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Blog: Original Content (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bergman at my local library last week. 18 Minutes! A unit of time! Yes, I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. So since it's December, and I have nothing to do, I picked it up.
It's hard to say just what 18 Minutes is. It definitely doesn't deal specifically with managing time. There's lots in the first half of the book about things like finding ways to make your weaknesses work for you and ways to pursue your passion. I'm a little past the halfway point, and I haven't hit on anything about 18 minutes. I will admit, though, that I'm doing a lot of skimming. The short chapters with a carefully written summary at the end make that easy to do. Still, I haven't seen a lot that's new here.
Bergman does write about using a year as a unit of time and planning for same. That's appropriate for my purposes because on New Year's Eve I'll be doing a recapitulation post for this year and early in January I'll be doing one on goals and objectives for next year. One twist Bergman brings to the yearly discussion is making sure your daily plan relates to items on the yearly plan. That's something I could be more conscientious about with my situational planning. He also writes about deciding what you're not going to do. We've talked about this a bit here in relation to recognizing the things we aren't likely to do, accepting that, and not wasting time and energy on them. Again, this is something to be thinking about while pulling together goals and objectives for next year.
Next week I hope to be able to report on what the 18 minutes in the book title refers to. In the meantime, here's what we need to be doing this month:
Sprinting to keep our heads in our projects
Doing some recapitulating
Putting together some goals and objectives for next year
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I’m sure most of us have that one special place in our lives. It may be a timeshare on the beach or on the ski slopes. Maybe it’s the farm or the hunting cabin, or that special inn tucked away in the mountains. Heck, it may even be Time Square on New Years Eve or just your own porch in the cool of the evening.
For many years, my family has been blessed to own a cottage along the Allegheny River, roughly 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh PA. I grew up there, as did my children. Now a new generation is enjoying cookouts with family and friends, long boat rides, and sleepovers, hotdogs and s'mores cooked over a fire.
For me, my special place extends out a bit further to include a special time. As I post this, summer is a memory in my little corner of the world and fall is winding down. Our cottage is closed up for the season, as are most of the other homes on the river. The boat is in winter storage. The boat dock is on dry land.
This is my special time in my special place.
Now there is quiet in my special place as leaves turn and float to the ground. The water is still as glass. The boats and skiers and wave runners are a memory. No music blares from nearby camps. Now I hear turkey and coyotes calling in the distance.
Life is too hectic. There are too many distractions. I need this special time in my special place. I need to bundle up against the cold and take long walks with just my dog and my thoughts and my Lord. I need to watch the sun set over tranquil waters. Sometimes this is the only place and time where the world makes any sense to me. How about you? Where's your special place? Care to share?
There should be laws against hurting and maiming GREMLINS even if you don't mean to hurt and maim them. Unless, it's that she purposefully knocks us over, or stands on us, or spills ink on us… No one could be that clumsy--not even with a Gremlin's help.
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( $2 under list price )
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of my YOUNG TEEN books below are $6.95 + $2 postage.
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of BOOKS to the the kids in your life!
Blog: Valerie Storey, Writing at Dava Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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One of the best things about the holiday season is the excuse to browse bookstores and buy books: for friends and family, for local charities eager to spread the joy of reading, and hey, just for you!
Books as gifts have always been special for me; my first memory of visiting Santa in the department store was to ask for a book--I wanted Johanna Spyri's Heidi, and sure enough, I got it! Of course that didn't work so great the year I wanted Lona by Dare Wright. (Still want Lona, sigh.)
The number of books I read in 2013 was not as extensive as in past years, but quality certainly made up for quantity. Here are the books categorized by their respective genres that stood out for me:
Historical: Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones. I bought my copy in a bookstore while strolling down the seemingly endless Las Ramblas shopping district during my trip to Barcelona this summer. I had gone in to buy some children's books in Spanish and Catalan and saw a display of books in English--surprise! I had to have this one immediately, but I saved it to read for when I got home. I'm so glad I did; set in medieval Barcelona, the book made me relive my trip through an entirely new perspective. A real page turner.
Mainstream/Romance/Series: The Stone Trilogy by Mariam Kobras. I know this series is often referred to as "romance" but to me it's more mainstream, possibly "women's fiction" if I had to really narrow it. Regardless of description, however, these three books following the story of rock star Jon Stone and his soul mate Naomi Carlsson will stay with you forever. The writing is so strong and descriptive, the characters so real and well-rounded, it's hard to keep in mind that this is fiction! Seriously, I have to constantly remind myself that these people are characters in a book--not people I have actually met. I seem to think about them all the time as if they had ongoing stories happening right now--that's how vibrant they are. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have Mariam visit my blog as a guest author. To read her post, please just click author Mariam Kobras.
