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Results 7,951 - 7,975 of 223,484

Wow, a book review!What with all the ranting going around here lately, I'd almost forgotten that I do that. But, partially to blame have been the number of books I've read recently that just haven't provoked a response. I checked out a pair from the... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: THE PAPER MAGICIAN and THE GLASS MAGICIAN by Charlie N. Holmberg as of 10/28/2014 8:37:00 AM
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7952. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy By Karen Foxlee Review and Crystalized Ice Heart Activity

Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy book review and activity!

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

This modern-day fairy tale is a revisit to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a mysterious story which takes place in a museum. Ophelia Jane Worthingto-Whittard is an unlikely heroine who doesn’t believe in anything except if it can be proven by science. There in the museum with Ophelia is her sister Alice and their Father who has taken a job in the museum to arrange an exhibit. All of them are grieving the death of their mother and wife. 

On her very first day in the museum, Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. The boy, whose name has been stolen, is a prisoner of the Snow Queen. He has been waiting for someone to come and help him and now is his chance with Ophelia. He has waited a very long time.


Ophelia embarks on multiple journeys to various corners of the museum to help set the boy prisoner free. Along the way she endures many tests and trials and discovers more about the boy. The boy himself has taken his own remarkable journey to save the world from the icy embrace of the Snow Queen.

This book is well written with many stories inside stories unfolding. It is a great adaptation of the original classic, making it both believable and relevant. 

We learn in this modern day fairy tale that the power of friendship, love, and courage can see us thru the most difficult times. Grab your copy of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy HERE.

Something To Do


The Snow Queen lives in a cool and icy world turning everything she touches into a crystalized ice world. We thought we’d have a little indoor crystal ice fun.


What’s in that pot over there?

Would you believe ice crystals? Or nearly ice-crystals. This is a science experiment that would even please Ophelia.


Pipe- cleaners folded in half and twisted down to make a heart. 3 tbsp of borax per 1 cup water.

Boil water, add borax, take off heat, add pipe-cleaner hearts, and let it set overnight, to pull out these beauties.


Now we have a beautiful heart ring to place in our fairy garden, on our table, or as a wreath on the door.

and here’s our marvelous boy who keeps adding beauty to our world.



Please share your pictures of this activity on our Facebook Page!

Need to get a jump on gift giving? Books are always a great choice! A Year in The Secret Garden is the newest book from the Audrey Press line-up of quality children’s books! Click HERE for more details.

A Year in the Secret Garden

Visit A Year in the Secret Garden page HERE.

The post Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy By Karen Foxlee Review and Crystalized Ice Heart Activity appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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a #Halloween fave - Never Race a Runaway #Pumpkin http://buff.ly/12RIhAs @Kaauthor http://buff.ly/12RIhAt

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1zDAtko

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7954. Why Writers Need to Learn to Read as Well as They Write

Sending a follow up e-mailI’ve come to the conclusion that most writers don’t read as well as they write.

Every time I send an email, I get back several responses asking questions that were answered in the message. For example, I’ll say, “The call is at 5 pm Eastern time,” and a few people will respond, “What time zone is the call in?” Or I’ll invite readers to join a waitlist to receive an announcement when a class registration is open, and that the class will cost $X, and inevitably some people will write back with, “I signed up for your class using that link you sent and didn’t get the materials.”

I feel okay saying this because it’s something I struggle with myself. I’m impatient and tend to skim emails, instructions, and so on — and wind up asking “duh” questions that later make me want to kick myself.

Just today, I received a long email about my son’s soccer team and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out when his practices are. Only after I sent a desperate email to the coach did I reread the message and realize they had attached a schedule.

We writers tend to be scattered and easily overwhelmed. I’m not sure if these characteristics are typical of creative people (probably), or if there’s something about the writing life that makes us this way.

But knowing this, lately I’ve been making an intensive effort to thoroughly study and understand everything I read.

This is especially, super, vitally important because most of our communication with clients, editors, and sources is via email. And too often, I get frantic messages from writers saying things like, “I just read my assignment letter and realized I was supposed to write a sidebar — and the article is due today!”

Here’s how to bump up your reading comprehension: (And yes, I’m working on doing these things, too!)

  • When an editor sends you instructions or a request, read them carefully — then read them again. If, after careful reading, there’s something you don’t understand — ask.
  • When you’re scheduling an interview or anything else, double-check to make sure you know what time zone it’s in, and whether it’s AM or PM. It’s amazing how many people automatically assume everything happens in their own time zone!
  • If you received an email from an editor that seems to be missing a vital piece of information, like the word count of an assignment, go back through your communications by reading through all the emails in the thread. Chances are, he mentioned it in a previous email.
  • Re-read your assignment specs right before you begin writing. Chances are, you’ve forgotten some details from when you first read them.

Writers, let’s get reading — and we’ll cut out a lot of angst, do better work — and get more assignments!

How about you: Have you ever misread a piece of information from a client or colleague — and if so, what happened? Bonus points if your story is funny!

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7955. My tweets

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7956. Guest Post and Giveaway: Robin Talley, Author of Lies We Tell Ourselves


Robin Talley hijacked the virtual dashboard this morning to chat about her research for Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Top 5 most surprising facts I learned while conducting research for Lies We Tell Ourselves:

I had to do a lot of research to write Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Since the story follows the relationship between a black girl and a white girl during the Virginia school integration crisis in 1959, I read memoirs, oral histories, and news articles about the desegregation process, trying to learn everything I could about what life was like for the students on the front lines of the battle.

But I also needed to know more run-of-the-mill facts about life for high school students in the late 1950s. So I spent a lot of time pouring over vintage yearbooks and reading up on day-to-day life at the time.

Here are a few eyebrow-raising tidbits about life in the 1950s:

1. You didn’t wash your hair every day.

Today’s routine of showering and shampooing daily would’ve sounded crazy in 1959. How often teenage girls actually washed their hair varied, but this vintage hair-care video suggests washing “with a mild soap” every two weeks:

By the way, in 1959, you basically had one hairstyle option if you were a teenage girl. Long hair and straight hair were both unthinkable. Your hair didn’t fall past your chin, and it was curly, and that was that. If your hair wasn’t naturally curly, you got a perm or you set it up in rollers every night. Presumably using the time you saved by only washing it every two weeks.

2. School dress codes were no joke.

No one ever wore jeans to school. Boys would wear khakis with belts and solid-colored Oxford shirts with socks to match. Girls, meanwhile, would never think of wearing pants to school at all. Everyone wore loafers, saddle shoes, or flats, since high heels were forbidden, except for dances. Skirts were long ? well below the knee ? and tights hadn’t been invented yet, so to stay warm in the winter, you either wore knee socks or you just shivered. This yearbook photo shows girls wearing thick coats over bare legs ? and somehow smiling in spite of it.

3. Relationships were no joke, either.

The rules for dating and romance were formal for high school students in the fifties. Boys asked girls on dates ? never the other way around, except for Sadie Hawkins dances ? and, after a sufficient number of outings to movies or football games, a boy might ask a girl to go steady. To do this, he’d give her something of his to wear ? an identity bracelet, a class ring, a football pin, a letter sweater ? and whatever it was, she’d wear that thing every day of her life until they broke up. Going-steady couples walked down the school hallways together with the boys carrying the girls’ books. My mother told me about a trend she remembered where girls would wear blouses that had loops of fabric at the back of the collar. She remembered one going-steady couple at her school who walked down the hall together with the boy’s finger looped through the fabric at the back of her blouse collar. It sounds like nothing short of a leash.

