार गए. करवा चौथ और अहोई अष्टमी का. पर नेट पर तो मानों मजाक बनाने वालो की बाढ सी आ गई. बहुत ही ज्यादा मजाक बनाया गया. कुछ अच्छा भी लगा तो कुछ बुरा भी… महिला […]

The post महिला और समाज – भारतीय समाज में नारी का स्थान appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. Monday Review: GEMINI by Sonya Mukherjee

This is one of the most gorgeous and effectivecovers I've seen. I love it.Synopsis: Clara and Hailey are twin sisters, and like a lot of sisters, they are closer than close one moment, but in the next, they get on each other's last nerve. Hailey is... Read the rest of this post

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4. Query Letters

There are some things you should NOT include in your query letter.


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5. Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition, Part 2

This year's fall pilot season is shaping up to be rather muted.  Which, to be fair, is an improvement on the dreck of previous years, but also not much to talk about.  It probably tells you all need to know about the fall pilots of 2016 that there are two different time travel shows--Timeless and Frequency--and neither of them are worth saying anything about.  Nevertheless, here are a few series,

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6. Top Children’s Literary Agents


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7. पान मसाला खाने के नुकसान हैं या फायदे

पान मसाला खाने के नुकसान हैं या फायदे ये हमे ही सोचना है सिग्रेट पीते हुए हम वाकई ग्रेट लगते हैं या ये  सी ग़्रेड चीज है  … ये हमारी सोच पर है और यकीनन अगर हम अपने बच्चो से अपने परिवार से प्यार करते हैं तो हमें समझादारी से काम लेना होगा   है ना […]

The post पान मसाला खाने के नुकसान हैं या फायदे appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. Bird Bath

While wandering some wooded paths
We witnessed warblers taking baths.
Some rocky croppings, they’d detected,
Had some dips where rain collected.

Several types of birds appeared
And waited ‘til the “bathtubs” cleared.
Taking turns, they each immersed
While those in waiting chirp-conversed.

The bathing birds, a’frenzied, flapped
As water droplets rose and slapped.
I couldn’t tell if all that preening
Was for show or simply cleaning.

Concrete jungle thoughts aside,
In New York City, we’re supplied
With lots of Nature’s hidden treasures;
Spotting them provides sweet pleasures.

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I am thankful for this review for, "Heroes Beneath the Waves," with Deborah Kalb who now has her first children's book released. "Heroes Beneath the  Waves: Submarine Stories of the Twentieth Century", is written for the men who served, for families of submarine veterans to understand what it was like for  their love ones, and for students to understand war is not a game. My husband has two stories in the book. He never got to see the book as he passed away two day before the book was released.

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10. THE INQUISITOR'S TALE by Adam Gidwitz

The Inquisitor's Tale (Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog) by Adam Gidwitz, illuminated by Hatem Aly (Sept 27, 2016, Dutton Children's Books, 384 pages, for ages 10 and up).

Synopsis (from the publisher):  1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Why I recommend it: A medieval story that's still quite timely. It speaks volumes about the way we treat each other today. It's also one of the most unusual MG novels I've ever read. You'll find yourself so caught up in the story and so curious about where this is leading that you'll want to put off tasks and cancel appointments just so you can keep reading. (Not that I, coughcough, did those things...)

Favorite lines: There are so many! It's a very quotable book. Randomly picking one:  "William always admired the Italian boys' way of looking up from under their eyebrows that was either totally respectful or utterly disrespectful, and you could never tell which." (from p. 35 of the advanced reading copy)

Bonus: It's illuminating as well as entertaining. You'll learn a lot about thirteenth-century France. Adam Gidwitz spent six years researching this novel and it paid off beautifully.

Author's website

For another take on this book (and a fun interview with the author) visit Middle Grade Mafioso's post from October 3, 2016.

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11. Author-Illustrator Interview: Ambelin Kwaymullina on Justice, Hope & Her Creative Family

Sample chapter from Candlewick Press
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

The second of a four-installment dialogue with Ambelin and Cynthia.  

Our focus is on the creative life and process, speculative fiction, diversity, privilege, indigenous literature, and books for young readers.

Yesterday, Ambelin spoke on ethics, the writing process and own voices.

We have children’s-YA literature and the law in common. That’s actually a pretty common combination here in the states. Why do you think there are so many people involved in both?

Well, I’ve had some of my law students suggest the law is so horribly dry that it drives people to being creative in order to escape its clutches (these are generally the students who are studying law because their parents thought it was a good idea).

But for me at least, I think the reason I studied law and the reason I write are the same. In both realms, I am seeking justice – and justice, in Aboriginal societies, generally equates to balance, not just between human beings but between all forms of life (and everything lives).

