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16176. Agent Wish List


Illustrator Hans Wilhelm has a Pig that he always dresses up for the holidays. Here is Jolantha dressed up and wishing you a Happy St. Patty’s Day. She says, “I’m not Irish but I am a very lucky pig. Rub my nose and you’ll be lucky too.” Han was featured on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/illustrator-saturday-hans-wilhelm/

Here is an Irish wish for you:

“As you slide down the bannister of life,
May the splinters never point the wrong way.”

beth phelanlDWNIBlFCarly Watters is a literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career.

Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial fiction, literary thrillers, upmarket non fiction, and all genres of YA. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

Clients include Taylor Jenkins Reid, Colin Mochrie, Jay Onrait, Julianna Scott, Danny Appleby, Paulette Lambert and more. 

Here are some of the things that interest Carly:

Carly Watters PS Literary

Coming of age stories like Age of Miracles, Arcadia or The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Use setting to bring story to life.

ms where character attributes aren’t black & white. Should you love or hate them?”

Love pop science/pop psychology. Experts with something innovative & exciting to say. I.e. Mary Roach, Power of Habit, Art of the Sale.

I am looking for well-paced YA & women’s fiction. Unforgettable characters. Emotional connections. Authentic dialogue.

looking for older YA. Surprise me. A like a romance, high stakes, high drama, maybe a mystery/thriller angle, something fresh.

Looking for Jodi Picoult/Elin Hilderbrand-type structure: multiple POV, teens & adults, high drama, intertwined lives.

Foreign settings I like: Ireland (beginning of Brooklyn, Toibin), Russia (Snowdrops, AD Miller), Africa (Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver)

For fiction, we are currently seeking:

  • Commercial Mainstream
  • Literary (with a commercial angle)
  • World Literature
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Mystery (Cozy, Private Eye, Police Procedural, etc.)
  • Thriller (Legal, Medical, Political, etc.)
  • Romance (Suspense, Contemporary, Historical, etc.)
  • New Adult (early 20-something protagonists)
  • Young Adult (must be high-concept/commercial)
  • Middle Grade (must be high-concept/commercial)
  • Picture Books (must be high-concept/commercial)

Please limit your query to one page and include the following:

  • Paragraph One - Introduction: Include the title and category of your work (i.e. fiction or nonfiction and topic), an estimated word count and a brief, general introduction.
  • Paragraph Two - Brief overview: This should read similar to back-cover copy.
  • Paragraph Three - Writer’s bio: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background      (awards and affiliations, etc.).


  • Do not send attachments. Please use text within the body of your e-mail.
  • Please do not submit a full-length manuscript/proposal unless requested.
  • Always let us know if your manuscript/proposal is currently under consideration by other      agents/publishers.
  • Address your query to the attention of the agent you feel is the best match for your work.
  • Please do not query multiple agents at the agency simultaneously – if you receive a query rejection from one agent it means a no from the agency.

They only accept submissions via e-mail.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies Tagged: Agent Wish List, Carly Watters, Hans Wilhelm, Happy St. Patty's Day Wish, P.S. Literary Agency

1 Comments on Agent Wish List, last added: 3/17/2014
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16177. Mama, I Want to See God

"Mama, I Want to See God" Book Review
Usually, on this blog, you’ll find a word of encouragement as we ponder ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light. While the topics vary, they often lean toward Christian living and Christian parenting.

Today’s post is a bit different. One aspect of Christian parenting involves encouraging our children (and grandchildren) to read literature that is honoring to God.
Promoting this type of literature is a joy. Recently I was asked to review a newly published children’s book, Mama, I Want to See God (BQB Publishing), so that’s what I’ll be posting today.


Another new thing we’ll try is the use of Rafflecopter.
The author has graciously offered to give away a free copy of her book so read below how to enter the drawing.
Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner.
We’ll announce the winner in next week’s post (3/24/14). Be sure to check back and see who won!


Mama, I Want to See God, is an engaging picture book for children four to eight years old. Inspired by a comment her grandson made one day, author Vanessa Fortenberry responds to the natural curiousity children have about God.
Through her experience as a teacher-librarian, Fortenberry understands not only the questioning nature of children but also their attention span. Her rhyming verse quickly carries little ones along as they learn about God and his love.
Throughout the book, children pose questions about God, followed by loving responses from mothers.

“Mama, can I sing to God? Will he like my voice?”

            Mama sang a little tune, “He wants us to rejoice.” 

The illustrator, Leah Jennings, does a beautiful job filling each page with vibrant colors—nature settings and various scenes of children with their mothers. Including children from all ethnic backgrounds gives the book a special touch.
In Mama, I Want to See God, I think Fortenberry sucessfully reveals many delightful ways children can behold Him.

Vanessa Fortenberry
To register for the drawing of a free copy of this book, follow the instructions below. You may also obtain a copy at Amazon
Author Links:   
To read an inspiring interview with the author,Vanessa Fortenberry, about her journey to publishing her first book go to Write2Ignite! 


