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Results 16,801 - 16,825 of 215,231
16801. OPEN MIC: Introduing Contributor Varian Johnson ...

I'm continuing to showcase the nine authors who collaborated with me on OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (an anthology published 9.10.13 by Candlewick Press). The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books recently had this to say about our book:

It’s often said that good literature for young people can act as a mirror to one’s own experiences and a window into others’—this anthology fills the bill, providing an accessible assessment of contemporary race relations, while also being as honest, refreshing, and frank as the titular open mic suggests.
Today I'm delighted to introduce you to my friend Varian Johnson, author of "Like Me," a short story that's sixth in the OPEN MIC lineup and is especially "honest, refreshing, and frank." Here are the first few paragraphs to lure you:
"Griff, snap out of it," Evan says, jabbing his elbow into my rib cage. "You're missing the newbies."
I glance at Evan—trying to ignore the scraggly reddish-brown "soul patch" on this chin—then turn to follow his gaze. A mob of girls, huddled together like starry-eyed lambs heading to the slaughter, make their way across the quad with Principal Greer herding them along. With their blinding-white blouses and heavily starched skirts, they look like rejects from an episode of Gossip Girl.
Of course, my blazer and slacks would fit in the show just fine. As Principal Greer says, we're all cut from the same cloth here.
Varian's award-winning books include Saving Maddie (Delacorte / Random House, 2010), My Life as a Rhombus (Flux / Llewellyn, 2008) and A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid (Genesis Press, 2005). He was born and raised in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering.

Varian later attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. He's also the co-founder of The Brown Bookshelf, one of my favorite sites that highlights established and up-and-coming African-American authors of children’s and young adult literature. Today he lives and writes in Austin, Texas.

"I was the typical high-school geek," he says. "I played the baritone in the marching band, was a member of the Academic Challenge Team, and counted my Hewlett-Packard 48G as one of my most prized possessions."

Find out more about Varian and his work by following him on twitter or facebook (highly recommended — his engaging and delightful voice is showcased sweetly on social media).

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16802. Banned Book Week!

We're in the thick of Banned Book Week, September 22—28th. Do you stand for intellectual freedom? I do! And y'know, if parents and librarians and teachers are involved with your child's reading, there is no reason any book should ever be banned!
Read more at PW: Twitter, YouTube, Will Promote Banned Books Week.

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16803. My tweets

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16804. Cardboard Robots

Schuhe London cardboard robots-001

My friend Laurel, who is visiting London, sent me this photo. Aren’t the robots great? I love how the cardboard is rolled for the arms. This is the window of a shoe store called Schuh on Oxford Street.

In case you missed my earlier post about our own cardboard adventures, it’s here.

Meanwhile, I am still deep in research mode on my nonfiction book. It’s keeping me quite engrossed.

I’m looking forward to the Carolinas SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference here in Charlotte this weekend. Say “hi” if you’ll be there!

1 Comments on Cardboard Robots, last added: 10/18/2013
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16805. Interview with Jennifer Kloester, Author of The Cinderella Moment

Please give a warm welcome to Jennifer Kloester! She’s here to talk about her new release The Cinderella Moment.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jennifer Kloester] I’m an adventure-loving book addict with a passion for writing. I love karate, Paris and my garden. I believe in kindness and integrity.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Cinderella Moment?

[Jennifer Kloester] It’s a contemporary novel set in New York and Paris with a 16 year-old heroine who dreams of being a fashion designer. She’s entering a fashion design competition called the Teen Couture but when things go wrong she has to go to Paris and masquerade as her best friend. It’s all fashion, glitz and high society, and of course nothing turns out as she expected – especially after she meets a gorgeous guy who thinks she’s someone else!  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jennifer Kloester] I was living in the Middle East and read a story in a magazine about these girls who were in Paris  for a grand ball and my heroine Angel and her dream of winning the Teen Couture just fell into my head fully formed. I knew she wanted more than anything to be a fashion designer and that her mom was a housekeeper and her best friend the daughter of the mega-rich family her mom worked for and the story just grew from there. Funnily enough, I didn’t realise just how many links to the original Cinderella story there were in my book until I’d finished it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Angel?

[Jennifer Kloester] passionate, determined,romantic

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Angel had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jennifer Kloester] Adele’s version of "Promise This"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Angel is never without.

[Jennifer Kloester] A sketchbook.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Angel’s purse?

[Jennifer Kloester] A car key cause she hasn’t got her license yet and who drives in New York anyway?

A credit card – maybe one day when she can afford it.

Pepper spray – Angel’s not afraid of boys, she just hasn’t met one she really likes – yet!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jennifer Kloester] Other books, other writers – as Stephen Kings says – ‘if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.’ All kinds of music and the things people say – I love listening to people’s words and conversations – you never know where the next big idea will come from.  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jennifer Kloester] Time, a pen or laptop, discipline (is that four things?)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on The Cinderella Moment?

