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16801. 30 Days: "Going Home"

By: T.J. Reed

Brent’s dusty boots thumped on the hardwood floor of his father’s home; the same boots that Brent had stood on the streets of Baghdad in. He carefully closed the door behind him and shifted the cardboard carrier that held his and his dad’s coffees back to his strong hand. He had practiced this scenario every morning for the past two months since they had called a nurse in to take care of him. Every morning, at 7:30 am, Brent would arrive with their coffees and that day’s copy of USA Today. The coffee needed to be black for his father which matched his personality; strong.
He had served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, then had spent several years working as an armored truck driver after that, and that is when the cancer came. It had hit him quickly, much more quickly than Brent had anticipated. He had always assumed that he would have more time with his dad, one more day, one more hour, a minute. But, that all changed when Orville called and told him that they had found cancer, “running all up in me,” as he had put it.
“He has been waiting for you this morning.” The short nurse in the kitchen said.
“Yeah, I am a couple minutes late. The lady at the coffee house tried to put sugar in dad’s coffee. Had to wait while she brewed a whole new pot.”
“He has been talking to Big Tiny again. He says that he is going home today.” She said with a smile.
Over the past week, Brent’s father had been telling him stories about a young man that had been coming to the house to visit him that went by the name Big Tiny. The doctors had told Brent that he would slowly start to slip into this sort of state; speaking to people that was not there or forgetting who people was all together. Brent had just gone with it. He would sit with his coffee and listen to Orville tell him about the glorious things that Big Tiny would tell him of Heaven. Brent had decided that if this was how his father was going to lose his mind, he was ok with it.
Brent slowly opened the door to his father’s bedroom to find him staring at the ceiling, his eyes bright and wide with excitement.
“Good morning son!” His father tried to shout hoarsely from the confines of his bed.
“Hey old man. I got your coffee. You sure look happy this morning. You feeling better?”
“I don’t feel a thing son. Big Tiny said today I get to go home. He told me I get my retirement papers for my service here.” The old man tried to laugh and began to cough. Brent pulled a napkin from a box next the bed and handed it to his father which he then used to dab the speckles of blood from his lips and then just stared at his son.
“Big Tiny says that he has a job for me.” His father, though his eyes were bright with excitement, Brent came to the quick realization that his father was telling him that he was slowly slipping away. He could see it in the color of his skin and in the way he labored for breath. They had assumed that this would have happened a week ago, but Orville had proved too tough for death, as he did in Vietnam, and had fought it out for one more week.
“He does?” Brent said as he fought back tears.
Orville looked up at the ceiling again as if staring into Heaven itself, tears of his own slowly cupping the corners of his eyes and then streaking down the many creases and wrinkles on his face.
“Yep. Says my service is requested. Feels good to be wanted again, to be able to serve again, you know?” Orville smiled and looked at his son. “He says that you don’t need to worry about me and we will meet again.”
“He said all that, huh?” Brent said smiling now as he took his father’s hand. In the moment that his fingers touched his dads, it was as if a lightning bolt had struck Brent. The room flashed white, his hair stood on end, and then everything was as it was. Brent blinked his eyes several times and looked at his father.
“Can you see him now? He is talking to you.” Orville said to his son.
Brent looked at the foot of the bed and seen a soldier standing in his desert fatigues, full body armor, and his helmet held in gloved hands as he smiled a goofy smile that Brent knew all too well. The man possessed the face that had been in his dreams for the past 7 years since he had been killed in an ambush in Iraq.
“Hey buddy.” Tony said. “You got one heck of an old man. This guy will talk your ear off if you let him.”
“Tony?” Brent repeated.
“Yep.” Tony started laughing.
“Why does he call you Big Tiny?” Brent said laughing as a mixture of tears of joy and sadness flooded his eyes.
“When he first asked my name, I said Big Tony. The old man is hard of hearing, I guess he heard Big Tiny and I just haven’t had the heart to correct him.”
The two laughed. They laughed like old friends do when they have not seen each other in a very long time and Brent noticed that his father was not laughing. The grip on his hand had lightened and his fingers were slipping from his grip. Brent looked at his father, his eyes nearly closed but he was smiling.
“Don’t worry Brent. I got this. I will make sure your old man gets where he needs to go. That is my job now. I am a courier; a courier for the poor tortured souls that is us. We give everyone a gentle welcome into their ever after and bring them to their families.  Remember how we always joked that we would be guarding the gates of Heaven or the streets of gold. Apparently, those things don’t need any guarding brother. What they need is us collecting up our brothers and sisters and bringing them home.” Tony smiled again.
Brent used his free arm to wipe the tears from his face. “He said you had a job for him.”
“Well, I don’t. The old man upstairs does. He is going to make him a courier too. I already have a man to train him up for the task.”
Brent turned his head to look back at his father and found that his eyes were now closed. The weak grip that he had held on his hand was now gone but his body was lying with his arms stiffly placed alongside his legs as if he was in the position of attention. There were two young men now standing at the far side of the bed dressed in an older style of military uniform that Brent recognized from a few pictures that his father had shared with him of Vietnam. The dark green uniforms looked like they were fresh out of the box; crisp and clean without speck of dust on them.
“Brent, I would like you to meet Bryan Meeks. I haven’t seen this young man in fifty years!” Brent’s father said as he laughed and hugged his long lost friend, a friend that he had lost in Vietnam and had worn a bracelet every day of his life to remember that friend. Brent looked down at his own wrist and stared at the thin metal bracelet he wore for Tony. A bracelet that he never took off and that was a constant reminder of a friend he had lost in a foreign land. Brent looked up and all of his new friends were gone along with his father.
He cried.
He let the tears for his father fall to the floor along with the tears of closure for a friend that he had always hoped that he could see again someday. He knew that whenever it was his time to go, there would be a young man in uniform prepared to escort him to the other side and he hoped that his name was Big Tiny.

Written for the memories of my fallen brothers:
Pfc. Alva L. Gaylord May 5th, 2006
Spec. Matthew F. Straughter January 31st, 2008
Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Skelton February 6th, 2008
Sgt. Denis D. Kisseloff May 14th, 2010

Rest in peace brothers and I hope you enjoy your new jobs. I cannot wait to see you all again when my time comes and I hope that you all show up to escort me home.

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16802. A BIRD ON WATER STREET is a GOLD Medal Award Winner!!!

A BIRD ON WATER STREET will be officially released May 7th and has already won TWO awards - wahoooo!! The first was the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) SPRING OKRA PICK:
And now - ABOWS is a Mom's Choice GOLD award winner!!! WOWSA!!!! Color me giddy!

Doin' the snoopy dance around here! After ten years of work to get this novel to the light of day, this is SO validating!!!

0 Comments on A BIRD ON WATER STREET is a GOLD Medal Award Winner!!! as of 4/14/2014 10:41:00 AM
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16803. Getting the Most Out of Post Formats: Quoting in Style

Nearly 150 of the themes available to WordPress.com users support post formats, which means that these themes offer a variety of post types (standard, image, gallery, video, audio, quote, and more) that display your content differently based on the format. If your theme supports post formats, you’ll see a Format module as you’re …

11 Comments on Getting the Most Out of Post Formats: Quoting in Style, last added: 4/14/2014
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16804. Review: The Seduction Game by Emma Shortt


May Contain Spoilers


I was drawn to The Seduction Game because of the author.  I read Emma Shortt’s Waking Up Dead and loved it.  Zombies, running for your life, and falling in love – what a combo!  It usually always works for me.  Then I saw that she wrote a contemporary romance, and I thought – what the heck!  I will read it as I wait for the next book in her zombie series!


