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Results 26 - 50 of 233,887
26. फोटोशॉप की सरकार – मेरे मन की बात

फोटोशॉप की सरकार – मेरे मन की बात फोटोशॉप की दुनिया बेहद निराली है  और इंटरनेट की दुनिया में खूब रंग भर रही है. वही दूसरी ओर आजकल भारतीय जनता पार्टी फोटोशॉप की वजह से बहुत सुर्खियों में है कारण है कि कुछ गलत फोटो बनवा कर पार्टी खुद को अच्छा साबित करने में जुटी है […]

The post फोटोशॉप की सरकार – मेरे मन की बात appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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27. My tweets

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28. Video: Author-Illustrator Marla Frazee

From Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Marla Frazee from Adam Goodwin on Vimeo.

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29. Poet Tree

Apparently, it's Poetry Month.

Only, I've been a little distracted.
I skipped off to the city
for my local SCBWI meeting -
an art show,
a lecture from book-wise and witty
editors Mary Kate Castellani and Caroline Abbey,
and then a consultation and workshop with
art director, professor, and story genius Joy Chu.

This is the same Joy who guided me over the last two winters
in visual storytelling classes through the UCSD online extension program.

I'm still reeling with inspiration.
I could have listened for days. Months. Years.

Now I'm home, all bright and hopeful,
waiting for my brain to shape so many beautiful tips
and ideas into working order.
Time to let the front thoughts simmer.  
Time to play with poetry.

We started with a poet-tree.

The wildebeests and I cut out branchy trees and labeled each branch with simple word:
sky, go, sea, etc.
Next, we cut out dozens of leaves - in all flutters of color,
because it just looks more exciting that way.

Each branch grew rhyming leaf words:
sky = cry, my, pie, etc.

Because we like to make life even more thrilling, and sometimes complicated,
I thought it might be fun for the older wildebeests to thread their leaves on yarn.

Winnie added a button.

Pip used gold pen. She's really into gel pens lately.

And their finished masterpieces.

I'd love to meet a tree like this someday, shimmering with colors, yarns, and words!
I think I'd move in.

I'll share more poetry play next time.

Until then, here are a few favorites:

A Kick in the Head, An Every Day Guide to Poetic Forms - compiled by Paul Janeczko, ill. by Chris Raschka
The Random House Book of Poetry - edited by Jack Prelutsky, ill. by Arnold Lobel
Switching on the Moon - collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, ill. by G. Brian Karas
Chicken Soup With Rice - by Maurice Sendak
When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard
Now We Are Six By A.A. Milne, ill. by Ernest Shepard

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30. It's Live!! Cover Reveal: Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles + Giveaway (Intl)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for BENEATH WANDERING STARS by Ashlee Cowles, releasing August 18, 2016 from Merit Press. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Ashlee: Thanks so much for checking out Beneath Wandering Stars! If you appreciate authentic love stories...

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31. Joyce Sidman Poetry


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32. In which we say goodbye with a song. Cole Bauer's song. Listen.

And so—reading of each other, to each other—we said goodbye today at Penn. These are my mighty fourteen who dared to take on the memoir beast...and won. The mighty fourteen who provoked my tears—and allowed me to cry them.

And that, above, is Cole Bauer, our Mr. Music Man, whose guitar work accompanied the gorgeous Beltran audio recording on home. Cole is a singer-songwriter who packs in the crowds at a local bar on Monday nights. Cole is the guy who wrote, throughout our time together, with hope-restoring heart. It's uber cool to love those who love you. Cole reminded us of that every time we met.


Then go ahead and buy your copy of "Small Town," here.

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33. Missing Out

I heard I missed a lovely day –
It had been planned for weeks –
But life is filled with ups and downs;
We can’t reach all the peaks.

The unexpected sometimes
Interferes with our intent,
Preventing our participation
In a set event.

The thing to do is shrug it off;
It wasn’t meant to be,
Though disappointment is
To be expected, guarantee.

There will be other happy times
In which we’ll play a part,
For only on occasion
Do we tip the apple cart.

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34. Writer Wednesday: Didn't You Just Say That?

April has been a crazy month for me with more edits than I've ever had in a single month. It also made me notice a trend. Writers tend to repeat themselves.

I found myself using the delete key quite often and commenting that something had already been stated, usually in the same paragraph or on the same page. As writers, we don't want to do this because it's insulting to the reader. Readers are smart. They'll remember things and even pick up on things the writer might not have realized. Trust me. I taught 8th grade language arts and saw it happen all the time.

Another error that goes in the same category is saying something in the narration that gets repeated in the dialogue that follows it. When this happens, it's usually is a case of Tell then Show. Just show. Let the dialogue speak for itself and use your narration for better things, like setting the scene or witty internal thoughts. 

So without repeating myself—See what I did there? ;) —trust your readers to be intelligent enough to remember what you've already told them. 