[Jennifer Kloester] My family (immediate and extended) and household chores that suddenly became much more appealing than usual!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jennifer Kloester] "The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" I loved it because it was clever, had memorable characters, and it made me laugh.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jennifer Kloester] When I was six I read "The Good Master’ by Kate Seredy. I still remember it vividly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jennifer Kloester] I love karate and got my black belt last year. Training in the martial arts is the perfect contrast sitting at my computer all day. I also love gardening and the beach. I’d say travel but I usually write when I’m travelling – so much great material.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jennifer Kloester] I’m on Twitter (I love Twitter) @jenkloester, via email jenkloester@gmail.com and on my Facebook author page JenniferKloesterAuthor – I’ve also had letters from readers via my publishers (Penguin Aus, Sourcebooks & Swoon Romance) which is awesome fun. I love hearing from readers and will always reply.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link


About the book:

Let the masquerade begin!
Angel Moncoeur has always wanted to be a fashion designer, but without money or connections, it’s going to be a challenge. When an opportunity to leave her home in New York and head to Paris appears, Angel grabs it – even if it means masquerading as her best friend Lily. That can’t be too hard, can it? But when she falls in love with her very own Prince Charming who thinks she’s someone else, Angel embarks on a plan to secure her happily ever after.
THE CINDERELLA MOMENT is a fabulously fun story about high society, mistaken identity, love, betrayal, friendship – and great clothes

About the author:

Jennifer Kloester is passionate about books and writing. She is the author of two books on the bestselling historical novelist Georgette Heyer: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. The Cinderella Moment is her first novel. She is currently writing the sequel The Rapunzel Dilemma. In her spare time Jennifer loves to travel and train in karate.

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16806. Writing Wednesday: Celebrating Your FOX Writing!

Today I want to share some of the great writing submitted by the kids at Cider Mill School as they described last week’s Red Fox photograph. What I particularly like is that you looked closely, observed and wrote about fresh details in the photographs. You found your own words for describing what was happening in the scene, using imaginative words that engaged all of our senses. And some of you created wonderful new scenes and even let us in on what the fox was thinking. Nice job!We had many entries from students in Mrs. Bosch’s fifth grade class at Cannondale House, with good use of dialogue* (imagining what the fox is thinking or saying) to describe the scene. Ben wrote: The sleek, sly, soft orange fox stared into the cold autumn breeze waiting, hoping for a midday snack to come. The leaves howled and the grass shivered. The rocky surface beneath him stung like ice with a layer of frost. The sun glimmered as if in need of a coat. Chris: What I imagine is that that the fox was just sitting in this refreshing autumn breeze and thinking about how nice this sunny day is. It was just chilling on those rocks thinking, "my friends really have to try this, they sure are missing out." What I saw was a cool red fox laying down on the little pebbles, with its big fluffy tail flapping in the wind. Its giant ears were probably picking up every little sound around him/her. The face was so pointy, it could probably be used as a butcher’s knife. Pearson: The orange and red fox sits lazily on the rocky ground as the wind blows gently on its silky fur. He looks up to see birds fluttering their wings looking for a worm. The fox gently lays back down. He is sunbathing. "Ahhhhhhh," he thinks, "this is nice." After some time he gets back up and trots to another nice spot with some food. Mrs. Froehlich’s Kent House fifth graders used some great adjectives and compound descriptors to describe the fox. Look for compound descriptors like "Autumn-colored fur".... ""sun-colored".... "newly-formed dew." Mikey: As I gaze out my window, I see a lonely fox licking his autumn-colored fur. He stretches his hind legs and slowly lowers himself to the ground. He stifles a yawn, and shuts his eyes as he starts to bask in the warm autumn sun. He lies there, and I continue to watch him. After a while, he opens eyes and stretches again. Then, he trots off back into the shadowed depths of his kingdom. Kayla: I can see the sun-colored fox laying on rocks that have been heated up by the bright sun. The fox is sun bathing, but also pretending to be asleep for a possible mid afternoon snack. It is a bright and beautiful autumn day in late October and the fox is startled by the rustling of some leaves, but it is nothing. So, the fox settles down in a nice warm and cozy comfy spot and drifts off to sleep like he’s sitting on a cloud. "Nothing could wake me up now," he thought, but not long after that, a quiet little bunny makes his way toward the fox. Though that bunny was as silent as a mouse, the fox jumped up in surprise, but saw nothing. The fox was most definitely, positively sure he heard something, but as he trudged off into the woods, he thought, "it was probably just the howling of the wind." The fox gingerly laid down next to a murky swamp, not minding the smell at all, thinking, "it was the wind, probably just the wind." Lily: September leaves fall on this baby fox as he bathes in September sun. He is looking curiously for any sign of life what so ever. Wind blows on him furiously but don’t worry, his thick copper fur can finally be useful after a long hot summer. Leaves and rocks crunch every few minutes as this courageous fox looks for prey. Maybe it is lunchtime. "Anyone seen any petite animals?" Some people think wolfs are big and bad but inside they have a warm heart. Morgane: I am a red fox sitting on the cold, hard rocks. I groom myself then circle my rocky territory before I find the perfect spot. I lie down and dream about my next meal, maybe rabbit! or chipmunk! mmm… I lick my lips before nodding off. When I wake up with my fur damp with newly-formed dew. I shake my limp fur. I suddenly see a strange man with a contraption, and SNAP! A flash of light comes into view. Startled, I trot away to be followed by CLICK! SNAP! and SNAP! As I disappear into the woods and turn back to see the strange man wave and disappear. Mack: It was chilly autumn day. Leaves falling from trees, raking leaves, then bouncing into them. All of a sudden a fox came out of the forest. He sat down and turned his head at the children jumping into the leaves. As he turned his head you could see a white stripe on his fur but it was very faint. Then he sniffed his nose at the hot dogs sizzling off the grill. He got up for a sec then sat back down. It was like he had already tasted the glorious hot dogs. Then a leaf fell over his head. He picked it with his mouth and trotted back in the forest. Mrs. McCusker’s fourth grade class focused on creative writing, imagining the fox’s thoughts and activities - things that we could not see in the photographs. Drew: A red-orange fox basking in the warm autumn sun. "Is that a bird I smell?" thought the sleek red fox. "I love autumn," thought the fox. "The warm sun on my back. The wind in my fur. The leaves falling. Trees rustling in the wind." Finnegan: It was a very warm autumn day and a red fox with orange eyes was sitting on some gray rocks. The fox was curled up in a ball sunning itself. The birds were chirping and the fox was curious to figure out why they were chirping. Suddenly, out came a black squirrel. The fox got up and ran at an unimaginable speed to get the squirrel. Luckily the squirrel climbed up a tree before the fox got to him. So the fox sat on the rocks again and continued sunning himself. Grant: It was one windy autumn day and there was a fox sitting on a stone. He was thinking of all kinds of things. Then he went to groom his tail and the fox said "Wow, my tail is stinking up a storm." He thought his tail smelled like a rotten egg that had been sitting in the sun too long. Then a bird came along and tried to speak, but the fox said "Don’t disturb me I’m trying to get my tan in." When the fox was tanning he could feel the warm sun blazing on him. After the fox got his tan, he went to his house for dinner. Mrs. Staub’s fourth graders looked closely at the photographs and described details that I did not mention when I originally wrote about the fox: Meredith: The red fox feels the cool breeze and the warm sun on this crisp autumn day. Sitting on hard cool rock with a grassy background. He listens to the bugs with their buggy noises as they crawl around the ground. The light bounces off his red fur and the bright color bounces back to your eyes. It’s great to look at such a magnificent animal. Audrey: The red fox is sitting on smooth and jagged rocks. Its reddish fur is shining in the sunlight, and is blowing in the warm breeze. Its big, brownish eyes look like they are staring right at me. Its little black nose is sniffing the air for any predators or prey. Suddenly it jumps up on its little black paws and scurries away. Daniella: The sly red fox’s fur glimmered in the sun on the hot autumn day, at the edge of the woods in Black Butte, Oregon waiting and waiting for a small mouse to scurry through the rocks. The Autumn leaves danced in the wind one by one. Suddenly a monarch butterfly gracefully flew by, the fox pounced on it trying to catch it. I watched from behind the blueberry bush as the fox tried to catch it. The fox was hot and tired, it tiptoed over to the oak tree in the shade and licked itself to sleep. Thanks again to all 40 students who shared their excellent writing!* (Editor’s note: we added quotation marks around the dialogue, to help your readers "hear" the fox’s voice).

