What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from the Writer category)

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Writer Category Blogs

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Writer category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 16,801 - 16,825 of 224,843
16801. Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet is off to the printer…

…and I feel just like this kid:

cb-20150516-Excited from U

What’s all the excitement about? To find out, you’ll have to see the “U is for…” page when my next book — illustrated by Joey Spiotto — is published this October by POW!

0 Comments on Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet is off to the printer… as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16802. May- Lost In The Woods, Kids, Books and Dogs

Lost in the woods... 

Tuusula april 2014 027We have all been lost in the woods at some time in our life either literally, metaphorically or both.

It is the same for children. 


Being lost in the dark forest is a recurrent theme in children's literature, fairy tales, folklore and mythology. 

Being lost in the woods, where there is no clear path to follow, and the light is fading, is a serious and frightening matter.

Wild beasts, dangerous people, and invading armies cannot be seen in the dark forests. But they are there, in the mind of the author, the teller of tales, the animator...and in the mind of the child, until the story or myth brings light, escape and salvation...


Lost In the Woods with the Moomins


 The Moomin Forest Comes to the Museum...dangerous but safe. The Ateneum Art Museum, the national Finnish art museum in Helsinki, is celebrating the fantasy world of the Moomins as part of the100th year anniversary exhibit of artist Tove Jansson. Jansson wrote and drew the wonderful Moomins stories.

"The stories often contrast the warmth of home with the threats of nature, or familiar safety with the scary unknown. At the end of dangerous adventures the characters always find their way back home, and the stories always have a happy ending."  I found this Moomin3description from the exhibit guide about Jansson's writing to be a most accurate description of the stories. However, I found nothing that fully described Jansson's extraordinary imagination and I was swept away by her delightful drawings, watercolors and gouache renderings of the fantasy world of the Moomins. 

The nine books and comic strips have been translated into nearly 50 languages and reinvented for stage productions, theme parks, radio plays and TV films. Personally, I prefer the stories to the comic strips, as her writing is so imaginative.

 In Japan,  life -size Moomins in Tokyo's Moomin Cafe keep people company if they are eating alone.

Nature in the form of dark forests, mountains, water, and storms all play a major role in the Moomin adventures. Snow and cold weather take on a life of their own

Philip Pullman said: "Jansson is a genius of a very subtle kind. These simple stories resonate with profound and complex emotions that are like nothing else in literature for children or adults: intensely Nordic, and completely universal."



                          Danger in the Woods...


The classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood's dangerous journey in the woods has been traced back at least 10 centuries. Here is an excerpt from an interview by Rachael Hartigan Shea in the National Geographic Daily News with Jamie Tehrani, an anthropologist at Durham University, UK, who has been studying the orgins and evolution of Red Riding Hood. Appropriately, the interview is entitled, What Wide Orgins You Have, Little Red Riding Hood.

What are some of the theories about the origins of "Little Red Riding Hood"?

"It's been suggested that the tale was an invention of Charles Perrault, who wrote it down in the 17th century. Other people have insisted that "Little Red Riding Hood" RedRidingHoodWolfWoodshas ancient origins. There's an 11th-century poem from Belgium which was recorded by a priest, who says, oh, there's this tale told by the local peasants about a girl wearing a red baptism tunic who wanders off and encounters this wolf.

My results demonstrate that, although most versions that we're familiar with today descended from Perrault's tale, he didn't invent it. My analysis confirmed that the 11th-century poem is indeed an early ancestor of the modern fairy tale."

Here is an excerpt and link to the 17th century version of Little Red Riding Hood written by Charles Perrault

...Little Red Riding Hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village.

As she was going through the wood, she met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest. He asked her where she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and talk to a wolf, said to him, "I am going to see my grandmother and carry her a cake and a little pot of butter from my mother."

DoreRedRidinghood"Does she live far off?" said the wolf

"Oh I say," answered Little Red Riding Hood; "it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village."

"Well," said the wolf, "and I'll go and see her too. I'll go this way and go you that, and we shall see who will be there first."