I write speculative fiction because I want to write about the possibility of defeating injustice; to write about the terrible things that were (and are) while imagining what could be.

The oppressive law I wrote about in the Tribe series divides people into three categories: those without an ability (Citizens); those with an ability (Illegals); and those whose ability is considered benign (Exempts).

This is not an invented law. It is based on the Western Australian Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944, a piece of legislation that purported to offer Aboriginal people ‘citizenship’ by exempting us from racially-based restrictions that only applied to my ancestors in the first place because they were Aboriginal.

In the Tribe series, this law is ultimately defeated by an alliance of the marginalised and the privileged, and by a heroine whose power is to identify and sustain the connections between all life.

And in writing of connections, I am writing of something that is central to the law in Aboriginal legal systems where (at its broadest) law is the processes of living in the world that sustain the world.

You clearly articulate the impact of white privilege on writing and writers, noting the negative impact on the work of Native voices and POC voices. What would you say to those Native and POC writers who may find themselves angry, frustrated, hurt or discouraged by these dynamics?

First: it’s not you. Exclusion is not something you are inventing in your head and you are neither unlucky nor unworthy.

It helps in this context to form connections with other Indigenous writers as well as with writers of colour, LGBTI writers, and writers with a disability.

You are likely to hear stories of authors getting similar comments across different contexts (e.g: you’re not writing to the Indigenous experience … this story is too Asian … gay books don’t sell … we’ve already published a ‘disability book’ this year).

It matters to have a network of people with whom to share both the good and bad experiences; and perhaps most importantly, to understand that you are not alone.

Second, never forget how to laugh. Some of the comments I’ve listed above have been part of the experience of other writers that they’ve laughed about with me – not because these comments are not discriminatory and hurtful, but because laughter has always been one of the ways in which marginalised peoples have dealt with pain.

Third, define success in your own terms. We all know what ‘success’ is supposed to be in literary industry terms: book sales and/or critical acclaim (preferably both). I’m not saying we shouldn’t aspire to that. But I also think that if marginalised writers define our success solely in the terms set by an industry that consistently privileges white, straight, cis-gendered people who don’t have a disability, we are also buying into an underlying lie.

The lie is that if we can just prove we are good enough we will be treated equally. But once equality has to be earned, it is no longer equality.

So I think it’s important that each of us define success according to what matters to us – and for me, it’s being a person that my ancestors would be proud of.

Book sales wouldn’t overly interest them. But honouring who they were, and who I am; treating cultural knowledge with respect; helping other Indigenous writers whenever and wherever I can – these are the kinds of things they’d be concerned about.

Fourth: be hopeful. I am. I locate my hope in people, and there are many, many people working towards a world in which all voices have an equal opportunity to speak and all stories are equally heard.

I think change will come, and in the meantime, I’m proud to be a part of a global community of voices, marginalised and privilege alike, that are speaking out for justice.

While you don’t feel it’s appropriate for non-Indigenous writers to reflect your community in first person or deep third, you are open to them writing secondary characters. Why does your opinion differ depending on how centered the character’s perspective is in the story?

Ambelin's desk
I don’t think it’s appropriate for non-Indigenous people to speak as if they are Indigenous, especially given the operation of privilege which means that non-Indigenous voices will be heard in a way that Indigenous voices are not.

For me, writing from an ‘outsider’ perspective (so not in first or deep third) is to respect boundaries; to accept there are limits on what we can know of others and how we should represent others in our own work.

When I write of experiences of marginalisation not my own, I do it from an outsider perspective – reflecting that this is much as I can understand and that understanding may of course be wrong; I am not suggesting that I know what it is to see the world from an ‘insider’ view of a group to which I don’t belong. I think the spaces must be created for everyone to speak to their own worlds, and I want to be part of making those spaces a reality.

What advice do you have for non-Indigenous writers in crafting those secondary characters?

I think something you’ve said is the best place to start – you’ve spoken of the need for writers to read 100 books by Indigenous people before writing about us.

I agree. No one should be writing an Indigenous character without being familiar with Indigenous stories (not the ones told about us but the ones told by us).

It’s also important to ensure that any stories people are reading are ethically published because there is a vast body of Indigenous stories that were taken by anthropologists and others and are now in the public domain without the informed consent (or sometimes even the knowledge) of the Indigenous peoples concerned.

The easiest way to check that a story is appropriately published is to see who holds the copyright; where Indigenous peoples hold copyright in their own stories it is at least some indication that they control the text.

In addition to reading stories, I’d say, become familiar with representation issues. Engage with the online dialogue happening around representation and children’s literature as it relates to Indigenous peoples. There are no shortage of voices speaking in this space.

And finally: words spoken about marginalised peoples have a weight and a cost. But if you are not a member of that group, then it’s a weight that you don’t carry and a cost that you don’t pay.