*If you would like to receive my weekly post in your email
box each week, simply enter your email address under
the "Follow by Email" button located on the top, right side of this blog post. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16178. Looking for volunteers

The SCBWI Writers of Lower Fairfield are always looking for volunteers. We are looking for people who can:

1. Host local critique groups

2. Help run local events or meetups

3. Add posts about local events, classes, etc to this blog.

If you are interested in helping out, or if you have another way you think you can help, please send an email to Stacy at smbmozer@aol.com

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16179. Ben Davis High School

I'm sick. And I blame the guy sitting beside me on the flight home from Indiana. He kept talking at me, even with my earbuds in. Talking at me, even while I was reading. Talking at me, even though I pretended to play games on my phone now that we're allowed to do that!

So I blame him.

But my author visit to Ben Davis High in Indianapolis was still great! I was one of many authors there for their first Literacy Conference. Soon after arriving, I went out to dinner with several people on the faculty. I sat beside Sam Bracken, who wrote My Orange Duffel Bag. That is one inspiring dude who cares so much for his readers, as well as people who aren't his readers.

Not that I don't! I do. I'm just pointing out his awesomeness.

Not that I'm saying I'm awesome. I'm not saying that! I just...oh, never mind.

I was supposed to speak in the auditorium to all ninth graders and all students from the connected middle school. But because of Cold Days (not Snow Days...Cold Days), the middle school students couldn't come.

So the freshmen had to rock the place on their own!

Then I spoke to two individual tenth grade classrooms. Most of them had read Thirteen Reasons Why, which made for some great Q&A.

I love when traveling allows me to meet people I've interacted with online for years, and they seem like people I'd get along with. Mike Mullen is one of those guys!

Kids Ink Children's Bookstore sold books throughout the day, which was the first time I saw the floor display for my 50 States Against Bullying tour. There are still a few weeks for your school to apply for a visit, so have your school librarian visit here.

I wasn't able to hear Saundra Mitchell speak because our events were at the same time, but I was able to get a couple of her books signed! The other authors in the photo below are Gene Luen Yang, Eliot Schrefer, and Jason Reynolds. Gene, Eliot, and Jason spoke at a dinner, and the three of them made probably the best author combination I've heard. The differences in their topics, all conveyed with such passion, was fascinating.

Next up? I'm visiting Lake Placid, NY. And I will be better by then. I'm not letting that airplane-talker keep me down!

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I wrote a picture book over a year ago. I love it. But it has never felt “right” to me. I’ve revised countless times. My kids are tired of hearing me read it outloud. And my critique partners are ready to put it to bed. But still… it felt like something was wrong. I didn’t…

4 Comments on LAST RESORT, last added: 3/16/2014
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16181. Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • AaronStarmerAuthorPhotoSaturday, March 22, 2014: Books of Wonder (New York, NY) from 1-3PM, with Laura Marx Fitzgerald and Rebecca Behrens
  • Sunday, March 23, 2014: Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, NY) at 4PM, with Kari Sutherland
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014: Easton YA Festival (Easton, PA) from 10:30am-3pm, with Josh Berk, Michael Northrop and a metric ton of YA authors
  • Saturday, May 3, 2014: SCBWI New England Conference (Springfield, MA), with Laurel Snyder and Kate Milford
  • Saturday May 17, 2014: Rochester Teen Book Festival (Rochester, NY) from 9am-5pm, with Jonathan Auxier and assorted YA royalty

1 Comments on Upcoming Appearances (March to May, 2014), last added: 3/17/2014
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16182. Kishaz Reading Corner: Knight of a Trillion Stars

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

Imagine returning from work to find him in your living room? 

It has been a horrible day for Deanna Jones. She’s fired from her job– and that turns out to be the highpoint of her day.

Good thing she found the weird-looking necklace in a junk shop by the parking lot…or is it?

When she finally gets home, a six foot four inch knight is sitting in her living room! The hunk looks like every woman’s fantasy of the perfect hero, but what is he doing in her cottage?

Well, he’s on a very important quest, of course. But she’ll find that out soon enough.

Poor Deanna Jones is about to be swept into an amazing, epic journey across time and space… leading straight to the heart.

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating:  3.5 stars

Here's why:

There were several things I liked about the story and a couple that annoyed me. Let's start with those that annoyed me and go from there.

1) Some of Deanna's reactions. I know that statement is rather vague but at the risk of spoiling moments in the story, that will have to suffice. I will say that if I came home and some strange man was in my house, I would not have reacted like Deanna. And, there are moments when the character becomes a little two-dimensional which threw me while reading.

2) The over "alpha"-fulness of Lorgan. There's alpha male and then there's domineering/jerk. I spent most of the novel either hating Lorgan (the main romantic lead) and sometimes liking his softer side. Color me too modern but I don't think if I were a damsel in distress I would want him coming to my rescue.

Now on to what I liked about the story.