*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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35. भूमाता ब्रिगेड और मीडिया की भूमिका

भूमाता ब्रिगेड और मीडिया की भूमिका शनि शिंगणापुर और नासिक के त्र्यंबकेश्वर मंदिर के प्रवेश मे मिली भारी सफलता के बाद  तृप्ति देसाई यानि भूमाता ब्रिगेड आज मुम्बई में हाजी अली दरगाह पर प्रवेश पाने के लिए मार्च निकालेगीं. कारण तो पता नही पर जितना समझ आया  वो है पहले उस दरगाह पर महिलाओं को […]

The post भूमाता ब्रिगेड और मीडिया की भूमिका appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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36. When “We” Lose “Our” Mothers

Five years ago today, early in the morning, I got a phone call — I think it was my brother who called first, but there were a lot of calls that day and it blurs. My mother’s house was on fire and a neighbor had described the bedroom as “blazing.” I also can’t remember if the fire was still smoldering when we got the call. Since we hadn’t heard from my mother we assumed she was dead, but it would take all day to confirm it.

This was both an expected and unexpected event. In fact, we’d gotten many calls from neighbors, from police, and from hospitals, over the years. Any time I saw a 701 area code I had to brace myself before answering the phone, especially when the call came at a strange hour. They always informed us that our mother had been arrested for DWI and committed to 72 hours of rehab, or had fallen down the stairs and committed to 72 hours of rehab, or had somehow otherwise brought brief intervention into her long descent into alcoholism and dementia. The police and medical professionals gave us the info dutifully; they probably made such calls often enough. Sometimes neighbors would give the info with heart-breaking circumlocution… as if we were completely ignorant of the situation and they were telling us for the first time and needed to break it to us gently. At times I felt judged: how could a grown man let his poor mother totter drunkenly about the house by herself?

People without addicts in their lives probably have little understanding of the incredible difficulties of intervention. TV movies tend not to dwell on the legal and logistical hurdles, the high costs of trying to commit someone against their will to a rehab clinic even before you pay the clinic. They don’t show a situation where a woman would hurl plates at police officers and have to be physically subdued, dragged literally kicking and screaming into treatment, and then simply count days until it’s time to leave and drink again. Maybe I’m trying to let myself off the hook here because I did nothing. I wanted nothing but distance since the day I left the home. I made occasional phone calls, happy to find my mother merely incoherent and rambling instead of raging, and made excuses not to visit. We went through great pains to bring her to our wedding, five years before she died, and I only saw her once more on a trip I took to Grand Forks later that year for work.

On that last visit I met her at the door because I hated to see the inside of the house: too many messes and broken things which I didn’t have time or resources to tend to. She was pretty lucid that day. I took her to Hugo’s Grocery. By that time she had constant vertigo and used a walker, but on our trip through the store she left it behind and let me guide her through the aisles, clutching my arm with a trembling and claw-like hand. She was a weak woman but she had a strong grip: all those years of typing on a typewriter. I left her on the doorstep, and that was the last time I saw her. Unlike the way these stories generally go, I absolutely suspected it might be the last time, even though she hung on for another four years.

When people write about grieving for late parents or memories of moms they rarely consider the possibility that the reader is someone with a story like mine. They tend to write in broad, generous terms about what “our” mothers mean to “us,” or what “you” go through.

“We’re left to wander back into the world, where everything looks the same, but for us, every movement and every breath feels weighted down by this suffocating cloud of sadness,” David Ferguson writes in an essay I saw shared a dozen times on Facebook. “We,” is he and all the people who have uncomplicated relationships with their mothers; those who were not abused or neglected, who did not see their mothers succumb to addiction, who were never lashed at with a metal ruler, who never mopped their mother’s gray vomit off the bathroom floor, who were never humiliated by having mom stumble out of the bedroom at 3:00 in the afternoon, already lit, when we brought friends over, who were never roused from sleep at 2:00 in the morning with a rambling tirade. I certainly don’t begrudge Ferguson his grief or his fond memories of Mom, but I do wish the first person plural weren’t invoked with such authority. It’s one thing to assume your experience is normal, another to presume it is universal.

For me, “losing” my mother was gradual, an erosion over decades with a lot of ugliness, too ugly for a TV movie, too harrowing even for a Eugene O’Neill play. I did not feel suffocating clouds of sadness when she died, but liberated, released from guilt, relieved that it was finally over. People like my brothers and I don’t get to mark these anniversaries with warm sentiment. I wish I could say something like, “Mom died five years ago. I miss her every day.” But this wouldn’t be true, and this is all I’ve got. “Mom died five years ago. I’m glad her soul is at rest.”



Filed under: Miscellaneous

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37. Deborah Hopkins' A BANDIT'S TALE