I enjoyed The Seduction Game mostly because protagonist Kate is a certified nerd.  She’s a sci-fi fan, dabbles in game design, and soups up computers for a living.  When the businesses surrounding her computer repair shop start selling out to a real estate developer, she thinks her life is ruined.  Certainly her business has been financially dinged by the dearth of activity around her place, so she blames Will Thornton for her current anxiety.  She refuses to sell, and is harassed by Will’s right hand man, sleazebag Chris.  He keeps threatening her, making her even more determined to never sell her building to them.

Will has just returned from the UK, and he’s concerned that there is one holdout in his newest development.  He can’t begin the project until Kate sells because her shop is smack dab in the middle of the project.  He’d been assured by Chris that she was willing to sell, only to change her mind because she wanted more money.  Will decides to approach Kate himself to see why she changed her mind.  One look at the pretty geek, however, and he’s smitten.  She’s cute and quirky and a lot of fun to be around.  Bowing under pressure to proceed with his project, though, he wonders if he can seduce her into selling.  Shame on you, Will!  Though he is bothered by a guilty conscious, the fact that he ever considered that in the first place didn’t win him any brownie points from me!

Kate is socially awkward, and she usually avoids social situations. She’d rather stay home and work on her clients’ computers, play video games, or have marathon sessions watching her favorite TV shows and movies.  Will makes her uncomfortable from the start, but with the insistent prodding of her best friend and employee, Meg, she allows him to explain his vision for the building project to her.  As she spends more time with him, she can’t help but feel even more attracted to him.  He’s handsome, nice, and fun to be around.  But is he really interested in her, or is interested in convincing her to sell her building to him?

Kate is a victim of low self-esteem, and she’s still mourning the death of her parents.  After losing the family home years ago, the only thing she has left of them is the building that currently houses her business, with the tiny living space above the shop.  The building is old, but she’s determined to hang onto it, fight for it tooth and nail.  It is her safe zone, the only place she feels comfortable being herself.  I understood her reluctance to sell and put her past behind her; moving on for her meant saving goodbye to her parents all over again.  However, Will made her an offer that she would have been a fool to turn down.  As she begins to buy into his vision for the project, and the jobs and affordable housing the mixed use project would bring, she begins to question her reasons for not selling.  Plus, there’s that undeniable attraction she has for him, and she wants to see if it would go anywhere without the building standing between them.

The side story with Chris, Will’s brother-in-law, was a little too predictable, and there were times when Kate seemed too immature for her age, but overall, The Seduction Game is fast and fun read.  Now if only it had zombies…

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

When millionaire bad boy, Will Thornton, tries to buy computer-geek Kate Kelly’s building out from under her, she refuses to sell. Will might be uber rich, and super successful but she won’t be bullied. Trouble is, she didn’t expect Will to look like one of her fantasy heroes, or to make her heart beat a little too fast. She’s prepared to wait him out, but it’ll take every ounce of her self-control to win this game.

With millions of dollars on the line, Will is positive he can make Kate sell. He’s played the game better than anybody and charming is his middle name. Problem is, the snarky, geeky, computer-wiz is nothing like he imagined—impossibly cute and a match for him in every way.

The game is on but can two such radically different people come out winners in the game of seduction?

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16805. Novel Epiphanies Part 2

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After I put the word out that I needed help with my novel's epiphany, I continued to research the topic in craft books and online. Below I'll share with you some notable quotes and the resources that helped most.

But before I do, here's how I ended up revising my epiphany and related chapters.

First, I cut out most of my main character's ruminations in the chapters surrounding and containing my epiphanies. I put them in their own file labeled "Lessons." Everything that my character needed to learn to complete his quest or story was added to that file. This forced me to think about those lessons as a whole and determine their importance and validity with every scene that came before. I compared them to my initial reasons for telling this story and writing this novel. I highlighted the ones that were non-negotiable to my main character reaching the climax.

Then, I explored all the ways my main character could show he'd learned those lessons through his actions that followed rather than through words. These post-epiphany actions needed to be in direct contrast to his prior actions. I needed to show he'd changed and learned.
Finally, I revised the chapters that followed his epiphany to make my main character's actions more intentional and deliberate, to show his growth and commitment to his new inner-self. In some cases, those scenes did include interior monologue, but I tightened those sections and rewrote them to be less didactic.

And I made sure that my new and improved main character, acting as his enlightened new self in cause and effect scenes, logically rises to his climax ... where he does what he never would have done before his transformation.


Sorry, no spoilers here. But instead, some of the resources I used on my epiphany journey along with some key quotes to give you a taste of their messages.

The Plot Whisper - Martha Aldermon
"What Happens after the Crisis and Before the Protagonist Ends the True End of the Story?" http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/2014/02/what-happens-after-crisis-and-before.html
"It's a time of recollection, integrations, assessment and review. Before blindly reacting as always, finally now, she takes time to re-evaluate, re-invent, re-form and redo things."

Revision - David Michael Kaplan (p. 66)
"The Philosophic Ramble or Rumination, in which the writer suddenly seems to take time out for some cracker-barrel philosophizing or narrative commentary ... Now it's a different story (to make a pun) if the  philosophic asides are an ongoing, integral aspect of the narrative, the author in effect becoming a character himself?"

Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults - Cheryl Klein (pp. 271-272)
"I divide Internal narration into the categories of Commentary and Reflection (which I also call Processing). Commentary is the character's immediate internal response to events; Reflection is the character pulling together various bits of information to arrive at a new conclusion, which will usually push the story forward in setting up his next course of action. ... With that said, Internal narration is a tool that should be used carefully and sparingly, because it can quickly become telling and redundant and slow the action down."

Between the Lines – Jessica Page Morrell
"An epiphany, the luminous moment when a character, usually the protagonist, realizes something she has not know previously, can be a powerful and electrifying pinnacle of character development." (p.64)

"Find ways to insert subtext – the unspoken, the innuendo, the nuanced moments that are not directly represented, and the actions that speak of feelings that are too volatile to express out loud. Also, look for times in your story to pull back, to allow the reader to bring her own understanding of human nature into your story." (p.222)

Writing For Children & Teenagers - Lee Wyndham
"The best method for resolving this kind of ending is to have something happen to your main character to make him or her 'come to realize.' It should be some powerful personal experience that shocks, rocks, even floors him or her... Then you should have a quiet scene, for the change in the main character must in no way resemble instant magic. The hero should think over what has happened and realize the impact and implications, and resolve to change course or mend his or her ways ... Next comes the clincher for this kind of ending: you must devise a scene in which the hero or heroine can prove that he or she has indeed changed."

The Writer's Journey Mythic Structure for Writers – Christopher Vogler
"The trick for writers is to make the change visible in appearance or action. It's not enough to have people around a hero notice that she's changed; it's not enough to have her talk about change. The audience must be able to see it in her dress, behavior, attitude, and actions." (p.210)

The Plot Whisper - Martha Aldermon
"Character Motivation: What is Her True Journey?"
"What happens throughout the story makes it impossible for the protagonist to remain unconscious. The Crisis in the Middle forces the protagonist to consciousness."

