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I used to hate spoilers. I didn’t care what it was—a book, an ad, a shopping list—I didn’t want to know what happened until it happened. I wouldn’t read the back of books or movie posters or reviews. I wanted to know as little as possible before going in. I thrived on surprise.
Now this would sometimes backfire. If I’d known a bit about Taken (2008) I would never have watched it on the plane. I just saw that Liam Neeson was in it. I used to like Liam Neeson. He was dead good in Rob Roy. But Taken? Worst. Most Appallingly Immoral. Movie. Of. All. Time. If I could unwatch it I would.
Taken and a few too many hideous final seasons of TV shows like Buffy and Veronica Mars have made me more inclined to be spoiled so I know which shows to stop watching. I still wish I’d known not to watch the final season of The Wire. Such a let down after four brilliant seasons. Especially that fourth season. Wow!
I also don’t enjoy books that deal with people dying of diseases. Especially cancer. I’ve lost too many people I love to that disease and I just can’t deal. The few times I’ve accidentally read such a book I have been deeply unhappy about it. And, no, it doesn’t matter how good the book is. Me no want to read about it.
Gradually, I have become considerably less hardcore about spoiler avoidance than I used to be. Partly for the reasons mentioned above and partly because in this world of Twitter, and friends who can’t keep their bloody mouths shut, it’s getting harder and harder to avoid them.
My spoiler stance has also shifted because the last few times I was spoiled—on both occasions it was a TV show—it made my viewing experience more pleasurable, not less. Which was quite a surprise let me tell you.
Rest assured I will stick to my policy of not spoiling here. I was once 100% in the no-spoilers camp. I understand!
Besides there are plenty of books/TV shows/movies that if you know what’s going to happen next you might not bother. Because what-happens-next is the main thing they have going for them. Don’t get me wrong those books/TV shows/movies can still be fun but they don’t make me want to read/watch them more than once.
I’ve been enjoying HBO’s Game of Thrones largely because I’ve read the books. I like seeing how it translates to screen. Knowing that the red wedding was imminent made watching it more tense not less and I got the added pleasure of seeing other people’s reactions. On the couch next to me and on Twitter.
I think another shift in my opinion of spoilerfication was writing Liar: a book written specifically to have more than one way of reading it. I made a big song and dance of getting folks not to spoil it because I felt that knowing ahead of time what the big secret was would shift how a person read the book. Particularly as there’s no guarantee that the big secret in the book is true. So if you went in knowing what that big secret was you read the book with that in mind and likely with the expectation that the big secret was true. I wanted readers of Liar to be open to figuring out how they felt about the big secret as they read, not to go in with their minds already made up.
It was a pain. I was chastised several times by people who said my call for readers not to spoil was me being a hypersensitive author trying to control my readers. That once my book was published it was no business of mine whether people spoiled it or not. And they’re right. But I was requesting, not ordering. It’s not like I have the power to stop anyone from spoiling if they want to. There are no spoiler police I can call.
Don’t get me wrong if I was to publish a book like Liar in the future I’d still want people not to spoil it. To this day I am made uncomfortable when people describe Liar as a [redacted] book because for many readers Liar is not a [redacted] book. Those readers think the big secret is a big ole lie. And there’s loads of textual evidence to support them. I deliberately wrote it that way.
But the whole thing was needlessly stressful and made me want to write books where spoiling makes no difference. Like romances. Knowing ahead of time that the hero and heroine get together? Well, der, it’s a romance! It’s not about that, it’s about the how, and you can’t really spoil the how. Because the how is about the texture of the writing not about particular events.
I’ve also come across readers who were told that Liar was a [redacted] book who read it and decided that it was definitely not a [redacted] book and that being spoiled really didn’t affect how they read it.
I was unspoiled reading E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and I’m glad because I had no idea where it was going. It was a very pleasurable and [redacted] surprise. I’m looking forward to rereading to see what kind of book it is when I know what happens. Double the pleasure!
And, Emily, you have all my sympathy for trying to get people not to spoil it. They will. Which is a shame cause it’s a hell of a surprise. But the book’s so excellent I think in the long run it won’t matter. Besides I know for a fact that there are plenty of readers who are going to enjoy it more knowing the big secret before they start reading.
TL;DR: I’m chiller about spoilers than I was but I won’t spoil you.
I know I made you guys wait an EXTRA long time for this one--but once you scroll down and see the awesomeness I'm sure you'll agree that it was worth the wait.
And I know there's now point in saying anything else because you've already skipped over this to see the shiny so....
It might be a *little* hard to tell because he's upside down (and yanno, sorta falling from a burning tower...) but that boy, dear readers, is Fitz.
*stares at the amazing teal eyes*
So now we have all three boys represented on the covers. Words cannot explain how giddy this makes me.
And I *know* showing you this cover is going to raise a bunch of questions, so I'm going to try to cover them here:
When does EVERBLAZE come out???The current scheduled release date is 11/4/14. Less than six months to go--WOO!!!!!!!
Can you tell us something about the plot???Um... not yet. BUT SOON.
Is EVERBLAZE the last book in the series???Well .... this is another question I can't answer yet. But again: SOON.
Does this mean there's a lot of Fitz scenes in the book????
Yes! Though there are also lots of Dex scenes and Keefe scenes and even quite a few Biana scenes, plus all your other favorite characters. EVERBLAZE is a rather long book. I'm not entirely sure how many pages it will be once it's all typeset, but it's longer than EXILE, so... a lot! And I love it. And it's FINALLY DONE. I can't wait for you guys to read!!!!!
Okay, I think that covers everything. I hope you guys love the cover as much as I do!
And now, I'm going to scroll back up and KEEP STARING AT THE INCREDIBLENESS!!!!
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, On Dreams
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Keeping a Dream Journal
If you are serious about developing a deep connection with your inner self, this task is perhaps the best practice you can do. Keeping a dream journal involves writing down your dreams as they occur. Ideally, this would be just as you are waking up while the dream is still fresh in your mind. So keep a notebook and a pen (or digital diary–there are apps for that now if you can get technical while half awake!) next to your bed. If you are one of those people who can’t seem to remember your dreams, then try keeping a journal of whatever comes to mind that is important to you on a daily basis. For any kind of journaling, keep it simple. That will be the best assurance for encouraging you to be faithful about making regular entries into it. At a minimum each entry in a dream journal should include:
- The date
- A title for the dream (this will help you remember the dream as you remember a movie)
- A detailed description of the dream written in the present tense. Include every color, character, object, background, place, emotional feeling, and emotional nuance. Pay attention to the number of things occurring such as recording if there are 3 books or 2 people. It is important. Find and use a good dream dictionary—one that gives many meanings to each symbol and teaches dreamwork exercises. I like Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary by Sandra A. Thompson.
This practice will usually be all you have time to do on a regular basis. However, depending upon how thorough you want to be, you can do the following:
- Reserve a section either below or next to the dream where you make a note of any dreamwork done on the dream such as making associations with the dream symbols or make notes on what the dream may be about by using the other dream methods described below.
