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Results 16,801 - 16,825 of 237,180
16801. What Takes So Long?

What has to happen between the time your book is acquired and it appears on the shelf?


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16802. Poetry Friday: The farthest thunder that I heard by Emily Dickinson

The farthest thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the sky,
And rumbles still, though torrid noons
Have lain their missiles by.
The lightning that preceded it
Struck no one but myself,
But I would not exchange the bolt
For all the rest of life.
Indebtedness to oxygen
The chemist may repay,
But not the obligation
To electricity.
It founds the homes and decks the days,
And every clamor bright
Is but the gleam concomitant
Of that waylaying light.
The thought is quiet as a flake,-
A crash without a sound;
How life’s reverberation
Its explanation found!

- Emily Dickinson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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16803. 3x5 Art Challenge - Day 3

Oops - I missed yesterday, so I'm playing catch-up here. First off is a self-portrait I did eons ago. I still think it looks like me:

Second is from my colored pencils stage. These cacti were for a label in an NK Lawn & Garden planter:

And the third piece today is a series of banner proposals I did for the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee when I was working for dDN (or was it ddN, DdN?). Anyhow - they chose the one with the chair and the banners hung on the light posts in downtown Chattanooga for several years:

So, truly, I think just about everybody has done this by now, but I'll tag Robyn Hood Black and Janie Bynum because I haven't talked to her in a while.

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16804. My Writing Process…Lately: A Craft of Writing Post by Mindee Arnett

I am thrilled to welcome Mindee Arnett to the blog today. When I first started blogging and Tweeting, she was one of the first writers to welcome me in. Mindee is an incredibly talented and prolific writer, and I envy her ability to have 2 series going simultaneously. She's here today to share with us some of her secrets behind how she does it all. And I, for one, look forward to checking out the resources she recommends. Thank you, Mindee!

My Writing Process…Lately: A Craft of Writing Post by Mindee Arnett

The last five books I wrote—The Nightmare Affair, Avalon, The Nightmare Dilemma, Polaris, and The Nightmare Charade—were all written in more or less the same way, using an approach I like to call a “pantser who stops for directions.” Basically, this means that I didn’t outline, but I also didn’t just rush through the first draft pell-mell. I took my time, contemplating events carefully along the way.

I’m happy with this approach. It works for me, and I’m sure to keep using it whenever I’m drafting. However, with my latest two projects I have made a turn toward the dark side. Yes, you heard me right. I have become an outliner.

But wait, let me qualify that statement lest my little pantser heart breaks—I have become an outliner out of necessity. With the conclusion of both of my series, my agent and I decided to submit my next projects on proposal. Now, what all a proposal entails varies by agent, writer, and editor, I believe, but for us it meant opening chapters plus a detailed outline. Given that I had never in my life written an outline, I had no idea what constituted a detailed outline, so my agent helpfully provided two examples and said, something in between would work. The first example was four pages, single-spaced. The second was 35 pages, double-spaced. Although both were helpful in their way, that made for an awfully large margin.

I knew I needed help. Normally, I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in a book until I’ve written the first draft. That first draft is an outline. It’s a way for me to discover the story, spending hours and hours with the characters and the world. But now I needed a short cut, or at least a semblance of a shortcut. There really is no way to get the same depth of discovery in an outline that you’ll get in a draft. But that’s okay. For a proposal I just needed to get the bones. The flesh and heart and muscles of the story could come later.

I decided to check out a book my writer friend Kristina McBride had recommended to me months before—The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby. One reason why I chose this book to help me write an outline is because it’s primarily focused on screenplays, and screenplays, it’s always seemed to me, are stories boiled down to their spine. Also, one of the tools I have relied upon in the past is specific to screenplays, too—Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure. You can find all sorts of examples of this online. For my prior five books I used this plot structure as a road map to help me gauge where I was in the novel while drafting. It was particularly helpful with word counts. Most of my novels come in around 100k, so using the plot structure, I tried to make sure I hit that 50% mark, the “Point of No Return” at about 50k. But more on this Six Stage Plot Structure in a minute.