Writing A Bandit’s Tale
by Deborah Hopkinson

      My new historical fiction middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of Pickpocket, is set in 19th century New York City. Although the book deals with some serious themes, including poverty, child labor, and animal rights, I didn’t want the story to be depressing. So I decided to write the story as a rather light-hearted picaresque novel.
      I’d never tried anything like it before, and I had so much fun doing it. As I researched the genre, I learned that the word “picaresque” comes from the Spanish “picaro,” which means “rogue” in English. The first picaresque novels were published around 1600 in Spain. One common characteristic of picaresque novels is that the protagonist is not well-born or aristocratic. Instead, like Rocco in A Bandit’s Tale, the hero is a poor individual forced at a young age to live by his or her wits in a hostile society. The story is often told in first person and has an episodic plot structure, as we follow our rogue from misadventure to misadventure.
      One of the masters of the comic picaresque novel was Henry Fielding, who wrote The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749) and Joseph Andrews, or the History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams (1742). When I was writing Bandit, I often turned to the online versions of these books (available through the Gutenberg Project) for inspiration, and the chapter headings definitely reflect Fielding’s style. My favorite one is chapter nineteen, which takes place during the famous Blizzard of 1888: “Containing a storm so terrible that the reader cannot laugh even once through the entire chapter.” And it is a terrible storm, indeed.
      In addition to having fun with history in the storytelling, I definitely wanted to provide factual background information. When I read historical fiction, I’m always curious to know what’s real and what’s invented. And though I’m sure not all young readers will take the time to peruse the Author’s Note (which is entitled “Containing a variety of facts and resources of possible interest to the reader, as well as information illuminating historical personages”), they might, perhaps, be interested in the 19th century pickpocket slang.
      Since I visit schools all over the country, I’m always attentive to how books can complement curriculum or enhance STEM connections. Social reformer Jacob Riis appears as a character in A Bandit’s Tale. His arresting photographs brought attention to the deplorable living conditions for children and families in the tenements of the Lower East Side. Yet those photographs were only possible because of the invention of flash photography, which allowed the self-taught photojournalist to bring these problems to light. In A Bandit’s Tale, we have included several Riis photographs, which I hope will help illuminate the time period and setting for young readers.
      When I speak in schools, students often ask if I plan to write a fantasy novel someday. The truth is, when I write about history I am always learning, and I can’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding. I hope that young readers will take a chance on historical fiction and nonfiction, and can’t wait to share A Bandit’s Tale with them.

      Award-winning master of historical fiction for children Deborah Hopkinson takes readers back to nineteenth-century New York City in her new middle-grade novel: A BANDIT’S TALE: THE MUDDLED MISADVENTURES OF A PICKPOCKET (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | on sale April 5, 2016 | Ages 8–12 | $16.99).

“A strong chose for those who enjoy adventures about scrappy and resourceful kids.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“A dynamic historical novel ideal for both classroom studies and pleasure reading.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing. For other stops on the Bandit Blog Tour please check deborahhopkinson.com. Be sure to use this hashtag: #BanditBlogTour.

P.S. - Here is Deborah's Office Assistant, Rue, and Rue hard at work.

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38. Drawing Raptors at the College of Art

Apparently it is an annual tradition for raptors to visit the University of Edinburgh College of Art, for us lucky students to draw.

We gathered in the 4th floor undergrad illustration studio, which has an amazing view of the castle beyond these windows.
Archie McCrone of Alba Falconry (Alba is gaelic for Scotland) brought six of his birds. There was Percy the Peregrine Falcon.
Blue the Red Tailed Hawk.
Bonnie the Barn Owl who sat in front of me calmly the whole time, and who I got to pet.
Kenny the Kestrel who pretty much never stopped moving.
Skippy the Boobook who was full of personality. He STARED at us, and nibbled on us (cute, not painful).
But the star of the show was Edward - an Eagle Owl. He was HUGE and had the greatest expressions! He also had a fan on him most of the time, but still got a little hot.
We got to pet his enormous feet.
Archie held each bird and explained them to us.
And we drew like crazy. Here are some of my sketches.

This was such a treat - and a nice segue back into the classroom after spring break. Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having here?

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39. 2016: SCBWI Bologna Illustrator Interview: Paul O. Zelinsky

By Elisabeth Norton
for SCBWI Bologna 2016
and Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Paul O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, Illinois; the son of a mathematics professor father and a medical illustrator mother. He drew compulsively from an early age, but did not know until college that this would be his career. 

As a sophomore at Yale College, he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. This experience inspired Paul to point himself in the direction of children's books. His first book appeared in 1978, since which time he has become recognized as one of the most inventive and critically successful artists in the field. 

He now lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York. They have two grown daughters.

Among many other awards and prizes, he received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for three of his books: Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumpelstiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995).

Spring is the season of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, so I thought I would focus on the business side of illustration today. Can you tell us about how you as an illustrator are selected to work on a picture book project?

Other than through the occasional subliminal suggestion I plant in the illustrations of my published books (painting “HIRE ME!” upside down in the trees outside of Rapunzel’s tower and so on), I don’t know how I get chosen.

My work looks awfully different from book to book, but I imagine that an editor or art director who ends up contacting me is thinking of one look in particular, and they might mention that to me, though they may not end up getting it. Also, from my third book on, I have tended to keep working with people I’ve worked with before, so those publishers know more what they’re getting into. On my end, what happens is that I get a call or an email. 

Could you describe your involvement in the process, from the time you are contacted about a new project, through the creation of the illustrations, to the finished book?

I usually want to stick my nose into all stages of the creation and production processes, but as I try to do it in a nice way and, I hope, not out of a personal need for control but in the spirit of collaboration, I’ve rarely had trouble.

So it usually begins for me when I get a phone call or email from a publisher, either asking if I’m available or just sending a manuscript, and I can sometimes tell pretty quickly if I think it’s a good idea for me on or not. Sometimes I don’t know and I mull.

My first criterion (and I’m sorry if this seems pompous) is whether the story makes me think that our overcrowded world, with no shortage of books in it already, would be notably worse off without this new addition. (Which is sort of like saying how much do I like it, but not quite). Then I imagine what kind of art I’d like to see illustrating the manuscript and at that point I can usually tell whether I’d get excited by the prospect of trying to make that kind of art.