So don’t measure the impact of your words by how they will be read by people like you. Measure them by how they’ll be read by the people you’re writing about.

How did you learn your craft as a writer and illustrator?

By doing! I have no formal training in writing or illustration. But nor do a lot of Australian Indigenous writers and illustrators, and we have been storytellers for thousands of years.

So to learn craft I look to the work of Indigenous writers and artists, both within Australia and elsewhere, as well as to the ancient teachings of my people.

What inspired you to direct your talents toward creating stories for young readers?

In my YA series, I was writing about a superhero, so it had to be about a teenager. I don’t believe grown ups have it in us to save the world, because we are spectacularly failing to do so.

But in the young I see all the hope for the future – they are more interconnected, quick to embrace new ideas, and passionate about fighting anything they perceive as an injustice.

They’re also more honest, especially the children for whom I write picture books. When they like a book, they write me lovely letters telling me how they sleep with the book under their pillow and begging me to write more. When they don’t like it they’re equally forthright.

People ask sometimes whether its difficult as an author to deal with bad reviews, to which I say: try writing for six-year-olds. Every once in a while, children send me letters about one or the other of my picture books that begin something like this: “My teacher made me read your book. I didn’t like it.”

I’ve had a few of these letters that went on for ten pages or more, and since that length is like War and Peace from a six-year-old, it means I’ve had kids hate my work enough to send me the child equivalent of Tolstoy.

Adverse reviews from grown-ups are nothing in comparison.

What was your initial inspiration for The Tribe series?

Sample chapter from Candlewick Press
My brother Blaze. He came up to me one day and said, “I’ve got an awesome title for a book. It’s called The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf.”

I said, “That’s a pretty good title – what’s the story?’

To which Blaze replied, “Oh, there’s no story. Just the name, and I can’t be bothered writing it so I’m giving to you.”

Having bestowed the title of the novel upon me, he wandered off, leaving me to start thinking about the story. (And for anyone who’s read any of the Tribe series, the character of Jaz is very like my brother Blaze).

What were the challenges—literary, research, psychological and logistical—of bringing the stories to life?

I think the primary challenge is this: in so many ways, I wasn’t writing fiction. A post-apocalyptic world is not a fantasy for Indigenous peoples; the colonial apocalypse has already happened and much of The Tribe series is drawn from Australian colonial history.

Much of it too is drawn from the experiences of my ancestors and that is why hope runs so strongly through the narrative. They held on to hope through hard, cruel times when all their choices were taken away from them.

Indigenous peoples are so often spoken of as victims and I certainly don’t wish to minimise the suffering and the multi-generational trauma inflicted upon us by the colonial project. But the very fact that the Indigenous peoples of the world survived determined efforts to destroy us demonstrates our great strength.

I think the ability to hold onto hope is part of that strength and its something I try to honour.

You’ve created several picture books with Sally Morgan. Could you tell us about your work together?

Ambelin with her creative family
So, Sally is my mum. I’ve also done books with my two brothers, Blaze and Zeke, and the four of us have written together as a family. We’re all authors and artists, and we always give each other an honest opinion – sometimes this results in one of us storming off (usually me or Zeke, we’re both excellent stormers).

Generally, once we’ve had a chance to think about the criticism we come creeping sheepishly back and agree that yes, actually, that particular portion of the narrative (which we were previously so proud of) does indeed need more work.

I think from the outside our working process probably looks chaotic; we all talk at the same time and over each other; generally, the person with the best story gets to hold the floor until they get boring and someone else interrupts. If you want a place in the conversation in my family, you have to be prepared to earn it.

What can your readers look forward to next?

I’m working on three YA novels right now, but the one I’ll finish first is a book I’m writing with my brother Zeke.

It’s a mystery with fantasy elements that’s told from the perspective of three Indigenous female protagonists. It’s been a difficult book to write in places because terrible things happen in it, but its ultimately a story about the power of young Indigenous women and how they find their way home.

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12. FIVE QUESTIONS with HAZEL MITCHELL, author/illustrator of “TOBY”


Welcome to the second installment of my “5 Questions” series. On a weekly or bi-weekly or completely random basis, I will interview an author or illustrator and focus on a specific book. In the coming weeks, we’ll spend time with Matthew Cordell, Jessica Olien, Matthew McElligott, Lizzy Rockwell and more. Why? I like these people and I love their books. Sue me. Today we get to hang out with Hazel Mitchell, who is as glorious as a glass of champagne at a good wedding. Drink deeply, my friends . . .



JP: Greetings, Hazel. Thanks for stopping by my swanky blog. I hope you don’t find the vibe too intimidating. I put up the tapestry just for you. The lava lamps have been here for a while. Because nothing says “classy” quite like a lava lamp. Sit anywhere you like, but the milk crates are most comfortable.