Literary: 2666 by Roberto Bolano. Difficult, haunting, disturbing . . . and I couldn't stop reading even when I didn't want to. Partly based on the horrific multiple murders of women in Juarez, Mexico, the book is divided into five distinct but interwoven stories that read as a metaphor for everything corrupt and evil in the world we live in. My feeling after finishing: I survived a walk through Hell. And I learned a lot about both life and writing, that's for sure.
Mystery: The Dinosaur Feather by S.J. Gazan. Another dark book, but very, very readable. I often stayed up past midnight just to keep reading--bad decision, but I couldn't help it. I live to read. Anyway, Dinosaur Feather was the winner of the Danish Crime Novel of the Decade (!) and I think it will especially appeal to fans of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (Although I think it's much better . . . sorry, Dragon fans.)
Scary: A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood. England. Snowstorm of the century. A single mother and her young son come to live in a creepy village where nothing is quite what it seems. I read this in one sitting and was terrified the whole way through. Need I say more?
Nonfiction: The Book of Kimono by Norio Yamanaka. I read this book after attending an exhibition of Japanese Art Deco. I've always been fascinated by Japanese art, culture, and literature, and I decided to make that my writing theme in April with my project "30 Days of Kimono." I got so enthused over the whole subject I even made a Pinterest board to go with my writing! The main thing I learned from the book however: I am very grateful to not wear a kimono, LOL! The time involved to simply get dressed must take ALL day. Whew. And then you have to be on your very best behavior for whatever hours you have left. Nope, not for me. But it was a good book.
Art Instruction: The Tao of Sketching by Qu Lei Lei. After working on my kimono project and then taking a Splash Ink Watercolor class, when I saw this book on super-sale I just had to have it. It's turned out to be one of my favorite how-to books, full of quiet wisdom and excellent painting tips.
Writing Instruction: Now Write! Screenwriting edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson. I have to qualify here that I have a chapter in the Now Write! Mysteries volume of this series, so I may be a teensy bit biased, but I think all the Now Write! books are some of the best around. This one on writing screenplays is incredibly helpful with advice you won't easily find elsewhere. (Note: I made another Pinterest board for the screenplay draft I wrote with the aid of the book. I do love Pinterest.)
What I'm reading now: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I bought The Luminaries the minute I heard it had won the 2013 Man Booker Prize several weeks ago. Set in nineteenth-century New Zealand during the Gold Rush, the book is written in an unusual and archaic style reminiscent of Dickens or Thackeray that somehow actually works. I love New Zealand authors, starting with Katherine Mansfield, and it's exciting to find a new writer to add to my list.
What's next on my TBR pile: Bite Down Little Whisper by Canadian poet Don Domanski just arrived in my post box yesterday. I'm saving it up for Christmas Day when I plan to drink tea and eat cake and wrap myself in a blanket of astonishing words and images. Can't wait!
Tip of the Day: While you're doing your book shopping, don't forget about The Great Scarab Scam, Better Than Perfect, Overtaken, and The Essential Guide for New Writers, all available at my website and always with free domestic shipping. Drop me a note, say you saw this message on my blog, and I'll include an extra free copy of the Essential Guide with every order right up until January 1, 2014! Catch you later--I'm off to find some more great new reads for the new year . . . Display Comments Add a Comment
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Written by: Monica Kulling
Illustrated by: Esperança Melo
Published by: Tundra Books
Published on: April 12, 2011
Provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This is the amazing disappearing book. Normally when I get a book I want to review, I read it to them and then put it on my to-be-reviewed pile next to my computer. Which is what I did with this book. But then it disappeared...only to appear under my daughter's futon. So I took it back- and it ended up in her bookshelf. I took it back again and...
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Blog: Blog for the Morbidly Thoughtful (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Dust, SciFi, Short Stories, Writing, Plasma Frequency Magazine, Add a tag
SO excited to announce my adult sci-fi short story DUST, just published in Plasma Frequency Magazine! It was by far one of my favorites to write, and I’m so glad it found a home with Plasma Frequency.