Then, if it’s a go, come all the stages you probably know about in the making of an illustrated book. If it’s a picture book, that means breaking the manuscript up into pieces that fit in a 32- or 40-page book (publisher tells me what’s possible)—not a simple job if you want to do it right.

At the same time, I try to imagine the best size and proportion for this book, long before having any idea of the content of its pictures. Then with text decided for each spread I’ll very, very crudely rough out an array of thumbnail sketches, trying to establish the dynamic of the storytelling through the pictures, the content and composition of each illustration.

After or during that time, I’ll be casting around for what the characters should look like, and I’ll be thinking about the style I want the drawings to display. This is intimately connected to the choice of medium, so I’m thinking about that, too, and probably doing a lot of testing on scratch paper.

If I get the thumbnail sketches working, I’ll go to a full-sized, or at least not-so-little dummy, in black pencil, with text placed on the pages.

The dummy can be very rough, too, and I am generally willing to risk showing it to the publisher even before, say, I have any idea of what the characters will look like.

I like feedback, and things like pacing can be judged without other important features yet in place. I might also put the pictures together with text in InDesign, at least as a preliminary version before the art director gets to work on it.

When the designer does join in, I’ll want to be part of her or his process, too. Then there is research, refining sketches, working out color, checking with editor and art director all along, and working and working and working on finished art.

How involved is the art director or author in determining the style of the artwork for a particular project?

The style of my artwork has to be determined by me, to the extent that I can control it. I think the author should have a role in choosing an illustrator, and if there’s a wish to have the book look a certain way, that could be part of the manuscript’s presentation to me at the outset. But in fact this rarely happens. I think publishers are interested in seeing what I come up with.

It has happened that after seeing what I come up with, they aren’t convinced. Then it becomes a conversation, or a discussion, or a debate, in which at the end everybody needs to be on the same side. And I can be convinced that I was wrong, at least if I was wrong.

Do you ever revise your illustrations based on feedback from the art director or for other reasons?

I make lots of changes based on suggestions. Art directors and editors I work with often have great ideas that I didn’t think of, or can point out features in my drawings that I then realize were not so great. I believe we are all devoted, at base, to creating the best possible book. So if I’m given a suggestion that I don’t feel good about, I will say why, and another conversation can begin.

I will try to convince the other parties that I have important and valid reasons for seeing things my way, or point out (if it’s the case) that their suggestions might have problems they may not be considering, and at the same time they’ll do the same to me.

In the end, with very few, minor exceptions, I don’t think any book I’ve worked on has left anybody feeling that the wrong path was taken.

What is the typical timeline, from receiving a commission, to submitting the completed artwork to the publisher?

I’ve rarely managed to finish illustrating a book in less than a year. That has been about the average, I think, but I’m usually not able to start work on a manuscript right when I receive it, so it’s hard to pin down the time it takes when I’ve got a couple of projects waiting to be begun for a couple of years, and I’m already thinking about all of them a little.

You have said in the past that you have created many of your picture book illustrations using oil paints. When that is the case, how is the final artwork submitted to the publisher?

Art that isn’t digital to begin with needs to be scanned, and it is still the case that publishers use scanners or cameras of a higher quality than almost any individual illustrator would have access to.

I’ve talked to some younger illustrators who scan their reflective art and deliver electronically, without even considering that they could or should deliver the actual art on paper. That is really the preferable way to go. Oil paints have the reputation of not drying, but my oils are usually dry within a day, or at least dry to the touch. There is an additive you can put in your painting medium to speed the drying, and if I’m running very late I will sometimes mix in a little more of this desiccant, or I will avoid painting with pigments I know are slow-drying and favor the faster ones, if possible.

Although I won’t scan my own oil paintings (my scanner picks up reflections on oil paint’s shiny surface for every little textury bump in the paper), I’m not above asking for the high resolution files that the publisher gets from their scanner, and sometimes even before first proofs, going in digitally to fix things I didn’t manage to do correctly in the art.

After a book is released, what kinds of promotional activities do you as the illustrator engage in to support its release?

The more the merrier, I say. I’m on Twitter (@paulozelinsky) and Instagram (paulozelinsky) anyway, and while I don’t like self-promotional posts, when a new book is coming out, there is plenty of interesting information to share. I go on Facebook, too, but only privately for my personal account. I would prefer that people I don’t know personally “Like” my Facebook author page.

Z Is For Moose fabric, suitable size for quilt
I’ve had some ideas for contests and a raffle for prints of the cover art of a book. Sometimes the publisher has given me great support and help. But I’ve also done a raffle or two on my own.

In general I do these things because they seem like cool things to do; I don’t know if they have in any way helped sales—in fact I doubt it. Also, I like to create a repeating design based on almost every new book, and have it printed on fabric (at spoonflower.com). People can purchase it on their own, by the yard (though they don’t), and I can have some of made into a shirt or a vest (which I do). Not so long ago I couldn’t decide on color choices in one of these patterns, so I conducted an online vote; that was fun.

An additional layer of attention has sometimes become available to me that would be harder for most illustrators to garner, in that a few of these larks I’ve gone on were interesting enough that Publishers Weekly has written about them, or the Horn Book. But only after a friend pushed me into asking these journals if they’d like to write about it.

I’ve made ties that go with my books, as well as shirts and a couple of vests, and I wear this special apparel (in moderation!) whenever there’s an appropriate event.