What I found in Truby’s book were techniques to help me think about my story as a whole and how to flesh out the key parts without doing any actual drafting. And those techniques did help, although they weren’t enough on their own. I ended up using the Six Point Plot Structure as well. But together the two tools were enough to help me generate a decent outline. What follows is a breakdown of the process I ended up using.

  1. Idea Generation. It goes without saying that before you start a writing project you need an idea, preferably a good one, or at least an idea good enough to sustain a whole novel. I don’t really have any tips for this step or any insight to offer save this—good ideas require two parts. My author friend Jody Casella likes to say that stories are like fires. Just as it takes two sticks to spark a fire, it takes two ideas to spark a story. I sort of love this symbolism, and I think it’s definitely true. I know for me, the two ideas is critical. One idea sometimes feels like it’s enough, but when you get down to writing it, nothing happens. That’s the difference. For example, consider the movie Home Alone. The first idea in this movie is simple and promising: young boy is left home alone over Christmas while family travels to France. At first this seems like enough to be getting along with, but it’s not. It’s not until you add the second idea—two incompetent robbers are planning to rob the neighborhood over the holidays—that you get a story with legs.
  2. Exploratory first chapter. Once I have my two ideas, I write the opening chapter. Beforehand I will name my main characters, and I usually have a vague idea about their personality, but not much. What I do know at the beginning is the sense of conflict—the “what’s at stake.” This is something I’ve worked out at the idea generation stage.
  3. Seven Key Steps of Story Structure. If the first chapter went well and I have an idea for the next chapter, I will start to work on the Seven Key Steps of Story Structure outlined by Truby in Chapter 3 of his book. I won’t go into detail here, because they’re in the book, but these steps are:
    1. Weakness and Need
    2. Desire
    3. Opponent
    4. Plan
    5. Battle
    6. Self-Revelation
    7. New Equilibrium
  4. Six Stage Plot Structure. While I’m working on the Seven Steps, I will also be thinking about the Six Stage Structure with a goal of filling in the key points of the structure—especially the Point of No Return, the Climax, and Change of Plans, etc.
  5. Back and Forth plus Character Web. This stage is just a repeat of steps 3 and 4, and I will also start working through Chapter 4 of Truby’s book, which is all about identifying the character web. The cool thing I’ve discovered about these two approaches is that they work on different, but complimentary levels. Truby’s Seven Key Steps are all focused on character motivation, and on the deeper thematic elements at work on your story. Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure are focused on events, on the what happens. Together, they make for a solid approach to outlining.
  6. More Chapters. If I make it this far—if I’ve successfully identified all Seven Key Steps of the Story Structure, and at least the Climax of the Six Stage—then I know that I’ve got enough for a whole book. But I also know that I’m going to need some awesome opening pages. I go back to chapter one, make any changes I need to based on what came out of the steps above, and then I’ll move on to chapter 2. And then chapter 3, and then…
  7. Write the Outline. Eventually, I will get far enough into the draft that I know it’s time to start working on the actual outline. I always do this last, because I hate it. Fortunately, the exercises I’ve worked through make it easier, doable at least, but the process is still just the worst. Nevertheless, I still complete the task. To my shock and amazement, the first time I did this, my outline ended up being fifteen double-spaced pages long! Hell has never come so close to freezing over.
  8. Submission. Once I have an outline and some polished opening pages, I will submit them to my agent. She’s already seen the pitch for the story and probably the opening chapter, but she will need to review again. Most likely she’ll have comments that I will need to work on. But eventually, the proposal will be in good enough shape for us to submit to my editor.

And there you have it. My process as it exists today. Maybe it’ll work for you and maybe it won’t. But no worries. Give me a few months and a few new projects and I’ll come up with a new process. That’s the coolest thing about writing—it never gets routine. Always be searching for a new approach.

Happy Writing!

About the Author:

Mindee Arnett is the author of two young adult series: The Arkwell Academy Series, a contemporary fantasy from Tor Teen (Macmillan), and Avalon, a sci-fi thriller from Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins). She has a Master of Arts in English literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. Find her online at www.mindeearnett.com.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Jeth Seagrave and his crew are on the run. The ITA, still holding Jeth’s mother in a remote research lab, is now intent on acquiring the metatech secrets Jeth’s sister Cora carries inside her DNA, and Jeth is desperate to find the resources he needs to rescue his mother and start a new life outside the Confederation. But the ITA is just as desperate, and Jeth soon finds himself pursued by a mysterious figure hell-bent on capturing him and his crew—dead or alive.