4. Double standards for girls were the norm.

As I mentioned up in #3, the decision of who dated whom and who went steady with whom was almost entirely up to boys ? they were the only ones who could suggest a date or a relationship. After that, though, it was up to girls to keep the boys in check. It was considered normal for boys to want to hook up, but girls were supposed to stop them, or else. Even if you were going steady, girls were still supposed to rein their boyfriends in when they got “carried away.” A girl who kissed on a first date was “easy.” So was a girl who wore a skirt that was deemed too tight. My aunt told me about one classmate she remembered who was known for routinely too far with boys ? meaning she and the boys she dated would engage in extended kissing sessions. The other girls at their school referred to this girl in whispered voices as a “make out.”

5. Air raid drills were part of life.

The 1950s were near the height of the Cold War. During classes, it was routine for a practice air-raid siren to go off. Students were expected to duck down under their desks or go out into the hallway and kneel against the wall with their arms over their heads. These tactics wouldn’t have helped in the slightest if there had been an actual nuclear attack, of course ? nuclear weapons do far too much damage for it to make a difference what position you’re in ? but they did a great job of freaking out the students who went through the drills, and of reminding them of the Communist threat that loomed over everyone’s heads.

About the book:

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. 

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. 

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.” 

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another. 

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Robin Talley, Author of Lies We Tell Ourselves appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7957. Writing advice? Don’t take it just from me — take it from…

…all of these folks, too!

Tom Angleberger
Artie Bennett
Judy Blundell
Nick Bruel
Michael Buckley
Bryan Collier
Barbara Dee
Bruce Degan
Ame Dyckman
Marla Frazee
Robin Preiss Glasser
Deborah Heiligman
Victoria Kann
Alan Katz
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Peter Lerangis
Gail Carson Levine
Brian Lies
CJ Lyons
Florence Minor
Wendell Minor
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Matt Phelan
Peter Reynolds
Judy Schachner
Eric Velasquez
Jane Yolen

We each helped author Katie Davis celebrate the 200th episode of her Brain Burps About Books podcast by chipping in some writing advice. I especially enjoyed Brian Lies’ tip for writing in rhyme, but who knows whose advice will be most helpful for you?

Check us all out and let Katie know what you think!

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7958. Coloring Page Tuesday - Pumpkin Pirate!

      Aaaargh! Two of my favorite things in one! I may have to cut my pumpkin to look like this, but where to find the hat. Hmmmm. Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
     CLICK HERE for more Halloween coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!

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7959. Memories of then, and writing now - Clémentine Beauvais

Today, three stories, followed by a few thoughts...

Story 1. The hole.
In my parents’ building in Paris, where I spent most of my childhood, there’s a hole in the wall near the ground - a hole big enough for a child to crawl through, and as a child I would always do so instead of using the door. Most of the time I’d already wriggled through the hole before my parents had found their keys - and I’d open the glass door from the inside, extremely dusty but very conscious of my power.
As time went by, I somehow stopped crawling through the hole. 
One day, when I got home from school, I realised I’d forgotten my keys. No problem, I thought, I can just go through the hole. But of course when I tried I couldn’t - it was too narrow for my shoulders.
It didn’t make me sad. But for some time afterwards, when I thought about it, I confusedly wondered - was it really because I’d grown too big for it that I couldn’t go through the hole anymore, or was it because I’d stopped going through the hole that I’d grown too big for it?

Story 2. The spatula.

As a child I was constantly, voraciously hungry. I would actually dream that I was eating roast chicken with cream, or Nutella crêpes or cheese. Only pride would prevent me from crying if I had any reason to believe that another child, or indeed adult, had been given more food than me. I couldn’t focus on anything if there was a vending machine in sight, especially if it sold Kinder Bueno, my favourite chocolate bar and an absolute torture, as I was always divided between the desire to eat each chunk in one go and the temptation to open them up like little boxes and lick the cream inside.
I had a friend whose mum made excellent cakes every day. I often stayed with them on holiday, and my friend and I would prowl like vulture around the kitchen table as her mum finished scraping the dough out of the mixing bowl and into the cake dish with a spoon. Then we’d fight furiously over the remnants of dough in the bowl, with fingers, tongues and chins.
One day, her mum bought a silicon spatula. I’d never seen a silicon spatula before. 
We watched in horror as the ruthlessly efficient implement left barely a trail of cake dough in the mixing bowl. Every day after that, we swallowed back tears, and I clearly remember my head spinning with frustrated desire, as increasingly spotless mixing bowls ended up in the sink to be washed. We prayed and implored my friend’s mum to leave us at least a tiny bit, but she was under the impression that it was less useful to us raw than baked. 
We devised the perfect crime: we pushed the spatula all the way to the bottom of the cutlery drawer and it fell behind it, and behind the freezer beneath the drawer, with a satisfying CLACK, joining dozens of lost spoons, scissors and other expatriates from the overfilled drawer.
For the next few days the wooden spoon returned and with it the minutes of bowl-licking. Then they bought another spatula.

Story 3. The castle.
My mother was pregnant with my sister; I was five and a half years old. We had an absolutely tiny flat in Paris and my parents were looking for a less absolutely tiny flat. I knew how much they wanted to spend on it, and I ‘helped’ by looking at ads in the windows of estate agencies.
Suddenly I spotted an ad for a castle, a castle, for sale at a much lower price than the one my parents were ready to put into the new flat. It had turrets, an immense garden, a forest.
I listened, without understanding, as my mother explained that they didn’t want a castle, because they wanted to live in Paris. I pointed out that the ad said that it was only half and hour from Paris. My mother laughed and said no, Clementine, listen, we’re not buying a castle. We’re buying a flat in Paris.
I remember thinking, distinctly and with real alarm, feeling that this realisation would have an enormous impact on my future life: my parents are mad. I live with people who are mad.


I have three silicon spatulas now, and when I finally get a permanent job I will likely buy a small house or a flat. Not a castle.
It was ‘us’ children versus ‘them’ adults once upon a time, and now it’s the opposite. They’re really not like us, are they? I’m just not that hungry anymore. Sure, the memory of that hunger prevents me from getting too annoyed at them when they steal bits of mozzarella from the salads before they get to the table (arrghh!!!), or when they fly into a tantrum for an ice cream. 
And I think it’s amazing that I once wanted a castle. Amazingly mad.
Don't you think? 
It would be possible to write children's stories from all those intense memories, and to write them as if we truly believed that castles should indeed be bought and that cakes should preferably be eaten raw. But would it be true? Would it be honest? We don't... do that anymore. 
Would they be our stories now, these nostalgic recollections?
How do we write for children, having changed so much? 

Do we want to sound, when we write, like we're imagining that we can still go through the hole? That would leave our whole bodies behind, and what made them grow...


Clémentine Beauvais writes books in both French and English. The former are of all kinds and shapes for all ages, and the latter humour and adventure stories with Hodder and Bloomsbury. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.  

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7960. Children's Picture Book Review: Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies

The sweet smell of super-duper snicker doodles wafts through the air as Grandma prepares for the bake sale. Singing away as she wraps each dozen into plastic bags, she is astonished that bags are missing. Calling on her granddaughter, Maggie Mae, to help solve the mystery of the missing cookies, Maggie Mae puts her detective skills to the test. Interviewing each member of the household, grandfather, brother and even Toby the dog she attempts to catch the culprit and to unearth what the whistle noise before a bag of snicker doodles goes missing has to do with it.

Join YA and Kids' author, Margo Dill as she creates a mystery of intrigue that will have the reader jumping to their own conclusions in hopes of solving the mystery before Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire does.  Jack Foster’s trademark illustrations provide sweetness throughout.

Learn more about Margo Dill’s intriguing writing world at http://margodill.com/blog/.

Visit Jack Foster’s colorful world at http://jacktoon.blogspot.com.