- If you have asked to have this dream prior to dreaming it, you should by all means write down the question or intention before having the dream. The point isn’t to be so thorough in analyzing every dream but to keep an ongoing consistent recording of every important dream and even the minor ones, if you have the self-discipline. You can always come back later and do additional dreamwork on any dream if you have done a good job of recording the dream in detail.
- If you have seen how this dream has helped, you may want to reserve space to add a note about this in the margin or in a space below the dreamwork section.
Also, what appears to be a minor dream to your waking mind can actually end up being of profound importance for the rest of your life, so please pay attention to the very short dreams and ones that don’t seem important. It might not be apparent at the moment, but you will see the dream’s significance in ten or twenty years down the road. You will see that your deeper consciousness is already preparing you for the major tasks that lie years ahead. Also you will want to record dream encounters with healers and guides whose presence you might want to honor later
May Contain Spoilers
I thought that Crash, the first book in the Visions trilogy, was a bit repetitive. Don’t get me wrong – I still couldn’t put it down and read it in short order. But the never ending replay of the vision haunting Jules became tedious about the 100th time through. Bang never felt like a CD set on Replay, probably because the vision is Sawyer’s, and Jules does not have firsthand knowledge of it. Instead, Sawyer’s nightmare is relayed to Jules in painstaking detail as he is forced to watch it over and over again. That distance made all the difference.
When Sawyer tells Jules that he’s suffering from a vision of an impending disaster, she wants to help him figure out what’s going on so they can stop it from happening. Sawyer is haunted as the vision becomes ever more gruesome – a pile of bodies lie crumbled in a classroom, staining the floor red with blood. All he can hear is the bang! bang! bang! of gunfire. He’s desperate to find a way to make it stop, but if it’s anything like Jules’ vision of the crash, the only way to make it go away is to figure out when the shooting is going to happen and stop it, saving the lives of a bunch of people he doesn’t even know.
Using her experience with her own vision as a guideline, Jules dives in and helps him sort out details of the upcoming tragedy. Where are the victims? What are they wearing? Can he tell what time of day the shooting will occur? They slowly unravel snippets of details about the incident, which aid them as they race to solve the mystery before the shooting happens, or before Sawyer is driven insane by what’s he’s forced to watch all the time.
To complicate matters, Jules and Sawyer have to deal with their families and their animosity towards each other. The Demarco’s and the Angotti’s certainly know how to hold a grudge. Neither of their fathers is ready to bury the hatchet on the feud that has simmered between them for years, and both Jules and Sawyer are punished when they are caught together. Jules is having a terrible time showing any kind of respect for her father. He’s a liar and a cheat, and she suspects that he’s a coward, as well. I wonder if he suffers from the visions, too, but hasn’t been able to do anything about them. Maybe that explains his odd behavior and probable mental illness?
I enjoyed the book because I liked Jules, her siblings, and Sawyer so much. They are just trying to do the right thing, and not get buried by the weirdness of their families. They all start to show some independence and resistance to the status quo, though all of their parental relationships suffered for it.
I don’t want to spoil any of the mystery, so I’ll just sum things up by stating that Bang kept me on the edge of my seat, and I hated to put it down. It’s a very fast read, with plenty of twists and turns, and enough parental conflict to keep any teenager distracted. I felt so bad for Jules! Her home is certainly not a haven for her, and neither is Sawyer’s. I can hardly wait to learn what secrets Jules’ father is hiding in Gasp, the last volume of the Visions trilogy.
Review copy provided by publisher
What Sawyer’s seeing might mean murder. The second book in a series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.
Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.
Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.
Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…
The post Review: Bang by Lisa McMann appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
About the Series
Game of Thrones meets Narnia in this epic tale of two boys whose chance meeting leads them to a disturbing discovery: Not only are they bound by blood and prophecy, but their opposing beliefs are founded on similar lies. With adventure and romance, mysticism and cultural conflicts, this coming-of-age tales asks: What would you do if you learned everything you’ve been raised to believe is false—and those in power will do anything to stop the truth?Book 1
In the world of Aredyrah, things are not what they seem. An ancient Purge has plunged the island into darkness, isolating its cultures by superstition and fear. Dayn lives in the northernmost region of Kirador and knows nothing of the great city-state of Tearia far to the south. All he knows is the Kiradyns are the only survivors of a god’s fiery wrath, and he looks nothing like them. Meanwhile Ruairi, a prince destined for greatness, resents his Tearian obligations, longing for a life he can never hope to have. But when tragedy takes his beauty as well as his name, he finds himself exiled by the very beliefs he once held dear. Both boys long for acceptance in societies that cling to religious ideals, but when fate throws them together, Dayn and Ruairi discover some unwelcome truths: not only are they bound by blood and prophecy, but the teachings they have been raised on are nothing more than lies. Will they reveal what they have learned, risking their lives and the security of those they love? Or will they keep silent, denying their destinies and the future enlightenment of their world?
Buy Book #1: The Fire and the LightBook 2
The Prophecy has come to life in Tearia, and the Temple wants nothing more than to see it dead. Whispers say the Unnamed One walks amongst them, and there is little doubt as to who that person is. Reiv is oblivious to the hopes turning in his direction, just as he is ignorant of a plot being waged against him. He has no time for rumors or innuendos; he is too busy trying to build a new life for himself. But the life he longs for will have to wait. A rebel movement is growing, and Reiv’s cousin Dayn has joined the insurgents in their cause.
Angered by Dayn’s involvement, Reiv reverts to his old self-serving behaviors. He wants nothing to do with prophecies or rebellions, and isn’t sure he wants anything to do with Dayn either. But when tragedy throws Reiv into new turmoil, he finds himself facing a dangerous choice. Someone he loves is dying, and there is only one chance to save him.
Will Reiv choose to be a Transcendor, fated to sacrifice his life for another? Or is he truly the Unnamed One, a hero destined for glory? One will save the life of an individual, the other that of an entire kingdom.
Buy Book #2: The Search for the Unnamed OneBook 3
The saga of Aredyrah continues as Dayn and Alicine return to Kirador to find things very different from when they left. Their house has been ransacked, their parents missing, and evidence of spell work has put a price on Dayn’s head. Frightened, they go to the nearest place they know of: the homestead of Haskel, a man who has never been accepting of Dayn’s differences, and even less so of his own son’s.
Back in Tearia, Reiv has settled into the quiet life of a Shell Seeker. But while the rhythm of his routine is calm, the longings of his heart are not. He turns to Cora, an eye-catching girl who has also drawn the attentions of Lyal, a man whose hatred of Reiv goes far beyond jealously. But romance is the least of Reiv’s worries. A terrible plague is spreading, and Reiv’s brother, the King, is determined to burn it from the land—even if it means killing innocents along the way.
While Reiv risks annihilation by Tearia’s increasingly brutal king, Dayn suffers challenges of his own. His disappearance from Kirador months before not only ended the existence he once knew, but started a witch hunt that threatens his safety and the survival of his clan.