With nowhere to run and only one play left, Jeth enters into a bargain with the last person he ever thought he’d see again: Daxton Price, the galaxy’s newest and most ruthless crime lord. Dax promises to help Jeth, but his help will only come at a price—a price that could mean sacrificing everything Jeth has fought for until now.

The conclusion to the story Mindee Arnett began in her acclaimed novel Avalon, Polaris is a dangerous journey into the spaces between power and corruption, life and death, the parts of ourselves we leave behind and the parts we struggle to hold on to.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

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16805. Billy and Monster Get Featured on BookBub

Great news!Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

My book – Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs – has just been accepted by Bookbub and will be featured on March 21st.

Why is this great news I hear you say? Well it is great news as Bookbub has more than a million subscribers and will email everyone on their list interested in Children’s books. BookBub email their subscribers daily and offer to them eBooks at a discount. I have to admit that I have discovered and downloaded many eBooks recommended by BookBub. You can actually sign up here.

One of my books – I Love Baby Animals – got featured on Bookbub about a year ago and became a Top 10 best-selling book on the Amazon store in the Children’s category. What’s even more exciting this time, is that the book will be available to readers on Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Barnes and Noble plus Foundry.

If you can’t wait for March 21st, then grab a copy of Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs at the link below

Biily and Monster on Amazon

Billy and Monster on Apple

Billy and Monster on Barnes and Noble

Billy and Monster on Nook

Billy and Monster on Kobo

Billy and Monster on Scribd

Billy and Monster on Foundry


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16806. Fan Mail Wednesday #203: In Which Kate Is Late . . . for My Birthday!






Here comes Fan Mail Wednesday and a letter from Kate, who was late for a very important date.

Scan 1


I replied:

Dear Kate,

Thank you for your kind and very well-written letter.

Before we get into the meat of your missive, let me assure you that it is never too late to wish me a happy birthday. Or, for that matter, to send an expensive birthday present. In fact, here at jamespreller.com, it is our policy to accept birthday presents up to 120 days after the deadline. If you go beyond that date, not to fear, your gift will be considered a pre-birthday gift in advance of the real one.

Just wanted to make that clear: STILL ACCEPTING GIFTS!


Okay, back to business:

It’s hard to understand the motivations behind bullying. In general, I view people as basically “good,” and that most school-age bullying is a result of poor choices made for a variety of reasons: insecurity, anger, a desire for popularity, whatever. I don’t like to label anyone as a “bully.” Bullying is a verb, a behavior; not a noun, or a person. I have a gut reaction against labeling in general, putting complex people into little boxes. We play many roles in our daily lives: teammate, daughter, friend, students, baby-sitter, etc. Walt Whitman wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” For that reason, I don’t like to say that anyone is just a bully, because they are so much more than that, usually simultaneously.

One of the things I discovered in my research was counter-intuitive (which means, btw, “the opposite of what we might expect”). I learned that people who are bullied will often turn around to bully someone else. At first, I thought that was strange. Wouldn’t they know how it felt? Wouldn’t they be the last ones to inflict that same harm on someone else? But it turns out that the “target-bully” is fairly common dynamic. You are bullied here, so over there you turn around and bully someone else. In one area, you don’t have control over the situation — a horrible, helpless feeling — but in the next, you do gain that upper hand. Also, what does anyone do with all that anger and resentment bottled up inside? Where does it go? So the target returns home and picks on the kid down the street. Or the boy who has a rough time at home goes into school and turns the tables on someone else. Life is so complicated, we simply don’t know what others are going through. That’s why I’m reluctant to judge.

I’m glad you seem to have “gotten” the ending. I didn’t attempt to answer every question. The story is a slice of life, a moment in time. What happens next? That’s up to you to think about and debate, if you wish.

My best,

James Preller

10991132_10205999019274119_6618454603022716888_nP.S. It’s really, really cold outside. I just came back from walking my dog — and I was wearing snow shoes!