Hazel: Thanks, JP. This is certainly an eclectic place you’ve got here. Wow, is that a glitter ball? Next you will be wearing a white suit. Excuse me while I remove this stuffed meerkat from the milk crate . . . 

1c971b5bc7c4a067d09cad45ee38361cCareful with that meerkat, it’s expensive. Hey, do I detect an accent? Wait, let me guess! You are from . . . Kentucky?

No getting anything past you! Kentucky, Yorkshire, England. OK, just Yorkshire, England. I’m a late pilgrim.

We recently sat side-by-side at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival, where I got the chance to read your wonderful new picture book, Toby, and eavesdrop on your lively interactions with young readers. At times, alarmingly, you spoke in the voice of a hand puppet. So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Toby is a real dog, but not a true story, exactly? How does that work?

toby-realistic-sketchesYes, we did sit next to each other and it was a lot of fun to see you in action! I didn’t know you were eavesdropping, I’d have dropped in some of those Shakespearean ‘asides’ just for you. And I must watch that hand puppet voice, I even do it without the hand puppet . . .

OK, to the question: Yes, Toby is a real dog. I rescued him from a puppy mill situation back in 2013. He was so endearing and his journey from frozen dog to bossy boots captured my heart. I began drawing him, because that’s what illustrators do, and before I knew it I was weaving a story round him. But I didn’t want to feature myself as the owner in Toby’s story, that was kind of boring and I figured Toby needed a younger owner, one who children could relate to. So I gave Toby a boy who adopts him and a Dad who is struggling with moving house, looking after his son AND now a new dog. The fictionalized setting gave me lots of ideas and emotions to play with, but the stuff Toby gets up to in the book is taken from things he did in real life.


I can see it’s a work that comes from your heart. And by “see” I mean: I could feel it. A heartwarming story for young children living in a cynical age. The book is beautifully designed. I especially admire the pacing of it, the way you vary the number and size of the many illustrations. Please tell me a little about that decision-making process.


Thank you. I love that you say ‘feel.’ I wanted this book to be about emotions and feelings and bring the reader into the internal dialogue of the boy and dog’s fears and frustrations. Just small things you know, but life is full of small things that make up the big things. And again, thank you for your kind words on the design, working with Candlewick, my editor (Liz Bicknell) and art director (Ann Stott), was a joy. We did a lot of drafts at rough sketch stage and as the layout of the book evolved a lot of graphic novel style panels crept in and then the wide double-spreads to open out the story. I like how it flows. The choice of colors really adds to the story I think, moody blues and beiges that reflect the emotions and then brighter colours when things are going well. The boy and dog are connected by the colour red –- Toby’s collar and the boy’s sneakers. 

Oh, thank you, Hazel, for sharing those behind-the-scenes details. I appreciate seeing the black-and-white sketches, too. I think even when readers don’t consciously notice those subtle details, they still manage to seep into our unconsciousness. It’s fascinating how much thought goes into the work that most readers probably don’t think they see.





I like that your book doesn’t gloss over the challenges of owning a dog. It’s not always cuddles and sunshine. Why did you feel it was important to include the downside of dog ownership?

Because that is the reality of life and children are very capable of dealing with realities and working through problems. Sometimes it’s adults who want everything to be cuddles and sunshine, and try to save youngsters from the real world. Well we can’t do that, because it comes at us fast. I never get tired of seeing or hearing about a child responding to a book and saying, “Yeah, that happened to me,” or “I know that feeling.” It’s like you’ve been given a gift. 


I see that you live in Maine. You must get this question a lot, but why isn’t Toby a moose? Do you see many moose up there? Can we please just talk about moose for a little while? And what goes on in Maine? Do you eat lobster all the time? While reading Stephen King? Or do I have some misconceptions? How did you end up there?

Toby channels his inner moose at times, which is scary in a poodle. There aren’t so many moose around our way, but drive a little North and there is moose-a-plenty (that could be a good name for a snack?). 

Sounds delicious.

I once drove home from a school visit in the FAR NORTH at twilight (that was my first mistake), it was misty and I was driving down a road where I swear there was a moose every 5 yards. I drove 30 miles at 5 MPH. I got home after six months. These moose were SO darn big and SO close to the car I could literally see up their nostrils. Man, moose need help with superfluous hair.


Wow, you really did see up their nostrils. You are scaring me a little bit, Hazel. Eyes on the road. Speaking of scary . . .

Stephen King lives in the next town over, but you know, he’s a recluse. I eat lobster with lobster on top. Delish. When I moved to the US of A from over the pond I landed in the South. Then moved to Maine. I like the cold much better! (And the lobster).