Writing Irresistable KIDLIT – Mary Kole (p. 163)
"This is when he decides that he will risk everything that's important to him – including his core identity and life, if necessary. This decision must be very meaningful. This moment usually happens as Internal Conflict and leads very quickly to the Climax, which is usually External Conflict."

Also VERY helpful were:
The "Practical Tools" Donald Maass offers for "Turning Points" in The Fire in Fiction on p.77.
The Epiphany Mistakes Darcy Pattison offers on pp. 41-41 of Novel Metamorphosis.
Just about everything in the "Transformation" chapter of Martha Alderson's The Plot Whisperer.

What are your favorite tools and techniques for revising or writing epiphanies?

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16806. 3 Guidelines to Giving a Great Author Presentation…

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of grade 7/8 students. Let me tell you I was blown away by how receptive those kids were! I came in with a prepared presentation, and surprisingly found the class wanting to know more and more about what it’s like to be a published author. So, I booked another session with the same class the following week with the teacher, and had the time of my life! The best part wasn’t the readings—though the students wanted to know what happens next when I finished the chapter—it was the question and answer period. And believe me, sometimes kids do ask the darnedest questions!

Whether you’re presenting to a small class like I did or to an auditorium full of people, here are three guidelines for your next presentation that are sure to grab the attention of your audience:

Make it Emotional. You must touch a person’s heart before you reach their head. The easiest and most effective way to make an emotional connection with people is to tell stories. What I did was tell the class about my experiences on the road to publication, and the process behind writing a book. I shared the tough, rejection-filled times, and the high-five signed a contract times. I even sprinkled a smattering of gossip that my agented teen psychic mystery series is presently sitting in the hands of three traditional publishing companies. They ate that up!

Make it Novel. The human brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things. Ideas that spread are unexpected, surprising, and delivered in a fresh or novel way. Kids get this. I came in with a hook. I didn’t talk about my book right off the bat. I asked them about their March Break holiday, and if any of the students went on a trip. Read: I connected with them, engaged them first. After that, we talked about their favorite video games, which rolled into favorite books, which then gathered enough momentum to start my author presentation. Don’t be boring. Be novel.

Make it Memorable. Make’em laugh. Make’em think. Make’em ask questions. Most of all, make’em remember you! The best ideas stand zero chance of being successful if they can’t be recalled. One great technique is the rule of three. It simply means that people can only recall about three pieces of information. Don’t overwhelm your listener. Give them three reasons to invest in you. I started out talking about my past life before engaging the class. They want to know about you the author, and how you ended up standing in front of them. Tease them with what’s in the works for the future, then bring it home with choosing the best possible chapter to read from your book that will leave them hanging, and wanting more.

BTW – This is what the teacher had to say:

“Sharon definitely was prepared and made her presentation interesting for the class. She made a great link between the thinking of video games to the thinking of an author ie) setting, character, plot. Kids totally got that. Saw a little nerves, (had to look at her sheet) but not a routine thing for her. Glad to have her! Sharon also had time to come a second time to answer questions. Thanks!”

~Monica Park, Grade 7/8 teacher for St. Mary’s School, Huntsville ON Canada

Hmm…don’t think the nerve thing will ever go away. LOL! Do you have any author presentation experiences you’d like to share? Love to hear’em!

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16807. Going Global

I received some great news from my publisher that all of my books are going to be available for sale in China and other Asian markets.  Guardian Angel Publishing has finished negotiating with an agent to distribute English language books.  This is coupled with a mandate in China that all school children should learn English.  So I’m really excited that my books will be open to such a huge market.  Also in the works is distribution to India and other emerging markets where my books are not available.  I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.  But I couldn’t wait to spread the word.  How cool is that?

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16808. It’s Spring and Time for a New Look on the Blog!

Let’s celebrate, for no big reason other than I have a new banner on my blog, and want to thank the talented artist, Julie Rowan Zoch, and spring has finally arrived. My first full New York winter, while I appreciate the … Continue reading

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16809. The Princess in Black (and white, and full color)

Ack, another super busy day, but I don't want to end my streak of posting each Monday. So if you haven't seen it, here's the cover for The Princess in Black, first in our early chapter book series publishing with Candlewick in October 2014! 80 pages, full color illustrations on each spread by the fantastic LeUyen Pham. I personally can't wait till this comes out so I can buy extra copies for everyone I know. I'm smitten!


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16810. MMGM Shout Out: THE PECULIAR, by Stefan Bachmann (Plus the 4/14/14 links)

Woo Hoo--EVERBLAZE is ALMOST done! I have a few tiny changes to make, and a final polish read to do over the next couple of days, and then it is FINISHED. Not gonna lie--I never thought I'd get there. BUT I MADE IT. And I can't wait for you guys to read in November! I hope you love it as much as I do.

I'm a little loopy tonight from a crazy weekend (events on Fri, Sat, & Sun--*collapses*) but I am trying to get back on track with these MMGM shout outs. So I have a quick one for you guys today for a book I adore: THE PECULIAR, by Stefan Bachmann.

This is one of those books that I bought entirely because of the cover. I didn't know what it was about.  I hadn't heard anything about it. But I mean, LOOK AT THAT COVER! It was begging me to read it. So I did, and...wow.  It was one of those books I couldn't put down. Such a cool world, such a page turning plot, and holy crow can Stefan Bachmann write. I can't believe he was a teenager when he wrote it. Way to make the rest of us look bad!

If you haven't read it yet, I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.  You can find it on Goodreads HERE

And make sure you also check out these other MMGMs happening throughout the blogosphere:

- Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books is cheering for ALWAYS, EMILY. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Susan Olson is on the edge of her seat for RISKED. Click HERE to see why. 
- Charlotte Ritchie is caught up in the MUSEUM OF THIEVES. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Rcubed is talking about common middle grade themes. Click HERE to see what they are. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten has chills for DIEGO'S DRAGON. Click HERE to see why.   
- Jenni Enzor is unlocking EIGHT KEYS. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Sue Heavenrich is chasing PRISONER 88. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is gushing about HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL. Click HERE to see his review.
- Daniel Johnston has chills for SHREDDERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. Click HERE to see his feature 
- Suzanne Warr is spreading some love for SAVVY. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.    
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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16811. Introverted: The Writer’s Power and Downfall

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Vagabonds by Darcy Pattison


by Darcy Pattison

Giveaway ends May 09, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Do you love to go to your writing cave and spend hours? Do you hate marketing, which means getting out in front of people? Why is is so easy to be alone for hours at a time while working on a project and so hard to be out among the crowds?

You’re an introvert. Of course.

I’ve been reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Wow, I’m so there. Here’s a TedTalk she did on the subject.

(See the TED Talk transcript here.)

Our society encourages and rewards the extrovert in unique ways: leadership roles, better sales, more opportunities. Writers, on the other hand, are the people you overlook at a social gathering. And put a group of writers in the same room and it’s, well, quiet.

Cain says,

“. . . Extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention—which is just what dinner-party conversation involves. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by social events that force them to attend to many people at once.”