Interestingly, I wrote the story while I was getting used to a new migraine medicine. One of the side-effects of the medicine was vibrating gold spots behind my eyelids whenever I closed my eyes. This side-effect, among others, became the inspiration for some of the side-effects of DUST. Luckily, I’m no longer taking that med, so the pharmaceutical-induced hallucinations and periodic brain fog are long gone.
I did get a nice story out of the experience. You just never know what’s going to get that imagination stirring.Add a Comment
Blog: Laurel Snyder (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Okay, neither do I… not really. This was published long before I was born.
But I had a lot of books as a kid that had been my mom’s, and my dad’s, and belonged to their parents before them, or come to them from used book stores. So I remember what it felt like to read and read, and wait for the next amazing color plate. Or skip to it, because I couldn’t wait for the pretty shiny picture.
Like the one above.
Or like this one.
Little Women! Treasure Island! The Happy Prince! East O the Sun and West O the Moon! The Cuckoo Clock! These books all had amazing color plates in them, and I carry those pictures with me to this day.
I wonder if some evil wizard or conjurer has stolen all the art away? WHAT OTHER EXPLANATION CAN THERE POSSIBLY BE?
This morning I’m thinking about how graphic novels are hugely HUGELY popular.
And I’m thinking about how big visual glowing movies like Hugo or Hunger Games or Narnia are being made from middle grade books.
And I’m thinking about how often I hear people lament about “What can we do to get the kids reading?”
And I’m thinking about how, last night, Mose and Lew asked me to read picture books instead of starting a new readaloud novel. ”Because we like the pictures.”
And I’m wondering… WHY ARE WE REMOVING ALL THE INTERIOR ART FROM THE MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS?
I mean, I know full color plates are too expensive to consider, but I so so so so love books with art in them. Who decided that only baby books should have pictures?
WAS IT YOU?Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: The Cath in the Hat (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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As I write this it's snowing outside, the perfect backdrop for composing a post about some of my favorite children's books of the year. All would make great gifts for young readers. Without further ado:
This lovingly detailed picture book describes building one's own house from scratch. A young girl narrates the story of how she, her parents, and baby brother move from the city to the country to build their own home. A fascinating look at a process most kids will be unfamiliar with.
Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
Hands down my favorite picture book of the year, if not the decade. It's a love story between a girl and her squash. Sophie picks out a butternut squash at a farmers' market and before long the gourd has become a beloved toy. When dinner arrives, she can't bear for Bernice to be eaten. Like the best picture books, the story captures the essence of childhood.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrations by Melissa Sweet
A stunning picture book biography about Horace Pippin, a self-taught artist. Bryant and Sweet join forces to present Pippin as a black man determined to create his art, even when he loses the use of his arm as a soldier in World War I.
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
The third in a series--and the best one yet--about Penny, a small mouse, who finds and takes a blue marble that doesn't belong to her. The guilt this causes is worthy of an Edgar Allen Poe tale. Kevin Henkes can do mice like nobody's business. An easy reader that is destined to be a classic.
My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrations by Eva Eriksson
Originally published in Sweden, this early chapter book describes Dani's year in first grade. It's a time of change, as she makes a best friend and then loses her when the girl has to move away. Lagercrantz respects her protagonist's emotions and doesn't shy away from showing Dani's grief or her resiliency.
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci, illustrations by Sara Varon
A wacky read about two ducks who are very different but who ultimately find they do share things in common--namely that they are both rather odd--and that's okay. A graphic novel for the six-to-ten-year old set.
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
Billy Miller starts second grade worried that he won't be smart enough to tackle the demands of the school year. His father reassures him, telling his son that "this is the year of Billy Miller." In this short novel, Henkes has created a totally believable seven-year-old boy in Billy Miller. Young readers will root for him as he faces and overcomes the obstacles life throws at him. A quiet gem of a book.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
I knew I wanted to read this middle-grade novel the second I laid eyes on its eerie cover. The doll, made from the bones of a dead girl, is believed to be haunted--or is she? That question is left deliberately unanswered by the author as Zach, Poppy, and Alice undertake an epic journey to return her to her rightful place. Underpinning the spooky ghost story is the friendship between the three protagonists as they struggle to put childhood and childish things behind them. Add a Comment
Blog: Write From Karen (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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I’m finishing up season three of “The Walking Dead.”
I admit, I wasn’t sure if I could stomach this series. A gal I work with first told me about the series and I thought, “sure, I’ll watch the pilot and go from there.”
I watched the pilot and just sat in stunned silence. I turned the TV off and just stared at a black screen.