Do you have ideas for any more Toby stories? I think readers will want more.

I do have more ideas about stories for Toby. But we will have to wait and see. Readers! Write to my publisher! 

I’m so glad you visited, Hazel. It’s nice spending time with you. I hope Toby enjoys a long and mischievous life in children’s books.

It’s been fun. Best five questions anyone asked me all morning. Thanks for having me drop by … oops … there goes a lava lamp!

Six bucks down the drain. We’re done here.


imanismooncvr_300-819x1024In addition to Toby, Hazel Mitchell has illustrated several books for children including Imani’s Moon, One Word Pearl, Animally and Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? Originally from England, where she attended art college and served in the Royal Navy, she now lives in Maine with her poodles Toby and Lucy and a cat called Sleep. You may learn more about Hazel at www.hazelmitchell.com

TOBY Copyright © 2016 by Hazel Mitchell. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts

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13. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 268 - 10.25.16

I'm a little behind on the everyday #inktober2016 creations, but thanks to staying on task through last week I'm actually right on target for my five post cards per week to President Obama :) Onward and upward, a school visit day in Wenatchee, WA coming up!

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14. Trusting God Through a Miscarriage (Part 1 of 2)

by Sally Matheny

Trusting God Through a Miscarriage
(photo by Pixabay)
Not even the startling, cold lubricant squeezed onto my belly could stifle my excited chatter.

I was on the verge of being the first one to hear a great secret—the gender of our third baby!

Earlier that day, I had taken our seven-and nine-year old daughters to a sitter. They wanted to go with me for my 12-week check up. I told them the following month’s appointment would be an ultrasound. I assured them they could go with me, and their daddy, to see the baby growing inside my tummy then.

Now, here I was, by myself about to hear the big reveal earlier than expected. Finding it difficult to locate the tiny baby with his stethoscope, the doctor asked how I felt about an ultrasound to see if I was as far along as we thought.

I happily agreed but told him he’d have to do another one next month because I’d promised my girls. Plus, my husband was out of town on business so there was no way he could get there in time to see today’s ultrasound.

So, I felt like I was special since I was about to receive some exciting news before everyone else. What a nice gift to receive after enduring three months of nausea!

“If I’m not as far along as we expected will you still be able to tell if it’s a boy or girl?” I asked.

“Maybe. We’ll see,” the tech said as she slid the probe around.

A few seconds later, she added, “There’s the baby.”

“Awww, it looks like it’s waving,” I said, noticing five, distinct, widespread fingers held in front of a profiled head and nose.

My heart pounded, waiting for her to tell me the big news. Boy? Or girl?
A few more swipes. She announces, “Okay. The doctor will be in to see you in just a minute,” as she leaves the room.

Odd. Maybe the tech isn’t allowed to say anything and has to wait for the doctor.

A few minutes later, the doctor comes in and repeats the same movements over my belly. It’s awfully quiet in the room until the doctor grunts a low and short, “hmm.”

I feel my enthusiasm fade in the dimly lit room. Something isn’t right.
Read more »

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15. Cybils Speculative Reader: WHERE FUTURES END by PARKER PEEVYHOUSE

Welcome to the 2016 Cybils Speculative Reader! As a first run reader for the Cybils, I'll be briefly introducing you to the books on the list, giving you a mostly unbiased look at some of the plot.Enjoy! Synopsis: A year from today, Dylan will... Read the rest of this post

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16. Storyboarding Your Picture Book

There are several methods to choose from in creating a storyboard for your picture book.


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17. Second Printing!

A Family Is a Family Is a Family is going into second printing and I am so joy-filled I could be a drawing by Qin Leng!

While I'm here, could I ask a favour? We've been very lucky with reviews (stars from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly) but it would be nice to have a few more reader reviews up here if anyone has the time or inclination. Thanks!

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18. Bee jokes!

bee flying backwards going zzub zzub

Bee children in a school buzz (bus)

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19. Guest Post: Author-Illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina on Ethics, Process & Own Voices

By Ambelin Kwaymullina
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

The first of a four-installment dialogue with Ambelin and Cynthia. 

Our focus is on the creative life and process, speculative fiction, diversity, privilege, indigenous literature, and books for young readers.

I am an Aboriginal author, illustrator and law academic who comes from the Palyku people of Australia.

And I am an Own Voices advocate, by which I mean, I promote the stories told by marginalised peoples about our own experiences rather than stories told by outsiders.

I’ve written before that I don’t believe the absence of diversity from kids lit to be a ‘diversity problem.' I believe it to be a privilege problem that is caused by structures, behaviours and attitudes that consistently privilege one set of voices over another.