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16807. sound poem

I've been wanting to celebrate with Laura Shovan this month and not quite getting there, so our 2-hour "cold delay" (???) this morning seemed like a great opportunity to catch up and write in response to a couple of Laura's Sound Poem Project.

Sadly, my internet seems to be freezing in the pipes along with everything else, and I can't follow the sound links Laura has posted (and I have no idea what's going on with the formatting)...but I can listen to my house waking up and to the crazy creatures outside who don't appear to know that we are setting record low temperatures here in the DC area. It's currently 7* with a wind chill of...

Nine Below Zero

below below
the frozen mark
there's whish and sweep
of wind, and hark--

below below
the frozen sky
snow-winged birds
let fly their cry

below below
the frozen branches
blubbered squirrels
announce their antics

below below
the frozen ground
the bursting bulbs
murmur a sound

of sleeping green,
of hushed persistence...
below our listening:
spring's existence

HM 2015
all rights reserved


Well, that insta-poem turned into less sound and more my desperate hope of winter's end!  Please join Linda--and Laura--over at TeacherDance for today's round-up.

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16808. Myers-Briggs, Animals, and Writing

dreamstimefree_93896smallA while ago, a friend of mine posted a link on his Facebook page for a mini Myers-Brigg test that would reveal your animal personality. Myself and several FB friends had some fun taking a minute out of the day to conduct our self analysis. And, yes, I am the INTP owl (Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perceiving) with the Meerkat as a close second. Funny, yes, since owls eat rodents.

The test that started as a simple distraction got me thinking about characters in story-telling. Using animal comparisons is a fun way to describe a character and his actions, and if you’ve assigned the animal based on the Myers-Briggs, you’ve got a nice tool to focus your efforts.


Of course you need to avoid the stereotypical anthropomorphism: The owl who is a professor for example. Or even the zoomorphic counterpart, the owl-like professor. Hmmmmmm.

Photograph © Adrian Jones

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16809. A BIRD ON WATER STREET recognized!

I am thrilled to share that A BIRD ON WATER STREET is a 2015-2016 Nominee for the Georgia Children's Book Award! Woohoo!!! CLICK HERE to see the illustrious list of nominees - I am proud to be among them!

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16810. How do Pandas Eat With 3-Foot Chopsticks? A Chinese Happy New Year with Demi

Happy Lunar New Year. This week we’re celebrating Chinese New Year. Usually this means we go to our friends The Deng’s House and have an enormous feast and fireworks. This year however the Dengs are actually home in China, celebrating with their family and friends in Beijing. We want to wish all of you a very Happy Chinese New Year.

Today we are celebrating Chinese New Year with a wonderful new book, The Pandas and Their ChopsticThe Pandas and their Chopsticksks by author/illustrator Demi.

Demi has put together a collection of 10 wonderful animal fables from China. Beautifully and cleverly illustrated and simply told, these tales will become an easy reach when searching for something quick to read with the family which holds great substance.  Demi adapted these whimsical animal stories from traditional Asian folktales, these lighthearted stories have a universal appeal and will provide valuable lessons for little hearts and mins to absorb.

After reading this book, my son asked me if we are a “fabalistic” family ? Meaning; do we believe in fables and do we find them to be true ? He was so curious he even made up his own word.

Discover inside the pages of this engaging collection of fables how panda learns the importance of sharing, how turtle discovers the danger of being proud, and how everyone, including tiny hummingbird, has their part to play in life.

This is Aesop Fables meet China at its absolute best. Don’t miss this one. It’s a Great Read !!!

Something To Do

Working with fables enables children to:

Build Literacy. The short and precise structure and language of fables have a wonderful effect on young readers and writers. Children learn to recognize predictable patterns in the structure of the fables as well as being able to apply this to their own writing.

Build Ethical and Moral Development.  Working with fables lets children feel comfortable exploring and reflecting on their own values as well as developing critical thinking skills about ethical issues.

Build Discussion Skills. Through discussion and debate, children learn to listen to each other and express their own opinions about ethical behavior. They can discuss real-life issues using fables as a tool as well as discussing  how certain behaviors and outcomes can impact family and school communities at large.

Develop an Understanding of Metaphor. Fables promote higher levels of thinking as children develop their skills at interpreting the meaning of the fable, making inferences and judgments, and creating alternative solutions to problems. Children are challenged to take a specific set of actions which relate to a certain moral outcome.