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16807. Book Give-A-Way & Dianne Ochiltree Interview

dianneflwrscroppedDianne Ochiltree has been writing stories and poems since she was a child growing up in a small Midwestern town. Today, she is a nationally recognized author of books for the very young. Her picture book, LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE has been a selection for the Dollywood Fourndation’s national literacy program, and her picture book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter received the Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal in the Children’s Literature category in 2012. Her earlier books have been translated into foreign language and Braille editions as well as audio versions. For more information about Dianne and her books, go to http://www.ochiltreebooks.com. Dianne lives in sunny Sarasota, Florida with her husband, Jim, and the family pets.

betsyfireflyHer books have appeared on several recommended reading lists nationwide, including the Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee ‘year’s best’, and the Dollywood Foundation’s national childhood literacy program, ‘imagination library’.

IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT is illustrated by Betsy Snyder who was featured last December on Illustrator Saturday. If you would like to see that post, here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/illustrator-saturday-betsy-snyder/

Dianne has agreed to give everyone a chance to win one of three signed copies of IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT. All you have to do is leaves a comment to get their name in the hat one time. If you would like to collect more entries in the hat, you can increase your chances by do the following:

1 entry everything you tweet this link (One a day).

1 entry for putting this link on facebook

1 entry for putting up this post on your blog.

2 entries if you reblog this post.

5 entries if you talk about the book on your facebook page or blog.

Please come back and leave an update on what you did by Friday October 5th in the comment section, so I know how many times to put your name in the hat for the drawing. I will announce the winner on Sunday October 7th.

Here is the interview I had with Dianne.

I know you have been writing since you were a little kid, but how did you hone your writing skills as a serious writer?

Great question! First, I made the commitment to write something very day.  Depending on the particular day, some days it was 20 pages and other days it was only notes on a future project.  The important thing was to make the writing a daily priority.  Second, I made a list of what I didn’t know about writing for young readers and the children’s publishing  industry.  (Initially, a very long list!)  Then I set off on a crash course to gain the knowledge I needed to write effectively for this market.  I read books, magazine articles, and blogs on the topics.  I took a couple of in-person and online classes.  Most important, I joined SCBWI.  The first year in the business, I attended eight regional and national conferences, where the workshops and presenters shared valuable tips on the craft and business of writing for children.  I networked with fellow beginning writers.  I found experienced writers who generously offered me guidance from time to time.  I joined two critique groups where I could not only bring my own writing skills up to speed, but also learn from evaluating other writers’ work.  Oh yes, it ‘takes a village’ to raise a children’s writer!