What the HELL did I just watch? It was bloody and super gory and what was I doing wasting my time on something so … dark and disturbing?
I had no intention of watching any more episodes. It was just too much, it disturbed me and though it didn’t exactly give me nightmares, I confess, it took me a while to fall asleep that night.
I went back to work the next day and looked at the girl who advised me to watch it with new eyes. Had I misjudged her? Because honestly, what sort of person LIKES that sort of thing?? But I kept my mouth shut; I like to think I give people the benefit of the doubt. I made a deal with myself – I’d watch one more episode, see if it was any less gory, and see how I felt after that.
I became … curious. I can’t say I liked it any better and after almost three seasons, I still can’t say I like it any better, but it intrigued me. The whole premise intrigues me. Because the story is about so much more than a world that is suddenly overrun with flesh-eating zombies, it’s about human behavior and the extent people will go to in order to survive. When people are faced with life and death situations, the survival instinct takes over and people evolve (or devolve??) into a completely different personality. They turn into people they would normally associate with cold-blooded killers – but if it meant closing the door on personal morals in order to protect those I loved, I’m not sure I wouldn’t start toting a gun and routinely shooting zombies in the head, either.
I’ve always been fascinated by that story line – not about a world overrun with zombies, but a world where people have to make really hard and uncomfortable choices. How far would you go in order to survive? I’d like to think I would end up being a bad ass – someone who thinks quick on her feet and was a valuable member of my little society, but I don’t know – maybe not. Maybe I would end up being one of the whiny, sniffling cry babies that I get so impatient with on the show.
I confess, I don’t dig this sort of show, and after a while, you sort of become desensitized to the blood and gore and pay more attention to the characters’ struggles. Many fight their inner demons and make surprising choices – some characters completely lose their minds.
But who wouldn’t in a world full of zombies?
I’m hoping that season four is more about what exactly happened to the world. How did the virus, or zombie sickness get started? Is there a cure? Is there any way to stop the process and how many “humans” are actually left? Though the story has been really interesting so far, and has thrown quite a few plot twists in there, so many, in fact, that I’m actually surprised and compelled to keep watching to see what main character dies next, it’s almost becoming boring – it’s the same thing episode after episode – conflict, they kill lots of zombies, we watch zombies snack on other humans, tears are shed, more killing, decisions are agonized over, more zombie fights/killings … *yawn*
I’m almost relieved the season is over. Because I’m ready to move on to something a lot less dark and a lot more “human.”
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Blog: The (Mostly) Official Blog of Thurber House (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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We are pleased to announce a very special event with iconic journalist, Jane Pauley, on Thursday, January 9, 2014. Pauley has been in our homes for years as she served as cohost of Today for 13 years; anchored Dateline NBC for 11 years, and was host of her own daytime show, The Jane Pauley Show. In addition to those achievements, her memoir, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue, about her struggles with bipolar disorder, was a New York Times bestseller. In her newest book Your Life Calling, Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, she shares the personal reinventions of the over-fifty guests on her award winning Today show segment, “Your Life Calling.” She dives into discovering how those in the middle of their lives set themselves up for powerful and fulfilling futures. Pauley manages to be timely, funny, practical and informative, helping those over fifty feel comfortable about change and those under fifty eager to fulfill their dreams.
This Special Event will feature Jane Pauley In Conversation with Columbus’s own Mikaela Hunt, co-anchor for NBC4 Today morning show
The event will take place at The King Arts Complex. A special wine and hors d’ouevres reception will be held prior to the reading from 5:30-6:45 p.m. and the reading will begin at 7:00 p.m. Limited space is available for the reception, so you must register in advance. Click here for more information or to order tickets.
Special thanks to PNC for their support of this event.
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Blog: Write About Now (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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My parents warned me about this when I told them my career choice, but yesterday at Forbes.com they confirmed it: writers don't make a lot of money.
Based on a survey conducted by Digital Book World and Writer's Digest, 20 percent of self-published authors report earning no income from their writing and the median income for traditionally published authors isn't much better: $5,000 to $9,999.
Talk about depressing.
And yet, I know there are people out there making enough to quit their day jobs. The question is, will I ever become one of them?
Read the Forbes article here.
See the results of the DBW/WD survey here.
I've never had delusions about getting rich from my writing. I don't expect to become the next J.K. Rowling, or even Darcie Chan. But I did harbor an outlandish hope that I could earn a living from it.