1) The secondary characters. For me, Rejar, Lorgan's brother, stole the show. His wit and snappy comebacks kept the story alive when it lagged in spots.

Also the wizard who reminded Deanna of Merlin was another breath of fresh air.

2) The Con scene. I won't say anymore. For those of us who have attend Cons of any type, you'll understand why I found that scene in the book hilarious.

3) Description of the various worlds. I enjoyed the changes in scenery and the author's descriptions of the various areas the characters visited.

Recommend? Yes, I would recommend this one. If you are a feminist, then steer clear because this heroine is not one you'll like.

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16183. ANXIETY: Zombie Knickers

L'esprit de l'escalier.

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16184. Monday Mishmash 3/17/14

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:
  1. Kiss of Death  I've been working on revisions for a Touch of Death prequel novella told from Alex's point of view. I fell hard for Alex and wanted to tell his story (pre-Jodi) to give readers a little insight as to how he ends up the person we all see in Touch of Death. Stay tuned for more info on when this novella will be available.
  2. Idea Overload  Last week I got a bunch of new ideas and jotted them all down. One idea is speaking to me louder than the others so I'm plotting that one and trying to work on it in between edits.
  3. 5 Books in 2014?  I don't know how I didn't realize this—I think my subconscious wouldn't let me focus on it—but I have 5 books releasing this year. 5! Face of Death, The Monster Within, Perfect For You, Into the Fire, and Curse of the Granville Fortune are all 2014 titles. How on earth did that happen? I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it.
  4. Reading  I'm trying to work my way through some books that have been on my shelf for years now. I need more time to read.
  5. Perfect For You  In case you missed my cover reveal last week, my upcoming Ashelyn Drake YA contemporary romance has a gorgeous cover! Check it out and feel free to add it on Goodreads.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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16185. Dr. Radway, Will Nash, and the Parrott Library Honor Award

We are reviewed, in this life, by professional critics, by the Amazon anonymous, by the Goodreads communities, by the whispers we'll never hear, by the book clubs that decide yes or no, by the bloggers, by our friends.

Now and again, we hear from younger readers.

This morning I heard from Will Nash, a student in the St. Albans Lower School of Washington, DC., who had some glorious things to say about Dr. Radway, which was one of three books given the 2014 Parrott Library Honor Award (the other two being The Kill Order and Wonder).

I was finishing work on the Florence novel when the news of this generous honor came in. I was, in fact, fixing some of the book's many details. And so you will appreciate how much I loved Will's immaculate review, especially these words:

If you enjoy envisioning scenes in your head, it is a great book because Beth Kephart loves to go crazy with details.

I hereby declare, for now and forever, that I will always go crazy with details—and think of Will Nash when I do.

For more on Dr. Radway—and much more from Will—please click on this link. Thank you, St Albans Lower School, for choosing to read a book about my own city, Philadelphia.

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16186. An Author's Guide To Skype School Visits With Guest Iza Trapani!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!

I have a present for you!

It's not green.  And it's not Irish.  But it's still a great present :)

Remember on Friday I promised a guest post on a very interesting topic?


Allow me to introduce the multi-talented and delightful Iza Trapani!

Author/Illustrator Iza Trapani
Hi Iza!

Thank you so much for joining us today!

I personally am very interested in the topic of Skype school visits.  I think they're a wonderful alternative to in-person visits for many schools, allowing authors and illustrators to visit classrooms without the expense associated with in-person visits.  Having never done one myself, I was curious to know the details of how one goes about it, and I thought you guys might like to know too!  So I asked Iza (who is a pro :)) to elucidate, and she very kindly did (VERY kindly because not only did I ask her for a guest post, it was on short notice!)

Take it away, Iza!

While an in-person school visit is always better, a Skype session is a nice alternative for schools  struggling with tight budgets and/or for schools wanting to invite an out-of-state author. Most authors charge travel expenses  in addition to their presentation fees, so it can get expensive. Skype visits are a convenient and affordable option. They are also great for authors and illustrators who are often up against deadlines.  Cutting out the travel leaves more time for the works in progress.

I’ve been doing skype visits for a couple of years now, and I’m glad to share my experience.

Getting Skype Visits

Advertising for Skype visits is no different than for in-person visits. On my website I have a link with information on my school visits. It includes a description of my presentation, a short video of me presenting to a class, my fees, list of my titles, short bio,  feedback on my presentations and more. When a school contacts me, I also have a school visit PDF that includes all the relevant info plus references. A few years ago we added a blurb that I am now available for Skype visits as well. When I started doing Skype, I sent out an e-mail announcement to all my school contacts, teacher friends, and fans. A few years ago I’d also sent out a flyer to numerous schools within a 50 mile radius. The flyer had a brief bio, description of my presentation and contact info. I am also listed in Arts in Ed directories in several counties. Mostly, the schools find me either via my website or by word of mouth. Because my writing and illustrations (especially) are so time consuming, I can not do too many school visits. But that is a personal choice. Some authors do lots of school visits and I am sure they promote much more aggressively than I do.