Were the first things you wrote, poems?

Yes, little poems about pets and flowers and that sort of thing.  Also scripts for puppet shows.  I made hand puppets from paper lunch bags and construction paper.  My third grade teacher let me do puppet shows for my book reports because I was so shy!  Before learning to actually read or  write, I drew little ‘picture books’ using recycled paper sheets , bound with punch holes and yarn.

Did you start out knowing that you wanted to writer for children?

Not at all.  I just wrote things without thought about intended readership or publication at first.  It was just for fun.

Have you done any other type of writing?

My first job was as an advertising copywriter.  My first writing career, as staff writer and freelancer, was in marketing/advertising/public relations. I have written poems and personal essays for adult readers, too.

When did you get your first picture book published?

My first book for children, CATS ADD UP!, was published in 1998 as a title in the ‘Hello, Reader!’ series from Scholastic.  This was especially exciting to be published by Scholastic, because when I was a kid, most of my reading material came from those monthly book club offerings.

How did that happen?

I’d applied for the Rutgers One-on-One Plus Conference with a writing sample, an early draft of that first published book, and was accepted.  My mentor that day was Paula Danziger.  Not only did she give me priceless writing advice…she introduced me to an editor at Scholastic who agreed to look at my manuscript once I’d made revisions based on her input.

Are all your picture books in rhyme?

No.  All three of my ‘Hello Reader!” series titles are in prose, as is my 2012 Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press book, MOLLY BY GOLLY! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter.

Do you have an agent? If not, would like to find one?

No, I do not currently have an agent.  And YES, of course, I’d love to have representation.  It’s not just the negotiation for the initial contract in which a literary agent makes a key difference—it’s the on-going interface with the publisher on issues such as subsidiary rights in which having an agent on your side can make a big impact.

Not counting your latest book, which book are you most proud of?

Now you’re asking me to name the equivalent of my favorite child—tough question! So, while I love all my books, I am proud of LULL-A-BYE, LITTLE ONE (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006) for being on the Dollywood Foundation’s ‘Imagination Library’ list for many years running.  Because of this, thousands of families with infants have received a free copy of the book in the mail for their own little ones.  These are parents who could not otherwise afford books for their kids.  Also proud that the ‘Molly’ book won the 2012 Florida Book Awards bronze medal in the children’s literature category.

Do you have a regular writing schedule?

The only regular thing about my writing schedule is that I write something each day:  a journal entry, a blog post, or chunks of a manuscript.  It’s all good.

I see you do yoga. Do you feel that helps you write better?

Yes, I’m a Yoga Alliance 200-hour RYT instructor and devoted lifelong learner.  And yes, it helps tremendously.  As an instructor or student, my observational skills need to be engaged at a high level.  This also helps make writing shine, taking notice of all the details.  There is a meditative state that practicing yoga and writing share.  By connecting with your true self, or your creative self, your work on the mat and at the keyboard will exceed your expectations.  There is also an element of non-judgment of effort and non-attachment to results that frees up a yoga practice and writing efforts alike. I believe so strongly in the corollary processes that I teach a ‘zen and the pen’ workshop from time to time.

Can you tell us the story and journey behind your new book, It’s a Firefly Night?

It’s been a long and happy journey with that manuscript.  I think my first draft of the story dates to 2003.  It was prompted by my memory of sharing ‘firefly nights’ with my own father.  From him, I learned an appreciation of—and a respect for—the natural world. That’s a lesson as valuable today as it was in the 60’s.  Catching fireflies on a summer night was one of the rare times I had one-on-one time with my father. My father passed away when I was 18 years old, so of course working creatively with any ‘daddy memory’ is a special pleasure for me.  It has also been a joy to connect with that childlike sense of wonder while crafting this manuscript.  My goal was to share the feeling of magical, barefoot, starry summer nights of long-ago with today’s kids.  I also hope that the book inspires today’s parents to get out there  and share some nature outings with their children.

What number of books does this book bring you up to now?

I think it’s 11.

Have any of your books been put out as an e-book?

Yes, some of my Scholastic books are now offered as an e-book.  Both original Scholastic publications and picture books that were subsequently sold to Scholastic for paperback and other rights.

Do you have any thoughts on why some writer’s get published and others do not?

Some writers do the homework and some do not.  Some writers can receive editorial input and utilize it effectively, some cannot.  Some writers can handle rejection, others cannot. Some writers give up, others do not.  The biggest difference?  Published writers are not quitters.

Do you have any suggestions on how to market yourself to editors and publishers?

Simply, be professional.  Know what they do or do not publish.  Ask informed questions.  Use appropriate communication channels for your queries and pitches.  Only present your most polished work.

What are you working on now?

A book proposal for a juvenile biography, plus a narrative nonfiction picture book manuscript.

Do you have any words of wisdom for unpublished writers?

I’m not really qualified to give anything as profound as words of wisdom…but I will mention that it’s important to find out what makes your writing stand out from other authors, which is another way of saying what makes you unique, then go for it!  Let your writing express your viewpoint on life, as well as your personality.  You were called to be a writer because there is something you really need to say to young readers.  Make that connection with every word on the page.