Today I plan to take some advice from Susan Quinn and draft up a five-year plan for my writing life. Maybe having it all out there will help me focus on making this dream a reality. I'd love to add my name to the growing ranks of mid-list authors making a living at doing what they love.
So hey, screw Forbes. They don't have all the answers. And as far as I'm concerned, the people who did the survey were asking the wrong questions. The important thing to figure out is how those top sellers got to where they are. What best practices did they use to help generate sales? That, for me, is the big takeaway. That's how writers can do better, earn more, live happier.
What do you think?
About the Book
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Publication Date: July 20, 2013 (original pub. date – August 28, 2011)
Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
Number of pages: 24
Recommended age: 3+
Summary (Back Cover): Christmas is the time for miracles, but sometimes a child must make her own miracle and one for her siblings.
“Through the storytelling of Beverly Stowe McClure and the book illustrations of Bridget McKenna, the reader is drawn to feel the pain of poverty and choices that must be made due to economic circumstance. We are drawn into Jackie’s world by her giving spirit and root for her every word of the way. And when all is said and done … We, too, believe in the miracle of a Tumbleweed Christmas. Timely for the season and its reason, but also gives us reason to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive year ’round.” ~ 5 Star Review, Ruth C., Amazon
“I can’t think of a sweeter tale of the season than Tumbleweed Christmas.” ~ 5 Star Review, Cheryl M., Amazon
“This is a delightful 24 page book which shows the reader about selflessness. Many parent’s give up much to make things work when they don’t have a lot of money, and being creative is certainly a key in such situations. Jackie gave up what was dear to her the most to be able to give gifts to her family so they had something to open on Christmas day. In many ways, gift giving has gone out of control. The most expensive items are not necessarily the best. Sometimes it’s the handmade items or drawings that come from the heart that are truly memorable. A gift from the heart is what truly matters most, and it doesn’t have to be much. Children and parent’s alike will enjoy this story because it touches upon one of the best gifts in the world that we can give–LOVE!” ~ 5 Star Review, Children’s Book Reviewer, Amazon
About the Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Beverly Stowe McClure is a former teacher turned writer. When she was a kid, writing was the last thing on her mind. She loved music and played clarinet in the junior high and high school bands. She also was a majorette. She still plays the piano to relax. Her cats don’t appreciate good music, however, and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
She lives in the country with Patches and Tiger (the cats), along with a variety of wild critters that stop by for a handout. Next to her sons, grandchildren, and great-grands, writing is her passion and joy. She also enjoys researching her family roots and snapping pictures of clouds, flowers, deer and birds, especially the roadrunner that visits on occasion and the hummingbirds that she feeds.
* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: December 11, 2013 to January 9, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Beverly Stowe McClure and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for our honest opinion. All opinions expressed are our own. The author contacted us to participate in our Book Promotion Program where we will tweet and share information about this book, the author, and the giveaway.*
Question: I'm writing a story where a character is Nubian. She is raised in a small village called fangross. anyway she is raised there and is later broughtAdd a Comment
Blog: Write What Inspires You (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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How cool is this! Check out my new author Android App - custom designed by Nate Chambers through the PPC December Promo Deal with Jo-Anne Vandermeulen!
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+
A Sandy Grave ~ Coming January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
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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New Cover for Motherhood Moments, a parenting humor book for moms who are out there searching for just the right pair of bunny ears. Children will deny these stories, but I assure you, they are all...
Read Catherine Burr's blog about writing and books and the world of kindle.
I'm telling you, I can write an entire novel, but when it comes to writing an, "About Me," FORGET ABOUT IT! (yes, I'm shouting there!)
I don't know about other writers, but I find it very difficult...
Read Catherine Burr's blog about writing and books and the world of kindle.
It snowed another four plus inches last night – we broke a record.
The kids were out of school again today – they’ve already used up three out of six snow days this year.
But then again, why do I care? Our kids are no longer in school …
The comments people leave whenever weather like this hits and they have to make the decision on “weather” (pun intended) or not to call off school, or keep school open, on Facebook is a never ending string of entertainment for me.
The school system can’t win for losing.
Bottom line: If you don’t feel like your kid will be safe going to school in bad weather, then keep ‘em home.
Be a parent. Make the call. Don’t apologize about whatever you decide.
Then shut up about it.
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Blog: The Crypto-Capers Review (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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http://blogtalkradio.com/storiesfromunknownauthors at 1 pm EST today.