The wolf ran as fast as he could, taking the shortest path, and the little girl took a roundabout way, entertaining herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and gathering bouquets of little flowers. It was not long before the wolf arrived at the old woman's house. He knocked at the door: tap, tap...



"We don’t really know when fairy tales originated", said author and scholar

ZipesIrresistableFairyTaleJack Zipes
in a Smithsonian interterview by K. Annabelle Smith..."
I’ve tried to show in my most recent book, the Irresistible Fairytale, that in order to talk about any genre, particularly what we call simple genre—a myth, a legend, an anecdote, a tall tale, and so on—we really have to understand something about the origin of stories all together. What the Greeks and Romans considered myths, we consider fairy tales. We can see how very clearly the myths, which emanated from all cultures, had a huge influence on the development of the modern fairy tale."

Here's the link to read all the interview, including Zipes reaction to Snow White and the Huntsman:  Smithsonian



2 Doghead 1.457 by 1.573 inches


If only Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and Red Riding Hood had a dog with them in the woods, their stories would have been totally different. Imagine having a fearless protector, who can "see" in the night, offers unconditional love, and if you ever get lost, knows the way home.




China...The stories are the same , but the illustrations are new for the Planet OF The Dogs Series in China.









PoDcoverThis blog is dedicated to the power of story and the worlds of wonder and imagination that are the world of children's literature. And to therapy dogs, that help reluctant children banish fear of reading.

Therapy dogs help change children's lives and open the doors to possibilities through reading. In the Planet Of The Dogs books the dogs teach people about courage, loyalty and love.



  LitWorld Takes Children Out Of The Forest of Illiteracy


LitWorld's Mission Statement: LitWorld empowers all children to author lives of independence, hope, and joy...LitWorld engages students and families around the globe by providing opportunities for them to explore and learn from their own narratives and voices, and builds sustainable communities for literacy where knowledge and empowerment break the cycle of illiteracy and give all people a chance to pursue every dream.

Here's a link to Pam Allyn,  the founder of LitWorld , being interviewed on AlJazeera, about reading problems and illiteracy in the USA and around the globe.



If you have kids in the family, or have a soft spot for dogs, check out the lovely annimated song, On Dog, by Nat Johnson. Here is the link:
Educating Alice, the website of author, school teacher and book lover Monica Edinger.

Ms Edinger also posted a review of Rush Limbaugh's book for kids about the Pigrims:..."So I was curious when one of my students brought in Rush Limbaugh's Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims for me to see. After all, I had heard that the author was a finalist Children's Book Week Author of the Year Award due to its high status on the best seller list (and this week was dubbed the winner).  And so I was curious --- what was the book like? 

Sadly, I have to concur with both the Kirkus review and editor Vicky Smith's closer look at it (and its sequel);  the book is not good. The history offered in a fictional form is the standard take on the Pilgrims and so very familiar to me. The writing is incredibly poor, cringe-inducing in spots as are the digital illustrations. There are a few older looking images scattered throughout with citations at the end; unfortunately, these are muddled without proper identification. It would not be something I'd want to add to my curriculum, that is for sure..." Here's the link: Monica Edinger 


Life With a Dog: You Meet People

Jane Brody, the highly respected health news writer for the New York Times, after four years as a widow, has "adopted a 5-month-old puppy, a hypoallergenic Havanese small enough for me to pick up and carry, even into my ninth decade, when I travel to visit family and friends." Here are excerpts from her informative and personal article on her new life with Max, as well as the health benefits of owning a dog...

"More American Households have dogs as pets than any other type of nonhuman companion. Studies of the health ramifications have strongly suggested that pets, particularly dogs, can foster cardiovascular health, resistance to stress, social connectivity and enhanced longevity...

JaneBrody'sMaxYes, he’s a lot of work, at least at this age. But like a small child, Max makes me laugh many times a day. That’s not unusual, apparently: In a study of 95 people who kept “laughter logs,” those who owned dogs laughed more often than cat owners and people who owned neither.

When I speak to Max, he looks at me lovingly and seems to understand what I’m saying. When I open his crate each morning, he greets me with unbounded enthusiasm.Likewise when I return from a walk or swim, a day at the office, or an evening at the theater.