Both Dayn and Reiv find themselves facing a difficult choice: Leave their homelands in order to save themselves and those they love, or stay and fight an evil they cannot hope to defeat.
Buy Book #3: The Taking of the DawnBook 4
In this final installment of the award-winning Souls of Aredyrah series, Dayn and Reiv find themselves facing an old foe and falling into the trap of a new one. Struggling to make their way home through a bitter landscape, they soon discover they are not alone. A tribe known as the Taubastets has captured them in a life-or-death scenario, and the tribe’s chief is determined that one of them must be sacrificed. When a young warrior named Tyym vows to see them home, they face decisions that will not only affect their survival, but the spiritual salvation of their world.
While Reiv, Dayn, and Tyym navigate a web of conspiracy and doubt, Dayn’s sister Alicine struggles with loss and the impending threat of invasion. The king of Tearia has not abandoned his quest to slay them, and his seemingly unstoppable army is nearly through the pass. But when Tyym enters the scene, hope is rekindled. Even Alicine cannot deny the charisma of the mysterious warrior who has wormed his way into their lives, and into her heart.
The game is in play. A traitor is in their midst. Can the souls of Aredyrah hope to defeat a monster disguised as a king? Or will they succumb to a darkness beyond their understanding?
Buy Book #4: The Shifting of the StarsTracy A. Akers
is a former language arts teacher and an award-winning author. She grew up in Arlington, Texas, but currently lives in Florida with her husband, three naughty pugs, and a feisty chihuahua. She graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a degree in Education, and has taught in both public and private schools. She currently divides her time between writing, lecturing, spending time with her family, and costuming at fantasy and science fiction conventions.
Ms. Akers has won numerous awards for her Souls of Aredyrah fantasy series for young adults. As a Florida Book Awards winner, she was acknowledged for her contribution to YA literature by the Governor of Florida during the 2008 Florida Heritage Month Awards Ceremony. Books One and Two of the Aredyrah Series are included in the Florida Department of Education’s 2008 Just Read Families Recommended Summer Reading List. In addition, Ms. Akers has been an invited guest author at major book events and writers’ conferences, a panelist at fantasy and science fiction conventions, and was on the steering committee for Celebration of the Story, a literary event held at Saint Leo University.
The Souls of Aredyrah Series is Ms. Akers’ first series of novels for young adults.Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
$10 Amazon.com or BN.com Gift Card or Paypal Cash, Ebook/paperback giveaway Ends 05/05/2014. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com or BN.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kisha from Indie Hoopla Services & Promotions, http://indiehoopla.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Stacey Kade is the author of the absolutely wonderful THE GHOST AND THE GOTH series which I absolutely LOVE! The second book in her PROJECT PAPER DOLLS series comes out April 22nd and is called THE HUNT. Don't forget to add this one to your shelves as the riveting sequel to THE RULES.
Rocking The Boat by Stacey Kade
To share with you the most recent lesson I've learned as a writer, I have to first share some advice someone else gave me and a certain amount of embarrassing naiveté on my part. :) So, bear with me.
When I first started writing, years before I was published, someone told me to choose very carefully what genre/type of book I wanted to write as I'd likely be writing that a long time, if I were fortunate enough to be published. Publishers want you to build an audience of loyal readers and develop a reputation as a specific kind of writer. Romance, mystery, spine-tingling horror, what have you. Because of that, you need to pick a single genre/area that you're passionate about and focus on that. DON'T worry about what's popular now; don't attempt to write to the market. Oh, and make sure you have plenty of story ideas in your chosen genre; you can't be bouncing from mystery to contemporary romance to science fiction, from book to book.
This sounded like good advice (and it was...to an extent), so I did as instructed. I've always loved all things paranormal/sci-fi/strange. It was an easy decision. The paranormal umbrella gave me access to all sorts of stories: time travel, ghosts, sentient cell phones. You know, the usual. ;)
My first book was contracted in 2008, and I was over the moon. It hit shelves in 2010, followed by sequels in 2011 and 2012 and the start of a whole new series in 2013. Awesome.
I did everything to be the best author I could be. I did NOT want to rock this amazing boat that I'd finally gotten into. I'd worked so hard to get to this point. I was thrilled to be doing the job I loved and writing the types of stories that had always fascinated me as a kid.
This takes us up to the last year or so. I'd finished writing a draft of the last book in my second series, and I wanted to get started on something new. I had what I thought was a fun take on familiar idea that easily fit under the paranormal umbrella, although in an area that hadn't been explored much.
I knew the market was changing. Paranormal continued to sell well in the stores, but publishers weren’t gobbling it up as they had been. They were now leaning more toward contemporary realistic fiction. But I knew there was no way paranormal would disappear completely, so I continued, stubbornly, foolishly, to follow that advice that I'd been given years ago.
Yeah. I know. It all seems very clear now, but at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing.
No one wanted my fun new take on this paranormal element...unless I could take the paranormal element out of it. (Which I couldn't without it falling apart.) They loved my writing, the characters, but not that thing that made it what it was.
I was devastated. I'd done all the right things. I'd picked my genre and stuck within it. I'd done my best to not rock the boat. And yet, here I was, suddenly taking on water.
After a few days (okay, weeks) of fretting, I took a step back and re-evaluated the situation. It was scary—terrifying, actually—but it was also an opportunity. Change is always an opportunity.
I had other story ideas, of course. I'd written them down in my journal, taking notes on everything I knew about the characters and the story, just to get them out of my head and onto paper. Several of those ideas would fit within the contemporary realistic fiction category.
So, I went back through my journals and found those ideas that I was most passionate about, the ones that repeatedly crept into my thoughts even once I'd written down the basics. I'd tried hard to banish those ideas, thinking I'd never get the chance to write them.
But now, here was my chance. So, I started developing a couple of them.
I was absolutely scared to death because it felt like re-inventing myself and what if I couldn't do it? I hadn't rewritten this kind of fiction since college. I didn't know what do without ghosts or aliens popping into the storyline. Plus, these stories were so dark, much darker than what I’d written before. They delved into emotional territory that frightened me.
But I made myself keep going. Eventually, just like always, the love for the characters and the story grew stronger than my fear. (The fear didn't go away. It never does. But that's a separate blog post.)
And I realized then: I'm a writer. Not a paranormal writer, not a contemporary writer, not a "things-blow-up-and-we-chase-the-bad-guys" writer. Just a writer. I'd gotten so hung up on that initial advice and identifying myself as a certain kind of writer that I almost missed the chance to tell these other stories that mean so much to me, stories that have been hanging around my brain for literally years. All because I'd gotten stubbornly fixed on being ONE thing. And because I was scared to try something new.
The market changes; publishing folks change; you, as a writer, will change. And change is important to keep growing as a writer.
It sounds very logical and basic, even. But I wish someone had told me that two years ago! So, that's why I'm telling you now: be open to change, be ready to rock the boat when the time is right...otherwise, someone or something else will rock it for you.
About The Author
As an award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead.
She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and two retired racing greyhounds, Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television catching up on her favorite shows (Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, Almost Human, The Walking Dead, and Sherlock, among others.)