The Princess, The Toad, & The Whale is a lovable, cute story for young children that features three of the most unlikely friends and traveling companions. The Princess, The Toad, & The Whale is the first book in what will become a series of adventures and further adventures. In The Princess, The Toad, & The Whale, the reader is introduced to each adorable character. The reader will also get to experience a "mini" first adventure. Not only will children enjoy this book, its story, and the fun illustrations, but they will also learn that friends come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. They will even see that when a situation seems scary, they might discover that there is nothing to be fearful of, if they give it a chance. The Princess, The Toad, & The Whale will be a great bonding experience for parents who like to read to their children. It will also be a fun story for the child who is learning to read, or for one that has already mastered reading.
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During a summer trip to the beach, I was struck by how empty it is, except for a few brief peak hours. It made me think of how people all too often wait for the "right" time to live their lives.
The sun comes up before 7. But most people wait until prime time... ten, maybe eleven in the morning... to occupy the sand. They live intently while they are there. Frisbees. Surfing. Or drinking. A lot.
All is done in a few hours. Before and after, they scurry in, scurry out. No lingering, not for the adults. Some children protest leaving. Cry. But they are quickly shuttled off.
I like the ones who come early, creeping like crabs. They seem to relish the aloneness. Or maybe they wonder why so few are there. They're ready. Where is everyone else?
Others stay late. They sit in shadows of the hi-rise hotels, determined, saying there is still plenty of life and light left in the day. Where did everyone else go? How could they forget the waves, the sand, the sun, so soon?
A beach is more beautiful in its early potential and waning hours. I wish more people were there to see it.
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Here are some ideas to make the gift-giving a bit easier…
One of the best and most lasting gifts, of course, is the gift of education. I offer gift certificates for my Just Write for Kids home study course in writing picture books, as well as for a year’s membership in the Children’s Book Hub. You can provide the kidlit author in your life with the tools to write a picture book manuscript in just 8 weeks, or year-long membership in a community of fellow children’s book lovers on the path to publication, as well as all the resources to achieve their goals.
For gift certificate requests, please email me at email@example.com.
I also recommend the following products and services as other valuable educational gifts to give!
*For just $6, a month you can purchase a subscription to the Children’s Book Insider newsletter. Jon Bard and Laura Backes have big plans in store for the New Year, so this would be a great time to sign up…
*Julie Hedlund’s12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge is just beginning to accept applications for 2014! This is a supportive and motivated community of picture book writers, taking on the challenge of writing one picture book a month, or twelve a year… and being given the chance to pitch to agents along the way.
*For the aspiring Middle Grade or Young Adult novelist, the wonderful, funny and inspiring book Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole. is an easy-to-read how-to, packed with valuable insights. Click here to purchase on Amazon, or ask your local bookstore to order it for you.
*If your aspiring children’s book writer has already written several manuscripts and is closer to publication, provide him or her with one (or several) of the wonderful Katie Davis’ services. Katie is an expert when it comes to marketing and promotion – take a look at her Video Idiot Boot Camp – a must for writers, as well as her book How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller.
And for fun, check out these other gift ideas for kidlit lovers:
The Literary Gift Company has everything from handbags to jewelry made from beloved books (Winnie the Pooh!), plus mugs, clothing and other items declaring writerly status. http://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/
The Bookish Life on Etsy.com has recycled book jewelry, Christmas ornaments and more, much of which is children’s book-centric. Check out their Harry Potter, Peter Pan, Twilight & Alice bracelets as well as their Christmas baubles!
What do your favorite books say about you? Your Ideal Bookshelf can be custom painted in an 8X10 print. Jane Mount paints portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books: the ones that changed your life, that defined who you are, that you read again and again.
Of course, there are a ton of other gift ideas for the children’s book writer in your life – from a donation to a literacy charity, to yoga classes, childcare, or Freedom software that protects them from email and social media interruptions while writing… but hopefully this list will spark some imagination in support of children’s book writers and their quest to provide great books for kids in 2014. And if you’ve got any other great ideas, please share them here!Add a Comment
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I’ve been asked a lot lately by new writers whether they should self-publish their first novel or go with a traditional publisher.
To me the answer is very obvious: find an agent and publish the traditional way.
What follows is my reasons why I think the answer is obvious but first a disclaimer.
Disclaimer 1: I have never self-published. Unless you count the short stories on this site and even then they were all published somewhere else first. I have zero direct experience with self-publishing though I have seen several friends go through the process. Some to a great deal of success. I am definitely not anti-self-publishing. If you have questions about self-publishing I recommend you read what Courtney Milan has to say about it. Her blog is a fantastic resource.