In other words, as I tell my husband, I think slowly. It takes me a while to understand a joke, to catch an implied compliment or threat or insult.
While society rewards the extrovert, though, they need the introvert. We are the ones who think deeply about situations, who have insights into potential pitfalls (if they would only listen!), who can produce more verbiage than you ever wanted if you just leave us alone for a while.

I recently read a college entrance essay for a high school senior who bemoaned his social skills. Immediately, I told him to go and read this book because he needs to know that he is an introvert—and that’s a good thing. I’m telling my writer friends the same thing today: you’re an introvert, and that’s a good thing.

Strengths of Introverted Writers

Don’t rely on approval of others. Do you agonize over what someone thinks of your writing? Well, yes and no. While you’re writing that first draft, there’s only you to please. The only time we worry about others’ opinions is when it comes to publishing. Mostly, I work alone and I do what I like. I choose the projects; I choose the way I work with those projects; I decide what to send out. This is good. Writing shouldn’t be a committee affair, but the storytelling or insights of one person.

Able to spend large chunks of time with just yourself. Writing a novel or a long nonfiction project demands time, and that’s time spent largely alone. Even when my friend, Carla McClafferty goes to Mount Vernon for a week to research George Washington, that’s only a fraction other time spent on THE MANY FACES OF GEORGE WASHINGTON: REMAKING A PRESIDENTIAL ICON. Personally, I couldn’t write that book because it would require me to go to Mount Vernon and actually tell people that I plan to write a book about Washington. Carla can do that and then come home and spend the time alone needed to actually write the project. And she’s doing it all over again, as she researches a future book on Martha Washington.

Concentrate on a long, detailed project. Books have been called the archive of our culture. They include information that needs long-term storage, as opposed to a daily newspaper, which is just a short-term conversation about events. Books are long, detailed, intricate pieces of writing that take a large chunk of time. The details of such a project can be overwhelming: organization of information, drafting multiple times, proofreading, fact-checking, etc. Do you think an extravert could manage something that unwieldy? Maybe. But it’s a natural fit for the introvert.

Think long and hard about something. Is it any surprise that introverts often come up with innovative ideas,whether that’s an invention or a fresh, new way of storytelling? A story that takes a year or two to tell—that’s a lot of thought.

Weaknesses of Introverted Writers

Please yourself first, and others only secondarily. Sometimes introverts stumble onto something so odd and idiosyncratic that only they will like it. Being out of society’s main stream can mean that your writing won’t find a ready audience. No one will buy your book because you’re just so weird. (Just saying.)

Marketing is HARD. Yes, introverts CAN teach and some do well on stage—but every public event takes extra energy and produces greater stress. My introvert daughter teaches high school math, where she is literally on stage every hour of a school day. It’s not that we can’t do this; it’s that it takes its toll. When I have days and days of just teaching and marketing, I get cranky. I actually love to teach and talk to groups of people (not so great one-on-one). But I need to gear up and for a couple days after, I’m more depressed until I get my equilibrium back.

The hardest thing I do is stand up and say, “See my book.” Well, no. The hardest thing is, “Buy my book.”

I can teach, speak to crowds, entertain 1000 kids at a time. But holding up my book means holding up a piece of myself that I care about so much that I can’t stand the possible criticism. Oh, I do it. You have to just get over it and do it. But it’s never easy.

Hard to open up and discuss your ideas and emotions. Communication is hard, but it’s the business of writers. We communicate through our written words, where we can carefully control the emotional content of what we say. That’s important.

When I first met the woman who would be my future mother-in-law, I was overwhelmed. She was an extrovert, who never met a stranger. Furthermore, nothing in her life was secret and she told the whole world about anything and everything. To my great dismay. I am still a very private person (read: introvert) and had never had such a person in my personal sphere. I never got used to her open attitude, though I did learn to appreciate it.

I’m an introvert and a writer. My emotional struggles will come out eventually. When I’ve had a long time to think about what happened and what I felt about that event of my life. And only disguised as a novel. I am learning to be more open, to imbue story events with emotional power. But it’s hard.

But that’s the struggle of an introverted writer.

Do you feel me?

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16812. Guest post by Nicole L. Albert, MHS LPC Licensed Psychotherapist

I am happy to be part of Barry Rudner's virtual book tour this month. To promote his book, SILENT VOICE, Barry is touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. In this guest post, licensed psychotherapist Nicole L. Albert talks about Barry and his book. I hope you'll enjoy the post. Happy reading!


I am fortunate to be a long time friend of Barry Rudner. We met while vacationing in the Florida Keys more than two decades ago. It has been with enthusiasm and appreciation through the years that followed, to participate in his journey of children's literature. Each and every piece of his work, touched me in the deepest of ways. He addresses so many issues of what is typically never spoken aloud. With each piece of writing, he imparts messages of hope, each and every time, and attends to the struggle while opening the hearts of the reader.

I am a licensed board certified therapist and I work with children, adults and families struggling with a variety of life's issues. His writings touched a chord in me as I would think of people whose lives I came into contact with for a variety of reasons. I knew they would benefit from the insight and pure joy his books would provide.

A good proportion of my client base, are individuals with a wide array of Developmental Disabilities.

One day I called Barry to wish him a Happy Birthday - we exchanged some events of what we had both been doing of late, and I described to him some of the situations that I was challenged with, for individuals and families touched by Autism.

A couple weeks later, I received an email from him asking me to read something - the early drafts of Silent Voice. It was utterly staggering! He had accomplished to put into words, a world that many people know only too well and unfortunately way too few are aware of. Silent Voice was born, along with outstanding illustrations that completely depict the nature of this overwhelming and all consuming challenge.

I am so very proud, to have been part of this journey.


Title: Silent Voice
Genre: Children's fiction, Family
Author: Barry Rudner
Website: http://www.nickoftime.us
Publisher: Nick of Time Media, Inc.
Purchase link: http://www.nickoftime.us/hardcover-books.php

SUMMARY: A modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up. Ever.

Barry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself, autism awareness, hope and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves.

Connect with Barry on the web:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-of-Time-Media/507826792667344
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickOfTimeMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/107827469685021155032/posts 

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16813. Happy Blogi-VERSE-ary!!!!!

Hip (to the 5th power) Hooray!
It’s our Blogiversary!!!!!
Our TeachingAuthors group blog has been teaching authors since April of 2009!

To celebrate the occasion, we’re celebrating you!  Enter our Raffle drawing to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles – each bundle a set of five books hand-selected by a TeachingAuthor that includes at least one autographed TeachingAuthor book.  Check the end of this post for details.

But wait!
It’s also our Blogi-VERSE-ary, so smartly re-named by our reader Mary Lee of A Year of Reading, because we six TeachingAuthors chose to celebrate the occasion by reciting our favorite poem in honor of Poetry Month.

I suggested the idea once I read about the Poetry Foundation’s current Favorite Poem Project: Chicago which grew out of former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s national Favorite Poem Project – Americans Saying Poems They Love which celebrates poetry as a vocal art. 

Poetry Foundation President Robert Polito shared in his project description that “a favorite poem can be a talisman or mantra, a clue, landmark or guiding star and dwells deep down in our psyches.”

Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg
Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl
FYI: the Poetry Foundation, located in beautiful downtown Chicago, is an amazing resource – for writers and readers, for teachers, of course, but really-and-truly, for anyone human.
To plan a (highly-recommended) visit, click here.
To explore the children’s poetry resources, click here. 
Students can find recitation tips and look for poems here.
Teachers can learn all about Poetry Out Loud in the classroom by clicking here.
So you’re never without a poem nearby, click here to download the Poetry App.

The poem I chose to recite via SoundCloud (and – fingers-crossed – successfully uploaded to today’s post so you can hear it) is Robert Louis Stevenson’s MY SHADOW.

The poem dwells deep, deep, deep in my psyche, placed there by my mean-spirited third grade teacher Miss Atmore at Philadelphia’s Overbrook Elementary.  (Think every gruesome teacher Raoul Dahl created, to the max (!), down to the spit that sprayed the air when she’d lean in close to admonish a mistake.)

In between Halloween and Thanksgiving of that third grade year, each of us was to choose, memorize and then recite before the class eight lines of a poem.  I instantly knew the poem I’d choose.  I treasured my copy of A CHILD’S GARDEN OFVERSES.  How could I not choose my favorite poem, My Shadow? I loved the poem’s sing-song rhythms; I loved its playfulness. I even recall jumping rope while I recited the poem, practicing, practicing, practicing.  I so wanted to get it right.  Standing before my classmates in the front of my classroom, beside Miss Atmore seated dispassionately at her desk, demanded Courage and Moxie, both of which I lacked.

"My poem is My Shadow,” I bravely began, and Miss Atmore stopped me, cold, mid-sentence.
“Po-em is a two-syllable word, child!” she shouted. “How many times must I tell you all that?!  Now raise your head, start again and this time, for goodness sake, speak the words correctly!”
The rhythm of the lines ran away (probably scared); I mispronounced "India" as "Indian." All I could do was stare at the two shiny pennies that adorned my new brown loafers. 
But that failed recitation serves as a landmark. Thanks to Miss Atmore, I knew then and there that when – I – grew up to be a teacher someday, everything that Miss Atmore was, I would spend my lifetime making sure I wasn't.                                (IIllustration by Ted Rand)                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Ironically, when I was first trying my hand at writing for children, I wrote a poem entitled “P-O-E-M is a Two-syllable Word.” In time the title became a line in the first poem I ever sold, to Ebony Jr. magazine.  I’ve searched high-and-low for my copy so I might share the poem, but alas, no luck.  Even today, I can’t speak the word “poem” without enunciating clearly its two two-letter syllables.

           My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head.
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

[Note: If you're receiving this post via email, here's the link to the Sound Cloud reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow by Esther Hershenhorn ]

             * * * * * * * *
I offer at least five bundles of thanks to you, our readers, for embracing our blog, and to my fellow TeachingAuthors too – Jill Esbaum, JoAnn Early Macken, Carmela Martino, Laura Purdie Salas, April Halprin Wayland and currently in absentia but always in my heart, Mary Ann Rodman and Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford, for embracing me.

I did indeed find that long-ago missing Moxie and each of you makes sure I maximize it bi-monthly.

Here’s to a month of poetic celebrations!

 Oh, and don’t forget to enter our BlogiversaryRaffle to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles. 

Good Luck!

Esther Hershenhorn

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16814. Powerful Email Messages That Actually Lead To Opens and Conversions (the Autoresponder Series Template)

Email marketing falls under the online marketing umbrella, more specifically, the content marketing umbrella. It’s how you establish and build a relationship with people who find your information and/or free gift of value and opt in to your mailing list. In other words, with your subscribers. This marketing strategy is absolutely essential to your business, so it’s important to know how to ‘

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16815. Total Eclipse of the Moon

redmoonTax day approaches – everyone's favorite day of the year. Tonight I plan to stay up past midnight and watch the day arrive. Not because I waited until the last minute to do my taxes (although there's that) but because tonight there will be a total lunar eclipse.

Most of North America will be able to see the eclipse and since the moon is close to full it should be pretty dramatic. Because of the timing of the eclipse, sunsets and sunrises in other parts of the world will make the moon look blood red. Kinda cool! If you have cloudy skies or too many city lights to see it, The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will broadcast the eclipse live starting at 9:45 p.m. PST.

This is also the last week of the blog tour for WISH YOU WEREN'T. Here are the planned stops.  

The Book Cellar: Erica posts an interview about my reading and writing habits.  
Books and Needlepoint: Kristi will post her review of Wish You Weren't.  

Book Loving Mom: Amy will post her review of Wish You Weren't.

I want to thank all of the bloggers who hosted me during this tour. Book bloggers are seriously the coolest people. They don't make money from this. They do it because they love books and I'm totally honored to have been part of so many awesome blogs.

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16816. Giveaway of OPEN ROAD SUMMER and THERE WILL COME A TIME plus New YALit Releases 4/14-4/20


Here's the first installment of this week's giveaways. But we just realized that Adventures in YA Publishing went over two million visits last week. Two. Million. Wow. THANK YOU!

To give back, we have something super special on tap for tomorrow with more than thirty (yes thirty!) books up for grabs including complete sets of some of the best series and many of the hottest new titles of 2014.

Enjoy this week's list of new releases, and please come back tomorrow for an epic celebration!

Martina, Jan, Alyssa, Clara, and Lisa

Open Road Summer
by Emery Lord
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Walker Childrens
Released 4/15/2014

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Open Road Summer?

My favorite thing about OPEN ROAD SUMMER is the experience of writing a (hopefully) uplifting story while exploring heavy topics that matter to me.

Okay, that's a wordy sentence :) What I mean is: I really wanted to write a fun, summer book because that's where my mind needed to live for a while. But I also wanted to open up conversations about issues that matter to me: the cyclical nature of body and slut-shaming, what it means to be a "strong" as a girl, the iron-heartedness it takes to live out someone's last days with them, the reality of committed (not necessarily always convenient or easy) friendship, issues of privacy and the invasion of it, the many forms that grief takes, domestic violence and how long it might take to process/react to the experience, what is fair to expect of parental figures, personal evolution while staying true to who you are, and a lot of others. It's a weird dichotomy: read my sunny summer book! It's about grief and redemption and trust and setting who you are against who you want to be! But that's my favorite part: that I got to have fun writing it *while* digging into issues I think deserve to be talked about.

Purchase Open Road Summer at Amazon
Purchase Open Road Summer at IndieBound
View Open Road Summer on Goodreads

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There Will Come A Time
by Carrie Arcos
Paperback Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 4/15/2014

Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the suicide bars. Almost.

Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. It’s not just the enormity of his loss. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.

As a way to remember Grace, Hanna convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and his growing feelings for Hannah threaten to overwhelm him. But Mark can’t back out. He made a promise to honor Grace—and it’s his one chance to set things right.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about There Will Come A Time?

I love how real Mark, the main character, feels. He's raw and honest and in obvious pain. When you experience that kind of pain for the first time, the pain of losing someone you love, it overwhelms everything. You can't possibly see any way through it. But those of us who have lived through a death or a huge loss know the only way is through. It's ugly and beyond hard, but there's beauty to be found again. There's hope, and I think it's important for those struggling with grief to know, with love there always hope.