Setting up the Session

I set up right in my studio which has good, glare-free northern light and overhead track lights.  My laptop will rest on a small table. I’ll have a stool to sit on and my materials (illustration samples, books I’ll be using etc.) will be within reach on top of my flat file cabinets on the left. To my right will be an easel with an 18x24 pad on which I’ll do drawing demonstrations. Behind me, a low bookshelf will showcase some of my books face out. It makes a nice backdrop.

Before doing my first school visit I did a test with my sister (in Poland!)  to make sure the light was good, that the books behind me were well arranged and that the easel was at the right height. When I first started I was worried that the class wouldn’t see me well, but I soon learned that the image I see of me in the little window on the bottom right in Skype is what they are seeing. I can tilt the computer screen to adjust the view as needed.

Makeup? Attire?

One of the advantages of a Skype visit is that I don’t have to fuss over my appearance. First of all, it’s never a crystal clear image-at least not on my end. I rarely wear make-up but I  will wash my hair and wear a nice, casual top for the session. It doesn’t matter what’s on my bottom half- clown pants or a tutu- they won’t see it :-)


I turn off the phone and leave a note on the front door. If it’s UPS or FedEx, they can drop off in our front foyer.  My big Mastiff, Jambo, might stay in my husband’s shop- but I have had requests from some schools that the kids wanted to see my pets, so in those cases I will leave him with me. Part of the attraction of Skype is seeing the author at home.

 Technical Problems

Sometimes there are technical problems - usually no sound. So far, the problems  were on the school’s end and were quickly fixed. A quick test Skype with the teacher ahead of time is always a good idea. I also do a test Skype with a friend or relative beforehand.

Sound can be a bit problematic. When the children join me in singing there is a slight delay. Also, I don’t always hear the children when they ask me questions; the teachers usually have to repeat them, and I can hear the teachers just fine. They say they can hear me very clearly, so I am glad about that.

My Presentation

My Skype presentations are the same as my in-person visits. I start off with a short intro, telling a little bit about me- how I was born in Poland and came to the U.S. when I was seven and went right into first grade not speaking any English, and then how my dream of making books for children came true. Then I sing/read one of my nursery rhyme books, and I’ll have the kids sing at least the first verse along with me. Then I will discuss the bookmaking process, talk a bit about getting ideas and turning them into stories, and then the many revisions that are needed. I will show samples of my storyboards, dummy sketches, color studies and final art. I will also show some of my rejected works- paintings I had started but wasn’t happy with. And I have some press sheets to show them so they can understand the printing process. After that I will do Q+A then go on to a drawing demonstration. I’ll choose a character from one of my books and have the kids think of some ideas of what the character could be doing and I will draw it for them. Then I’ll ask the kids to help me add details to the drawing and I will put them in. A typical scene might be a bear riding on a skateboard and juggling. For details they will ask me to put in the sun, birds, bunnies, flowers, ladybugs, etc. I love that! There are so many edgy books out there and it’s reassuring to me to know that kids are still charmed by the beauty and wonder of nature.

My books are ideal for preK to 1st grade, but I will also present to older kids. I will adjust my presentations- doing more singing and reading with the little ones and more bookmaking discussions with the older kids.


I charge $150 for a 45 minute to 1 hr session. My in-person visits are $250 per session plus travel expenses beyond 50 miles. I will do up to 4 presentations in one day. In both cases, the school will send me a check after the visit.

And that’s all there is to it! :-)

Thank you, Susanna, for featuring me. I hope this info is helpful to your many wonderful readers!

Thank YOU, Iza!  I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say it was very interesting and enlightening!

Iza is the author and illustrator of 20 lovely picture books for children, including Itsy Bitsy Spider (a favorite in our house), Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Bear Went Over The Mountain, Little Miss Muffet and many more. She is also the illustrator of 4 books written by other authors.

Teachers, you can learn all about Iza's school visits here:

and everyone - teachers, parents, readers, writers, homeschoolers, librarians, kids etc. - you can find Iza around the web here:

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on twitter

I hope you enjoyed learning about Skype visits (I know I did! :)) and if you have any questions, I think Iza will be happy to answer in the comments!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone, and once again, Happy St. Patrick's Day! :)

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16187. New sport biography from author David Riley

Offloading with Sonny Bill Williams by David Riley (2014)

Author teacher David Riley has hit the right note with another biography about a rugby league star – this time Sonny Bill Williams (SBW). David opens with a training session that gives the essence of SBW’s ethos – he treats the sport as a professional job and wants to learn from everyone around him. He often turns up to training sessions with an exercise book and pen ready to take notes. It has often inspired others, especially younger players, to do the same.

We find out that SBW started rugby league at six years old and always threw himself into the game. At Intermediate and High school coaches wanted him to play league and union for the school but his heart was first with league. Interestingly, he is still having that tug-of-war in his adult years.