And yes, school visits are great. I love to do them with or without a new book. There is nothing better than to see groups of children appreciating the very things you spent so much time and effort on in the solitude of your studio, a year or more earlier.

When it comes to visiting schools I tend to be passive, waiting to be asked, but it’s not out of line to approach and let schools know you’re available if they’re interested. School visits not related to a book tour are a source of income; as part of a book tour, arranged by an independent bookseller, I’m happy to give one presentation to a school, but not the three or four I’d give if it were a paid arrangement.

Are there some new releases we should look out for?

Actually, no. It will be a long time before anything new comes out. After the recent Toys Meet Snow, it’s going to be quite a while until the next thing.

But one brand-new release that is partly mine is the 75th anniversary edition of Make Way for Ducklings. I was very honored and excited (you can imagine) to be asked to draw a pictorial map of Boston that would be included with the book and a CD recording in a boxed set. That edition is just out now, I think.

I had a wonderful time researching what Boston looked like in 1941 (if felt like detective work), and illustrating parts of the story in the appropriate parts of my map, which is really an aerial view as much as it is a map. My drawing didn’t reproduce every single building in and around Beacon Hill, and I had to squash some blocks down in size for the picture to fit the proportions of the paper, but it’s pretty faithful to reality, I’d say.

You’re going to be one of our dueling illustrators at the SCBWI booth at the 2016 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. How often have you visited BCBF?

Publishers always told me, when I asked about Bologna, that going there was not something I would want to do, or should. It was only for brusque, publisher-to-publisher deal-making and if I went I would be in the way.

I first came to Bologna anyway in 2006, because after planning a family trip to Venice, I decided to look up the Bologna fair and discovered that it started immediately after we were going to leave Venice, and Bologna was an easy train trip away. And then a friend told me that SCBWI was holding a full-scale pre-conference in Bologna on the weekend leading up to the fair. I was able to get a spot on a panel, and then when I asked publishers again, they told me I should go after all, and helped me find a hotel room (almost impossible just a month before the fair). And I enjoyed it tremendously!

So after that first wonderful time there, I’ve been going back almost every other year, and continuing to enjoy it tremendously. Where else can you see virtually every children’s book published in the world in the previous year? I see a lot of editors that I know, as well as the great SCBWI community, so it’s an occasion to hang out with friends, and I must say that eating is a large part of the pleasure.

I think the Bologna fair has been changing, and now you see a greater presence of book creators among the sub-rights sales force and the editors. Mostly these are just people coming on their own, but now very occasionally they are even being sent by their publishers.

SCBWI isn’t putting on Bologna pre-conferences any longer, but they have an active booth at Bolognafiere every other year. Of course my favorite activity is the dueling illustrators tradition, which is huge fun. And this year the booth is bigger than ever before.

How can visits to fairs such as BCBF benefit an illustrator’s career?

I haven’t used my trips to the fair in a practical or useful way from the point of view of career-helping. But I’ve seen illustrators come away with publishing deals: it can happen though I’m not positive how it’s done.

SCBWI itself can facilitate this, because you can arrange for a period of time when you sit in the booth and basically represent your books to passersby like all of the other publishers with booths there.

There’s also a wall at the fair for illustrators to put up their promotional cards, and publishers look through them (although there are so many cards by the end of the fair that it seems like an awfully long shot).

European publishers set up periods for open portfolio-viewing, and illustrators line up with their work in hand, to be seen by an art director in the flesh.

Do you have any advice for a first-time visitor to BCBF?

If you have published already, and are thinking of visiting Bologna, definitely ask for advice from your U,S, publisher. If you have ever had a book picked up by a foreign publisher, it would be a great thing to arrange to meet that publisher’s representatives in Bologna. This will make you more of a real person to that publisher rather than just a subsidiary right they purchased.

SCBWI offers various good opportunities to get your work seen, so definitely arrange your visit with SCBWI in mind. Even if you’re not trying to network or push your career forward, hanging out (and eating out!) with SCBWI folk is reason enough to make the visit a fun time. Many but by no means all of them are of US origin, but they live all around the world.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Bologna, apart from visiting the BCBF?

Did I mention eating? Well, other than that, Bologna has some fantastic museums. Besides the main art museum (the Pinatoteca) there is a fabulous Medieval museum.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a museum devoted entirely to the generally under-appreciated painter Morandi, although I think it may be closed temporarily and its collection shifted to the Modern Art Museum. There is plenty more to do in Bologna, and don’t forget about the eating.

People say that Bolognese food is the best in Italy, and although that kind of claim is sort of meaningless, it is probably also true.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me today. It was great to see you at the Book Fair. I really enjoyed watching your duel with Doug Cushman at the SCBWI booth during the fair!

Thank you! The pleasure is mine.

Cynsational Notes

Elisabeth Norton grew up in Alaska, lived for many years and Texas, and after a brief sojourn in England, now lives with her family between the Alps and the Jura in Switzerland.

She writes for middle grade readers and serves as the regional advisor for the Swiss chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

When not writing, she can be found walking the dogs, playing board games, and spending time with family and friends. Find her on Twitter @fictionforge.

The Bologna 2016 Interview series is coordinated by Angela Cerrito, SCBWI’s Assistant International Advisor and a Cynsational Reporter in Europe and beyond.