Purchase There Will Come A Time at Amazon
Purchase There Will Come A Time at IndieBound
View There Will Come A Time on Goodreads


Sea of Shadows
by Kelley Armstrong
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Lisa Mandina

They hear the spirits.They must obey.

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters' journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they've ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court--one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong comes a captivating new series that blends elements of fantasy and horror with the pulse-pounding action and romance that have earned her a devoted readership worldwide.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Sea of Shadows?

There are lots of things I loved about writing SEA OF SHADOWS. The twin girl narrators. The mythological monsters. The fantasy world-building. Basing that world in one of my favorite historical periods (medieval Japan) But what I loved most was simply the opportunity to write it.

When I was a kid, the YA section of the library was so small that I burned through it long before I was an actual teen. When I got my “grownup” card at 12, my two favorite adult genres quickly became horror and epic fantasy. I dreamed of combining the two in my own book, preferably for readers the age I’d been—teens.

When I started writing YA, though, the market for either horror or epic fantasy was small, so I wrote contemporary stories that contained light elements of horror and fantasy, mainly through the supernatural. I continued to hope that someday I could write that dream book. Then along came Game of Thrones on HBO, and suddenly publishers could see a potential market for YA epic fantasy. That’s when I got the go-ahead to write SEA OF SHADOWS.

Purchase Sea of Shadows at Amazon
Purchase Sea of Shadows at IndieBound
View Sea of Shadows on Goodreads

* * * *

The Lonesome Young
by Lucy Connors
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Alicia Marie Ezell

Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.

WHAT HAPPENS when the teenage heirs of two bitterly FEUDING FAMILIES can’t stay away from each other?

The Rhodales and the Whitfields have been sworn enemies for close on a hundred years, with a whole slew of adulterous affairs, financial backstabbing, and blackmailing that’s escalated the rivalry to its current state of tense ceasefire.


And now a meth lab explosion in rural Whitfield County is set to reignite the feud more viciously than ever before. Especially when the toxic fire that results throws together two unlikely spectators—proper good girl Victoria Whitfield, exiled from boarding school after her father’s real estate business melts down in disgrace, and town motorcycle rebel Mickey Rhodale, too late as always to thwart his older brothers’ dangerous drug deals.

Victoria and Mickey are about to find out the most passionate romances are the forbidden ones.

. . . ON A POWDER KEG FULL OF PENT-UP DESIRE, risk-taking daredevilry, and the desperate actions that erupt when a generation of teens inherits nothing but hate.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Lonesome Young?

My favorite thing is that I got to write a book that I'd lived, in many ways. After my dad abandoned us, we went from poor to dirt poor. My teen years were a series of messy problems and painful experiences that often seemed like the entire world was collapsing around me, and we'd moved to a small town where drugs and drinking and crime were rampant. I went from sheltered Air Force brat to complete culture shock, very much like Victoria does in my book. I've read so many books where the teen protagonist is a beautiful princess/popular girl/whatever, and that was so far removed from my life that it may has well have been a fairy tale. I didn't have designer shoes; I was lucky to get a job so I could buy more than the three pairs of jeans my mom could afford to buy me to start my junior year of high school. I was never the popular one. Instead, I was the nerdy, smart girl, who never believed that anybody would ever see me for me--and I wrote this book for that girl.

Purchase The Lonesome Young at Amazon
Purchase The Lonesome Young at IndieBound
View The Lonesome Young on Goodreads

* * * *

Zom-B Mission
by Darren Shan
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Kristi Kendall Herbrand

B Smith and the other Angels are relieved to finally receive their first mission - to safely escort a group of human survivors from the zombie-infested streets of London to New Kirkham, a barricaded safe haven in the country. But after battling through crowds of undead monsters, B discovers that the survivors of the town don't necessarily represent the best of humanity. And when evil influences make their way to New Kirkham, unearthing demons from B's past, the humans will be forced to choose between being honorable and being safe.

Darren Shan continues his adventures of a teenage zombie trying to right the wrongs of a flawed human life, exploring the morality and ills of society through the lens of an apocalypse gone wrong--and a terrifying hell on earth reigning.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Zom-B Mission?

My favorite thing about Zom-B Mission is that it marks the start of the second half of the series story. There will be twelve Zom-B books in total, coming out at a rate of one every six months. The first six did the job of setting up the main characters and plot lines. They were fast-paced and action-packed, featuring plenty of twists that caught my readers my surprise, but the second half is even more of a roller-coaster ride, as things kick up a few gears and everything builds to a nerve-wracking climax. With the first six books I was guiding people into the mansion of the story, showing them round the rooms, letting them get the feel of the place. Now it’s time to lock all the doors and party!

Purchase Zom-B Mission at Amazon
Purchase Zom-B Mission at IndieBound
View Zom-B Mission on Goodreads

* * * *

by Niall Leonard
Hardcover Giveaway
Delacorte Press
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Joni Patterson

Incinerator is the pulse-pounding sequel to Crusher, Niall Leonard's debut YA novel and an Edgar Award finalist for Best Young Adult Novel.

Following the bloody deaths of his mother and father, Finn Maguire is determined to make a fresh start, running a boxing gym in the bruised and bitter heart of the city. But when loan sharks target his business partner and his lawyer vanishes with all his money, Finn is dragged down into London's underworld once more, with only his fists and his wits to keep him alive.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Incinerator?

My favourite thing about Incinerator is that some readers still spot the shades of Raymond Chandler I was hoping to capture in my hero Finn Maguire. I have always been fascinated by Chandler and his private-eye hero Philip Marlowe, and I’ve often found myself wondering how Marlowe came to be so hardbitten, so cynical and so solitary. Maybe it was being part of a generation disillusioned by the carnage of the First World War, when so many noble ideals were drowned in the bloody mud of the battlefield.
But on a more personal level I’ve often wondered if it was Marlowe’s teenage years that shaped him. The Crusher trilogy is my my way of exploring that, updated for the 21st century. Finn Maguire – ‘Crusher’ – is young, but he already has a dark past and a prison record. He’s simultaneously naïve and cynical, always hoping for the best while expecting the worst, but he has a solid core of decency that drives him to do the right thing, even when it isn’t the smartest thing. And like Marlowe, he’s often funny with it.
I’ve very pleased that with Incinerator I’ve expanded Finn’s world and found a whole new cast of dodgy characters for him to deal with, and I’m pleased that Finn managed finally to find his way to the truth and stay in one piece – although there’s a sting in the tail, as readers will find out…

Purchase Incinerator at Amazon
Purchase Incinerator at IndieBound
View Incinerator on Goodreads

* * * *

What We Hide
by Marthe Jocelyn
Hardcover Giveaway
Wendy Lamb Books
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Amy Mays

Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don't. Brenda won't tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother's memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.
   Deftly told from multiple points of view in various narrative styles, including letters and movie screenplays, What We Hide is provocative, honest, often funny, and always intriguing.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about What We Hide?

My favorite part of What We Hide is not inside the book. It's about what has happened since people started to read it. Despite my worry, while editing and revising, that some of the characters are decidedly less appealing than others, I have since discovered that every reader seems drawn to a different narrator, even the unlikeable ones. I love having people tell me how attached they are to characters who nearly got cut, or hearing that a mortifying or painful moment turns out to be the surprising highlight of the book for someone.