We learn that SBW has also played American Football and boxing – he shows no fear – but had to give them up for rugby. We hear about SBW’s choices that got him into hot water and how he has tried to correct that as he has matured. We get the minute-by-minute commentary and scoring of important games, extra facts that complement other text on that page, and colour photographs from a variety of sources. At the back we read tips and life’s lessons from SBW, see a list of his favourite things, and a timeline of his life.

David has written a comprehensive biography about one of the world’s most popular sport stars. Years 5 – 10 aged boys (and girls) will thoroughly enjoy reading how SBW has gone from being a local boy into one of the World Cup rugby league and union legends. Essential for all school libraries!

Available as a print and e-book from all good book stores and by emailing: davidrileynz@gmail.com

Or order direct from his website

See an exhibit about the inspiration for David's book at the National Library from Friday 21st March until 20th April and at the Gala Night on Friday 28th March, 6pm, National Library. RSVP if you'd like to come along: mariagill at ihug.co.nz  All invited!


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16188. The Weekend Writer: The Hybrid Author

Since The Weekend Writer is a series for new writers, I'll send those readers over to the IndieReCon site to study up on hybrid writers. Hybrid writers, like my car that runs on both gas and electricity, operate two ways.  They publish both traditionally and on their own.

Notice that agent Lara Perkins says that among the benefits of being a hybrid author is "hybrid authors often enjoy greater creative control over self-published titles and over the scope of their career since they have more control over what to publish, when, and how." An example? I'm familiar with a situation in which a traditionally published children's author is interested in pursuing publication for an adult work. (Hmm. Another type of hybrid?) Her agent and publisher are discouraging her, wanting her to be firmly branded as a children's author first. The writer is concerned about striking while the iron is hot (she's done well with her first book). Also, branding could be a two-edged sword. The adult publishing world may not be interested in her once she's been branded as not one of them. There's definitely an issue there about who is in control.

Notice that Perkins also writes about the challenges for hybrids. They are essentially "running a small business." It is "a tremendous amount of work." And speaking from experience, I can tell you that while you're doing the tremendous amount of work of running the business, you have trouble finding time to do more writing. For all the control that traditional publishers get over writers, they also take over a lot of the nonwriting burden of publishing.

Understand the pros and cons of both types of publishing.

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16189. The weekend’s reading


The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald (because Susan Hill piqued my interest, and Selvi’s enthusiasm tipped me over the edge). I’m fairly stunned by the lush economy of the prose—a paradox, I know, which is what is so stunning. That she can convey so rich and vivid a picture—and of so unfamiliar a time and place!—with so few words.

• “The Injustice Collector,” The New Yorker, June 19 2006. Long and fascinating article on the tight grip of the James Joyce estate (namely his heir Stephen Joyce). This was of course before 2012 when Joyce’s works came into the public domain. Wandered here via some reading about literary theory sparked by the Quiller-Couch lectures.

The Secret Garden, continuing, to Rilla. Bliss.

New arrivals:

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro, which I’ve never yet read. Did I put this, too, on hold because of the Susan Hill book? I’ve already forgotten. (Part of why I’m keeping these notes: to chronicle what nudges me toward a particular book.)

Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, Peter Barry. Recommended by my smart homeschooling-mom-slash-lit-professor pal “Fanny Harville.”

Curriculum Vitae, the autobiography of my beloved Muriel Spark. Goodbye, I have to read forever and ever.

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16190. Wild Thing: Writing a Children’s Fiction Series by Emma Barnes

In October 2012, my agent forwarded me this wonderful, shiny, hand-made, sticker-covered guitar. It was part of the offer she had just received from Scholastic to publish my book, Wild Thing.

I was thrilled. I had first dreamt up Wild Thing in the Spring of 2010, and I had poured a lot of energy, enthusiasm and sheer hard work into that book. I was delighted it had found a home.

I was also immensely touched that the editorial department had come up with such a lovely way of offering for the book. I reckoned they must really like it (either that or it had been a really slow day in the editorial department).

In fact they did like it, because not only had they offered for Wild Thing, but for two sequels too. I had been commissioned to write a series! At that moment, one of my writing ambitions came true. I’ve wanted to write a series for a while. I think that’s what children like reading (I certainly did) and besides, having invented Wild Thing, older sister Kate and their crazy world, I didn’t want to leave them behind.

The first book: out now
It was intimidating though. Suddenly I didn’t just have one deadline, I had a raft of them. The next eighteen months were all mapped out with writing, delivering and editing Books One, Two and Three.

As I near the end of that process (Wild Thing was published last month, the third Wild Thing book is now in its final stages) I can say it’s been breathless, but great fun. If I was nervous about sustaining the characters through three adventures, I needn’t have been. The second book almost wrote itself.

Perhaps this was not surprising – by now I understood the characters so well.
(I also had the helpful guidance of my editors.  They pointed up the importance of reintroducing the characters at the start of each book for readers new to the series.)