But perhaps the most interesting (and unpremeditated) benefit has been the scores of people I’ve met on the street, both with and without dogs, who stop to admire him and talk to me...Read it all by following this Link: JaneBrody  The photo of the Havanese is courtesy of Jenny Kutner at the Dodo.com 




“The Barking Planet series of illustrated kids' books full of mythic fairy tale dog heroes is unabashedly humane, uplifting, and morally improving, which may not be everybody's cup of tea (or bowl of kibble), but it does make for interesting relief in a kid lit world increasingly obsessed with violence, family dysfunction and personal trauma.”-Barbara Julian, Animal Literature Blog



The Power and Profit of a Retold Fairy Tale

Frozen has become a major financial triumph for Disney  reports Brooks Barnes in the New York Times (excerpted below). Perhaps stockholders, Disney executives and children who have seen the movie should all thank Hans Christian Anderson for creating the original Snow Queen fairy tale -- the inspiration for the film.

"According to Robert A. Iger, Disney's chief executive, 'No single business or entertainment offering was responsible for Disney’s overall spike in profit, although the runaway success of “Frozen' may have been the largest contributor. An animated princess musical, 'Frozen' has Frozen6taken in $1.18 billion dollars worldwide since opening in November...

The Frozen soundtrack, released by Disney and distributed by Universal Music, has become the biggest hit of the season, selling nearly 2.5 million copies in the United States alone and ranking No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart 12 times.

Mr. Iger, speaking during a conference call with analysts, said “Frozen” now ranked as one of the top five franchises in terms of revenue, putting it up there with the likes of “Toy Story” and Winnie the Pooh in terms of importance.

“Passion for these characters and for the film is so extraordinary,” Mr. Iger said, noting that “Frozen” was coming to Broadway and that Disney was working to increase the presence of the film’s Nordic characters in its theme parks.


Frozen was inspired by an 1845 Fairy Tale...

The Snow Queen... Snow-queenReindeer-06b

Here is an excerpt from the 1872 English Translation by H.P. Pauli. The Snow Queen is one of 168 fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson. The original tale is in seven parts and included a great deal of darkness, danger and evil characters. Nevertheless, it had a very happy ending as the pure heart of Gerda overcame the powers of the Snow Queen, the develish troll and the broken mirror. The original illustration of this edition are by Vilhelm Pedersen.

The original story concerns Gerda's quest to rescue Kay, a neighbor boy and dear friend, who has been lured to the Snow Queen's palace. Here is an excerpt... 

The walls of the palace were formed of drifted snow, and the windows and doors of the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred rooms in it, all as if they had been formed with snow blown together. The largest of them extended for several miles; they were all lighted up by the vivid light of the aurora, and they were so large and empty, so icy cold and glittering! There were no amusements here, not even a little bear’s ball, when the storm might have been the music, and the bears could have danced on their hind legs, and shown their good manners. There were no pleasant ... AndersonBookCover

...Just at this moment it happened that little Gerda came through the great door of the castle. Cutting winds were raging around her, but she offered up a prayer and the winds sank down as if they were going to sleep; and she went on till she came to the large empty hall, and caught sight of Kay; she knew him directly; she flew to him and threw her arms round his neck, and held him fast, while she exclaimed, “Kay, dear little Kay, I have found you at last.”

But he sat quite still, stiff and cold.

Then little Gerda wept hot tears, which fell on his breast, and penetrated into his heart, and thawed the lump of ice, and washed away the little piece of glass which had stuck there. Then he looked at her, and she sang..."

Gerda's good heart and courage ultimately prevail over turmoil, evil and danger,

and , once again, all is happy in the end.


 The Early Days of Fairy Tales... RedRidingHoodRackham

"The fairy tale grew, as a literary genre, out of out of the folk stories of the European past. We like to believe that they have no real authors, that they have been orally transmitted, and that they remain flexible in their details and their telling. Like Aesop's Fables, fairy tales come in famous groups with well-known characters: Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, the Snow Queen, Rumplestiltskin, the Little Mermaid and the like. But fairy tales, as we know them now, are really the creation of literate collectors, editors, and authors working from the late seventeenth until the nineteenth century...Charles Perrault emerged in the last decades of the seventeenth century as the best and most widely read of these story tellers..." from the chapter, Straw Into Gold, in Seth Lerer's book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop To Harry Potter.