Moreover, the same embedded patterns that (for example) consistently privilege White voices over those of Indigenous peoples and Peoples of Colour will also work to privilege outsider voices over insider ones, at least to some degree.

The insider voices, of those fully aware of the great complexities and contradictions of insider existence, will always be more difficult to read and less likely to conform to outsider expectations as to the lives and stories of ‘Others’.

Insider stories can therefore be read as less ‘true’ or trap an insider author in a familiar double-bind – if we write of some of the bleaker aspect of our existence we’re told we’re writing ‘issues’ books; if we don’t we’re accused of inauthenticity.

I would like to think that as an Indigenous woman, I have some insight into marginalisation not my own. I have always thought that any experience of injustice should always increase our empathy and push us towards a greater understanding of injustice in other contexts.

But that does not mean my experiences equate to that of other peoples.

In an Australian context, I have said that I do not believe non-Indigenous authors should be writing Indigenous characters from first person perspective or deep third, because I don’t think a privilege problem can be solved by writers of privilege speaking in the voices of the marginalised.

And I apply the same limitation to myself in relation to experiences and identities not my own.

Ibi Zoboi recently wrote powerfully to the perils of the desire to ‘help’, noting that White-Man’s-Burdenism is not limited to White people. I run writing workshops for peoples who come from many different backgrounds of marginalisation, and as a storyteller, it is tempting to enact that instinct to ‘help’ into a narrative, to highlight the struggles of workshop participants in one of my own stories.

But between the thought and the action must come the process by which I determine if I am really helping at all.

So I ask myself, is the story mine to tell? The answer is no, of course; their stories are their own and their pain is not my source material.

The only way in which I would write from someone else’s perspective is in equitable partnership with someone from that group (where copyright, royalties and credit are shared).

This would not necessarily mean we each wrote half a novel. The other person may not write a word; their contribution could be in opening a window onto insider existence and correcting the mistakes an outsider inevitably makes.

I’ve had people tell me that this is the job of a sensitivity reader. But I am cautious about the boundaries of that relationship because I think there are cases where the input of an insider advisor infuses the narrative to such a degree that they are really a co-author and should be treated as such.

I don’t think the question is who wrote what words, but whether the story could have been told at all but for the contribution of the insider.

Someone once told me that I was restricting myself as a storyteller. I don’t believe I am.

I am acknowledging boundaries, but boundaries do not necessarily limit or restrict. Boundaries can define a safe operating space, for myself and for others, and respect for individual and collective boundaries is part and parcel of acknowledging the inherent dignity of all human beings.

I have begun co-writing a speculative fiction YA novel that is told from the perspectives of two girls: one Chinese, and one Indigenous. I am writing the Indigenous girl, and Chinese-Australian author Rebecca Lim is writing the Chinese girl.

The original idea for the story was Rebecca’s, but already it is changing as we each negotiate our own identities and experiences.

This is not a story that is restricted by boundaries; it is one that would not exist without them. In the writing of it, Rebecca and I are creating something that is greater than the sum of both of us – and in such stories, I see the future.

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20. Baseball and Ben-Gay

1945 World Series

A young boy sat on the windowsill of his grandmother's Sheffield Ave. Brownstone, and watched his beloved Cubbies.

Binoculars in hand, and radio nearby, his view was unobstructed, straight down the first base line. Grandma would bring him a sandwich and ask for updates on the game.

The summer heat settling in the top floor apartment, coupled with an over-powering smell stinging his nostrils from his grandmother's "overuse" of Ben-Gay, made it imperative to lean as far out the window, as possible.

"Now, Kenny. Don't you fall," she'd warn.

A World Series appearance and win was always first and foremost on his mind.

The last Cubs pennant win was 1945; 7 months after he was born, so another pennant or series win was just around the corner.


It would be a lifetime before the Cubs would make it to another series. 71 years.

In case you're wondering, Ken isn't still sitting in the window of his grandmother's Brownstone, but he's just as excited now, as he was then, to see his team play.

It's been 7 decades for this long-suffering fan, but joy, along with relief, came flooding back.

Go Cubbies!

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21. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Interview with Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug + Spooky Halloween giveaway

Dear friends,

There's a deliciously spooky Halloween treat waiting for you, but first the winner of last week's giveaway for The Stone and the Bowl by Bish Denham is: Rosemary Basham!! Congratulations, Rosemary! Last week's winner didn't claim her prize, so I pulled a new winner for Pamela Jane's Halloween or Christmas book using random.org. Congratulations to: Heather Sebastian! Thank you for including your e-mail address. I'll be in touch shortly.

NOW. . .Please join me in welcoming the mutli-talented, Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug. Learn about Ken, read his insightful interview about his writing journey and influences, and click on his links for a real spooky preview of his picture book and for lessons in illustration! Thank you, Ken, for your generosity in donating an autographed copy of your book, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. Ken hinted that he might have some extra treats for the winner! So please be sure to leave a comment for Ken for a chance to win!