So what is it that allows a book to become a series? Wild Thing is pitched for 8+, and is the story of two sisters and their somewhat chaotic lives and adventures. I suppose in publishing terms it fits in with many of the other character-led series for this age group.  That also means it's got some very impressive competition!

What most of these series have in common is a real-life setting and fairly everyday adventures: which means that the characters have to be strong enough and distinctive enough to sustain the series.

In my case, the main characters are two sisters. Kate, the elder is fairly sensible. She is driven to distraction by the exploits of her little sister Josephine (aka Wild Thing) who is only five and not sensible at all.

"Why can't we send Wild Thing to prison, though?" I said to Dad.

Dad laughed.  "I thought you wanted to sell her."

I found I understood those sisters pretty well. Perhaps that’s not surprising. I’m an elder sister myself.

Kate and Wild Thing
Sibling relationships are one of the universal themes of childhood, but other aspects of Wild Thing are more unusual. An older child writing about a much younger child is unusual but also risky – because the common wisdom is that children prefer reading about characters older than themselves.

Maybe so. But one of the things I’ve enjoyed about the series is that a younger child (Wild Thing is five) can get away with more than an older child can. It’s great fun writing about someone who can say and do what she likes. I hope that the readers will share that same vicarious pleasure.

Also, not many children are being brought up by a single parent rock guitarist dad. But again, that works for the series. A musician can be around in his children’s lives, but also absent (and absent-minded) and all kinds of chaos can ensue.

The real test though is what happens when the books reach the readers’ hands. Does it speak to them? That’s something that will take a while to discover.

What do you think makes for a successful series?

Emma's new book, Wild Thing,  about the naughtiest little sister ever, is out now from Scholastic. It is the first of a series for readers 8+.

 Wolfie is published by Strident.   Sometimes a Girl’s Best Friend is…a Wolf. 
"A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
"Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps - Book of the Week 
"This delightful story is an ideal mix of love and loyalty, stirred together with a little magic and fantasy" Carousel 

Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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16191. Review – The Simple Things

Great Aunt Lola is about to die. At least ten year-old Stephen thinks she could because she’s that old, and grumpy. And Stephen, labouring under a self and parent imposed ‘shy label’, is more than a little scared of her. He simply wants to flee, but is stuck in Aunt Lola’s house for the next three weeks until she turns eighty, or dies.

The Simple ThingsThey say the simple things in life are the best, but could friendship with his elderly aunt be that easy and straightforward? Award-winning author Bill Condon convinces me it can.

Condon’s latest ‘tween’ novel, The Simple Things is for bridging the generation gap, what styling gel is for rampant adolescent hair-dos; maybe not 100% essential but essentially 100% worth the effort.

Actually, it was no effort at all to immerse myself into this heart-warming tale about letting go, facing personal doubts and overcoming uncomfortable situations. It’s a story about an only child who does what his parents tell him to do, is scared of climbing trees and doesn’t seem surrounded by an ocean of friends.

Blue, Stephen’s dog back home, is the one he misses most during his enforced exile at Aunt Lola’s place. However, he soon meets Lola’s neighbour and past flame, Norm, and Norm’s granddaughter, Allie. With their help, Stephen is able to confront a few of his short comings. He also embarks on a small sojourn of self-discovery as he learns about the simple things in life – like fishing, cricket, climbing trees and death. All this explicably pulls him closer to Aunt Lola. They form a prickly alliance, each benefitting from the other until finally they are forced to admit a deep and special friendship.

The Simple Things is ‘smiley face perfect’ (re; the wet cement moment page 127). Condon writes with unaffected adroitness, delivering this story with equal measures of gentle humour and poignancy, and just enough secrecy to entice readers to want to find out what really lurks behind Aunt Lola’s tough-guy bravado.

Bill CondonCondon’s characters are bright, sharply drawn individuals with enough depth to make us laugh and cry, minus the melancholy. I found Stephen’s charismatic, larrikin father and sarcasm-welding Allie most endearing along with our hesitant hero’s comical boyish charm.

The Simple Things is one of those easy to read, easy to enjoy books, so I suspect it was not that simple to write. But I for one am grateful Condon persevered as Stephen did with his aunt, for it simplifies the complexities of a young person’s relationship with themselves and their aging relative with composite grace and humour, allowing young male and female readers to value and cherish their own relatives all the better.

See why here.

Allen & Unwin February 2014


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16192. but I don’t even like kids

Look. I'm carrying a kettle of scalding water.

“Look! I’m carrying a kettle of scalding water.”

What’s with the face? You don’t like honesty? It’s not completely accurate to say I don’t like kids, because I do–on a child-by-child basis. But the species in general? Not so much.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I have two children of my own. Do I love them? With all my heart. Do I want to be surrounded by a battery of wee nose miners on a daily basis? Oh, my. NO.

I knew it. “The face” is back. You’re wondering why I want to write children’s books when I’m not a super fan of kids. Let me explain how I reconcile the apparent disconnect–at least as I understand so far.