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

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

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

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

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

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

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November is going to be a busy month, with a new book plus appearances in Amherst, MA, Northampton, MA, & Brooklyn, NY. So let's get to it. NEW BOOK! November 4th, 2014 will see the release of Elephant and Piggie's newest adventure, WAITING IS NOT EASY!   Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have

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7962. Celebrating COMPULSION Release Day plus a Giveaway!

Cue confetti! Pop the champagne! 

It's finally arrived, and I'm so incredibly excited! So excited that I'm hijacking the post today. I did an interview with Martina and her editor at Simon Pulse, Sara Sargent. If you weren't already excited enough about COMPULSION, you will be after you read this!

I got an email today that my copy of COMPULSION shipped, and I realized that would be my fourth copy of the book. Well that made me feel a little greedy, so I decided to do a giveaway of my pre-ordered copy. Use the Rafflecopter form at the end of the post to enter.

Thanks to both Martina and Sara for the interview!

A HUGE thank you also (on behalf of Martina, because she insists!!!) to Katie at Mundie Moms and the amazing bloggers who participated for doing the incredible Compulsion for Magic blog tour!  Don't miss the fun links to interviews and guest posts from fabulous authors like Kimberly Derting, Kami Garcia, Beth Revis, Megan Shepherd, Kat Zhang and many more.

~ Jan

Martina, for those who don’t know the term, what’s a Southern Gothic?
People use that term in many ways, especially this fall when there are several novels coming out that publishers are calling Southern Gothic. The way I’ve written Compulsion, so I guess you could call it my spin on Southern Gothic, takes the classic gothic combination of romance, mild creepiness, and the supernatural from novels like Rebecca, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but takes place in the American South. Instead of moldy, crumbling castles and brooding moors, it’s got crumbling mansions, a river that turns to fire at midnight, and trees dripping with Spanish moss.

What drew me to this type of novel is the permission to unabashedly put emotion and atmosphere on the page, to take plot and character and backstory to extremes in a way that stays with a reader. Gothics are books about ruins, both human and architectural, complicated histories, hereditary curses and madness, about haunted houses, and characters who mirror and reflect each other. They're about love, secrets, mystery, and often murder.

A traditional Southern Gothic, a slightly different animal than the pure Gothic, incorporates a crumbling aristocracy to go along with the decaying houses, which let me play with social structures and reality versus expectation. Southern Gothics are not only set in the South, they’re set in a place that is still dealing with the history of the South. I’ve touched on that, and there’s more of it in Persuasion, the second book of the trilogy. But what I’ve written isn’t a traditional Southern Gothic in the vein of Faulkner or Welty.

Compulsion focuses more on romance, myth, and family, with emphasis on tragedy instead of horror. The School Library Journal calls it “a little bit Gone with the Wind, a little bit Romeo and Juliet.” That’s about right. Instead of using grotesque to mean macabre, as is often the case, I’ve also gone back to the latin root of the word and incorporated a lot of hidden places. Finally, I’ve given the characters more of a “happily ever after” than you’d typically see in the classic Southern Gothic novels. Not completely, sappily HEA, but still.

Sara, is that what Compulsion is like?
Compulsion inspires me to use a lot of adjectives. You should see me in meetings. I get very carried away. In such a small space here, I’ll only use a few: sweeping, romantic, bewitching, charming, alluring. I really could go on.

Martina’s debut is one of those rare books that you are happy to read slowly, savoring every page. I don’t want to miss one kiss between Barrie and Eight or one lick of description of Watson Island. It’s more than Martina’s writing, though. It’s the plot and the coming-of-age tale that she’s recounting. There’s such depth of feeling and emotion to Barrie’s arc, and there’s also a lot of great mystery. It’s remarkable how much goodness Martina packs into these pages.

Martina, how important is the supernatural element in a Southern Gothic?
That varies. There’s only a very small element of the supernatural in To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, although you definitely get a sense of good and evil being bigger than the actions of the residents of Maycomb. Ditto with Gone with the Wind. But then there are books like Melissa Marr’s Graveminder and her recent Made for You, or Beautiful Creatures, for example, where the supernatural element becomes a driving force in the book. In Compulsion, I wanted the supernatural element to sneak up on you, to make it clear that while magic may exist in other places, on Watson Island it is part of the fabric of the place. To that extent, I began with magical realism and morphed from there.

Sara, how does the magical realism balance with the supernatural in Compulsion, and how much supernatural do you like in your favorite Southern Gothics?
I think the magical realism elements come out most strongly with the yunwi—magical spirits—that inhabit the island. That balances with certain supernatural twists, like the founding families’ gifts and the curse on the Colesworths. Together, these elements make the atmosphere come alive because you have the natural, environmental world and the human world charged with energy and power and force. It creates quite the maelstrom!

In general with my books, I love a twinge of the supernatural or a twinge of magical realism. It’s fun to play with those genres and give narratives a little extra oomph of interesting. Because, really, who didn’t want powers when they were a teenager? It’s all part of the fantasy and escapism of reading, and the fun of working with and reading YA.

Martina, where does the mythology in Compulsion come from? There’s a lot of it in there, and it isn’t anything we normally see.
The sense of historical context was one of the elements of the Southern Gothic that I wanted to keep to in writing Compulsion. Due mainly to the tragedy of slavery and the way settlers and the government mistreated Native Americans, the South became a melting pot of different cultures sharing, and in many cases, marrying not just people and folklore and traditions, but also magic.

Bottle trees, which you still see adorning people’s lawns while you’re driving from Charleston to Edisto Island, for example, came over from Africa with the slaves, but the roots are actually much older and likely have the same origin as the idea of genies in a bottle. Porch ceilings are commonly painted “haint” blue in the South, because ghosts, or “haunts” don’t like to cross water, and therefore it's believed that painting your door or porch that color will fool them into going elsewhere. There’s a lot of mythology like that in the trilogy, incorporated into the story of Watson Island. That’s not uncommon. But a lot of people don’t realize that there was a mixing of Native American magic with the magic brought over from Africa and the West Indies, or even that there was a mixing of African Americans and Native Americans at the time. That intersection of different magics is something I wanted to explore, so I incorporated some Cherokee legends with the African American folklore, added some of the pirate and plantation history, shook it all up and out popped Watson Island.

Sara, did you get that sense of history, and what’s your favorite part of that mythology?
The idea of bottle trees is something I’ve long been fascinated with. So it was certainly a treat when Martina used them in her novel and I had a chance to learn more about them! Which is true of all the history and mythology she’s exploring in the book. If I am being forced to choose, though, my favorite part of the mythology was the Native American lore and inspiration. I felt those threads came through especially strongly in the history of the island—not to mention the gifts and curses. I love a book with really strong atmosphere and sense of place, and the way Martina uses Native American history strengthened both those aspects of Compulsion. She gets in touch with the land and nature and the environment, and all of that is rendered even more vivid by the mythology itself.

Martina, what were some of the challenges writing a Southern Gothic like this?
Weaving together the history, mythology, and mysteries was definitely a challenge. Barrie comes to Watson Island knowing nothing about it, and we learn everything as she learns it. That’s a trope imposed by the Gothic genre, the arrival of the “innocent” who shakes up three-hundred years of tradition and acceptance of the status quo. It was tempting to speed through that and get to the big explosions and confrontations faster, but there’s a lot going on below the surface and the genre demands that I give that time to brew and build.

Barrie, my protagonist, was herself a challenge. She was so growing up and so desperate for family connection that she's just a wee bit stubborn. : ) Writing her while she's fighting her attraction to Eight and fighting to maintain her own identity, making her strong and often WRONG, I often had to make decisions about what I would like her to do as an author and what she, stubbornly, wants to do because of who she is.