I do, however, know a lot about traditional publishing. To date I have had nine books published by the following publishers: Allen & Unwin Australia (How To Ditch Your Fairy, Liar, Zombies v Unicorns, Team Human), Penguin Australia (Magic or Madness Trilogy), Penguin USA (Magic or Madness Trilogy), Bloomsbury USA (HTDYF, Liar), Harper Collins USA (“Thinner than Water” in Love is Hell, Team Human), Simon & Schuster USA (Zombies v Unicorns) and Wesleyan University Press (Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction, Daughters of Earth).
Disclaimer 2: I come out of the YA publishing category. Everything I say here is shaped by that fact. As Courtney Milan points out in the comments below it’s very different in her genre of romance.
Ask Yourself This Question First
Why do you want to be published?
There are many many answers to that question. But the most usual ones are: because I want to be read by people who don’t know me, because I want a career as a writer.
But sometimes people answer that they just want to see their work as a real book with their name on the spine and they don’t really care who reads it and they don’t want to have to send out to get an agent and all that jazz.
In that case, self-publishing probably is the way to go. You pay to have a few copies made with your name on the cover and then give them to your friends for Christmas.
This post is addressed to the people who want their work to be read beyond their immediate circle of family and friends.
Why You Should Try To Get Published The Traditional Way First
I first sent out a story for publication when I was fifteen years old. It was rejected. And repeat. A lot.
I sold my first short story almost twenty years later. My first novel sale came not long after.
Yes, you read that right, it took me twenty years to get published.
Getting published the traditional way is a slow, gruelling, heart-breaking and soul-destroying process. At least it was for me.1 My first two novels never sold. I know people whose first ten or more novels never sold.
I was desperate to get published back then. DESPERATE.2 I get the impatience many people feel with how long everything takes in publishing. It really is awful sending your work out over and over and over again to the same No, no, no no, HELL NO. No matter how the agents phrase it that’s what it sounds like on the receiving end.
Or even worse: no response at all. Despite your multiple queries.
Here’s why I think it’s worthwhile going through the gruelling process of finding an agent. (For why you need an agent read this excellent article by Victoria Strauss.) And then the just as awful process of your agent trying to sell your book to a publisher.
You learn to deal with rejection.3
Being a professional writer means dealing with rejection all the time. Every time my latest novel goes out to publishers it gets rejected. Multiple times. I can’t remember now how many publishers rejected HTDYF and Team Human. I find it best to forget those things but, trust me, at the time, it felt like an endless chorus of NOs.
You only need one yes. No matter how long it takes.
My first novel, Magic or Madness, was published in loads of different countries, each successive book of mine has been picked up by fewer foreign language markets. I’ve been rejected by pretty much every language market in the world. Eastern Europe has never published so much as a haiku of mine. I try not to take it too personally.4
You don’t need a tough skin. I certainly don’t have one.5 But you do not need to be able to keep writing despite rejection.
All too often I hear from people whose first novel has been rejected by gazillions of agents. Years now they’ve been sending it out, rewriting it, sending it out again. They’re filled with despair. They’re ready to give up. I ask them how their second novel is doing? They blink at me. They have not started a second novel, let alone finished it and sent it out to agents.
Always have a novel on the go.
When your first one is out there trying to land you an agent get started writing the second novel. And so on. Did I mention that I didn’t sell my first novel? Or my second? That I know people who did not sell their first ten novels? Jonathan Letham did not sell his first novel. From memory I think he sold his fourth. His earlier novels then sold after the first one to be sold was published. This is a very common story.
Keep writing is good advice when you’re trying to find an agent and it’s good advice when you’re a career writer whose agent is trying to sell what will be your hundredth published book when it finds a home.
Never stop writing!
People trying to find representation for their first novel often think that once they find an agent their book will automatically sell. Not true.
They also often think that once their first novel sells all their subsequent novels will also sell. Sadly, not always true either.
True story: there are successful, published writers whose agents have not been able to find a home for all their books.
Rejection: it just keeps on giving.6
You Learn How To Write
In those 20 years I was sending out and being rejected I never stopped writing.
I would occasionally get little hints from my rejectors as to why my stories weren’t working for them. Some of those comments were useful, but far more useful was all the feedback and comments I received from other writers. Having my work critiqued by other writers improved my writing immeasurably and prepared me for the brutal edits I would get once I became a published author.
(Here’s a post on how to find people to critique your work. Check out the comments as well.)