Kenneth Kit Lamug is an author/illustrator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He self-published his first children’s book which won a bunch of awards and fulfilled one of his lifelong dream. His most recent books include the macabre children’s fairytale, The Stumps of Flattop Hill (One Peace Books) and the parenting parody book, HURTS LIKE A MOTHER (Doubleday). He has contributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Tiny Books of Tiny Stories” and many other publications. Ken has also worked in movies, comics and his photography has been showcased internationally. When he’s not making monsters in the basement, he enjoys other hobbies like working.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2016


How did you come up with the storyline?

The Stumps of Flattop Hill was a small idea that started with a rhyme. I didn’t really have a firm idea, so I stowed it away. Then one day, while on a family vacation, we drove past a town called Flat Top (California) and for some reason that name sparked the idea for the story. I was rhyming and thinking of the possibilities all the way to San Francisco.

When I returned, I started writing down the idea and was even inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. The haunted house idea came from my childhood experience, where kids daring each other to enter a creepy house was not an unusual event.

I got to work and it all came together a few months later.

Did you like fairytales as a kid?

I grew up in the Philippines which was a melting-pot for many cultures (from Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, Western and others). Hearing stories about urban legends, & folktales was just part of growing up.

Grimm fairy tale stories that I read as a child were already westernized versions which were kid-friendly. I enjoyed reading them and watching them on television. The fantastical worlds and mysterious creatures fascinated me.

What really scared me though were the stories that kids would share around the neighborhood. We had monsters that stole babies from pregnant women, dark elves that would cast illness, or ghost that haunted our school hallways.

Those were real to me and has influenced my stories in many ways.

What was your artistic influence for The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

When I first saw some of Gorey’s books I was mesmerized by his technical precision. The detailed line work required a lot of discipline and patience, which was something I lacked at the time. But as I studied more of his books, I also fell in love with his dark humor. I felt that his stories were never straightforward, that something was hidden for the reader to interpret. His work ethic is also a great inspiration, producing over a hundred books is quite an accomplishment. A few of my favorites include, The Epipleptic Bicycle, The Willowdale Handcar and his most popular book The Gashlycrumb Tinies. These books are perfect examples containing the right amount of humor, macabre and mystery.

Another influence that I should mention is Tim Burton. His short film, Vincent, created quite an impression, along with his loose and dynamic drawing style. I was hoping to achieve that balance between Gorey and Burton in The Stumps of Flattop Hill.

How long does it take you to draw an image? How long to finish the book?

I found that planning a scene will often times take longer than the drawing process itself. Since I also have a regular job and a family, I can only dedicate so many hours in a day to drawing or writing. A typical drawing can sometimes be completed in a single evening or sometimes it can take more than a week. But planning it and thinking about the right image can take a long time and many trial and errors. The entire book took about six months to complete and a few revisions that occurred over a year's time. It’s always healthy to step back from a project and look at it at a later date with a fresh perspective.

What about the parents who do not want their kids to read spooky stories?

I can understand how some parents wouldn’t want their kids to read a spooky story. Maybe they don’t think their kids can handle it, but I also think we don’t give the kids enough credit in this regard. Of course, as parents we have to gauge what our kids can and cannot handle. But we should also take this opportunity to explain things and teach them.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is not just a spooky story; there’s humor and there’s also a character who shows strength. But the ending of the book is open to interpretation.Even though an entire town feared the haunted house, Florence maintained a peaceful and happy expression in the end. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad after all.

What has been your experience with the publication of The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

My process has always been about finishing a book and then pitching it to a publisher. When I finished The Stumps, it made its rounds to the publishers through my agent (it took a little over a year).  But once it was picked up by One Peace Books, it has been quite smooth and most of the art and text were kept as is. They were easy to work with and very supportive.
Here are a few videos of Ken creating illustrations. The first link is the trailer for The Stumps of Flattop Hill. I came across it on Twitter and immediately invited Ken to be a guest on my blog. Thanks, Ken, for sharing your talent here. If you're drawn to spooky books and fairytales, you're going to love this eerie tale! Click on the link below:

Spooky Halloween Fairytale Picture Book Children's 


Click on the link below for a lesson in illustrating Edward Gorey style:


Click on the link below for a Pen and Ink drawing lesson:


One more time lapse lesson in drawing:

Illustrations from inside The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
REVIEWS of The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
 This is a book my kids would have dragged out of the box time after time, the one held together by sellotape and a shared love of things that go bump in the night. If there’s a small person in your life who likes delightfully creepy tales, give both of you a treat and buy them this. - Vulpes Libris