Sara, where do you think Compulsion succeeded best? What do you love most about the book?
Always have been and always will be a sucker for romances. That, and a book that transports me to a whole other time and place so well that I lose all sense of the world around me. So, for me, Compulsion was a success on both of those levels. I fell hard for Eight and Barrie’s love story—and I was positively swoony over Eight specifically. Then the Southern setting completely captivated my senses, and all I wanted was to travel there and live there among the trees and by the river. So what I love is how strongly Martina makes me feel, about her characters and about her setting. It makes for some seriously compelling reading. Which is fortunate since now I get to work on the second and third books in the series… #luckygirl

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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7963. Pre-PiBo Day 3: Lauri Meyers Summons the Muse (plus a prize!)

Lauri Meyersby Lauri Meyers

I’m totes ready for PiBoIdMo. I’ve got my notebook, my combo pen/highlighter, and a jumbo bag of turbo boost coffee. But has anyone seen my muse?

Perhaps buying her a Cloak of Invisibility for Halloween wasn’t very smart, but I couldn’t resist. (She’s such a Potterhead.) I’m sure she’s doing super important invisible things, like reading subversive picture books or gorging on the trick or treat Snickers or playing Candy Crush in the bathroom.

Luckily, I’ve got a handy flowchart to help me summon my muse.


Click to view full size.

Hey! Here’s my muse! If there’s one thing she loves more than a Weasley, it’s rainbow flatulence.

You’ll have no problem finding your muse during PiBovember, but in other months try these tricks (Meditate, Play, Build, Ideate, Pass Gas) which have been highlighted in amazing PiBo posts of the past.


Lauri Meyers is a children’s writer living part-time in New Jersey and part-time in the made-up world in her head. She enjoys making people laugh until milk squirts out of their nose holes. She is hoping an agent will fall in love with her picture book A HOLE IS MORE THAN A HOLE which she dug out from a PiBo 2013 idea. Julie Rowan-Zoch, who illustrated How to Summon Your Muse, is the illustrator of the YOU’RE HERE! board book series.


Lauri is giving away a PiBoIdMo Coffee Mug to fill with your own turbo coffee.


Leave one comment to enter. One winner will be randomly selected at the conclusion of Pre-PiBo.

Good luck!

14 Comments on Pre-PiBo Day 3: Lauri Meyers Summons the Muse (plus a prize!), last added: 10/28/2014
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7964. The First Ruff Life

The Sunday that has just passed was a great day; I got to see the first ever Ruff Life character Rover.  I hadn't seen Rover for a long time, but as soon as I walked in my friend's house, her beloved Golden Retriever, who I spent so many years walking when he was younger, struggled up on his back legs and came over for a hug, stroke and a kiss.

He's an old dog now and not able to get around very well.  He certainly couldn't get up to some of the crazy things he used to, but my eyes lit up as soon as I saw him.  We had spent many hours walking the fields of Rothley and Mountsorrel when my daughter attended Primary school.  Rover used to live at my house during the week and go back to my friend's on weekends.  This suited everyone as both my friends worked during the day.

Rover and I used to love our time together outdoors; we would meet up with other dog owners and the dogs would run off and play.  I miss those days. But life changed when my daughter went to high school and my friends' began a family of their own. I changed my job to work during the day, instead of at night, and my daughter, whose school was located close to where Rover lived, would walk him during her lunch hour.

He became a great inspiration for me, especially his unique and funny character traits that I've included in the books.  He's always been my canine hero, who is always affectionate and funny and he has made a terrific main character (Max) for the Ruff Life series of children's spy action books.

Whenever I pick up the books, especially the first one 'It's A Ruff Life', I am reminded of just how unique Rover is, and so really the biggest dedication for the success of the book series and everything else that is exciting and about to happen at Ruff Life goes ultimately to my beautiful four legged friend Rover.

B R Tracey

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7965. How Morals and Basic Needs Influence a Character’s Strengths

You ever have one of those mornings where you’re just feeling…bleh? Life wasn’t exactly ticking along like clockwork and I was struggling with self-doubt. Then I clicked open my inbox and read the most wonderful message from a reader praising our Trait Thesaurus books. The most interesting thing was that she had been really touched by the front matter, rather than the entries. 

Well, I perked right up at that. It made me think of some of the really cool things Angela and I have accomplished over the past three years—of the hard work, the struggles to come up with front matter that would be as helpful as the entries in our books. So today, in a state of nostalgia, I’m reposting an oldie but a goodie, which originally aired at Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog. Enjoy, and if you think of something nice to say to someone today, please don’t hesitate to share it. You never know when someone might need a little encouragement!



Since writing our last book, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes, I’ve been thinking a lot about personality traits and how they’re formed. Flaws are incredibly important for a character to have—and, let’s be honest: they’re really interesting to read about. But one of the main reasons we fall in love with characters is because we want them to succeed, to achieve their goals and overcome their flaws; this is where the positive attributes come in. The fact is, every character needs both positive and negative traits, and these traits need to be chosen thoughtfully.

When it’s time to create your character and figure out what his traits will be, you should take into account many factors that influence their development: genetics, upbringing and caregivers, past wounds, environment, peers—all of these things absolutely cause certain traits to organically emerge for a character. (For more information on how these factors influence trait development, please see this post on the topic.) Today, I’d like to zero in on what I believe are the two biggest influencers on trait formation: morality and basic needs.


courtesy: Paul Downey @ Creative Commons


Every character—protagonist, villain, sidekick, mentor, etc.—lives by a moral code. His beliefs about right and wrong are deeply embedded in his psyche and will influence his decisions, day-to-day actions, the way he treats people, how he spends his free time—they will impact every area of his life, including his personality. A character will only embrace traits that in some way align with his moral beliefs. Because of this, it’s crucial that we know what our characters believe and value in order to figure out which qualities will define him.

Take, for example, Zack Mayo from An Officer and a Gentleman. Mayo’s morality is largely derived from a traumatic childhood event: finding his mother’s body after she killed herself. Mayo’s father took him in but made it clear that taking responsibility for an impressionable boy wasn’t going to put a crimp in his affinity for drugs and prostitutes.

Fast forward a decade, and Mayo’s moral code has been formed from this sad crucible: look out for yourself because no one else will. Many of his defining traits stem directly from this belief. He’s independent, opportunistic, persistent, apathetic, emotionally withdrawn, and selfish. It would have made no sense for someone with Mayo’s moral code to embrace selflessness or loyalty, because to embody these traits, he’d have to go against his most important belief.

This is why its crucial to know your character’s backstory. All those factors I mentioned earlier? Put those puzzle pieces together to figure out what your character now values, what he believes about right and wrong. Once you know his moral code, you’ll know which traits he’ll embody and which ones he’ll disdain. His defining traits will be pretty much fixed because to reject them, he’d have to reject what he most believes in.

Basic Needs

But sometimes, as authors, a drastic shift in morality is exactly what we want for our characters. This kind of change doesn’t occur easily, but it can happen under the right circumstances. This is where basic needs come into play.

According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, individuals are driven by needs that fall into five categories:

1. Physiological: the need to secure one’s biological and physiological needs
2. Safety and Security: the need to keep oneself and one’s loved ones safe
3. Love and Belonging: the need to form meaningful connections with others
4. Esteem and Recognition: the need to increase one’s sense of esteem
5. Self-Actualization: the need to realize one’s full potential and achieve personal fulfillment

The first level is the most important; if a character’s physiological need isn’t being met, he’ll do whatever it takes to meet that need. Once it’s met, the next level becomes the most crucial. And so on.