Frog kingMaria Tatar has written several brief, pithy, descriptions of classic fairy tales. Here is one of them from her blog, Breezes from Wonderland.


Frog Prince: Sweet guy who is always ready to lend a helping hand. Tends to overshare and can become clingy at times. Willing to change for the right woman. Big supporter of sustainability movements and eco-friendly solutions.

Illustration by Warwick Goble


 Dog Lovers...if you care about cruelty and animal abuse, but don't have time to spare, or you find the internet difficult to use...read this excerpt from John Woestendiak's  insightful review of CA Wulff's How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds as seen on
Arielchange world3edhis outstanding website ohmidog!  

..."Just how much one person can do is laid out in Cayr Ariel Wulff’s new book, “How to Change the World in 30 Seconds: A Web Warriors Guide to Animal Advocacy Online.”

Wulff, who speaks from experience, shows how something as big and untenable as the Internet can, with relative ease, be used to make life better for individual dogs, and the species as a whole.
How to navigate the Internet, with an eye towards helping dogs, is clearly and concisely explained in Wulff’s handbook, which should be required reading for animal shelters, rescue organizations and anyone else interested in doing something more about the problems than complain."  Here is the link to read more of the review:  ChangeTheWorld


Lost On The Yellow Brick Road
-- When RLegendsOzScarecrowMachineeimagining a Classic Fairy Tale Fails...

Based on the reviews, The Legend Of Oz: Dorothy's Return which opened in many theaters on May 9th in North America, will soon be forgotten. Here is an excerpt from Peter Hurtlaub's review in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" returns the heroine who inspired a billion Halloween costumes back to the yellow brick road - this time in search of a plot.

The long journey is filled with action and familiar characters, but ultimately falls short of success. All the brains, heart and courage in the world can't save a movie that doesn't have a third act...Mostly, the film reaffirms how hard it is to make a movie as unforgettable and enduring as "The Wizard of Oz." Good chance you'll forget this one on the way home from the theater."


FunnyDogVideoDinnerA funny dog video from France... Dinner at the Country Club





POD-the three dogs-blog size

The Planet Of The Dogs series of books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's... 

Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount. 

Therapy reading dog owners, librarians, teachers and organizations with therapy 
reading dog programs -- you can write us at planetofthedogs@gmail.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...

 Dark woods and forests are not threatening in the Planet Of The Dogs book series because of the dogs...Read Sample chapteers here. 


Author Claire Legrand sent us this information on the Kids Author's Carnival 

KidsAuthorCarnivalThe goal of the KAC is to provide an opportunity for young readers to interact with authors up close and personal in a fun, party-like atmosphere...All ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. But please note that the kids will take center stage at this particular event! 


WHEN: Saturday, May 31 from 6pm to 8:30pm. Doors open at 5:30pm.
WHERE: Jefferson Market Library |425 Avenue of the Americas (at 10th Street), New York, NY 10011
COST: Free!
WHO: 37 fantastic middle grade authors...
AGES: 7 and up
ONLINE: twitter | tumblr
Brigadoon Service Dogs
The folks at Brigadoon Service Dogs care about helping and healing people who have
Brigadoonlogoserious life problems. The dog lovers at Brigadoon know through experience that these difficult and often painful problems respond to the canine connection. In their own words...
"We train dogs to provide assistance to Veterans, children and adults with physical, developmental disabilities, anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury...
 We have opened our doors to several youth groups such as a camp for autistic children, the Parks and Recreation Youth Camp, Girl Scouts and home-schooled kids. We also participate in helping high school seniors with their culminating projects. We’ve trained dogs for children with seizures, young adults with hearing impairments, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autistic children, etc." 
 Provacative and Clear Analysis of :Teens Today! They Don't Read!
Elizabeth Burns is a librarian, author and blogger, who is passionate about reading and the world LibraryseattleGreggMcof books. I rarely post about teen readers, but was very taken by her article which analyzed the flaws in recent writings on NPR, Time, and, especially, Common Sense Media's research on Children, Teens and Reading.
Here is an excerpt that leads into her many questions regarding quetionable research and heavy handed conclusions..."Disclaimer the first: long time readers of this blog now I'm suspicious of Common Sends Media, dating back to the early biased reviews. I'm skeptical of a set that says, if you don't agree with their ratings, or research, you don't have'common sense'..." 
Here is a link to read it all: Liz Burn's Tea CozPhoto of Seattle library by Gregg McCarty