Not too long ago I met Andrew Karre, the editorial director for Carolrhoda Books, at a retreat for children’s writers. He told us he believes children’s literature is about children, and not written for children. What’s the distinction? Motivation. Rather than being audience-centric and focusing on pleasing the reader, Karre suggests the drive to create children’s literature needs to focus inward. Intriguing perspective, isn’t it? I had to noodle over it for quite a while, but I think he’s right.

From the time I recognized myself as a writer an ice age ago, I knew I wanted to write children’s books. Isn’t that odd? So specific. So narrow. Children’s literature has an innate openness, optimism, humor, bravery and tenderness that makes it irresistible to me, as a reader and a writer. Those are the qualities I want funneling through my brain, my heart and my imagination. Writing about children allows me to experience that. I am so lucky. Knowing a child may enjoy what I love to write is a spectacular bonus.

What about you? Why does children’s literature call to you?

(And by the way, if you like kids, it’s okay. I still accept you.)

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.
~ C.S. Lewis

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16193. Guest Post from Tristan Bancks – Stuck in Head. Forget You Have Body

‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.’

Friedrich Nietzsche

A few years ago, on a stopover in Singapore, I had reflexology on the fourth floor of a haphazard shopping mall on Orchard Road. The man charged with the unfortunate task of reviving my crusty, travel-worn hooves asked, ‘What your job?’ I replied, ‘Writer.’ He clicked his tongue several times as he continued to punish my feet. I eventually asked why he was so disappointed by my occupation and he said, ‘Tch,’ again. ‘Stuck in head. Forget you have body.’

I wasn’t overjoyed with this, but the feet don’t lie. Indeed, much of the time, I am stuck in head, forget I have body. I think it was Jerry Seinfeld who said that he looks at his body exclusively as a vehicle for transporting his head around and, once upon a time, I agreed but, apparently, this approach is a killer. Australia’s recently released Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines link inactivity with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. Not great news for writers. (Especially the bit about doing 300 minutes of physical activity each week.)

Ernest Hemingway, famously, wrote standing up. So, too, did Lewis Carroll, Nabokov and Thomas Wolfe (although he died at age 37. Sadly, standing up is not a cure for tuberculosis.) And, since that fateful reflexology session I have tried to inject more activity into my writing process.

Most of my latest book Two Wolves was written outdoors. It’s a crime-mystery story about two kids who are kidnapped by their own parents and taken out on the run to a woodsy cabin. Connection with Nature was an important part of the story and over the five years of writing the book I spent many weeks on the beach in Byron, jotting Notes on my iPhone or capturing ideas in Voice Memo. Something about being grounded, shoes off, breeze on skin, with the white-noise roar of the ocean, allowed the words to flow more freely and honestly. In the space of four hours I could write 2500 words – far more productive than my indoor, desk-bound efforts. And writing on the beach has the added advantage of not feeling like real work. An iPhone Note doesn’t look like an ‘official’ manuscript page, which relaxes the inner critic and allows you to get on with the business of sketching a draft (while simultaneously staving off cancer, obesity and depression, it seems.)

Like many writers, I still sit for too long most days, I still get trapped on the Web, but I believe in the mental, creative and physical benefits of activity, whether it’s beach-walking or yoga, a treadmill desk or simply setting an alarm every hour as a reminder to stand up and walk to the fridge. I like to think that my best work is ahead of me and it would be nice to be alive in order to write it.

As I type these words I’m in a restaurant with durian fruit, bananas and chickens hanging all around. I’m on another short stop in Singapore, and I have a good mind to track down that smarmy reflexologist guy with the clicking tongue, and thank him for potentially adding years to my life.

Tristan Bancks is a childrens and young adult author. Two Wolves is released in March 2014 by Random House Australia. www.tristanbancks.com


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16194. The Monomyth Model of Story Structure

How to use the monomyth to structure Young Adult or other stories.

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16195. It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I hope you had a great reading week.  
This is a weekly meme run by Book Journey!

Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week.


Books Completed Last Week:

Wow...I haven't finished a book since February 8.  

Too much going on in my life, but not fun stuff.  

With my father's passing on Tuesday, I still haven't read anything.
The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley. 

This book is different from her others in terms of content, but just as good. 
THE MIDNIGHT ROSE moves from present day back to a diary that Anahita kept of her life in India as well as her life in England. 


Book Currently Reading: 

Seduction by M. J. Rose

Haven't even started this book.

Books Up Next:


DELICIOUS by Ruth Reichl 

Woman of Ill Fame by Erika Mailman

The Signature of All Things  

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan


The books below are not necessarily in the order I have planned to read them.  

I normally read in order of publication or tour date.

And....these are not for reading in the upcoming week.  They are books into and including next year.

The "list" is a means of keeping me organized.  A visual display helps a lot for organization along with my Excel lists.  :)

I added a couple more since last week.