If you’re crafting a story and you discover that you need one of your characters to undergo a major moral shift, simply take away one of his basic needs. An awesome example of this is the movie Prisoners. Hugh Jackman’s character is a responsible citizen — morally upright and a family man. But then his daughter goes missing (i.e., his need for safety and security is no longer being met). He’s certain he knows who abducted her, but the police won’t do anything about it. He tries everything he can think of to get his daughter back while working within the confines of his moral beliefs. When those ideas run out, he begins wrestling with the options that don’t coincide with his moral code. Desperate to regain his former equilibrium where all of his needs were being met, his morality shifts. He abducts his daughter’s suspected kidnapper and tortures him in an effort to learn of her whereabouts. His basic belief that all human beings are deserving of dignity and respect has changed—and so have his traits. Respect has turned to cruelty. Centeredness gives way to fanaticism. And all of this can be traced back to one need that is no longer being met.

We’re cruel taskmasters, we authors. But it’s through difficulty that true character emerges, and if we want our protagonists to grow, we have to provide growth opportunities. Know your character’s moral code and choose suitable traits. If you need your character to make a big change, threaten one of his basic needs. Using these two influencers, you’re sure to come up with a character who is believable and will resonate with readers.

The post How Morals and Basic Needs Influence a Character’s Strengths appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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7966. I CAN'T BE FAITHFUL--to genre

So here’s my problem. I can’t be faithful. I’m not monogamous. When it comes to fiction, I just can’t do it. It would be simpler if I could be. But both as a reader and a writer, I’m drawn to many different genres: literary, fantasy, realism, mystery, sci-fi. To make matters worse I like serious novels that also have some kind of humor in them. I’m most excited by fiction that blends many of these genres and elements.

I’m a mess.

I was on a panel at a writing conference recently and one of my fellow-panelists said that the problem with genre bending/blending was expectation. An editor on the panel agreed. His point: The audience has certain expectations for a genre and if those expectations aren’t met they’re not going to like the novel.

The panelist said that it was like going to a soft-drink machine and pressing Coke and getting a Dr. Pepper. I absolutely see how that would be disappointing, even maddening. I don’t care for Dr. Pepper. Sorry DP fans.

And I do get what he means about expectation, but many of the writers I love have convinced readers to know them well enough to know that their fiction won’t fit neatly into a genre label. A few examples would be Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Chris Moore—or they wander into new territory and later everyone says they’re writing in a new genre-- like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and magical realism.

I like realism as a writer and a reader. I’m a fan of John Green and Pete Hautman (who writes in many genres) and Rainbow Rowell and Francisco Stork—to name a few. But I also like fantasy—The Golden Compass, Elsewhere, Harry Potter, and many, many others.

These two genres, when done well, really get me excited as a reader.

They also excite me as a writer but I don’t want to have to choose. I don’t want to write one or the other. I want to write realism and I want to write fantasy. Both at the same time. I’m telling people I write fantastical realism (which I’m pretty sure isn’t a real literary term but if I say it with confidence maybe I won’t get called on it) to try to describe what I do in Utopia, Iowa—my novel coming out early next year. There are magical creatures in that novel and people who have gifts that are magical. But the day to day of the novel has many ordinary moments. My main character has pretty normal teenager problems: girl problems, school problems, parent problems. He has a dream of becoming a writer for movies and it both scares and exhilarates him. He also happens to see ghosts.

This is what excites me as a writer. This mix.

To make matters worse and add yet another element: I like to write characters who find humor in our sad, strange, funny world. So that’s another thing that excites me when I write fiction. Writing with a sense of humor about the strange and sometimes serious aspects of our world. There are many writers who have this particular problem: Gaiman, Prachett, Green and, of course, Mr. Dickens and Ms. Austen. Many more. I love reading fiction that has this element, which, I suppose, is one of the reasons I love writing it.

Maybe all I’m saying in all this is that as both a writer and a reader the books that most excite me are the ones that surprise me in some way.

I think you have to write what excites you. Anything less—even if it will be easier to sell because it fits more neatly into a category—will be less. The reader will notice. And, more importantly, you won’t have nearly as much fun. 

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7967. New Page On The Great Raven(and an update)

Okay, firstly, I've updated the page on the side where it tells you where you can get my books. Now that Crime Time is available in ebook, I fixed that up, adding another website, Boomerang Books, which now has Crime Time in paperback, as well as an interview with me, a very good one, by Julie Fison, a fellow Ford Street writer who writes for Boomerang, as does my friend George Ivanoff. Go check it out here, when you have time.

I have also added a page.

I have spoken to you of the story I wrote as a submission for Fablecroft's Cranky Ladies Of History anthology. It was a story I worked hard on and love. Trouble is, it's historical fiction. It's very difficult these days to sell historical fiction, especially in short form. I know the lovely History Girls did an anthology, but it was only written by their members, all top historical novelists. I was worried about what I'd do with it if it didn't sell. Well, it didn't sell.  Not because it wasn't good enough, but because my heroine might have been transgender, if that's what you call someone who feels like a man trapped in a female body. Personally, I don't think so, with all the research I did, just that she was a girl who wanted to be a doctor and took the only way she could, and I don't think it matters anyway after all these years, but when you have an anthology called Cranky Ladies Of History, I guess you don't want to take a chance that one of the ladies might have been a lad, if a lad who almost certainly had a baby. (Nor could I try for an LGBT anthology, if there was one, because I present her as, well, a her).

But that's publishing for you. No point in getting cranky with the publishers, who will, I have no doubt, produce a fabulous collection. Writers have to develop thick skins to survive.

If this was speculative fiction, I'd simply find another market for it. But it's historical fiction. Right now, there are no other markets for it. It would be a shame to leave a story I put so much work into in the metaphorical bottom drawer, so until there is another market, I'm giving it to you, my readers. I have copied and pasted it into that page for those who just want to read it, and made a basic ePub ebook on Creative Bookbuilder for those of you who'd like it in ebook - just follow the link to Dropbox. Sorry, mobi readers, my app doesn't do mobi. But you can read it online.

Do take a look.

After having been burned by one attempt at historical fiction, I'm about to see if I can produce something usable for Paul Collins, who has kindly invited me to submit historical fiction for his next anthology for children. He really prefers bushranger fiction to stuff set in the sixties or seventies, the era I know best, and he has been very supportive of my writing over the years, so it's off to the library to immerse myself in the Victorian era in Australia, and see what I can come up with. Fingers crossed that this one will happen for me! 

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One more scene from one of the plays I'm working on. Actually, I see this more as a film script but we'll see where it goes as it progresses. Quite pleased so far.

What is this? Move away and let us pass

Please don’t create problems

All we wanna do is stretch our legs. Nothing more and for whatever reason, you won’t let us

That won’t be possible

This is absolutely ridiculous. You can't force us to stay here without a good reason. I’m going to walk, like it or not

Me too!

(bending over and speaking softly)
I strongly advise you to stay put. Take my advice

Sorry pal – you gotta provide more information than vague hints and warnings

Don’t ask me any more questions that I can’t answer. Look - stay put and I’ll see what I can do

My knees are really painful. Can I at least stand up and take a few steps?

A few steps but no long walks


I got news for you, bud. I ain’t got any intention of staying put. You’re really over-reacting to a simple request of taking a small walk through the train

You didn't hear it from me but rumor has it that a passenger has died

What does this have to do with us? These things happen all the time. We promise we’ll stay away from wherever they’re keeping his body

Could be just a rumor but even if it was true, I wouldn’t be allowed to say. Company rules and all that

You do realize you make no sense whatsoever. Why even mention it to us?

Like I said, can't really share any information...

Why all the mystery?

Look - I was told that we'll be delayed in Timmersville. That's all I can tell you right now.

(CONDUCTOR hurries off)

Weird. The guy was really nervous. Kept wiping the top of his lip. If it was a heart attack or normal causes, he wouldn’t bother telling us

Trying out your detective skills, are we?

(staring out of the window)
That’s what you get from hanging out with reporters.  Kind’a rubs off on a person.  Well…well… police are getting on now... This is more than a heart attack for sure.

Maybe you’re right. Hmmm...wonder where Mr. Crazy Man got to.