Even more helpful was learning to critique other people’s work. It is eye opening to read someone else’s unpublished work and see that they’re making similar mistakes to the ones you make. Suddenly you understand what everyone was talking about when they were critiquing you. It teaches you to see the flaws in your own work.
Obviously continuing to write was also very important. During those twenty years I learned how to write novels. I learned that I was better at writing them than I was at short stories. I learned to write stories and novels that people other than me wanted to read and that is when, at last, they started to sell. (Hopefully you’ll be a faster learner than I was.)
Once You’re Published
This is when your learning curve takes off with a steepness that is dizzying. No critique I have ever received from friends has ever been as detailed or demanding as any of my editorial letters.
I am a much, much better writer because I have been professionally edited, copyedited, and proofread.
Had I self-published I would never have learned how far my work was from where it needed to be. I would not have learned how much time and effort goes into getting a novel to a publishable standard. The many revisions and fact checking and proofing that are needed.
Then after the long and exacting editorial process, there’s the design of the interiors of book. What fonts are used, how the titles, and sub-titles look, how the words are arranged on the page. Then, of course, there’s the cover. Is there a more important ad for a book? No, there is not.
Traditional publishers do all that for you. And, on the whole, they do it pretty well.7
They also know how to distribute your book: how to get it to readers. They have long established relationships with booksellers all over their country. They know how to get books reviewed and talked about. They’ve been doing so for years, decades even.
You, a first-time, unknown novelist have little of that knowledge.
There’s a reason the majority of successful self-publishers already had a career publishing with traditional publishers. Or were very well-known in fan fiction circles. They had what is known in the industry as a “platform”. They already had a core audience; they didn’t need a traditional publisher.
An unknown first-time novelist does not have an audience. That’s why they should go with traditional publishers. Traditional publishers can make a new author known, can help build their audience.
When Courtney Milan started publishing her own work she’d already published many books with a traditional publisher. Her name and work were already known by many romance readers. She had dedicated and loyal fans such as me, who were willing to buy her books no matter who was publishing them.
Most importantly she had the knowledge and the contacts to do it right. She knew which editors, copyeditors, proofreaders etc to hire. She knew what professional books look like and how to produce same.
Writers with platforms, who have the inclination to do all the hard yards in producing their books exactly how they want them to be, can now do that. I think that’s wonderful for the industry. And truly great for writers.
I have never self-published but I certainly don’t rule it out in the future. The landscape of publishing has changed a vast deal since I started out. Self-publishing has changed a vast deal. We writers now have more options.
However, the vast majority of first-time authors, without a platform, are still better off going the traditional path. Even if they wind up self-publishing in the end they’ll do so with a great deal more knowledge of what they’re doing than they would otherwise.
Which ever path you pick, GOOD LUCK!
And keep on writing!
Update: I’ve had to not let some comments through. I get that you love what you’re doing and it’s working for you. By all means make the case for self-publishing on your own blogs. But really if the best you can do is to call me names? Then no. I am not letting your comments through.
Update 2: On checking the IP address of the nasty comments I discovered they’re all coming from the same person.
Update 3: Added a disclaimer to make it clear that what I have to say is shaped by being a YA writer.
- I do know a couple of people who were picked up by an agent and whose first novel sold basically within minutes of sending out. That’s unusual. Also annoying.
- I wonder if self-publishing had existed back then if I would have gone ahead and published my work as it was? Back then I was pretty sure what I was writing was genius despite all the rejections. Reading it now I know it was rubbish and it being published back then would have been at best really embarrassing.
- Which is not to say you ever learn to like it. I hates rejection, I does. HATES IT!
- But let’s just say I’m not barracking for any Eastern European football teams in the World Cup.
- Oh, the tears this profession of mine has made me weep. Fortunately a fair few of them have been tears of joy.
- Show me the profession that doesn’t involve waiting and being rejected. I suspect it does not exist.
- Yes, there are exceptions. Horrible exceptions. No industry is perfect. Least of all publishing.
At the Rochester Children's Book Festival, some of the many volunteers run the Busy Bookworm activity center, with book-centered arts and crafts for young readers. This year, there was a simple-but-GENIUS craft project to go with XANDER'S PANDA PARTY: an awesome paper-plate hand puppet!
Sarah Mead, with book and puppet. Sarah not only helps with the activities but also does the Festival's website.
I am the proud owner of one such puppet. Every home should have one (along with the book, of course). ;-)
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