Thank you Dianne for sharing your time to answer todays, interview questions. I have your book and it is a great addition to my picture book collection and thank you for your generous offer to let three people win signed copies of your book.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Author, authors and illustrators, bio, Book, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: book give-a-way, Children's Book Author, dianne Ochiltree, It's a Firefly Night

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16808. Autumn is here!

Photography and Text © Copyright 2013 by Sannel Larson. All rights reserved

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16809. Writer Wednesday: Revise As a Reader, Not a Writer

I've always said reading is the best form of research for writers. When I need inspiration, I turn to a good book and just read. I learn the most that way. But I've learned that reading helps with revision too. How? If you want to know how your readers are going to look at your book, you have to read it as a reader and not a writer.

The best way to do this is to separate yourself from the manuscript for a while. Write something else and then come back to it. You have to almost forget the story so you can read it with fresh eyes. I can spot "telling" a mile away in someone else's book, but in my own, I have to step away and read like a reader to see it. You also have to keep in mind that the great backstory your MC has isn't known to anyone but you. You know what I'm talking about. All those details about their childhood that makes the MC who he/she is. If there's something you want the readers to know, you have to actually write it down. You may be thinking, "well duh," but seriously, I see this all the time when I edit for clients and I've even done it myself—just assumed the reader knows what I know. They don't. They only know what you tell them.

In the same token, your reader isn't inside your MC's head. If you don't share your MC's thoughts, your reader won't see them. Don't forget to have your characters react to things, either verbally, through actions, or through their thoughts. It makes your characters come alive on the page, which is what your readers want.

As a reader, I skip over mundane details, so when I revise as a reader, I delete those details. Why give readers a reason to skim your work? Then I replace those boring details with something my readers will actually care about.

Can you read your own work as a reader instead of a writer? Do you have any tips to share?

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16810. Sometimes it just doesn't work out

As the title of this post suggests, an unfortunate number of jobs never see the light of day. Occasionally, that's a good thing (stuff I'm not exactly proud of), but for the most part, it's pretty depressing. All that work, and no one will ever see it. Well, thank Odin for the internet.

This job is a good example. It was a logo for a start-up Mexican restaurant that would operate out of malls initially. They had seen one of my recipes on They Draw and Cook and wanted something with a similar feel.

Sigh... Woulda been cool, but what are ya gonna do?

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16811. Deborah Wiles’ Revolution is on its way!

I was a big fan of Deborah Wiles’ Countdown (my review is here) and have been eagerly awaiting the second in her Sixties Trilogy. So how terrific to read just now  her blog post mentioning, among other things, the completion of the new book, Revolution.  Deborah writes:

REVOLUTION is the title of book two of the Sixties Trilogy. It takes place in 1964 Mississippi during Freedom Summer. Sunny Fairchild is 12 years old. I can’t wait for you to meet her, and her step-brother, Gillette, his little sister, Audrey, and the town of Greenwood, Mississippi, which was the headquarters of SNCC in 1964.

Lots went down in Greenwood during the civil rights movement years, and Sunny lives through the  summer of 1964 with a whole lot of grit and even a little bit of grace. Or maybe it’s the other way ’round.

You’ll meet Jo Ellen again, in REVOLUTION. She’s one of the one-thousand souls who came south to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, to register black voters and open community centers and Freedom Schools. Jo Ellen and Sunny meet and sparks fly.

There’s also a mysterious boy named Raymond who lives on the other side (literally) of the railroad tracks, in Baptist Town. I fell in love with Ray, and I hope you do, too.

Don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read this!

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Read Q&A about my new book Daredevil on authorof.blogspot.com

Here's one of the questions and answers:

Question: You've written about bubble gum, a legendary racehorse, a life-saving dog, among many other topics. What inspired you to choose the life of little-known aviation pioneer Betty Skelton?

Meghan McCarthy: I actually struggled with this topic at first because Betty seemed to have an awe-inspiring life. When I write a biography, I like to include a little struggle—something to give the story a nice arch. But Betty was such a positive person that I couldn’t find any struggle! She put a positive spin on everything! I know it seems odd that I, a writer for children, would be looking for some sad drama, but I kind of was. I couldn’t find any. Even when Betty wasn’t chosen to go to space, she was okay with it. She seemed to enjoy the experience and said she loved working with the astronauts. She’d followed the career of John Glenn her whole life and wrote him letters but said he never wrote back. She just laughed about it. She was such a good-natured lady.

Why is Betty Skelton the person to write about? Because she didn’t care if girls weren’t supposed to fly planes or race cars or jump boats or be advertising executives. She just did what she wanted to do. As a kid I was like that. I played on an all boys baseball team. I distinctly remember running home and telling my dad that I needed a glove and socks and a “cup.” My dad sheepishly explained why I didn’t need one of those! Betty did things bigger and better than I ever could and that’s what I think is so awesome.

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16813. Meet Fulke FitzWarin from Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Outlaw Knight and Giveaway!

Please welcome Fulke FitzWarin, hero of Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Outlaw Knight  to the virtual offices this morning. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Fulke FitzWarin] Honourable, strong, loyal, virile, chivalric

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Fulke FitzWarin?

[Fulke FitzWarin] It would be different things at different points of my life. But let’s take it as an outlaw on the run:

1.Get up in morning and hope it hasn’t rained in the night and made everything damp.