Stacey is the author of the The Ghost and the Goth trilogy (THE GHOST AND THE GOTH, QUEEN OF THE DEAD, and BODY & SOUL) and The Project Paper Doll Series (THE RULES and THE HUNT). Website
About The Book
Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.
But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.
Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?Amazon
Colette et Louis XIV, chez elle au Palais Royale, c1950 (Sanford H. Roth)
My desk is a sea of paper, so yesterday I tried to tackle some of the mess and found these thumbnail roughs for You Can't Scare a Princess!, my picture book with Gillian Rogerson. Thumbnail roughs are called that because often they're very small, just a doodle that lets my editor and art director know how I plan to lay out the page before I draw a more complicated full-size rough in pencil.
If you know the book, you'll see that, except for pages 20-21 (the treasure digging scene), I pretty much followed these layouts in the final artwork.
Top tip: the grid here looks a bit dull, but if you've ever tried to get a picture book published, you'll know this template is solid gold. It takes most aspiring writers and illustrators ages to figure out this basic layout. If you go into a shop and count picture book pages, they'll vary slightly, which is confusing. That's because publishers have a little leeway with how they engineer the endpapers, so you might get some extra pages. But if you want to get published, this is the most cost-efficient way of cutting one big sheet of paper into a book, so an editor will be far, far more interested in your book if you work to this format.
In some ways, it can make your job easier, because you think Here's the set number of pages I have; how am I going to fill them? I often print out the grid and write the story right into it. Don't forget, you'll need a title page and a page for all that small-print information, so the words in your story may not really start going until page 6.
Often a paperback will have two more pages than the hardcover version because the endpapers aren't glued down to the covers. Here's There's a Shark in the Bath; you can see the paperback, top, has an extra page. In the hardcover version, bottom, this page would be glued down to the cover board, which holds the pages into the book.
You don't have to stick to the template exactly, with the title page on page 5. Sometimes people put the small-print information at the end of the book, and often the story starts right in the front endpapers, not after the title page. (I like to use the endpapers to set the scene for the book.) But if you stray from this format, it's good to have a well-thought-out reason why you've done it. Board books are usually shorter than this, since the pages are thicker. If you want to see the variations, get yourself down to your local bookshop or library and start counting pages.
Some useful terms:
Double-page spread: When you open a book and two pages look up at you, this is a double-page spread. You can either have a picture or pictures on each page, or you can have one big picture spanning both pages. These spreads can be very effective; think about the size of a child. When they're reading or being read to, the picture wraps around them, plunging them into the world you've made.
Gutter: This is the middle of the book, where the pages come together. Try not to put any very important things here, such as eyes, or text, because they might disappear down the gap.
Endpapers: the pages holding the book into its cover. These might be made of a single-coloured piece of paper with nothing printed on it (the cheapest method), decorated with pictures in one colour of ink (mid-price) or full colour (the most expensive).
Pagination: Anything to do with pages. Traditionally in a 32-page picture book, the front cover is page 1. Left-hand pages are always even-numbered, right-hand pages always odd-numbered.
Bleed: When you do the final artwork, you'll slightly need to extend the edges of the picture (let it 'bleed') if you're doing a picture that goes right to the edge of the page. So paint your picture a little longer and wider than the page itself, or if you're laying out the page digitally, give extra room around the edges. Talk with your designer; the bleed will be anything from 5mm - 15mm each side. This is in case the printer doesn't cut the paper exactly right, there won't be white bits showing on the edges of the pages. Or if there's a problem fitting text, your designer will have a bit of wiggle room to move things around. (I must confess that this term made me smile while I was working on the shark book.)
Right, hope that might be helpful for a few people! I wish I'd been given the 32-page template when I first started making books; it would have saved me a lot of time. You can find a few more tips over on the FAQ section of my website.
Other news: this year's Manchester Children's Book Festival is all Sea Monkeys! I was thrilled when they asked us to give the entire festival a Seawigs theme. If you're near Manchester on Sat, 28 July, do drop by, learn how to draw your own Sea Monkey and have us sign and draw in your book! (Booking details here).
Last thing: one of my university friends posted this video on her Facebook page (via Sploid) and it is so, so wonderful. It follows the adventure of two elderly ladies, An and Ria, as they take go on their very first flight. One of them has a laugh that's so contagious, I was laughing out loud while I was watching it.
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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Warm air from the south has arrived in the Hudson Valley. The last remnants of winter have nearly vanished, except for one small pile of snow at the end of my neighbor's driveway.
I'm thinking about fire devouring ice when I start this street scene. How can I convey that feeling?
I open my sketchbook to a page that is pre-painted with blue tones. The blue color is casein: titanium white mixed with cerulean blue. I allow it to dry for a couple of days so the paint surface is closed. The blue will serve nicely as a complementary base for a picture in browns and oranges.
Here's what the surface looks like when I start. I sketch in the lines with a reddish-brown water-soluble colored pencil.
Now I dive in with gouache. I could have used casein or acrylic—anything opaque. Starting with the sky, I apply warm colors with a flat brush. I cover the surface, careful to leave some blue areas showing through, especially on that windshield. I want that car to be the focal point.
I don't hesitate to cover up the lines of the underdrawing. I can find everything again with the brush.
I add more reddish-brown darks on the car and the awning at left. I try to keep any extreme darks from intersecting the sky. I want achieve the feeling that the skylight is flaring across nearby forms and devouring them, as if the sticks and branches are tossed into the furnace.Ralph Waldo Emerson writes
about "the fire, vital, consecrating, celestial, which burns until it shall dissolve all things into the waves and surges of an ocean of light."
Here's a detail about as wide the "shift" key on your computer. Those highlights on the car were blinding.
See, I'm squinting! You can scroll back up to see the final painting.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lauren! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Lauren Layne] Snarky, yet hopelessly romantic.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[Lauren Layne] Ten years of unfulfilled sexual tension are about combust into one very hot night — but will one night be enough?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Lauren Layne] Well it’s the third in the Stiletto series, and I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to tell the story of a woman with a VERY sexy reputation but none of the actual sexual experience!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Lauren Layne] Sam and Riley have known each other for years, so it was fun getting to skip a lot of that “getting to know you” stuff and get straight to what draws these two together for an entire decade.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[Lauren Layne] What made Sam tick. He’s SUPER secretive, so it took me awhile to figure out that his crappy home life totally did a number on him.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
[Lauren Layne] It changes pretty much every week, but right now I’m going with Pink’s “So What,” because it’s very power-anthemy, and reminds me that I’m in control of each day.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[Lauren Layne] A hair band thingy. There’s always one on my wrist or in my hair, and if it’s missing, I get obsessed!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Lauren Layne] Notebook, laptop and water glass (I’m a minimalist!)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Lauren Layne] President Obama (“Nobody panic. I’ve got this.”)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Lauren Layne] I absolutely loved Tessa Dare’s Romancing the Duke. I couldn’t put it down.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Lauren Layne] You know, writing is pretty much always on my mind, but when I need a break, I love to have a glass of wine and cook with my husband.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Lauren Layne] I’m very slowly trying to get better at social media (GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter), but I LOVE email. Seriously, write to me about ANYTHING! Lauren (at) laurenlayne (dot) com
JUST ONE NIGHT: Sex, Love and Stiletto Series
Written by Lauren Layne
Published by Loveswept
On sale: April 22nd, 2014
New York’s hottest “sexpert” has been living a lie—and it’s up to one man to keep her honest . . . all night long.