Translate Ethical Issues into Real Life. Children while reading fables, develop critical thinking skills as they reflect about the events in the stories and how to apply the proverbs to a variety of real world events happening in their lives, communities, or the world at large.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to bring these wonderful fables to life. I’m working on a full cross curriculum adventure kits for The Pandas and their Chopsticks I’ll share with you very soon.

Story Theater

Read the Fable Aloud.

Invite your children to act out the fable you’ve just read to them. Here’s how:

  • Form a circle. The center of the circle becomes the stage.
  • Neither the actor nor the audience may touch one another.
  • When the narrator or actor is speaking the audience meaning the other circle members are listening.
  • Choose a narrator and the necessary amount of actors for the fable. The narrator tells the story in their own words as the actors act out the story. If in the fable the characters have lines to speak the actors speak those lines or words.


On a piece of paper give an example from your own life that describes the moral from the fable.


After writing your own life example go ahead and draw it as well.

Fables are a wonderful tool to teach children about ethics and morals as well as deepen their critical thinking and language skills.

I wish all of you a wonderful Lunar New Year !!! The most common Chinese ways of saying Happy New Year are Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese). Even though the pronunciations are a little different, both are written the same way.


The post How do Pandas Eat With 3-Foot Chopsticks? A Chinese Happy New Year with Demi appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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16811. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e February 20th 2015

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Mentally Preparing for Revisions (Janice Hardy)

Test Your Observation Skills (Mary Keeley)

4 tips for handling multiple perspectives in a third person narrative (Nathan Bransford)

7 Ways Writers Live in Paradox (Rachelle Gardner)

The Mini-Outline (Adriana Mather)

Avoid Overwriting – Subtle is More Sophisticated (Jodie Renner)

Fatal Submission Mistakes (Wendy Lawton)

How to Self-Publish Your Book (Jane Friedman)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2014, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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16812. Taking a look at @AceHotel’s “American

Taking a look at @AceHotel’s “American Trade Hotel” in Panama City by highsnobiety

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16813. How to make a character not turn into a 'brooding vengeful outcast' when something tragic happens to him.

Question: Ok so, for my story, my main character is living his life, trying to stay away from the troubles of the world. However, because of an unresolved

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16814. Odds & Book Ends: Five & Dime Friday, Procrastination Edition

Yes, I am the big nerd who occasionally has themed bookshelves. In my house. Because, apparently I am a pretend librarian. Happy Friday, kids! I'm here because I'm procrastinating. Knowing that, I'm going to keep this short... but I did want to pop... Read the rest of this post

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16815. TIGER BOY Launch Parties: You're Invited!

You're invited to the launch of TIGER BOY, a new novel for upper elementary readers by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan. We'll celebrate all things tiger as we travel (via imagination) to the Sunderbans region of West Bengal, India. 

West Coast: Saturday, April 18, 1 p.m., Mrs. Dalloway's Books, 2904 College Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705

East Coast: Sunday, April 24, 4 p.m., Newtonville Books, 10 Langley Rd, Newton Centre, MA 02459

★ (School Library Journal) Gr 3-6–Set in the lush Sundarbans natural region of Bengal, this quiet, gripping tale emphasizes the deep but often fragile connection that exists between humans and nature ... Perkins avoids black-and-white characterizations and compassionately illustrates how dire circumstances affect a person’s choices. Young readers will revel in the vivid action and suspense surrounding Neel and his sister Rupa’s quest to locate the tiger cub. Adults will likely praise the novel’s simple and clear narrative, which belies its complexity around issues related to climate change, poor economic conditions, class structure, and gender discrimination.

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16816. sleepy pegasus

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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16817. Books for School Lunch Hero Day

School Lunch Hero Day is coming up on May 1st! There have been a lot of requests for signed books as gifts. Best bet would be to order via my local bookshop. (And always best bet to order early to give them time to process all the orders.)



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16818. Morning Snapshot


Rose, stretched out on Beanie’s bunk reading Paradise Lost. Beside her, the bluebook she writes compositions in for the Spanish class she’s taking the community college, and a battered paperback copy of The Wizard of Earthsea.