2. See to the horses, eat whatever food might be to hand, provided either from handouts, from foraging, or from a spot of judicious thievery.

3. Discuss the day’s plans with the men. One of King John’s treasure carts is supposed to be coming through the area.

4. Cover up signs of the camp and head off to ambush the treasure cart.

5. Apprehend the treasure cart after a bit of fighting. Take the treasure and remove it to a safe hiding place.

6.When it starts to rain heavily go to the manor house of a sympathizer and take shelter there, paying for the meal and board with part of King John’s treasure.

7. Spend the night there by the fire telling tales and sharpening weapons. Write a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury who is sympathetic to my cause even while he serves King John.

8. Next morning leave and move on before word gets out and the heavy mob arrives.

9. Select next target.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you describe your relationship with King John?

[Fulke FitzWarin] He hates me and he’s jealous of me. He bears a grudge against me because I once got the better of him at chess when we were youths. It came to blows and I knocked him down. I have no love for him and rebelled against him when he took away my land and gave it to someone else just to spite me. He covets and harasses my lovely wife too. He is my king, yet how can I bend the knee to such a tyrant?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What irks you most about him?

[Fulke FitzWarin] The fact that he took away my land when I was grieving over the death of my father, and gave it to another man without justification. I will never forgive him for that.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Fulke FitzWarin] I would not let feuding over land become the be-all and end-all of my life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Fulke FitzWarin] A good thick cloak.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t antagonizing a king?

[Fulke FitzWarin] To sit around the fire with my brothers swapping tales. To lie abed with my wife and just admire her beauty. To go riding with her and know we are not threatened. To teach my sons the paths they must follow to manhood.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Fulke FitzWarin] Grandchildren, stability, peace, decent king!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Fulke FitzWarin] Thank you, you are welcome!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase link

About the book:

A Deadly Rival.
An Ancient Family Dispute.
An Impossible Love.

He should have known better than to fight with the future King John. Ruthless and feared, John is not one to forget or forgive. But Fulke FitzWarin couldn’t help himself, and now the vindictive John has insured that Fulke will never become lord of the castle he loves.

Instead of accepting his fate, Fulke rebels. He begins an affair with Maude Walter, the wealthy widow desired by John himself. Negotiating a maze of deceit, treachery, and shifting alliances, Fulke’s route to success is blocked at every turn. And when the turmoil of the Magna Carta rebellion combines with a shocking tragedy, everything Fulke has fought for is thrown into the path of destruction.

"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here."—USA Today

"The best writer of medieval fiction currently around."—Richard Lee, founder and publisher, Historical Novel Society

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16814. Austin Teen Book Fest

Yes, this weekend is FINALLY the Austin Teen Book Fest. I am so excited! I've been looking forward to this event since last year and can't wait. If you've never been, it's completely worth taking the day off and checking out.

You can find me on this panel, presenting at 1:25 and 3:15:

And you can see the list of ALL 42 AUTHORS here:

See you on Saturday!

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16815. First World Problems

I have to say, these last three months have not been easy. I had to drink water, milk and other stuff besides my beloved soft drinks. What a serious “first world” problem. Right? And until I started writing this post, I was really proud of myself for giving up the soft drinks for three whole […]

9 Comments on First World Problems, last added: 10/13/2013
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16816. Online Book Party!

I'm having an online for Ling and Ting Share a Birthday on my blog! All day long, I'll be posting fun things to celebrate the book! So far, there's a podcast interview with Katie Davis' Brain Burps about Books (and an opportunity to win a free book!),  a downloadable party kit and I just posted a fun little game which feature some of the books by the Blue Rose Girls! There's more to come, so please check all day and have a good time!!

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16817. This is Not About Me

This post is not all about me for some reason.

new couch

It’s not even all about Mom. It’s not a birthday party for Mom’s old book, Keep Your Ear on the Ball.

book cover w border2

Or her ALMOST new ebook, What If I Don’t.

meegenius blue

Today, we want to say “Surprise!” and “Happy Birthday, Pam!” to our bloggy-friend Sammy’s Mom.

birthday lights out

If you don’t know Sammy or Pam, you can visit them here. If you want to see ME (and a bunch of bloggy friends) in a special happy birthday video, click below. Hey, wait a minute…maybe this IS about me, after all!

11 Comments on This is Not About Me, last added: 9/25/2013
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16818. Chicago Bound

Chicago-Bound2Jake McGreevy’s Adventures Continue in Chicago!

In this sequel to Sean Vogel’s award-winning middle grade novel Celtic Run, Jake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his late mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.

By Sean Vogel. Published by MB Publishing.  (November 2013)

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16819. “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too. Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book […]

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16820. Review: Words Once Spoken by Carly Drake


Title: Words Once Spoken

Author:  Carly Drake


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.


I have one major gripe about Words Once Spoken.  The story doesn’t really end, it just kind of runs out of pages.  This is the first in a planned series, and after some kickass action and an engaging journey, everything just trailed off into nothing.  I thought the ending was weak, and it didn’t fit with the rest of the story.  I am hopeful that the next book will make up for my disappointment with yet another non-ending.  There is a reason that I have been waiting to start series until they are all done, and this is an example of why. 