Riley McKenna knows sex – good sex, bad sex, kinky sex…Her articles in Stiletto magazine are consistently the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But Riley has a secret…all that sexy talk? Not an ounce of it comes from personal experience. Her own bedroom escapades are more limited than even her best friends know. When her editor requests that all columnists write something more personal for Stiletto’s anniversary issue, Riley turns to the one man she’s always been able to count on and calls in the favor of a lifetime.
Sam Compton would do anything for Riley McKenna. Anything except be her experimental sex toy. He refuses her request. At least until she tells him that it’ll either be him or she’ll go to someone else. And that, Sam can’t accept. Reluctantly he agrees to her terms—one night of completely meaningless sex in the name of research. Riley thinks she’s prepared for what awaits her in Sam’s bed. After ten years of writing about sex, actually doing it shouldn’t be that different, right? So wrong. What starts as “one time only” becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn first-hand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.
Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/10/now-booking-tasty-virtual-book-tour-for_29.html
Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.
Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website
Rafflecopter Giveaway (Lauren Layne Prize Pack with: Review Copies of Stiletto Series, Loveswept Tote and Mug or $15.00 E-Retailer Gift Card of Winner’s Choosing )
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By: Scott Westerfeld,
Blog: Scott Westerfeld
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As you know, I’ve already revealed the cover of Afterworlds, three posts ago. But I also wanted to show you the cover of the special advanced readers’ copies (ARCs) sent to bookstore owners and the like, because it’s seriously my favorite promotional object of my entire career:
Now, I know that looks like the back cover, but it’s the FRONT, because the blurbs were so funny that Sales was like, “Put them on the front!” (And yes, they are real blurbs. Thanks to John, Maureen, and Shannon!)
Alas, only 200 copies of this were printed, and they are hard to acquire. I only own three, and you can’t have them!
For those of you in the trade, there will be many more ARCs with the real cover, at places like Book Expo America. (I’m signing there!) But I love that these silly ones are in short supply.
Also, I knew this thing was long, but now that it’s here in physical form and 599 pages, I realize how THICK that is:
As you can see it’s 5cm (2 inches) thick, almost twice as fat as Justine‘s next book, Razorhurst. Which is her longest book yet.
Of course, I’m cheating because it’s really two books (Darcy’s book and the book about Darcy). But still, I win.
Plain Jayne By Laura Drewry
Publisher: Loveswept Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
In Laura Drewry’s funny, heartwarming Loveswept debut, a man and a woman learn the hard way that a little bit of love makes staying friends a whole lot harder.
Worn out from the long drive back home, Jayne Morgan can only smirk at the irony: Of course the first person she sees from her old life is Nick Scott. Once best friends, they lost touch when Jayne left town at eighteen, but nothing could keep them apart forever. Jayne has returned to take over her grandmother’s bookstore, determined to put all her bittersweet memories and secret disappointments strictly in the past—until, that is, Nick insists she bunk at his place.
Nick never did care what people thought about having a girl for a best friend—or the “scandal” she caused by showing up to his wife’s funeral four years earlier—so he’s got no problem with the gossips now. Jayne was always the one person he could count on in his life. Now Nick is starting to realize that he never wants her to leave again . . . and that being “just friends” isn’t going to be enough anymore.
Random House: http://www.randomhouse.ca/search/node/laura%20drewry
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German Shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.
Excerpt from Chapter Two of PLAIN JAYNE by Laura Drewry
“Well I’m sure as hell not staying in that apartment, Nick, so unless you’ve got a better idea . . .”
“As a matter of fact . . .” Was he crazy to even suggest it? Probably. Would she agree to it? Probably not. “I know a great place with plenty of room, kitchen’s available 24/7, open bar, flat screen, free wireless, and easy access to laundry services.”
A moment’s hesitation, a frown, then her blue eyes flew open. “No way.”
“Why not? It’s perfect.”
Nick ignored her and kept driving. What could she do—jump out?
“To make up for being such a prick the last time he saw you, the owner’s offering free room and board for as long as you like.”
He could hear the arguments building behind her open-mouthed gape. Best to cut her off before she started.
“What’s the big deal? You need a room, and I’ve got one. Big one, too, with your own bathroom and a butt load of closet space.”
“Seriously?” She lifted her hands, palms up, and exhaled a snort that pretty much covered how stupid she thought he was. “What’s the big deal? You mean besides the fact it’s just flat-out weird?”
“Says who?” As far as he was concerned, it was a done deal. Hell, even if there were hotel rooms available, this made more sense.
“Says me!” She made a sound like a wounded bear, which only made Nick laugh. “We haven’t seen each other in four years, Nick, and before that—”
He rolled his eyes. “Before that you refused to stay with me because you thought Abby hated you.”
“She did!” The growl sounded again, slower, longer. “There was no way she would’ve let me stay with you and there was no way in hell I’d even ask.”
“Well, you’re not asking, and Abby’s not here to put up a fight, is she?”
That shut her up for a second; but only a second. “What are people going to think?”
“Who cares?” He followed the highway around past the ball field and over the bridge.
“Hello!” she snorted. “Does the name Debra Scott ring a bell? Jeez, Nick—your mother has found a way to blame me for every breakup you ever had, so if it even looks like I’ve come back to shack up with her darling little Nicky, she’s going to have me strung up in town square faster than you can say ‘Holy flying axe throw, Batman.’”
“Town square? Really?” He laughed, then pulled his arm out of reach when she made to smack him. “The gallows were dismantled a couple months back, so you’re probably pretty safe.”
From the corner of his eye, he could see she was shaking her head at him, but as he steered the truck into the exit lane, he caught the glimpse of a smile.
“Didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?”
Damn it. He’d been seeing Lisa for a couple months now, and even though he didn’t consider it anything serious, he knew Lisa did. He’d have to at least let her know what was going on.
Jayne clicked her tongue. “I’ll take your silence as a yes.”
“Oh my God, Nick, do you rent out that space in your head? No woman is going to be happy about her boyfriend inviting another woman to live with him.”
“It’ll be fine.” It was more of a hope than a lie. “So unless you’ve got someone who’s going to kick my ass for even suggesting this . . .”
He waited for her to answer, but when she didn’t, he laughed.
“I’ll take your silence as a no. Any other excuses?”
“Think fast, because we’re almost there.”
“This is crazy.”
“No. Driving back and forth to Vancouver every day is crazy; this is nothing.” At the stop sign, he glanced over and watched her chew her bottom lip. “I’m not saying you should move in permanently, just stay until we get your place fixed up. And trust me, my place is a hell of a lot better than a hotel room we both know will never be clean enough, no matter how much you clean it yourself.”