 If you need help to choose a guard dog WCDogsLogo

Way Cool Dogs, always filled with good articles and insights for dog lovers, posted this helpful information regarding Guard Dogs. Here is an excerpt... 

"The guard dog is a security or protection dog. His or her job saves thousands of dollars
CITM-Billy-blog sizeof property damage and saves many lives every day. In a way, they are considered a hero dog.

If you need help to choose a guard dog, here are a few top-notch breeds to choose from. Each has its own behavior and personality. Remember. A dog whose purpose is guarding helps protect your property and your family from danger. A bad one will not.

Choosing the perfect security dog for you, your business, and your family requires two things...Here's the link to read more: Guard Dogs   The illustration by Stella McCarty is from Castle In The Mist


Dog Owners interested in Pet Products and Giveaways...

Check out Ann Staub at Pawsitively Pets. Ann is knowledgeable and caring and has ongoing pet product reviews and giveaways ...Ann is a "stay at home SmilerReadsPODmom of 2 girls and former vet tech (she graduated from college as a veterinary technician in 2007). Afterwards, she worked as a vet tech for 5 years... working with all kinds of animals including cats, dogs, birds, small mammals, and reptiles."...Ann is also the owner of a pit bull, Shiner, seen on the left reading Planet Of The Dogs...Her website "is not meant to diagnose pet health problems, treat conditions, or replace veterinary care. All opinions shared here are our own and may differ from yours"...She has over 2,500 followers.


What should you do, what can you do, if you see an injured dog or one in distress?

Sunbearsquad-logoFor answers, examples, true stories and more, visit Sunbear Squad...Let the experience of compassionate dog lovers guide you...free Wallet Cards & Pocket  Posters,  Informative and practical guidance...Visit SunBear Squad - 




Every dog should have a man of his own. There is nothing like a well-behaved person around the house to spread the dog's blanket for him, or bring him his supper when he comes home man-tired a night." Corey Ford (1902-1969)  











Add a Comment
16803. Plumb Crazy May: BEA, NY, and How to Have Fun!

Hi folks,  Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! I about to make happy trails. I'm heading to BOOKEXPO America (BEA) to "be a part of it" in New York! I'll be at the Swoon Booth (PDZ638) at noon on Friday May 30, 2014. Please drop by if you are around! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads. 

Whew, I have a ton of stuff to do, hence the blog will be short this week  I don't even have time to read and I love to READ. Anyway, what do I have in my bag tricks that is really useful? 

Here's a thought. I have been going to Trade Shows since I was a child. My mom would take me to nursery trade shows. Nothing to do with kids. These were all about plants. Did you know there is a type of person that loves plants as much as books? I would carry a bag and gather pencils, seed packets,  roundtuits, plastic cups and water sprinkler heads. BEA is like that but instead of plant swag they handout glorious bookish swag-- books, book marks, bags and such. This is all about book love. 

So with no further ado. 

How to have fun at trade show? A top ten list!

 1. Take a lesson from the mighty house cat, stalk the floor but don't engage yet. Just check it all out. 

2.  Remember everyone is there to work, so it's not like high school.

3. Put on your smiley face!

4. Wear comfortable shoes! I cannot stress this enough.   

5. Make new friends. Yes, I'm talking to you, book worm. 

6. Know where the chocolate is. 

7. Literary genius is afoot; remember to breathe. 

8. Drink water. 8 glasses.  Pop, tea, coffee, juice, and drinks with little umbrellas do not count. 

9. Pace yourself. Take breaks. Too much stress can ruin your health, relationships, and mental state. 

10. Enjoy yourself! Did you know fun shuts down left-brain activity and makes your right-brain light up like a roman candle?  