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40. Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction

Julie Berry is the author of the acclaimed young adult novel The Passion of Dolssa, the award-winning, All the Truth That’s in Me (2013, Viking) and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (2014, Roaring Brook), and six other critically acclaimed titles for young readers. She grew up in western New York and holds a BS from Rensselaer in communication and an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. Before becoming an author, she worked in software sales and marketing. She now lives in southern California with her husband and four sons. Find her online at www.julieberrybooks.com, or on Twitter.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

For The Passion of Dolssa, both character and era came first, or rather, both found me independently. For a long time I’d been fascinated by the brave young women mystics of the Middle Ages. I had wanted to explore them more in some kind of project. Quite separately, I thought it would be fun to write a main character who was a matchmaker. In yet another corner of my brain, an idea rolled around about a group of three sisters, witches in a very small sense of the word, running a tavern (although young). In another disconnected vein of my life, I was taking a history of the Middle Ages course, where I learned for the first time about the violent history of anti-heresy warfare and inquisition in southern France in the 13th Century. Then one day I had a sort of eureka moment where all of these separate strands braided themselves together as one story idea. And I was off and running.

How do you conduct your research?

Muddlingly. I try to immerse myself as much as I can in books about, and written during, that time period. One of the most important things, I find, is determining which are the most credible, current, trusted academians whose books will best help you unravel the complex past. History (the study of the past, as opposed to the past itself) is anything but monolithic and unanimous. Our study and understanding of our past is constantly changing. So I think it’s vital to be a critical consumer of historical sources, and pay close attention to choosing well whom to trust. Once I know what I’m looking for, it’s often a hunt to acquire rare or out-of-print titles that I need. I try to read as much as I can that was written during that time period, also, so I can hear the voices and language of the time (filtered through the lens of who’s doing the writing – too often it’s only the elite and the empowered). I generally need to read my important sources twice.

In addition to lots of reading, I spend a lot of time with maps and museum resources, trying to see as much as possible what the world I envision actually looked like. I look for music historians who can help me hear their nearly lost tunes, and for historically based cookbooks so I know what ingredients they had and how they cooked. I’m chasing down all sorts of things like when would the sun have set at that latitude at this date, and what did they eat/wear/shoot/burn/drive/marry, etc.. Best of all, whenever possible, I try to go to the location where my story takes place. I need to absorb the sense of place as much as my senses allow me to. 

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I fear I don’t have a specific system for anything in my life. “Dive in and muck around” is pretty much my approach.

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

I usually write in tandem with the research. I’m quite comfortable making changes later as I need to. But I think getting to know a character and getting to know her world can happen in tandem, so long as you’re willing to make painful changes if needed. For example, if you reach a point where you realize that your character has attitudes or opinions she couldn’t possibly have had at that place and time, you have to be willing to perform radical character surgery. But that said, I find that I can hum along on both tracks. Writing a rough first draft as I research helps me focus my inquiries onto things I actually need to know.

What is your favorite thing about research?

Oh, I could just stay right in the research rabbit-hole and never come out. I love, love, love the learning. At first, all the strange names and places are generally bewildering. Most complex historical texts will introduce you to a long list of players in the drama of the past, and it’s a lot to keep track of. In my last book, just about every man, no lie, was named Raimon. “Everyone’s Named Raymond,” basically. So the magic, for me, is when I’ve studied enough and taken enough notes to reach the point where it’s all clicking. I remember who’s who and where’s where and why it all matters. When I can coherently explain it to someone else in detail, then I know I’m ready to make a good story with it. It feels terrific to reach the peak of that mountain.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

The pill that was hardest for me to swallow, but most necessary, is accepting that fact that no matter how hard I work to be accurate, I can’t ever be fully accurate in my depiction of the past. This is because, no matter how I try to understand their world, their beliefs, their cultural context, I can’t stop myself from being someone who looks at it from the anachronistic perspective of their future. I am looking back. I know how their story ends. And I’m a child of a different planet, so to speak. The past is a country I’ve never visited, nor can I. Even the most devotedly researched book remains a work of artifice, of pretend, of illusion. So, in a sense, the hardest part of this job is that you know from the get-go that you’ll fail. Art comes into play as you accept those limitations and reach toward the ideal of truth, beautifully if possible, anyway.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Stuff that’s generally unprintable. 😉

Why is historical fiction important?

I’m not sure how many people would ever decide to study the past, preserve it for future generations, and distill what it has to teach us, if they didn’t learn to care about it, somewhere along the line. I think historical fiction, especially the highest quality historical fiction for young readers, helps link young minds to the past through the caring they come to feel for real and fictitious characters, now dead. The hallmark of good fiction is how it tells the truth and enables empathy. By pointing that understanding and caring toward the past, we help young people – not just the future historians, but future thinkers of every kind – see themselves as heirs of a tremendous legacy and the forebears of a hopeful future. In other words, as a part of, but not the center of, humanity.