The second her nose wrinkled, he knew he had her.
“How did you survive the hotel rooms on the trip out, anyway?” he asked.
Her mouth twitched a little before she finally smiled. “I bought a sleeping bag.”
“And how many tubs of Lysol wipes did you go through?”
“Only two.” After a second, she sighed and lifted her left shoulder. “And a half.”
Two and a half tubs of wipes. He could have pulled the I-told-you-so card, but didn’t. Instead, he just drove on, waiting for her to realize he’d won.
“And what if your girlfriend freaks out?”
“Her name’s Lisa, and she won’t.” At least he hoped she wouldn’t.
“You don’t know that,” Jayne cried, fisting her hands against her knees. “What makes you think Linda’s going to feel any different than Abby did? I don’t want to screw this up for you.”
“It’s Lisa.” Nick sighed quietly. “And no one’s going to screw anything up, Jayne. If she can’t handle you and me, that’s her problem.”
“No, Nick, it usually ends up being my problem.” Jayne huffed so hard it was surprising she had any breath left to keep talking. “It’s not exactly normal that we’re . . . like this . . . and you can’t blame people for thinking the worst.”
“What worst? If my best friend was a guy, there’d be no problem with him staying at my place, so I don’t get why it’s a problem to have you stay there.”
“The problem,” she ground out, “is that I’m not a guy. In case you hadn’t noticed, you idiot, I’m a girl.”
It was all Nick could do not to laugh out loud. They may have been best friends all these years, but he was still a guy. He noticed.
Admitting it, though, would only prove her point.
He wheeled the truck into the long driveway and threw it in park. “I’m telling you, Lisa won’t care. And if she does, that’s between her and me, it’s got nothing to do with you.”
“Yeah, right. Until she goes crying to your mother and I end up on the top of the Debra Scott hit list again.”
“Not gonna happen. Besides”—he pushed the button on his visor and the garage door jerked then started rolling up—“there’s someone else who wants you to stay.”
A second later, his old basset hound came wobbling out from under the door, his tail swinging, his ears flapping along beside him.
“Duke!” Jayne was out of the truck before Nick pulled the key out of the ignition. Cooing and laughing, she dropped to the driveway, arms outstretched.
Nick climbed out of the truck and laughed as he walked over to where Duke had already climbed onto Jayne’s lap and was busy smothering her face in wet sloppy kisses.
“Looks like we got us a houseguest, buddy.”
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Sometimes a box arrives on your doorstep.
If it looks like this
you know it is a very very good kind of box!!!
When you open it, you'll see this
and then this
and then this
and finally - squeeeeeeee! -
Please, help yourselves!
And thank you, Kirsten, for your very thoughtful gift! I'd like to say there were some left, but that would just be lying :) I can say in complete truthfulness, however, that they were delicious!!! :)
Now that we are all happily munching on the proverbial bonbons, let's have a round of applause (because it would be impolite to yell "Congratulations!" with a mouth full of Godiva chocolate truffles!) for the winner of the March Pitch Pick which is. . .
with her pitch for Sk8r Boy!!!
Congratulations, Ann! Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts. I'm sure you'll hear from her shortly.
And congratulations to our other brave pitchers who also did a terrific job! I hope you all gained from the Would You Read It experience, and I also hope you'll take a few extra congratulatory truffles :) Best of luck with your stories!
Now then. Onward!
Today's pitch comes to us from Charlotte who says, "When I was a little girl, a childless older couple who lived across the street gave me an oversized picture book, written in wonderful rhyming couplets. More than a half century later, I can still recite the entire story of “The Children That Lived in a Shoe” from memory, as I visualize the pictures of the cherub-like little ones going about their daily routines. I still love this book. Twenty-first century children deserve access to their own favorite stories that will endure for them throughout their lifetimes. I keep this in mind when I work on my PB manuscripts."
Here is her pitch:
Working Title: Roy G. Biv And The Amazing Castle Moat
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: Sophie senses there’s magic in the world of nature, while Sam is more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of kid. She likes building fairy houses but agrees to help her brother construct his sand fortress. When a sudden summer rainstorm spares their beach castle, the overflowing moat delivers a surprise visitor, Roy G. Biv. Sam thinks someone is playing a trick on him when he hears the guest’s voice share a rhyming, rhythmic poem about the rainbow’s colors. Sophie is delighted at how Sam finds out that Roy G. Biv is not only rather magical, but is also real.
So what do you think? Would You Read It? YES, MAYBE or NO?
If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest. If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Charlotte improve her pitch. Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome. (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful. I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Guest Post by Joan Heartwell
Fear is probably the number one obstacle that keeps popping up in front of would-be memoirists. What if so and so gets upset because I’ve written about her? What if I’ve misremembered that conversation about such and such? What if I say something happened in 1980 and it turns out it really happened in ‘81? Will someone try to sue me?
You can imagine
I do love this time of year, when everything begins to bloom, and we are gifted with occasional beach days. I've been doing plenty of spring cleaning with my girls and reveling in getting the garden into some sort of shape. Many of the plants we put in last year are beginning to thrive, including the BIG bamboo we planted. If all goes well, I'll be able to use the bamboo sheaths for my woodcut barens one of these years. (And then, I can write off the cost of the bamboo planting and containment, yes?)
Along with my non-virtual spring cleaning, I'm realizing it's time to dust the cobwebs off the blog as well. I've been cocooned in my studio making books and pictures. I did find my way out to visit the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which was mind boggling in all of the best ways. See photos below of my two purchases from the show. First, Mare, a stunning large format picture book with the most amazing watercolors I have seen in...I don't know how long. (My iphone camera does not do these justice, but you get the idea, at least.)
Second, how could I resist Il Piccolo Teatro di Rebecca? It's not brand new (2011 publication), but it is unbelievably intricate and beautiful. Yes, those are all diecuts.
Both books are from Rizzoli. In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Rizzoli booth examining all of their amazing offerings. I also enjoyed a lively dinner with my agent Elena Giovinazzo and fellow pip Isabel Roxas. The balance of the week was spent in Siena with my husband where we researched old (OLD!) maps...so expect to see those make an appearance in some form at some point.
The third book in the Zoe series, Zoe's Jungle
, will be arriving in May. I'll have more about that soon, including a trailer that is almost finished. For now, here is the springtime-colored cover with Zoe in action!
In August, I Feel Five
will be published by Candlewick. This is my first book with Candlewick and also my first book with a male protagonist. Meet Fritz:
Finally, in December, The Best-Ever Bookworm Book
will be published by Little, Brown. This one was written by Alice Kuipers
, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to illustrate such an imaginative story. It's also been very gratifying to try a completely new illustration style. There will be plenty more about this one in the months to come, including some posts about the process (which was unlike anything I've undertaken before). Here's a sneak peek of the cover:
I am looking forward to being on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Conference in June (here in Marin County, CA). I'll be doing a pajama night at Diesel (also in Marin) on June 6th. Otherwise, I am digging into 2015 titles including the second book in the Best-Ever series, a Christmas themed book with the characters from I Feel Five,
and a new book for Scholastic. Happy Spring!