Purchase What We Hide at Amazon
Purchase What We Hide at IndieBound
View What We Hide on Goodreads

* * * *

Between Two Worlds
by Katherine Kirkpatrick
Hardcover Giveaway
Wendy Lamb Books
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Ali Goff

On the treeless shores of Itta, Greenland, as far north as humans can settle, sixteen-year-old Inuit Billy Bah spots a ship far out among the icebergs on the bay--a sight both welcome and feared. Explorers have already left their indelible mark on her land and its people, and a ship full of white men can mean trouble.
   The ship carries provisions for Robert E. Peary, who is making an expidition to the North Pole. As a child, Billy Bah spent a year in America with Peary's family. When her parents went to America years later, they died in a tragic scandal. Now, Peary's wife, daughter, and crew are in Itta to bring him supplies. Winter comes on fast, and when the ship gets caught in the ice, Billy Bah sets out to find Peary. The journey will imperil her life, and that of the man she loves.
   By turns lyrical and gripping, Between Two Worlds is an impassioned coming-of-age novel set in a land of breathtaking beauty and danger, where nature and love are powerful and unpredictable forces.

Purchase Between Two Worlds at Amazon
Purchase Between Two Worlds at IndieBound
View Between Two Worlds on Goodreads

* * * *

The Treatment
by Suzanne Young
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 4/7/2014

Winner - Moira Gillespie

Can Sloane and James survive the lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end? Find out in this sequel to The Program, which Publishers Weekly called “chilling and suspenseful.”

How do you stop an epidemic?

Sloane and James are on the run after barely surviving the suicide epidemic and The Program. But they’re not out of danger. Huge pieces of their memories are still missing, and although Sloane and James have found their way back to each other, The Program isn’t ready to let them go.

Escaping with a group of troubled rebels, Sloane and James will have to figure out who they can trust, and how to take down The Program. But for as far as they’ve come, there’s still a lot Sloane and James can’t remember. The key to unlocking their past lies with the Treatment—a pill that can bring back forgotten memories, but at a high cost. And there’s only one dose.

Ultimately when the stakes are at their highest, can Sloane and James survive the many lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end?

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* * * *

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
by Kate Hattemer
Hardcover Giveaway
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 4/8/2014

Winner - Vivien Probst

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

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* * * *

by Erin Bowman
Released 4/15/2014

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Frozen?

I had so much fun writing this sequel, but my all-time favorite aspect was probably the weather. As the title suggests, Gray's journey is quite... cold. I drafted Frozen during the winter of 2012 and tried to channel the snow and winds raging outside my house onto the page. (After a couple winter hikes with my husband, it became clear that I would not survive in my own book.) Winter almost becomes a character in Frozen, constantly throwing up roadblocks and challenges for Gray and his companions to overcome. There's also a scene in middle of the novel featuring a boat and some frigid water that was particularly fun to write. I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil things, but I'll say it again: I would not survive in my own book. :)

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* * * *

Also Known As Elvis
by James Howe
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 4/15/2014

Skeezie Tookis navigates a pivotal summer of first crushes and tough choices in this conclusion to the bestselling and acclaimed quartet that began with The Misfits.

Skeezie Tookis, also known as Elvis, isn’t looking forward to this summer in Paintbrush Falls. While his best friends Bobby, Joe, and Addie are off on exciting adventures, he’s stuck at home, taking care of his sisters and working five days a week to help out his mom. True, he gets to hang out at the Candy Kitchen with the awesome HellomynameisSteffi, but he also has to contend with Kevin Hennessey’s never-ending bullying. And then there’s the confusing world of girls, especially hot-and-cold Becca, his maybe-crush. And the dog that he misses terribly. And the dad who left two years before, whom Skeezie is convinced is the cause of all his troubles. In the words of the King, Skeezie Tookis is All Shook Up.

Skeezie’s got the leather jacket of a tough guy, but a heart of gold—and his story, the fourth and final chapter of the beloved Misfits series, is brimming with life’s tough choices, love in all directions, and enough sweet potato fries to go around.

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* * * *

Don't Look Back
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Released 4/15/2014

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

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* * * *

Fury of the Seventh Son
by Joseph Delaney
Greenwillow Books
Released 4/15/2014

The thirteenth—and final—book in the internationally best-selling fantasy adventure series that inspired the forthcoming major motion picture Seventh Son. Finally, Tom Ward, the spook's last apprentice, will confront the Fiend for the last time.

Tom Ward has battled boggarts, ghasts, witches, dark gods, and the most terrifying creatures to roam the earth. He's allied with the witch assassin Grimalkin, with a powerful boggart, and with Alice . . . the young witch who is also his true love. And he has kept one step ahead of the Fiend, the most evil being in the world. Now, he will vanquish the Fiend once and for all. But it will require a terrible sacrifice: not everyone Tom cares about will survive the final battle. The Last Apprentice series is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin. It's a suspenseful thrill ride that's "spine-tingling" (Publishers Weekly) and "anything but tame" (Horn Book). But don't read it after dark!

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* * * *

House of Ivy & Sorrow
by Natalie Whipple
Released 4/15/2014

Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

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* * * *

Raging Star
by Moira Young
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 4/15/2014

Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton...until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The few who can pay.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.

Purchase Raging Star at Amazon
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* * * *

The Geography of You and Me
by Jennifer Smith
Released 4/15/2014

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

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* * * *

What I Thought Was True
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Released 4/15/2014

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

Purchase What I Thought Was True at Amazon
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* * * *

You Only Live Once
by Bridie Clark
Roaring Brook Press
Released 4/15/2014

You survived your freshman year at Kings Academy, the prestigious prep school in the New Hampshire hills, but hold the slow clap—turns out sophomore year’s the real grinder. You’ll have to deal with the stress of keeping up with the soul-crushing homework. Not to mention your glam classmates are throwing glitzy sweet sixteen parties this year and you’ll need a job if you want to join.

Will you take that babysitting job in town (and pretend not to notice Hot Dad’s flirtatious ways)? Will you bribe your way to a New York Times internship and land a college guy? Filled to the brim with twisting paths and turns, this may end up being the best year of your life . . . or it may send you home to Hope Falls in tears. Whatever snap decisions you make, it’s going to be an unforgettable year.

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16817. Social Media Platforms

Agents weigh in on whether you need one or not. 


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16818. Poems About Science — Margarita Engle

My passion for poetry is combined with a love of nature. As a children’s book author, botanist, and agronomist, I don’t see why I should have to choose. There was a time when many naturalists also wrote poetry. During the twentieth century, specialization became the norm, and most scientific writing was strictly technical.

science front cover jpeg

Now, with THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY OF POEMS FOR SCIENCE, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong offer teachers and students a chance to once again unite the two. Verses written in many styles help teach a wide variety of specialties, through the voices of an amazing array of poets.  I feel fortunate to have several botanical and ecological poems included. Even better, some of them are offered in a bilingual format.

The tropical island of Cuba has always been at the heart of my writing. As my mother’s homeland, it was the place where summer visits to relatives inspired my childhood love of nature. At the same time, I was an avid reader, and poetry books were my favorites, so any opportunity to combine nature and culture in my writing is treasured. My new verse novel, SILVER PEOPLE, is not only a historical tale about the laborers who dug the Panama Canal.  It is also a love letter to the tropical rain forest, using the voices of animals and plants to convey the astounding diversity of life forms.  In my middle grade chapter book in verse, MOUNTAIN DOG, I filled an adventure story with scientific facts.  Several of my picture books—currently in the illustration stage—combine poetry with science.