We're never gonna find out anything sitting here. Don't know about you but I feel like stretching my legs

My old knees are stiff. A little walk works wonders

And if we happen to overhear something...


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7969. Home Grown Books

Homegrown Booksby Cecile Dyer and Kyla Ryman (Home Grown Books, 2014)

Homegrown Books Homegrown BooksI’ve written before about how I’m a sucker for board books, but this new-to-me publisher has raised the board book bar. These books are both meaningful and beautiful, which is a touch balance to strike in a book so seemingly simple. This one, Dress Up, shows a series of cats with killer expressions donning all sorts of odds and ends. A fancy cat fastens a bow to one side, a dapper cat sports a vest. Mask! Scarf! Glasses! Cats with style, for sure.

Homegrown BooksThis board book is a second edition reprint, because it originally showed up in teensy paperback form as part of a 9-book Little Reader series, The Play Book Set.

Homegrown Books

Homegrown BooksSee Dress Up up there with the orange cover? The insides are similar, but the pictures are bordered with white space holding the words.

Nothing in these books is too cutesy, too precious, or too simple. The art is sophisticated, accessible, and challenges a little brain’s wonderings.

Homegrown Books Homegrown BooksKids need good art, and Home Grown Books is doing a bang up job fitting that bill. (Plus, any sax-playing hen is fine by me.)

Clever packaging includes tips on how to read with the bittiest in your family. Talk about the pictures! Make connections! Everyday concepts meet rich art. It’s a lovely thing.

Homegrown Books Homegrown Books

Eco-friendly and recycled paper to boot! Lots to love about these new books on the block. Find a babe, stat.

Here’s illustrator Cecile Dyer talking about watching the world, interacting with young readers and artists, and of course, these these tiny, book-shaped treasures.




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7970. Author Interview: Ginger Wadsworth on Yosemite's Songster: One Coyote's Story

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story, by Ginger Wadsworth, illustrated by Daniel San Souci (Yosemite Conservancy, 2013). From the promotional copy:

A sudden rockslide in Yosemite Valley in California’s Sierra Nevada separates Coyote from her mate. 

Readers journey throughout the valley observing its many famous landmarks on four paws with Coyote. You’ll explore both the natural world and the human world with one’s nose leading the way.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Illustrator Dan San Souci and I have known each other for years; we’re both part of the San Francisco Bay area community of children’s book authors and artists.

 At an informal party, Dan and I chatted about writing a book together, specifically about a coyote in Yosemite National Park. Dan, along with his brother, Bob, had already written several books for the park, including their Two Bear Cubs, a Miwok Legend from California's Yosemite.

I had published John Muir, Wilderness Protector (Lerner), Camping with the President (Calkins Creek), about the 1903 Yosemite camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir, plus Giant Sequoia Trees (Lerner).

Photo by Ginger Wadsworth
I’ve visited Yosemite National Park my entire life as well as many other parts of the Sierra Nevada. In fact, I try to explore the park every year. Dan is just as familiar as I am with this amazing natural wonder.

We both agree that working in California’s Yosemite National Park, doing research in the library there or hiking the trails with a camera, binoculars, or art supplies, is almost like cheating. To be allowed to work in this gorgeous setting is a gift.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to work with Dan San Souci? His art is breathtaking! I said “yes,” and the rest is history!

How did you come up with a story line?

During one of my stays in the park, I took a nature walk with Ranger Shelton Johnson. We crossed Stoneman Meadow on one of the protective, wooden boardwalks.

We were a multicultural group and didn’t need to communicate with one another when Ranger Johnson pointed out famous rock formations or falls, or had us cross arms across chests to bang gently against one another to demonstrate how glaciers are formed.

At one time, when most of the group was looking up, I was peering into the meadow. A pair of pointed ears was moving through the grasses. Every so often, a coyote leaped high to pounce on something. It was “mousing” – hunting for an afternoon snack of field mice.

And so my story was born . . . of this wild dog that shares the park with us . . . and vice versa, yet we seldom notice one because we’re so caught up in taking pictures of granite walls and waterfalls. I’m just as guilty as the next person!

Photo by Ginger Wadsworth
I set my story in the Yosemite Valley because that is where most first-time visitors come. They seldom step beyond the valley in their typical one-day explore. There are many iconic spots in the valley—the wedding chapel, the Merced River, Half Dome, the Ahwahnee Hotel, Bridalveil Fall, and more—and I wanted to include as many as sites possible.

I am familiar with Dan’s work, and I hoped that my story would offer him a smorgasbord of possible images. After seeing his first images, I was “blown away” by what he captured with his watercolors. I recognized almost spot he painted!

Illustration by Dan San Souci; used with permission.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

The book is published by the Yosemite Conservancy, a nonprofit organization devoted to educating visitors about the world that is Yosemite National Park. I could not anthropomorphize the coyote in any way, and I had to be scientifically accurate. I also had to be willing to make changes to reflect the philosophy that the Park Service wants to portray. That meant that the manuscript (and Dan’s art) was reviewed for accuracy by the National Park Service staff.

Illustration by Dan San Souci; used with permission.
For example, coyotes are natural scavengers, and in the park they occasionally eat human food. I’ve seen them raid overflowing garbage cans, so I mentioned that in the text.

The staff works hard, with signs and handouts, to remind visitors that coyotes, bears, and all other wild animals should find and eat their natural food. After my reviewers asked me to revise that section, I took out the raiding of garbage cans. I even corrected the name of a pine tree I’d misidentified, and I’m most grateful that other eyes looked for errors.

Would you tell us about winning the Spur Award?

Last spring I stayed in the Anza-Borrego Desert in Southern California, where I own a one-room cabin in an isolated canyon. It’s a perfect spot for this writer to concoct stories, photograph passing coyotes, or even go out and howl with them on a warm desert evening.

I have a well, electricity, and my cell phone sometimes works. Someone from the Western Writers of America called me to say that Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story earned the 2014 Spur Award in Storytelling, the best illustrated children’s book. I was to receive a Spur Award for the text, Dan San Souci for the art, and the Yosemite Conservancy for being the publisher.

I’ve been a member for many years, and this past June, I attended the Western Writers of America’s annual conference in Sacramento, California. Belinda Lantz from the Yosemite Conservancy and Nicole Geiger, my editor, joined me at the WWA banquet where I received my Spur Award.

I spoke about the honor of receiving this award that has an actual spur mounted on the plaque. I was thrilled with the award’s description of “the best storytelling for children in a 3,000 word book.”

After all, isn’t that what each of us strives for every single day?

It was my second Spur Award. Ten years ago, I earned one for Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers (Clarion) in the category of juvenile nonfiction. I dedicated my 2014 Spur Award to the memory of my father, Hal G. Evarts, Jr., a founding member of Western Writers of America, and a prolific author of books about the west.

In fact I am the third generation of writers of the west. I never met my grandfather, Hal G. Evarts, Sr.,who wrote books that first appeared in serial format in many of the “big slicks,” magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and The Red Book.

My Spur Awards hang in my office, over an original painting by Dan San Souci from Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story. It’s a stunning night image of a coyote howling at Half Dome.

What’s next?

Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story has been approved for a second printing! In the meantime Dan and I are under contract to write a second book for the Yosemite Conservancy. Think Sierra black bears that live in around Yosemite National Park. It’s due out in the fall of 2016. I’ve been doing research this summer; Dan will step in once the text is accepted. We have lots of ideas for future park-themed books.

What else would you like to share?

Nicholas and Willa via Paws to Read at Orinda Library (A). Photo by Michelle Bea, posted with permission. 

I have two Golden Retrievers, Scout, and Willa. My third dog, Oreo, is a young, miniature poodle mix. Most of the time, Willa, Scout, and Oreo join me in my office, lying under my desk while I write.