By: JOANNA MARPLE,
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
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, picture book
, Flight School
, Illustrator interview
, Lita Judge
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This interview arose from one of those serendipitous moments. I had been liking all Lita’s posts on FB about her new picture book FLIGHT SCHOOL for several weeks and had been thinking that I must see if she would like … Continue reading
Mom has two author visits coming up. One this week and one next week. Both are call-backs, so she kind of knows what to expect. One thing she expects is fun! Rejection is the downside of writing. School visits are the upside AND her most favorite thing about being an author. Bar none.
Fifth graders and college students make for very different visits, which means Mom will pack up her school visit stuff TWICE. I love when Mom packs up her bag.
Sometimes there are candies in there. Or gum. Or tissues. And sometimes stuffed toys, depending on where she’s visiting. I ALWAYS check the bag out, just in case.
Once I found (and ran with) a smaller bag from inside the bigger bag. It had a fork, a beanie baby, a paintbrush, and a baseball inside. Mom said, “I need them for a game.” and “You wouldn’t understand.” and “Eeeewww. They’re slimy with dog spit!”
Although I love the bag, I hate the leaving. Why does every upside need a downside? When Mom says, “I have to go,” I hear the word GO and head for the door.
She says, “Not this time.” and “I’ll be back in a little while.” and “Do you want a treat?” which is EXACTLY what I want. And that’s how the downside becomes the upside again.
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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The Mark Twain House & Museum’s Inaugural “Royal Nonesuch” Humor Writing Contest for writers of all ages from all corners of the globe!
Recognizing that Samuel Clemens (aka: Mark Twain) began writing at an early age and to encourage other young authors, we welcome submissions for two categories:
- Adult (age 18 and over at time of submission) at $22 per submission, and
- Young Author (age 17 and under at time of submission) at $12 per submission.
Celebrity Judges for Adults are: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris.
Celebrity Judges for Young Authors are: Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, and Jessica Lawson, author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.
Submit your original humorous essays and stories for a chance at a cash prize, the opportunity to meet bestselling authors at our annual “Mark My Words” event, and best of all - bragging rights!
“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” – Andy Borowitz
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014
FEE: $22.00 “Adult/18 and over” categories
FEE: $12.00 “Young Author/17 and under”
• Submit 10,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. (Entries longer than 10,000 words will be disqualified.)
• Submissions must be in English.
• Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. We want to hear your voice. And we want you to make us laugh!
• Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Mark Twain House staff writers and scholars, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity judges: Roy Blount, Jr., Colin McEnroe, and Lucy Ferris. Celebrity judges for the 17 & under contest are Tim Federle and Jessica Lawson.
• Submissions are due by June 30th, 2014.
• Winners may be asked to provide age verification regarding submission category.
• You may submit more than one entry; a separate fee is required for each entry.
• Winners will be notified by September 5, 2014.
• Winners will be presented to the public at the 4th Annual “Mark My Words” event at which bestselling authors appear onstage October 21, 2014 to benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum. (Past authors have included John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Sandra Brown.)
• Winners will retain ownership of their work. The Mark Twain House & Museum reserves the right to publish winning pieces in a public forum with credit to the author.
PRIZES (winners in both categories):
• 1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult & Young Author)
• 2nd Prize: $500 (Adult& Young Author)
• 3rd Prize: $250 (Adult& Young Author)
• Three Honorable Mention Prizes: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Museum Store (Adult & Young Author).
• All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Prize winners in both the “Young Author/17 and under” and “Adult/18 and over” categories will be invited to attend “Mark My Words” and go backstage to meet bestselling authors. (Winners are responsible for their travel and accommodations.)
• Staff and immediate family members of the Mark Twain House are not eligible.
The mission of The Mark Twain House & Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his work, life and times. The Mark Twain House & Museum operates as a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation. Mark Twain built the house in 1874 and lived here with his wife and children until 1891. This is where he wrote such masterpieces as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and is located at 351 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, CT. We appreciate your participation in this inaugural writing contest as it supports our preservation efforts.
By clicking ‘Submit’ you acknowledge that this is your original work and you agree to all contest rules and guidelines.
Here is the link to submit: https://twainhouse.submittable.com/submit/26632
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Tagged: Contest for Audlts and young authors
, Humor Contest
, Mark Twain
, Samel Clemens
Here's some good advice about bad advice in writing that is sometimes good and sometimes bad---depending. And that could be all I have to say on the matter because it does, in a way, say it all. OK--not really but sort of. Your way has to be your way. A lot of the bad advice that you'll see in the "ten worst pieces of writing advice" is good for some, especially inexperienced writers. BUT people repeat it as gospel to others who it is harmful to. My advice is to listen to everything you hear about writing, read everything you can about writing, experience everything you can, but first and foremost write. Write every day. Write different things. Push yourself. Find what you do well and not so well. Learn from doing. You'll find your way.
|Image © LostMedia|
Ever since the beginning of my involvement with the publishing industry, I’ve had the suspicion that its thinking is full of ‘accepted truths’ that are, in fact, not true. My suspicions are growing.
One of these so-called accepted truths - shall we call them SCATs for short? - is the idea that “boys won’t read books with a girl as the central character”. I was involved in a conversation recently where this was asserted as fact.
- Hmmm, I said; but is that true? After all, boys read Mr Gum, and the hero of those books is a girl.
- Yes, came the reply, but it’s sold on Mr Gum himself.
- The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? It’s Lucy’s story, really. If there’s a central character, it’s her.
- Yes, but there’s Peter and Edmund and Susan, too, so it’s a gender-balanced story.
- Northern Lights?
- Yes, but Pullman’s exceptional, isn’t he?
- The Hunger Games?
- Well, sometimes a book comes along that just breaks all the rules.
…and so on.
Interestingly, the person who most strongly made such statements also quite blithely said that their company does no marketplace research; they just trust in instinct & experience.
This is not to denigrate anyone involved in the conversation; they’re all good people who have achieved much in the world of publishing, and it was a privilege to talk to them. But it did get me wondering - is there in fact any real evidence to support the idea that boys won’t read books about girls? Or is it simply an unfounded myth that has gained traction and now won’t let go?
On the same day, I responded to a tweet from the inestimable Let Toys Be Toys campaign about their Let Books Be Books initiative. They’re building a gallery - which is here and growing; do take a look - to challenge this idea. Examples there, and others I’ve spotted or thought of since, include:
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Silver Chair
- the Sophie stories
- Pippi Longstocking
- A Face Like Glass
- Peter Pan & Wendy (interesting, isn’t it, that since Disney the title has been shortened to Peter Pan, when really it’s Wendy’s story?)
- The BFG
- Mr Stink
- the Tiffany Aching books
- The Story of Tracy Beaker
- Fever Crumb
And there are more. Does anyone honestly think boys won’t read Geraldine McCaughrean’s wonderful The White Darkness or Not The End of the World? Is Tony Ross’s Little Princess really rejected by half the toddler population? Does the possession of external genitalia truly impede enjoyment of The Secret Garden?