In short, one of the reasons I love writing for children is the freedom to experiment.  Unlike scientific works written at the specialized professional level, books for children can be filled with fascinating factual information, without sacrificing the beautiful mysteries of language.

Margarita Engle is a poet and novelist whose work has been published in many countries. Her books include THE SURRENDER TREE, a Newbery Honor book and winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award; THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA, winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award; and HURRICANE DANCERS, winner of the Pura Belpré Award. Her most recent book, SILVER PEOPLE: VOICES FROM PANAMA CANAL, released March 25.

The post Poems About Science — Margarita Engle appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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16819. I Hate Nice

I know what you’re probably thinking, “But, Mary, I’m nice and you’re nice and nice is so…nice! Why do you hate it, especially now that you live in the state of ‘Minnesota nice’?” Don’t worry, I think you’re perfectly nice, and this isn’t a veiled complaint about moving to Minnesota. As for me being nice, sure, I have my moments. Thanks for falling for my Internet persona. :)

What I really hate, though, is when a manuscript has a lot of nice in it. The character is succeeding. Things are going their way. We end a chapter on a cozy moment when they curl into their reading nook and all is right with the world.

How nice. How abysmally nice for them.

The problem with “nice,” though, is that it doesn’t keep our attention. You know how people sometimes say, when they’re being dismissive of something, “Oh, that’s nice, dear”? Nice doesn’t really force us to sit up and take notice, and nice certainly doesn’t create tension within us, pulling us to the edge of our seats.

Sure, we don’t want a character to be dragged through the wringer. Nice things do have to happen on occasion. But last week I was preparing for a workshop that I gave on Saturday at the Loft, and I was going over a story theory that I cover extensively in my book, which I call the Emotional Plot.

emotional plot

The gist is a little hard to explain in one blog post (thought I try to do it here, in a 2009 blog post that contains the seeds of what I would extrapolate on in the 2012 book). Basically, what we’re looking at above is the standard three-act structure but instead of tracking how the plot rises and then falls, we are tracking how the character feels during each step of the process.

And if you’re seeing this graph, you’ll notice that the “Fall” is a HUGE part of it. And it ends in something called the “Rock Bottom.” That doesn’t exactly sound too nice, now does it. Basically, for the majority of your story, your job is to put your character through internally or externally uncomfortable or dangerous situations to get the most possible tension out of your work.

The “Fall” shouldn’t be a complete slide into misery. Like a good snow tubing hill (Am I from Minnesota now or what?!), it should have a few bumps to keep things exciting before plunging again. Allow your character small victories and moments of contentment, then yank the rug out from under them again.

If your plot seems thick, or your story is lacking momentum, or you feel like wandering away for a nap when reading your revision for the Xth time, think, “Am I being too nice? Are too many nice things happening to this character?” Take an especially close look at your chapter endings. Do they mostly end at the resolution of a scene or problem? If so, there’s too much “nice” and not enough tension to carry the reader across the vast expanse of the white at the end of the page and past the mountain of your next chapter heading.

Not everything can be life-or-death in your story, that’s not sustainable, and your reader will learn to ignore that level of tension like the body ignores a dull pain. But if you find that you’re running into a lot of “more tension, please!” comments, think of the nicest, coziest moments in your story, and really focus on a way to either cut them down or insert an especially shocking twist after then that turns “nice” on its ear.

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16820. Reviews/praise for LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN

My editor just sent me this fantastic review of LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN from Publishers Weekly!

"In this gleefully absurd tale, Smith (Chronal Engine) unfurls a series of alien-inspired hijinks at a space-themed motel on Florida’s Space Coast...Arnold’s skillfully drafted spot cartoons give this offbeat story a lively layout and match Smith’s light and breezy tone, grounded by the occasional serious moment. The result is an engaging, humorous look at humans learning that they’re not alone in the universe."

--Publishers Weekly

And check out these awesome blurbs!

"Aliens, government coverups, bionic limbs, kooky scientists, luau pigs, conspiracy theories, and mysterious patio furniture—I don't know about you, but these are the things I look for in a great story. Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn has all of them, plus a huge dose of humor. Read it and enjoy, but be warned: You may never want to eat roast pork ever again."

—Matthew Holm, co-creator of Babymouse and Squish

“Here is a story for everyone who has ever wondered if that brilliant green light was a UFO.  It's for everyone who has ever imagined living on Mars. In short, it's for everyone who has ever asked the question, 'who am I, really?’  Read it, then make your reservations at the Mercury Inn.  Just don’t be alarmed if you find an alien in the refrigerator."

--Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

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16821. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.

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16822. How do I come up with the dialogue and little details in a scene?

I have an unlimited number of story ideas. My outlines are thorough and complete. I can give a summary of each chapter, know how I want the overall story

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16823. Morot's device for capturing motion

Aimé-Nicolas Morot (1850-1913), provoked a lot of discussion at the Salon in 1886 with his painting of a cavalry charge, because it changed how people thought about galloping horses. 

Aimé-Nicolas Morot: Charge of the Cuirassiers at Rezonville
According to a contemporary observer, "The old-fashioned rendering of this movement, which always depicted steeds with all their four legs fully extended, was, for the first time in an important picture, absolutely swept away and superseded. In it the horses are shown in almost every possible phase of the gallop, and some of the positions came rather as a shock."

Even before Eadweard Muybridge developed his methods for photographing animals in motion, Morot was beginning to suspect that the traditional "hobby horse" pose didn't really happen at any phase of real galloping action. The problem is that the unaided human eye can't with any certainty isolate individual poses from such rapid action.

Aimé-Nicolas Morot (1850-1913)
But Morot was determined. Day after day he would bring his sketchbook to the cavalry training ground at the Champ de Mars, "and there, with a special instrument of his own construction, spend many hours closely studying the movements and action of the horses as they dashed by. The instrument referred to was simply a small wooden box with a quickly closing shutter which he could release at will, through which he would closely follow the motion of a galloping squadron and then, suddenly letting go of the shutter, endeavour to retain and reconstruct the image last impressed upon his vision." 

You can do the same thing even without this device by watching an action closely and snapping your eyes shut. With practice and training, your short term memory can seize on these brief afterimages to reconstruct extreme fast action. 

Wikipedia on Aimé-Nicolas Morot 
Previously on GurneyJourney:

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16824. An Evening With Donna Aza Weir-Soley

Originally from Jamaica, Dr. Weir-Soley is currently an Associate Professor of English, African & African Diaspora Studies and Women's Studies at Florida International University. A Mellon and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Dr. Weir-Soley is the author of a poetry collection, First Rain (Peepal Tree Press, 2006), a scholarly text, Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women's Writings (University Press of Florida, 2009), and co-editor (with Opal Palmer Adisa) of Caribbean Erotic (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), an anthology of poetry, fiction and essays which includes the work of 62 writers from the English-speaking, Spanish-speaking and French-speaking Caribbean.

An Evening With Donna Aza Weir-Soley
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Room 2151
Miami Dade College, North Campus

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16825. My tweets

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