Glad you dropped by! Have a good week. With last in the "Plumb Crazy May" series. Hope you drop by.

 Here is a doodle for you: "Faces"

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

It's kind of fun to do the impossible. Walt Disney

0 Comments on Plumb Crazy May: BEA, NY, and How to Have Fun! as of 5/24/2014 12:45:00 PM
Add a Comment
16804. Meeting Deadlines

Here are some tips to avoid the ever-present distractions of life. 


0 Comments on Meeting Deadlines as of 5/24/2014 3:14:00 PM
Add a Comment
16805. Steps for "Strategy Session"

Here's a small spot illustration called "Strategy Session" that I did for the back cover of a science fiction paperback in the late 1980s, showing a group of interplanetary military types planning their next move.

Here's the first concept sketch from imagination, drawn with a pen and markers. I did four or five of these sketches, and the art director and I chose this one with a red dot.

The next step was to work out each of the creatures. I did this charcoal study of "Hammerhead" while wearing an old costume and looking in the mirror. Yeah, that's me posing. That's pretty much how I look when I try to pull an all-nighter.

Here's another study on tone paper. I put on the costume, took the pose, and used two mirrors so that I could see myself in side view. The little planar study helped me focus on the big simple forms of the head.

I like doing studies instead of taking photo reference not because I want to be low-tech and classical, but because this method is more practical. It's faster than taking a photo—or at least it was faster when you had to get photos processed overnight. But more importantly, it gets me thinking about artistic choices right away, and I'm not swayed by incidental details.

Once I had all the studies, I worked them into a line drawing, which I transferred down to the panel in preparation for the oil painting, which is about 6 x 12 inches.
The painting appeared on the back cover of The Fleet #4: Sworn Allies by David Drake

0 Comments on Steps for "Strategy Session" as of 5/24/2014 10:00:00 AM
Add a Comment
16806. Michael Uche-Obasi

Standardization of Antenatal Care: Providing a Standard Setting for Safe Delivery by Dr. Michael Uche-Obasi, FWACS

Add a Comment
16807. Interview: Joy Preble

Last year, I got acquainted with author Joy Preble when I redesigned her website. In 2013, she was preparing for the release of her book The Sweet Dead Life, a YA novel about a girl and her not-so-angelic brother, who becomes her guardian angel. Now, there's a sequel, The A-Word, which was released just this month. Pull up a chair, put on your wings, and check out my exclusive interview with Joy Preble.

Congratulations on the release of The A-Word! Did you always plan to write a sequel to The Sweet Dead Life, or was that initially supposed to be just one book?

Good question! Initially, this was definitely going to be a one-off. But the initial reaction to the project from both the publisher as well as some TV/movie types was so strong that my editor said, "Let's develop the world. Where could we go from here?" So although nothing further has come (yet) of the pie in the sky movie stuff, we did find that there was a lot more to Jenna and Casey's story. So I was able to know that as I finished The Sweet Dead Life and seed in some material that would allow me to advance the story in The A-Word. Plus, I love the heck out of Jenna! She is honestly the most fun to write of any character I've ever come up with. I never seem to have a problem channeling her voice. I could write Jenna for the rest of my writing career!

How did the original story, The Sweet Dead Life, come to be?

The original story actually came as an idea from Dan Ehrenhaft, my editor at Soho Press. We'd worked together briefly at Sourcebooks (publisher of my Dreaming Anastasia series) and our story telling sensibilities are very compatible. He basically presented me with a two sentence thumbnail idea: Mysteriously ill girl's stoner brother comes back from a fatal car accident as her guardian angel and together they unravel a big mystery. And he said, "I think you could totally write this." To which I replied, "Yes." Because my philosophy in the publishing world is that for the most part when asked to do a book you always say, "yes." After that, I wrote about 20 sample pages and told him that the story was going to take place in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. I expected him to balk, but he was cool with it. And of course since we'd worked together before, we already knew it would be both serious and comic. We argued a bit about the title (his original suggestion was Plop, which is seriously the WORST title I have ever heard. But we had envisioned this as Fallen meets Veronica Mars meets Pineapple Express, so it sort of fits), but mostly we were completely compatible about where the story was going.