This book isn’t the type of children’s book such as The little Engine That Could or Green Eggs and Ham, all bright colors and a simple moral. It’s creepier and darker — both literally and figuratively — and ends more ambiguously than most children’s books. For the right kind of child — or an adult who remains young at heart — it may be just the right sort of book.
Las Vegas Review Journal (F. Andrew Taylor)

"Ken Lamug’s THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL brings a long-overdue disturbance to the picture book arena. The cover alone promised me things that I was desperate for the story to keep.”
The Midnight Society

What are you working on now?
I’m always in the middle of a book project or doing research. I’ve just finished a 150 page wordless graphic novel. “Pedro and the Flea King” is about a boy who goes on an adventure as he tries to save the town from the king and his minions. It’s making its rounds looking for a publisher at this time. I’m also about to wrap-up an all-ages comic (titled Random Quest) which will debut in the fall for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival. With my down-time, I’m focusing on my children’s picture book projects, taking workshops and participating in critiques. Just trying to get better at the craft.
Learn more about Ken Lamug and his books:

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter:

Thanks, dear readers, for stopping by to leave a comment for this talented young man! As always, simply leave a comment for a chance to win! The WINNER will be announced on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th. ~Clara

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22. Writer Wednesday: Writing For Adults

Today's topic comes from Mirka, who said, "...tell us some more about your adult suspense book, and how writing for grown-ups is different than MG or YA, beyond the MC's age."

Great topic, Mirka! Thanks!

Okay, well my adult books are very different from my YA or MG novels. It almost seems like there are different rules for writing for adult. Let me start with what I've noticed from reading adult books. First, things are described in much more detail. Second, backstory is common and often told upfront. Third, there are more dialogue tags. 

I could go on, but these three blew my mind. For years, I listened to everyone say, "No info dumping!" and "Try not to use dialogue tags!" Yet every adult book I've read does both. Now I don't mean pages of backstory. Not at all. But a brief paragraph of who the MC is and how they go where they are is totally common. I've even see the dreaded "My name is..." format. Again, this blew my mind. And no, I'm not doing that. I've been conditioned not to.

So writing for adults is tough for me. I have to remind myself to step back, observe the scene, and give more details than I would to a teenager whose attention span isn't very long. I also need to make sure my characters are all introduced in ways that the reader will remember them from one book to the next, which means reintroducing them in books two, three, four, etc. Again, this is so different for me. But my adult beta readers are telling me this is normal, and from the books I've been reading, they are correct.

The easy things for me are writing characters who are closer to my age. Mine tend to be in the mid/late twenties to early thirties. I know how people this age speak, act, think, etc. Teens can be challenging because they change so much! Adults, not so much. I also think it's fun to write about adults in different professions. I'm exploring some that I've considered but never followed through on for various reasons, and that's kind of amazing. 

In many ways, writing for adults is freeing. I feel like a rebel, breaking rules I've always been told to follow. ;) Who doesn't like to break a few rules, right? And the dialogue and actions come more naturally for me. So yeah, I'm enjoying it, and I think I'll keep writing for adults.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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23. Wildlife Photos by Mary Nida Smith


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24. Inside of Me

Poetry is what I’d see
If I could peek inside of me.
It pulses, with a beat sublime,
Converting random thoughts to rhyme.

The words secure me, just like roots
But let me float, like parachutes,
So anytime I write a poem,
No matter where I am, I’m home.

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25. बेड़ियाँ

उम्र के संग संग,
अड़ियल हो जाते है हम,
कल को पकड़कर,
कल तक ले जाते है हम,

बाँध देते है एहसास की नाव,
आँसुओं के समुंद्र तट पर,
बीत जाती है खुशियाँ,
तड़पते मन, झड़पते हट पर,

खुद को ही अंधेरे में,
झोंक देते है हम सब,
खटखटाए जो मुस्कान, 
लगते है पल, कम तब,

बढ़ती उम्र के साथ,
बढ़ती जाती है उलझने,
न ढूँढ पाते है कोई दवा,
न दिख पाती है सुलझने, 

इन्सा की फ़ितरत देखो,
हैरत कर देती है,
गम का डर सताता है, उससे,
खुशियाँ जो देती है,     

पंख के नाम पर,
अक्सर मूक हो जाते है,
चाहते हुए साथ किसी का,
तन्हाइयों से चिपक जाते है,

गुस्से और हट को हम,
समझदारी का नाम देते है,
दिल जो बोले सच्चाई,
झूठ का उसको इनाम देते है,

आज़ादी की इस चाहत में,
गुलाम ही बने रहते है,
खुद को बाँधते है बेड़ियाँ,
दूजो का इल्ज़ाम कहते है |

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