 Willa and Scout are trained therapy dogs. I take them into libraries and schools where elementary-aged children read to dogs as part of national program called R.E.A.D. Our local name is “Paws to Read.”

Oreo and I are in dog school every Wednesday night. We’ll see if he can settle down and earn his therapy dog certificate.

Helping children improve their reading, courtesy of my dogs, is a perfect extension of my writer’s hat.

Cynsational Notes

Photo by Bill Wadsworth
Ginger Wadsworth is the award-winning author of over 25 nonfiction books for young readers.

Biography subjects are John Muir, Rachel Carson, Benjamin Banneker, Cesar Chavez, Julia Morgan, Annie Oakley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and others; books with western American history themes including Words West: Voices of Young Pioneers (Clarion); and natural histories titles about the desert, rivers, sequoias, and spiders that include Up, Up, and Away (Charlesbridge).

Her most recent books are Camping With the President (Calkins Creek); First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low (Clarion); and Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story (Yosemite Conservancy).

She lives in Northern California with her family.

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7971. Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

Cooper Bartholomew's body is found at the foot of a cliff.


That's the official finding, that's what everyone believes. Cooper's girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They'd been happy, in love. Why would he take his own life?

As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal. Are those friends - and enemies - what they seem? Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?

Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead features a lot of things I love in fiction: multiple narrators! morally suspect characters! mysterious deaths! people who are not as they seem! events told in non-chronological order! I was very much looking forward to reading it after having read Beautiful Malice, Rebecca James' debut. (I've also had a lot of people recommend Sweet Damage, published last year. So that's on the to-read list.)

Rebecca James writes really terrific psychological suspense, and Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead is no exception. I think it has more nuance and depth than Beautiful Malice - while in her debut she depicts a manipulative psychopath brilliantly, no-one is truly evil in Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead which makes it feel more authentic, more like it's happening to people you might know. It's told from four perspectives - Cooper's (pre-death, clearly), his girlfriend Libby's, his best friend Sebastian and his ex-girlfriend Claire - so we get an opportunity to see events from various points of view. Sebastian and Claire are both unsympathetic (and incredibly suspicious), but why they're so awful is realistically explored. We jump between 'Then' - the events leading to Cooper's death, which focuses on his growing relationship with Libby - and 'Now' - the effects of his death on Libby, Claire and Sebastian. Having the story told from multiple perspectives adds a certain three-dimensional quality to the world of the novel, and allows for all the central players to be well-developed and the dynamics between them conveyed beautifully.

The central characters are university-aged, so I don't know if it strictly fits the definition of YA. I'd recommend it to both older YA readers and adult readers who enjoy YA and/or psychological suspense. In terms of content: Everybody is drinking, all the time! It feels like almost every scene. There's also quite a bit of drug use (speed and cocaine) which is not really deeply explored but gives you a sense of the social culture of the 'cool kids' in this town. If these kids were real people I'd be concerned about their livers. There's sex scenes, and a death (spoiler!). It's not hugely different to a lot of YA. Even in Beautiful Malice, though the characters were high school students they had a huge amount of freedom and behaved like uni students.

I loved the twist (I guessed it a lot earlier than it was revealed, but that's probably because I watch a lot of Poirot and Miss Marple and I'm an investigative genius), though of course the greatest twist of all would have been that Cooper Bartholomew was not actually dead. Despite Cooper being dead from the outset, he's a very likeable character. Potentially there could be a sequel: Cooper Bartholomew Is Not Actually Dead And He's Living Happily Ever After With Libby. I'd read it! If you like mysteries, page-turners, gritty teen dramas and/or romance, you'll like this.

Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead on the publisher's website

My interview with Rebecca James

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7972. OK Go's "I Won't Let You Down"

The alt rock band OKGo, known for its innovative long-take videos, has released a new one called "I Won't Let You Down." A camera on a drone octocopter tracks the four band members as they move around on Honda motorized unicycles. The drone follows them outdoors and then moves aloft to show an array of Japanese schoolgirls dancing Busby-Berkeley-style with colorful umbrellas. (Direct link to video)
I haven't seen any behind-the-scenes video, but Billboard deconstructs the video here.

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7973. Weekly Boomerang Books LIKE, SHARE AND ANSWER TO WIN Competition: Win a copy of Pushing The Limits by Kurt Fearnley

Win a copy of Pushing The Limits by Kurt Fearnley To Win: 1) Like this Post on Facebook, Favourite on Twitter or +1 on Google+ 2) Share this Post on Facebook, Retweet or share on Google+ 3) Be an active member of Boomerang Books (sign up here and get a $5 credit) 4) Tell us […]

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7974. KidLit Events Ocotber 28-November 4


With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) kicking off this weekend, there’s a lot of support opportunities for those of you (not me!) who are planning to tackle the challenge of writing a full 50K word novel in one month. I’ll cheer you on while I finish revisions on my current WIP. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other events going on this week. Please remember to check the sponsoring bookstore or organization’s website for full details.

October 28, Tuesday, 7:00 PM FROM SEA TO SHINGING SEA by Callista Gingrich; Illustrated by Susan Arcerio
Blue Willow Bookshop
Callista Gingrich, Children’s Author, with Newt Gingrich, Adult Nonfiction Author

In FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA, Callista Gingrich shares a new adventure into American history with Ellis the Elephant as he explores the untamed wilderness with Lewis and Clark! He learns about the Louisiana Purchase, the two explorers’ epic journey across the North American continent, and the amazing discoveries and innovation it sparked.

Appearing with Callista will be bestselling author Newt Gingrich with his new adult nonfiction title, BREAKOUT.

November 1, Saturday, 10:00 AM-Noon, & 1:30-4:30 PM Kathy Duval, PB Author
Kathy Duval: Picture Book Workshop
PRICE: $ 85.00

Kathy Duval, author of TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (DISNEY/HYPERION) will present a picture book workshop: Make It Shine!: Polish Your Picture Book Manuscript to Its Full Potential.
A successful picture book is an art form combining lyrical language and dynamic images, each dependent on the other.  To compete, your work must shine, as well as follow the conventions of today’s crowded market. This hands-on revision workshop will take a fresh look at your characters, setting, plot, and picture book language. Participants will complete exercises to polish their prose, as well as create a dummy to see how your text fits into a picture book format. Feedback in small groups will help you take your picture book to the next level.

November 1, Saturday, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM Read3Zero
Hilton Americas
Read3Zero 5th Anniversary Luncheon

Houston non-profit literacy organization, READ3Zero, will honor students nationwide at a memorable Luncheon and Book Signing event for this year’s winners of the I Write Short Stories For Kids By Kids contest and celebrate the organization’s 5th  anniversary. The event will feature the works of 55 published student authors and illustrators. The Keynote speaker will be Neil Bush, chairman to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, and the event will be emceed by Deborah Duncan of Great Day Houston. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

November 1, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Barbara Bush Library
CC Hunter, YA Author
Kickoff National Novel Writing Month with a talk by NYT bestseller C.C. Hunter!

November 2, Sunday, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Matthew Salesses, Author
Novel Workshop: The Three Inciting Incidents
COST: $10
NOTE: Register in this workshop and when you attend on Nov. 2nd, you will receive your 10$ back in a 10$ coupon for another Writespace workshop!

In this two-hour course, novelist Matthew Salesses will give a craft lecture on “the three inciting incidents” to support National Novel Writing Month writers, as well as NaNoWriMoall Houston writers seeking to start new projects. After Matthew’s one-hour lecture, each writer will bring his/her novel concept to the table and get some help with development.

November 2, 16, 30, Sundays, 2:00-5:00 PM
NaNoWriMo Write-Ins
Cost: Free

Come write with us and keep on-track with your word count goals!