Beanie, sitting on Rilla’s unmade* bed, drawing a sketch of Rose. Beside her, her Journey North Mystery Class chart.

Rilla and Huck in a corner of the living room, in the midst of a litter of Legos, deep in some complex game. Their tones are urgent, their faces serious. Vast, capricious forces are afflicting a host of small plastic people with a series of grave disasters. Rilla shoots a glance at her fellow demigod, brow furrowed.

“Nobody likes my jokes,” grumps the smaller deity. From the kitchen, I chuckle.

“Ha!” amends Huck. “At least Mom appreciates them.”

Wonderboy’s at school, Jane’s away at college, Scott’s in the back room writing a comic book, and me? I’m just soaking it all in.


*Recently overheard, Rose to Rilla and Huck: “Listen, there’s something you should understand about Mom. If she sees you’re in the middle of a really good make-believe game, she will never interrupt you to make you do your chores.”

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16819. The Truth And Other Lies by Sascha Arango

Here’s a crime thriller you won’t want to miss! It’s the perfect length to consume in one or two sittings and an enthralling story that will keep you turning the pages.

THE TRUTH AND OTHER LIES follows a famous author whose wife—the brains behind his success—meets an untimely death, leaving him to deal with the consequences.

The Truth and Other Lies by Sasha Arango
Atria Books | 256 pages | ISBN 978-1-4767-9555-3 | June 23, 2015 | $24.99
Available for pre-order now


Barnes and Noble



Sasha Arango author photo

Sascha Arango is one of Germany’s most prominent screenplay writers and a two-time winner of the Grimme Prize, a prestigious award for German television, for his work on the long-running detective series Tatort. His first novel, The Truth and Other Lies, will be published in more than thirteen countries in 2015. He lives in Germany.


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16820. too much action

Question: I've written a plot for my novel but after reading it through I realized there are no lazy scenes in every chapter someone is doing something

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16821. Comment on One of My Favorite Moments in the “Jigsaw Jones” Series . . . A Small Tribute to My Late Brother by Raymond Street Saint-Pierre

Thanks for this. Just read about Dylan singing Sinatra songs in ROLLING STONE and felt Neal’s ashes curdling.

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16822. Cleaning Out the Closet

Greeting cards and broken toys
And yo-yos missing strings
Were among the items ditched
With lots of other things.

Marble notebooks filled with math,
A horn that lost its toot;
Bags and bags of memories
All tossed right down the chute.

I’d emptied out the closet
For emergency repair.
It seemed the perfect time to whittle
What’s been waiting there.

Costumes, masks and crushed up hats
From years and years ago;
Magnets, pistols, doctors’ kits
And whistles that won’t blow.

Dusty dolls and lesson plans,
Cassettes with ripped-up tape;
So much stuff so nice when new
But now in sorry shape.

Finally I called it quits,
The salvaged goods all packed
Until they multiply
Then once again, I will subtract!

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16823. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the cover for Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition by Chris Barton, illustrated by Cathy Gendron (Millbrook, 2015).

The Universality of Being an Outsider by Jacqueline Jules from Latin@s in Kidlit. Peek: "I had been taught from a young age that I represented my religion. If I was impolite, all Jews would be considered rude. I had to be on my best behavior at all times so that others would not have a reason to dislike Jewish people."

So Many (Too Many?) Issues: Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews by Malinda Lo from Diversity in YA. Peek: "In the real world, plenty of individuals deal with more than one minority identity at the same time, every day. Obviously a novel is not reality — often, reality is too unbelievable for fiction — but YA fiction that seeks to deal with real-world experiences must be able to address the lives of teens who check more than one minority box."

How to Write Vivid Character Descriptions: Be Invisible by Nola Sarina from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "When I am faced with an apprehensive encounter, I don’t often think about the fact that my hair is faded, or red, or long. I just toss my hair."

The Unlikeable Female Character: Thoughts on Middle Grade Literature by Betsy Bird from A Fuse #8 Production at School Library Journal. Peek: "...I was struck time and again by the sentence, 'I just didn’t like the main character.' Normally this would be enough to condemn the book right there and then, but that was before I noticed that from time to time, and it is rare, we aren’t really supposed to like the main characters in our books all the time." See also Betsy's The African-American Experience Children's Literature Reference Guide (2010-2015).