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16196. Go Green Part 1

With St. Patrick’s Day arriving next week, why not plan a Green Day and serve green foods, wear as much green as you can and plant some seeds in a pot to get a head start on the growing season. Lettuce, parsley, and chives are all quick sprouters and don’t mind the chilly days of early spring.   While you wait for the lettuce greens to grow, try this recipe for a healthy green salad:

MIXED GREENS SALAD:  1. Wash and pat dry a mix of salad greens such as romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, or any combination you like. Now the tasty fun begins.

Add any or all of the following to make a plain salad a satisfying main dish: sliced cucumbers, olives, shredded carrots, dried cherries or cranberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or grapes. Add toasted, slivered almonds or walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and grated Parmesan cheese (or any cheese of your choice). If you’re a vegetarian, you can stop here.   salmon salad

The photo version has a packet of salmon on top. I’ve eaten it with shredded chicken or tuna as well. ANY leftover meat works well.

Sprinkle with your favorite dressing – I used a raspberry balsamic with olive oil – and serve with breadsticks or garlic toast and you will get rave reviews.

Another GREEN food treat that is fun and easy for kids to make is KALE CHIPS.  Check the recipe section of this blog for the recipe.

Stay tuned for some kid-friendly gardening tips to make things turn green in your own backyard.


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16197. Mailbox Monday - 3/17/14

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do).    

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday.

Every week Mailbox Monday will have a new linky posted for our Mailbox Monday links at Marcia's Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s a shout out to the new administrators:

Leslie of Under My Apple Tree 
Vicki of I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit 

THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

I hope you had a good mailbox.  

My mailbox was empty again this past week, but that's ok by me.

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16198. Review – The Free by Willy Vlautin

9780571300297I have always meant to read Willy Vlautin. My old sales rep practically begged me for years to read him (I still have two books in my to read pile). One of my favourite authors, George Pelecanos, ranks him as one of his favourite writers (which should have been enough for me). But what finally got to me read Willy Vlautin was the Ann Patchett quote (alongs side a Pelecanos) quote on the front of his new novel, because quite frankly Ann Patchett has done me no wrong lately.

This is not a war novel but it does deal with the aftereffects of war. It is not a political novel but it does look at health care in America. It is a novel about the wounded. Those wounded by what life throws at them and what they do with those wounds. It is a dazzling original novel, profound and full of hope. And it will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

The Free reminded me of two things. The first was one of the best books I’ve read about war, Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien. O’Brien is best known for his Vietnam War novel The Things They CarriedGoing After Cacciato was very different. It was experimental, it played with the boundaries of reality and went to that place inside a soldier’s head where he tries to hide from the horrors of war. Willy Vlautin takes this even further with the character of Leroy Kervin.

Leroy is a wounded veteran of Iraq. He has suffered a horrific brain injury and has spent years in a home for the disabled, barely functional. As the book opens Leroy has a moment of clarity and tries to take his own life. We then follow Leroy as he dips in and out of consciousness and into the dream world he creates to escape to somewhere better, to come to terms to what has happened to him.

Around these dreams we meet the people around Leroy; his mother who sits by his bedside reading science fiction novels to him, his girlfriend Jeanette who is also a huge part of Leroy’s dreamscape. Leroy’s dream world reminded me a lot of George Saunders’ short stories. Influenced by the books Leroy used to read, and now listens to, his dreams take on a slight science fiction bend. But as hard as Leroy tries he can’t out run his own consciousness and he wounds and memories creep into his dreams.

We also follow Pauline, the nurse who cares for Leroy in the hospital and Freddy, the caretaker at the home who found Leroy. These are the other wounded, the ones who soldier on. Who bare the brunt of a hard and uncompromising world. Freddy is drowning in debt trying to pay off a huge hospital bill. He works two jobs and as a consequence his wife and kids have left him. Pauline looks after her mentally ill father while at the same time trying to care for her patients at the hospital. But both Pauline and Leroy find hope in their lives and this drives them toward something better.

Willy Vlautin is an amazing writer who I should have read long before now and I can’t wait to get stuck into his previous books I have sitting in my pile.

Buy the book here…

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16199. Join the March Read & Romp Roundup!

Today's the official call for submissions for the March Read & Romp Roundup! If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post. Or, you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter to let me know about your link. I'll round up all the links and post them together in a few weeks. Hope you can join us this month!

Submissions are open through Monday, March 31, 2014. 

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16200. Custom Book Covers for as low as $75! Ends Soon!

SPECIAL OFFER for Self-Published Authors! 

Get a CUSTOM front COVER for your next book or novel designed for as low as $75.00! **Contact me for details!** There is one catch: You must book a project within 48 hours to get your cover done at this price!

Offer ends Tuesday, 3/18 at 2:15 PM Pacific time. Sorry, no extensions. You snooze, you lose!


Refer another author and get a 10% discount on your cover if they book a project as well. Just have them contact me about a cover and mention you by name!

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