November 3, Monday, 7:00 PM IN THE AFTERLIGHT by Alexandra Bracken
Blue Willow Bookshop
Alexandra Bracken, YA Author

Alexandra Bracken will discuss and sign IN THE AFTERLIGHT, the finale in the DARKEST MINDS series for young adults.

Alexandra Bracken is the New York Times bestselling author of THE DARKEST MINDS and NEVER FADE. Ruby can’t look back. Having suffered an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Ruby tries to keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check, but with Clancy Gray, there’s no guarantee you’re fully in control, and everything comes with a price.

When the Children’s League disbands, Ruby becomes a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam’s brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government “rehabilitation camps” all over the country. Freeing them–revealing the government’s unspeakable abuses in the process–is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country.

But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

November 4, Tuesday, 7:00 PM The Strange Maid: Book 2 of United States of Asgard, by Tessa Gratton
Blue Willow Bookshop
The Roadside YA Tour

The Roadside YA tour hits Houston when authors Tessa Gratton, Julie Murphy and Natalie Parker discuss and sign their newest novels for young adults.

Tessa Graton will present THE STRANGE MAID: BOOK 2 OF THE UNITED STATES OF ASGARD. Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphywar, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

Julie Murphy will present SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY. When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting Beware the Wild, by Natalie Parkerwrongs. So she convinces her best friend to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Natalie Parker will present BEWARE THE WILD. The swamp in Sterling’s small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who’s had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what–and who–the swamp has taken.


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7975. Guest Post and Giveaway: Elle Daniels, Author of He’s No Prince Charming

Please welcome Elle Daniels to the virtual offices!

5 Things You’ll Never Find In Marcus’ Bedchamber by Elle Daniels

Marcus Bradley, Marquis of Fleetwood, (The Beast), is the hero of Elle Daniel’s début novel HE’S NO PRINCE CHARMING. A scarred man with a past to match, Marcus has spent his life keeping his younger sister safe. When he discovers a marriage contract will saddle her with a murderous husband, he takes drastic action to safeguard her future, even at the expense of his own.

Bedrooms, like medicine cabinets, tell a lot about a person—personal touches make them homey and reveals a person’s inner self. What kinds of things would you never find inside Marcus’ bedchamber? Well…

A Woman—other than his heroine, of course!

The Beast struggles in the female department. It’s a shame since he’s wants to give away his heart.


Marcus hates looking at himself. Not only does he have scars, but he looks remarkable like his father. His face reminds him of things best forgotten.

Anything Glass

With a valet that’s a bit of a klutz, nothing breakable lasts long. It’s the reason why the man’s been fired twenty-two times. To this day, Marcus doesn’t understand how Weller has never actually makes it out the door.

Childhood Mementos

Even if any had lasted through his tumultuous childhood, Marcus wouldn’t keep them around. For the same reason mirrors never make into his bedroom, little reminders are things he could do without. The flashbacks are bad enough.

A Romance Novel

At first, he never touched one because it would tease him with he could never have. With Danni in his life, well, why the hell does he need a love story when he’s living one everyday?


A wounded beast . . .

It took Marcus Bradley forever to find a suitable bride. And then he lost her-all because some meddling matchmaker with a crazy notion about “true love” helped her elope with another man. Now, to save his sister from a terrible marriage alliance, he needs a replacement-an heiress to be exact . . . and he knows just the woman to help him find one.

A spirited beauty . . .

Danielle Strafford believes everyone deserves a fairytale ending-even the monstrously scarred and notoriously brooding Marquis of Fleetwood. Not that he’s left her a choice. If she doesn’t help him secure a wife-by any means necessary-he’ll reveal her scandalous secrets.

A passion that will consume them both

The more time Marcus spends with Danielle, the less interested he is in any other woman. But the Beast must do the impossible: keep from losing his heart to a Beauty he is destined to lose.

About Elle Daniels

Elle Daniels grew up in a quiet, suburban town in Central Massachusetts – a town so lacking in excitement she was forced to live vicariously through novels. One day, discontent with her reading options, she took the matter into her own hands. So began Elle’s journey into all things romantic and fantastical. Still in her early twenties, she remains in that same small town, tagging along with her heroes and heroines on their madcap adventures. 

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Buy links

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1tduJcG

Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/1w9jxyP

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/ZU1MGR

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tA3ieg


He stiffened as bitter memories rushed forth. A breathy sigh escaped Danni, drawing his mind from the past. Her face was pale and the dark lashes caressed her cheek, which seemed to glow in the sun’s rays. Her exhaled breath rushed through the small gap in her lips, creating a soft snore. He smiled. Unbelievably, she looked as if being next to him was exactly where she wanted to be.

He wondered how she’d ended up here, in his arms. Could she have wished to comfort him? Obviously she had attempted to care for him. What secrets had he exposed? What had convinced her to stay with him in that state, rather than run through the night for help? She was a miracle indeed.

An unfamiliar feeling of tenderness washed over him. Biting back a moan from the stiffness in his movements, he dared to brush a length of hair from her jaw, enjoying the softness of her skin. She sleepily pressed her hips against his, and a slow simmer seeped through the depths of his abdomen. He gritted his teeth, determined to remain the gentleman. Sharing this moment with Danni was more than he ever thought possible. He would not to push his luck.

Her hips shifted again, rubbing against his length. His instinct to return the movement roared. Desires he’d forgotten existed screamed to life. The physical aches in his joints and muscles were defeated by the agonizing need for her body.

His hand settled at her waist, his fingers pressed her lower, pulling her plaint body impossibly closer. Her head angled sleepily towards him as if sensing his intent. The beast inside him screamed to take her, but the gentleman he was fought back.

At Danni’s sigh of contentment, the beast won. He’d take only one kiss. Just one. He deserved as much for having to put up with her. His eyes slipped closed. His mind surged with the countless faces of women who’d rejected him, and he envisioned Danni’s horror if he woke her. But he could not stop himself. Fantasies of Danni writhing in passion beneath him flooded his mind. His imagination traced the outline of her ribs, felt her mouth moving hotly over him.

Another mewl passed her lips. Just a kiss. Just one and he’d never touch her again. Dipping his head, he brushed his mouth over hers. The first contact stunned him. His lips tingled with the smooth, soft sensation. His tongue slipped over them, savoring their warmth, pressing against them, deepening his kiss, tenderly. He drew away, knowing he must be content with that one stolen touch.

Suddenly, Danni’s caramel eyes snapped open, searing into his. He froze, millimeters from her face. He’d been caught. Bloody hell. Marcus braced himself for the screams, the curses, even—God forbid—the fainting. But he should have known better. This was Danni. She never did the expected.

“Marcus… ,” she breathed, the air caressing his still tingling lips. For the barest moment she peered into his eyes, frozen with indecision, and then her gaze moved to stare at his lower lip, and with a curious hesitance she gently lifted her head and fused their mouths together. Shocked, he held still, his mind blank.

She was kissing him. Him.

Blood pounded in his ears as his mouth merged roughly with hers. Her arms linked around his neck, frantically fisting in his shirt, pulling him closer. Marcus didn’t have the strength to pull away, nor did he want to. With stunned disbelief, he cupped her neck, lacing his fingers through the tresses there, and held her head in place, terrified she would break free and run in terror at any second.

She continued to fascinate him the more time he spent with her. She was a puzzle he would gladly spend a lifetime trying to solve. She valued a marriage filled with love over the kind of status marriage that was so common in their times. She earned her living through trade, but often reminded him of a gentlewoman bred by the ton. Never afraid to share her opinion and outrage, she was vexing and downright stubborn. She also made him laugh and was a balm for his past. To her, he wasn’t the Beast, but a simple human being. He could not believe his luck at having found her.

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Elle Daniels, Author of He’s No Prince Charming appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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