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The post Straight From the Source: Julie Berry on Writing Historical Fiction originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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MAY is going to be a very busy, fun month with loads of appearances, exhibits, theater, and more! Here are some of the highlights: BOOKS!    May 3rd will see the publication of the final Elephant and Piggie adventure, one that I wrote and drew just for you: THE THANK YOU BOOK. It's been amazing fun to spend time discovering new things with these two friends for 25 stories over the last

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42. Review: The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

Even as we reel from yesterday's Hugo nominees and impatiently await tonight's Clarke nominees, Strange Horizons has published my review of Sofia Samatar's second novel The Winged Histories.  I wrote about Samatar's first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, a few years ago, and was blown away by the beauty of its language, the complexity of its worldbuilding, and the nuanced view it took of the epic

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43. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Inspiration from Author Tracey Kyle + Picture Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

How delighted I am to introduce my friend, Tracey Kyle! Tracey and I met last year at Highlights Foundation Summer Camp 2015 and we've stayed in touch ever since. Tracey shared her book, Gazpacho for Nacho, with me, and I fell in love with the warm colors and the zesty, rhyming text. As you can tell from her photo, Tracey has a warm heart and zesty personality. Her smile lights up everything around her! Thank you so much, Tracey, for being a guest on my blog, and thanks for being my friend.

Tracey has generously donated 2 copies of Gazpacho for Nacho for the comment contest! Please read to the bottom and leave a comment about Tracey's post for a chance to win.

Author Tracey Kyle

 Tracey Kyle grew up in New Jersey and spent much of her childhood reading and writing poems. She spends most of her time as "Señora Kyle," teaching Spanish to a lively group of 8th graders. Currently she lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, and when she's not writing lesson plans or working on a new story, she loves to read, cook and practice yoga.

Writing from the Inside Out. . .   Senora Tracey Kyle shares about her writing journey.

I was living in Madrid in 2004 with a group of Spanish teachers, studying art at the Prado and reading Spanish plays in cafés at the beautiful plazas around the city. It was hot. The sun in Spain is strong and while the heat is dry, it’s still 100 degree heat—or higher. And unlike Americans, the Spanish aren’t obsessed with air conditioning. Businesses prop open their puertas and everyone sits outside people-watching. I craved a cool breeze.

I had lived in Madrid as a college student many years earlier and had fond memories of my dear Spanish madre making a cold, tomato-based soup for me called gazpacho. Gazpacho varies in the different regions of Spain but the basic recipe is a mix of tomates and fresh vegetables. It’s delicious. It’s cool. It was the perfect sopa to eat that summer in Madrid.

At the local supermercado, they sell gazpacho in cartons like orange juice, so I bought a container and ate a cup for breakfast each day. At lunch, I ate another bowl, and at dinner yet again I ordered more gazpacho. “You should just take a bath in gazpacho,” a fellow teacher told me. By the end of the summer, I was back home blasting the aire acondicionado, frequenting our air-conditioned restaurants and driving my air-conditioned car.  But I still wanted gazpacho.

The idea for Gazpacho for Nacho didn’t come to me right away. I enjoyed writing, and had published a few books for Spanish teachers. I knew it was a long and frustrating process, but I had spent my childhood writing poemas and stories. While the idea of creating a children’s book was always there, it took a back-seat to my teaching responsibilities and my family. I realize now that I wasn’t ready.

“Gazpacho for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch,
gazpacho for dinner, for snacks and for brunch.”

These lines came to me in the middle of the night. I wrote them down in the notebook I’d been using to keep track of ideas as they occurred to me. That weekend I wrote the first of many drafts of Gazpacho for Nacho. It combined my love of Spain, the Spanish language and food. I spent the summer writing and rewriting. I joined the SCBWI, devoured books on “writing for children” and researched publishing companies. After six months, I submitted the story for publication to ten editors. By spring, I had received two rejections and hadn’t heard from the others. I told myself that I obviously wasn’t meant to be a writer and went back to planning lessons for my students, who at this point were the recipients of every creative idea I had. I was happy teaching, but the profesora in me was determined to teach kids about this yummy, cold sopa!

It was my husband who pushed me to dig out the story. A heavy snow fell that winter and we were out of school for a week. “You need to take out that manuscript,” he ordered, “and start writing again.” For eight hours a day, I worked on the story and researched editors who were interested in food, travel or multicultural picture books. Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish was one of those editors. Her letter arrived that spring, saying that she thought it would make a “cute story.” Have you sold it yet? she asked. It took two years of revisions and the process was slow, but Gazpacho for Nacho was finally published with Amazon Children’s Publishing (who eventually bought Marshall Cavendish) in 2014.

For a very long time, when people asked me what I did for a living, I said I was a middle-school teacher. “And I write when I have time,” I would add, as if the hours spent thinking about my story didn’t count, or the months spent writing and revising didn’t take up too much of my time. As I started going to conferences and attending writing workshops, I realized that I was a writer long before I was published. 

As Nacho would say……Olé! 
School Library Journal Review: K-Gr 3: This is the charming story of a picky eater who only wants one thing to eat - gazpacho. While most parents would be delighted if their children ate this Spanish vegetable-based soup, Nacho's mother desperately tries to offer him other dishes, including typical Spanish desserts, to no avail. In an attempt to get him to expand his culinary repertoire, his mother takes Nacho to the market; these illustrations will delight readers with large renditions of beautifully whimsical vegetables, such as vibrant green chiles and large plump tomates that will surely make an enticing and delicious soup. The text is integrated nicely on the spreads and easy to read. Though Latin inspired, this tale of a picky eater will resonate with many. It will make a fun read-aloud because of the rhyming text in addition to lending itself to interesting discussions about food, food avoidances, and trying new things. A recipe for gazpacho and a glossary of Spanish words with the language articles in parentheses are appended.Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library
Interior spread of artwork
Don't you agree that Gazpacho for Nacho is a feast for the senses? What a treat for youngsters of all ages! And all you have to do for a chance to win an autographed copy of Tracey's book, Gazpacho for Nacho, is leave a comment about her post. Want to increase your odds? Tweet the post for an additional chance to win. Join my blog. Share on FB. Easy, right? The winner will be announced a week from today on cinco de mayo!
Author Tracey Kyle

Learn more about Tracey here:

Thanks, dear readers, from Tracey and me, for stopping by! As Nacho would say……Olé

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44. A compelling ghost story

Question: I am trying to write a young adult supernatural/gothic ghost story. But that's as far as my mind goes - a young adult supernatural ghost story.