Evelyn has never fit in with her mother’s expectations.  Instead of desiring the life of a pampered noble, she much prefers the outdoors to being shut up inside stuffy buildings.  She is skilled with a bow and arrow, and rides like she was born on horseback.  She suffers severe stomach upsets when she eats meat and so eats only plant-life.   Just before is eighteenth birthday, her mom insists that she accompany her parents to meet the king and queen.  Her mother would like nothing better than for Evelyn to be appointed one of the princess’s handmaidens, though it would be a nightmare come true for Evelyn.  Once at the castle, she meets the handsome Lord Devon, as well as the charming young prince, and she quickly learns that nothing is what it seems, including herself and everything she thought she knew about herself.

Overall, this is a spirited adventure. Evelyn  discovers why she has never fit in, and why she has never earned her mother’s love, and puts herself in grave danger at the same time.  She sets off on her own to get answers to the many questions plaguing her, only to be joined by Liam and Padraic, her would be suitors.  Love triangles usually annoy me, but it worked here.  Maybe because Evelyn is just so much more capable of dealing with the danger that they have all been forced to confront than the guys are.  Evelyn is a strong, stubborn girl.  She’s impulsive, but she has the confidence, skill,  and courage to deal with the fallout from her rash decisions.  At first she was a little irritating, but her self-assurance quickly grew on me, especially after she packed up her things and left the castle.  This girl doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles, though she’s more than grateful to have a little bit of help when things get really crazy. 

A couple of things bugged me.  The first being that women aren’t allowed to read, yet Evelyn and Liam meet in the library several times, and Liam leaves scrolls for her to read.  It didn’t make sense that it’s illegal for women to read, yet Evelyn and the prince read often and discuss what they’ve read.  That whole thing just confused me.  The other thing I didn’t like – Padraic acts so out of character at the end of the book that I was having a hard time comprehending that it was him behaving this way.  It really knocked me out of the story, and combined with the disappointing ending, left me wondering what happened to the fun book I had been reading.

Though there are a few jarring inconsistencies with Words Once Spoken, I did enjoy my time with Evelyn, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

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16821. 5 Signs it’s Time to Quit Freelancing and get a “Real Job”

freelance_help_wantedBy Daisha Cassel

If you’re doing it right–and making a good living off it–freelance writing is a real job. In fact, most successful freelance writers put in well over 40 hours a week when they are getting their businesses off the ground.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of wannabe writing pros are unprepared when they decide to take the plunge and go freelance. Here, 5 ways to know that it’s time to say sayonara to the Schedule C and start sending out your resume.

1. You’re on the verge of bankruptcy and your basic needs aren’t being met.

You don’t have two nickels to rub together and are in dire straits! But you think freelance writing will net you fast, fast cash.

There’s a reason you’ve never seen a late-night infomercial or a back-pages ad in Popular Mechanics touting this profession as a get-rich-quick scheme. Not only does it take skill and hard work, but it’s one of the worst jobs to have if you’re already living paycheck to paycheck.

Unlike a job with an employer, you can’t count on a weekly or bi-weekly shot in the bank account. (One high-profile newspaper once took seven months to get a check out to me, and many freelancers have horror stories of never getting payment from shuttered mags and deadbeat publishers.)

Let’s not forget that the old adage “It takes money to make money” applies here too. You’re not sitting around in a safari jacket scrawling your next magnum opus with an affordable feather pen, are you? At the very least you need a reliable computer, internet connection, and phone to function as a business. It’s hard to focus on an interview when can’t pay the bill for the cell phone you’re conducting it on.

And “basic needs” are more than food, water, and those two proverbial nickels. Do you have health insurance? Are you contributing to a self-employed retirement plan or IRA? Do you have an emergency fund to cover those times when you, too, might wait seven months for a check to come in?

If your basic needs aren’t being met, you may want to consider seeking out employment until you’re over the hump.

2. When you read the beginning of this post you wondered, “What’s a Schedule C?”

Writing can be a hobby, but freelancing is a business.

When you go into business yourself, you are your own employer. This means things that your boss or the company accountant did on your behalf when you worked a 9-to-5 are now up to you.

It’s a legal requirement that you withhold and pay your own federal, state and local income taxes. (And guess what: since employers chip in to their employees social security and Medicare tax contributions, and you are now your own employer, your bill could be even bigger.)

If you haven’t been sending in tax payments, or even filing taxes on your earnings at all, you’re not just in violation of the law—you also aren’t treating freelancing like a real job.

3. You get nothing but rejections–and that’s on a good day.

“Nice” rejections where editors and clients ask you to stay in touch are one thing. But if you’re pitching plenty and hearing back never, or you only get boilerplate rejections, it may be time to reconsider the source of your future income.

If you don’t know when you’ll land your next article, then you don’t know when you’ll get your next paycheck. That uncertainty leads to desperation—both financial and emotional. It is one thing to be perseverant and another to be a glutton for punishment!

4. You’re amassing clips and experience, but not cash.

You’re writing for pennies a word (or less!), but your big break is right around the corner, right?

Don’t count on it.

Many a fledgling freelance writer has toiled away for far too long in the depths of content mills, (very) small regional magazines, and other no-or-low paying gigs in the name of “getting clips and experience.”

Sure, you need to have clips to show off your mad skills, but editorial standards tend to be as low as the pay in these cases, and no editor will be impressed by a barrage of hyperlinks to penny-a-word articles.