Then I started thinking about my own childhood reading. I was a very insecure boy, bullied by my classmates, and gender-shaming was one of their weapons. I learned early on that anything that marked me out as insufficiently masculine was to be avoided. So did that mean I didn’t read “girls’ books?” Nope. I just read them in secret. I rather enjoyed Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl and St Clare’s series, for instance, and Pollyanna; and truth to tell if gender wasn’t signified on the cover in some way then it didn’t even occur to me to ask if the central character was a boy. The two things that sometimes stopped me from reading books about girls - or being seen to read them - were:
- the fear of being shamed
- being given the message in some way that these books were not for me
In other words, there was nothing about either me or the book that made us a poor match. It was external pressure that got between me and those stories. And despite what my classmates would have had you believe, I don’t think I was a weirdo.
This isn’t the only SCAT that restricts young readers and the adults who write for them. Malorie Blackman recently challenged the idea that white children won’t read books starring characters from minority backgrounds. And where did we get the idea that children won’t read about adult characters? Have we forgotten how successful Professor Branestawn was in his day - or that children are happy to read about King Arthur’s knights, or Heracles, or Superman?
Do we really believe that children are so closed-minded as to only want to read about characters like themselves? Do we honestly think so little of them? And if we think it true that children need characters to be like them even in age, colour and gender before they can identify with them, why are we happy to give them stories about rabbits and hedgehogs and guinea-pigs, about water-rats and moles and toads and badgers? Is there any sense at all in the assertion that a boy will identify with a different species more readily than with the opposite sex? That a white child will happily imagine himself to be a dog or a pig, but balk at imagining himself as black?
We need to challenge these SCATs. They’re bad for books; they’re bad for readers; they’re bad for our society. So thank goodness for Let Books Be Books. Thank goodness for Malorie Blackman. Thank goodness for those people who are prepared to say, “Is there any actual evidence for that?” - and let’s agree to be those people ourselves.
And if we ever feel unsure of our ground, and wonder if maybe the SCATs are right, let’s remember a film industry SCAT recently reported by Lauren Child. Let’s remember that she was told a Ruby Redfort film was out of the question, because a female lead in a kids’ film is box-office poison.
And let’s remember that the highest-grossing animation of all time is now Disney’s female-led Frozen.
John's latest book is Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers (OUP)
This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.
Last week, I finished this YA novel that touched a nerve with me. Bullying is taken on a whole other level with social media and technology, but the root of bullying hasn’t changed. Growing up working-class, I had several girls in my neighborhood who hated me for the basic reason that I loved books and got good grades. They tormented me all through middle school. It was an awful time. I became a different person as a defense mechanism and it took some years to find my way back to the girl I actually wanted to be. I was one of the luckier ones who had the support of a family who loved me and convinced me that I could have a better life. Now when I look back at those girls, I know it really wasn’t me that they hated.
From Lila, the aunt of Piddy, the narrator of the novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
You know where this Yaqui girl is going to be in a few years if she doesn’t change? She’ll still be there — same as always in her old neighborhood — a nobody with nothing. And guess what? That’s her worst fear. And who knows? Maybe that’s what she’ll deserve for being a punk and making people feel bad just because she could.
But you? You’re different. You’re going to be better than that, and that’s what kills her, Piddy. That’s what makes her burn with hate. She can already see you’re winning. You’re going to get an education and use your brain.
If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.
Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.
Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.
Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.
I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.
By: Geoffrey Philp,
Blog: Geoffrey Philp's Blog
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Yesterday, Mervyn Morris was named the Poet Laureate of Jamaica by the National Library of Jamaica at a ceremony in downtown Kingston. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.
It speaks to the years of commitment to his craft and the guidance that he has given and continues to give to poets and to the people of Jamaica.
In honor of Mervyn, here are the five most popular posts about him that have been published on my blog:
By: Jenny Martin,
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This might get weird. I’m just gonna put that out here, right up front. I’ve been in an especially reflective mood lately, and I’m pulling this post from that painfully honest well. Because something’s been on my mind. A series of questions, actually…
When did I start second guessing my every move?
Why have I become so self-critical?
When did I turn into a walking apology?
Maybe I’m alone in this. I dunno. But somehow I’ve let toxic self-sabotage become my go-to move. And I need to shake it off. These days, over and over, I find myself thinking…
You’re too emotional.
You’re too easily played.
You’re too naive.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not tough enough.
You’re not good enough at this game.
And on and on and on. Yes, it’s good to reflect and push yourself. And a healthy dose of self-doubt is an extremely useful thing. Without at least a little of it, it’s almost impossible to grow. But too much? Too much, and there’s no room for growth at all. Instead, there’s only room for the echo of self-destructive thought.
I think it hit me tonight, when I was driving home from an especially long day at work. Tonight, on a long stretch of highway, I had the music cranked up as I was listening to Pharrell’s Happy. And you know what? I was singing along and acting completely goofy and un-ironic and just being… unapologetically happy. I was just being myself, feeling good like no one was watching, no apology necessary. And yanno what? It was great.
All that toxic self-talk had completely disappeared.
And on that cloud of joy-for-no-reason, I came home and reread a recent interview with Pharrell in Red Bulletin. And over and over, he talks about emotion and the power of human feeling and how hard he works to listen and stay open to it as he creates new things. Without apology, he acknowledged this empathy and emotion, and his inability to push it aside. He owns it not as a weakness, but as a strength. A strength that fuels everything he does:
“…Always shooting for that and using feeling as a compass. We are so dismissive of our feelings. Yet…our feelings can lead us to do really crazy things or really amazing things…”
“…Steve Jobs. He so genuinely bought that product to the world; it is called a computer. But we are human, and that is what a computer will never be able to do is feel. That is what makes us the superior species of this planet…”
“…When I realized that thinking is not my path and feeling is for me, I started to realize that people are so dismissive about other people’s feelings…Ferraris, jewelry, all of those things mean nothing…You can’t take that when you go. You take your feelings with you and your experiences that gave you those feelings. That is the wealth, man. An experience. The coolest thing that you talk about is your trip where you went and you had a good time. The first thing you talk about it in terms of description, “Man, it was awesome.”
I’m no creative genius like Pharrell, but I think he might be on to something. Maybe our weaknesses are also our strengths. Sure, I should still try to hone my critical thinking skills, but maybe, I don’t need to dismiss the core of who I am. Maybe I need to embrace it. Maybe I need to flip that thought loop until it sounds more like…
I’m empathic enough to care deeply about others.
I’m optimistic enough to stay open to possibility.
I’m forgiving enough to look past flaws and shortcomings.
I’m headstrong enough to take chances.
I’m resilient enough to ante up, again and again.
I’ve got enough heart to know which games really matter.
So if I’m not alone, and you’re feeling self-critical, this is my long-winded way of passing it along to you: whatever your weakness is, no matter what your critical thought loop says, the flaws in you are probably also your biggest strengths. Be you, and no one else. Be you and work it, baby.
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…