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45. My tweets

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46. Author Interview with Sylvia Liu about her debut PB, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA

I am so very happy to welcome back Sylvia Liu onto Miss Marple’s Musings as part of the blog tour for her debut picture book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA. This manuscript won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award … Continue reading

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47. npm: the Progressive Poem is here (with bonus music!)

Welcome, all who journey line by line!
          Welcome, all who seek to read the signs!

For those who don't know what the Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is, welcome to a yearly event conceived and hosted by poet Irene Latham.  Each day the poem travels to a different blog, and each blogger adds his or her line.

Our poem grows here thought by thought;
Does it build or turn or what?
The only way to know's below.
I toss my line into the flow...

But I'll admit, it's been quite a bit more deliberate than that word "toss" suggests.  I've struggled to find and flow with the current of this one, dear poets, and now I shall dare to boldly, brashly reconstruct the whole darn thing through the use of a title and some powerful punctuation.

Is mine the last word?  Oh, no, indeed!  Tomorrow's poet may see things very differently, and if I've overstepped in supplying a title before the end, all should feel free to ignore it.  I'm down with that.  But I myself needed a clearer structure to proceed, so here goes: a dialogue.

West Wind Dreams of Taking Shape

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
“If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.”

A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
"If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee."

A clump of crocuses craves the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
"I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen."

     Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
     and finally reach one divining seer
     who looks up from her perch and beams —
     "West Wind is dreaming May, it seems."

"Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede."

To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns.
      Blowing soft words the seer discerns
     from earthbound voyage to dreamy night,
     "The time is now.  I give you flight!"

"Yet I fear I am no kite or bird–
I lift! The world below me blurred

by tears of joy.  I spiral high,
I hum, I dive, I dip, I hive!"

The list of those who have contributed to this wonder of a poem is below, and now I pass West Wind on to Sheila Renfro.  And now for the bonus music Today's Poetry-Music Match-Up takes us way back to 1972 or so, when I learned to play a junior version of this on the piano as a gift for Mother's Day.


Will Sheila grant West Wind a new shape, or take a wild waggle in another direction?  And what of the seer?  Stay tuned, friends, for the building finale!


2  Joy at Joy Acey
3  Doraine at Dori Reads
4  Diane at Random Noodling
6  Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
8  Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9  Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
10  Pat at Writer on a Horse
11  Buffy at Buffy's Blog
12  Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
13  Linda at TeacherDance
14  Jone at Deo Writer
16  Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17  Kim at Flukeprints
18  Irene at Live Your Poem
19  Charles at Charles Waters Poetry
21  Jan at Bookseedstudio
24  Amy at The Poem Farm
25  Mark at Jackett Writes
26  Renee at No Water River
27  Mary Lee at Poetrepository
29  Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30  Donna at Mainely Write

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48. Featured Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

About this book: The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened...

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49. David Marchino and Nina Friend read from their theses, with Julia Bloch

It was wall to wall. It was genuine heart. It was Kelly Writers House celebrating the Honors thesis writers. That's Julia Bloch, who directs us all (directing only me would be a full-time job) (oh, we love her). That is Nina Friend. That's David Marchino.

We had thirty seconds each to introduce these students with whom we have learned. My words were these, below.

Congratulations, Nina and David. And so much love.
Nina Friend observes. She listens. She cares. She has, for many years, wondered what “serving” really means, also “waiting.” To write this thoughtful and deeply engaging work of narrative nonfiction, Nina has read widely, spent countless hours in the company of leading restaurateurs, major novelists, and a wide variety of servers, even donned a waitress apron herself. You may think you know what a server does. But you won’t know the half of it until you read Nina’s explications of stigma and community, addiction and freedom. With fierce, often delicious language, Nina pulls the curtains way back on a world all of us would do well to ponder—and appreciate—more completely.
In hunting down his family mythology, David Marchino has traveled far—sitting again, after years of absence, with his own elusive father, sifting through the artifacts of an enflamed past, returning to neighborhood cemeteries and family homes in an effort both to remember and to understand. To all of this David has brought a giant heart, an eye for the telling detail, and a steadfast compassion for the people in his life. David may be the product of a home that will always throb with mysterious unknowns. But David is, first and foremost, his own person—a magnificent, blue-rose tattooed writer who teaches us, with this memoir, that love, in the end, wins hardest, fastest, most.

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50. The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees

Some people must really enjoy losing to No Award. — Abigail Nussbaum (@NussbaumAbigail) April 26, 2016 I have to be honest, my first reaction to this year's Hugo ballot (and even before that, to the rumors of what was going to be on it), was to sigh at the thought of going through this whole thing all over again.  I'm tempted to just link you to last year's reaction post, because pretty much

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