My advice? Completely skip the content mills, and start pitching to the big boys as quickly as you have a good idea. Most editors will be more receptive to a great query supported by a single clip than a mediocre, poorly researched one with lots of mediocre clips.

If you just can’t bring yourself to pitch high-paying markets, it may be time to consider getting a job and relegating freelance writing to “hobby” status.

5. You’re more worried about keeping up appearances than making a living.

A reader recently wrote in to Linda saying that she is on the verge of bankruptcy, and freelancing hasn’t worked out for her after several attempts, but she finds the idea of working in retail or food service “distasteful.”

Personally, I have a greater aversion to not having a paycheck when the mortgage is due and there’s no food on the table.

Maybe you made a big to-do about leaving the rat race behind, and now…it’s not going so well. This is important, people: do what you have to do to make things work for you financially.

If you love writing and feel like you just need a little more momentum, then keep it up as a second job while you take on something that pays the bills. Once it really does pick up, then you can slide back into a life of writing full time and kick that other job to the curb.

In the meantime, there is honor in doing what it takes to support yourself and your family. Think about it: would you rather say out loud that you are taking a new job in addition to your writing so you can pad your bank account, or that you don’t have enough money to feel your family and keep the lights on?

Bottom line: freelance writing can be a satisfying and lucrative work, but it takes a greater commitment to be your own employer than it does to be an employee. Do you have any other tips for fellow freelancers about self-employment? Share them in the comments below.

Daisha Cassel is a freelance writer who keeps four nickels in her pocket at all times just in case she ever wants to experience the luxury of rubbing two nickels together in stereo.

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16822. Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies

Julie-Andrews-Poems-Songs-LullabiesA wonderful mix of Julie Andrews’ and daughter Emma Walton Hamilton’s most cherished poems, songs, and lullabies abound in this rich and diverse poetry collection. Brought to life with James McMullan’s stunning watercolor paintings, this volume features nearly 150 treasured works, including beloved classics and modern favorites from Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and more – twenty-one of which are theatrically and playfully read aloud by Andrews and Hamilton on the accompanying CD.

Andrews introduces each of the nine themed sections with intimate stories and family memories, offering readers a glimpse into her world and her personal connection to many of the selections. There are even a number of special poems written by the authors themselves as well as contributions from close family members.

This deluxe anthology is bound to inspire an early love of poetry and song and become a classic for families to grow with and treasure throughout the years.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2009)

By Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton.

Illustrated by James McMullan.

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16823. “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too.

Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) chapter’s intrepid webmaster Erik Kuntz of Square Bear Studio talked with me about graphic novels, why they matter and what workshop attendees can expect from what could well be the first SCBWI  conference devoted solely to graphic novels that we know of.

You can see the full playlist of Erik’s and my video discussion of the workshop and the art form here.

Austin is a natural location for such a workshop, having been home  to many notable cartoonists and comic book artists in their earliesh careers, including William Sidney Porter (otherwise known as the short story writer “O. Henry” who illustrated his Austin humor newspaper The Rolling Stone with a lot of his own humorous line art; Roy Crane, who pioneered the ‘adventure comic strip’ with Wash Tubbs, Captain Easy and Buz Sawyer, Gilbert Shelton, who also attended the University of Texas at Austin and conjured the Wonder Wart Hog and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers in some of the first ‘underground comics’ of the early 1960s — and children’s book author-illustrator Berke Breathed, famous for the Pulitzer Prize winning Bloom County strip of the 1980s, ten years after he did his first comic strips for the University of Texas at Austin  student newspaper The Daily Texan. 

Dave Roman's "Astronaut Academy"

Dave Roman’s “Astronaut Academy” (First Second Books

As Erik shares with us in the video playlist, The Graphic Novel workshop will feature First Second Books senior editor Calista Brill, graphic novelist author-illustrator Dave Roman, whose children’s graphic novel series Astronaut Academy is published by First Second, and graphics novel writer Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose graphic novels Tantalize: Kieran’s Story (Candlewick Press) and soon to be published Eternal: Zachary Story (also Candlewick Press) stem from her own best-selling Tantalize YA Gothic fantasy series. (Candlewick Press.)

Tantalize: Kieran's Story by Cynthia Letiich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle

Tantalize: Kieran’s Story by Cynthia Letiich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle

The workshop will occur on the St. Edward’s University campus at 3001 South Congress. Registration tables open at 9 a.m. and you can also register online and read more about the workshop here.

You can check out Erik’s own webcomics series, Hex Libris here.

Enjoy the interview of Cynthia in Cynsations by Austin SCBWI regional advisor Samantha Clark about her work in graphic novel and this Q&A style post, Graphic Novels: What are they and why should I care? on the Austin SCBWI website.

Hex Libris" webcomic serial by Erik Kuntz
“Hex Libris” webcomic serial by Erik Kuntz

* * * * *

Mark Mitchell, who wrote wrote this post teaches a children’s book illustration class at The Contemporary Austin Art School at Laguna Gloria and his online Make Your Splashes – Make Your Marks! course.

Click on the below image to enjoy the recent presentation by author- illustrator CS Jennings.

CS JUennings presentation banner

The post “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story” appeared first on How To Be A Children's Book Illustrator.

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You're having a book festival this weekend. I'm going to be at that.

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16825. “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too. Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book […]

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