The 2014 Cybils Awards from The Cybils: Children's and Young Adult Book Bloggers Literary Awards. Shout outs to Melissa Stewart, J. Patrick Lewis, and Candace Fleming!

Learning to Love Your Fanatic Antagonist by Dave King from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Fanatics...are generally working for what they see as the greater good. And the ends they’re fighting for aren’t necessarily bad things."

USBBY's Outstanding International Books List from School Library Journal.

Interview with Author Kekla Magoon by E.M. Kokie from The Pirate Tree. Peek: "Yes. It is first person present tense narrative, which means sitting at the computer and thinking 'I' and meaning 'Malcolm X.' Mind-boggling."

Multicultural Literature 2014: Statistics Gathered by the Cooperative Children's Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. See 2014 American Indian Log.

Writer Productivity: Have Measurable Goals by Jane Lebak from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "The incremental effort link talks about taking 34,000 stitches to knit a pair of socks, but one of the ways you stay on track with socks is having a pattern, and having an idea of how much time you can commit to knitting."

Cynsational Giveaways

The winner of Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putnam Oakes and a plush dino toy is Bethany in Wisconsin.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

My author assistant, Leo (short for Galileo)
The Austin American-Statesman says of Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2015): "...the chance for alternative interpretations of who the shifter community could represent — any group reviled by those who consider themselves mainstream — make this series as meaty as it is entertaining."

Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith for sending in the final copy edits for Chronal Engine: Borrowed Time (Clarion). Learn more about Chronal Engine.

Thank you to everyone who turned out last Saturday for my standing-room-only talk on "Crafting Diverse Books for Young Readers" at the SCBWI Austin monthly meeting at BookPeople!

My Link of the Week is The Diversity of Diversity from Shelli Cornelison. Peek: "My mom was widowed, not (gasp!) divorced, but she was still 'other,' and as such, so was I and I felt it often. I knew the fact that there wasn't a dad in my house made me different. It was a loving, safe household, but I frequently interpreted signals in some disappointing and sometimes even saddening ways."

Personal Links

Cynsational Events

The SCBWI Austin 2015 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference will take place March 7 and March 8 at Marriott Austin South. Note: Cynthia will be moderating a panel and offering both critiques and consultations.

Releases Feb. 24, 2015
Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

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16824. Haven't I see you someplace before? Dueling misty forested mountains


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16825. Happy 20th Birthday to The Essential Guide for New Writers!

February 2015 marks the 20th Anniversary of 
20 Years!! 

I'm so proud of this book--a true case of "the little engine that could"; a book originally written for my fledgling creative writing classes way back in Carrollton, Georgia, yet has continued to sell year after year, month after month. 

The Essential Guide has been used in so many places: prison creative writing programs, university MFA programs, homeschool seminars, and in such a variety of writers' groups it's mind-boggling: from New Zealand to India to California and back, The Essential Guide has accomplished everything I ever wanted for it. Thank you to all those who have purchased the book (and thank you for the fan mail), and welcome new readers if you're investigating the pages for the first time!

Basically the book is a streamlined "how to" manual designed to establish and maintain your everyday writing habits. It cuts right to the essence of what makes a good story, listing the main building blocks all publishable writing, both fiction and nonfiction, should include. 

Some of the things you'll find inside:
  • Getting your ideas right where you want them--on paper.
  • What editors are looking for, and how to get the to look at you.
  • Creative conflict--the driving force behind character, goal, and plot.
  • Narrative hooks--grab your reader and don't let go.
  • Setting and dialogue: "I really felt I was there!"
  • Turning your ides into scenes, and your scenes into fully finished manuscripts.
  • Desire, visualization, and commitment--the three key ingredients to selling your work.
  • Writing the right query letter and book proposal.
Writing exercises at the end of every chapter, too! Take a peek at the trailer:

Wow. It's been a journey, friends. May the next 20 years be just as exciting, or more!

Tip of the Day: To celebrate The Essential Guide's birthday, I'm having a special price at my website--just $5.95 from now until March 20, 2015. The price includes free domestic shipping to anywhere within the USA. You can't go wrong--get your copy today!

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