In what ways, if any, does the relationship between Jenna and Casey resemble your relationship with your siblings?

Thanks for noticing that I am indeed writing a sibling story here! Jenna and Casey aren't very much like my brother and me personally, but what I do find myself mining is the idea of siblings in general. Jenna really loves Casey and Casey really loves Jenna (in a good way, not a creepy Flowers in the Attic way!) and their relationship definitely drives the story. I am always gratified when reviewers comment on this and for the most part every reviewer who mentions it finds their relationship not only sweet but also very authentic. You know, growing up, I didn't really have a lot of rules. My parents were older than most of my friends' parents and honestly the only thing they wanted from me was to 'take care of your brother.' In retrospect, they really let us run almost completely at our own discretion. By today's standards where parents (including myself) hover so much, it's actually kind of shocking that they'd just let me take my brother to Cubs' games and amusement parks and biking for hours at a time or whatever. Essentially, it was like a training ground for writing YA novels: my parents were largely absent from most of my daily existence. So I do find that this kind of odd tension does inform the story a great deal. Casey and Jenna are largely on their own and Jenna even more so in The A-Word. I find it not only fun to write but also sort of fun and therapeutic!

Your trilogy of Anastasia books draw from historical events and figures. What draws you to the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia?

I have been hugely fascinated by Anastasia Romanov since about 7th grade when I read the biography Nicholas and Alexandra. The Romanov story is so enormously tragic that I just couldn't get enough of it! Pretty people on the wrong side of history; creepy sexual predator with enormous possibly supernatural powers bad guy Rasputin; Russia, which in general is enormous and dramatic and filled with this grand folklore; and Anastasia herself, because she was this beautiful and vivacious teenager who was gunned down before she could live her life. It is no surprise that she creeped into my fiction. (Along with genre fiction and my overall adoration of all stories Whedonesque.) Which resulted in a girl who thinks she's ordinary but who collides with a handsome, temporarily immortal hottie and learns that she is actually SPECIAL and can save the princess Anastasia who happens to be held captive by the Russian witch Baba Yaga. Uh, yeah. For those who haven't read yet, it's a trilogy, and it's complete now, so I would love you to dig in! It's definitely a genre-blending project and while it's not as well-known as some other YA fairy tale retellings (which it is in part), it has a small but very devoted fan base!

Would you ever write a story influenced by something that happened to your family, your relatives, in a time before you lived?

Yup! My Russian grandmother actually influenced some of the above, although only because she was gloriously unhappy. She was also a pretty unmotherly mother and some of her antics have definitely influenced a lot of what I write, including next year's book, Finding Paris.

Can you tell us more about Finding Paris?

Finding Paris comes out from Balzer and Bray on April 21st, 2015. I think the cover is almost ready but it isn't yet as I type this. It's my first non-paranormal YA and is a contemporary road trip/mystery/sister story that was inspired by something that happened to me on a road trip from Dallas to Houston. It's dark and twisty and there's a cute boy named Max and some very dark secrets and a narrator named Leo, whose full name is Leonora. It starts in Vegas, heads to LA, and ends somewhere else entirely. For now, that's what I'll tell you.

Which authors and artists have influenced you as a writer?

So many! But some of my top influences include: Libba Bray, Emily Lockhart, Maggie Stiefvater, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I've yet to visit Texas, which is your stomping ground. Tell me about a place that I simply must see there.

Austin. Definitely. Pretty much everything about it, including but not limited to the Congress Street bats and the food trucks and the music scene.

Houston, because I live here. And it's actually the 4th largest city in the US. Plus we have NASA. And shockingly good restaurants. And the best guac ever. Plus the Livestock and Rodeo every March. Come for that.

Dallas. And all the Kennedy assassination sites. There's even an X on the street where he was shot. It's creepy and sad and I avoided seeing it for years.

Barbecue in general. Look it up. Pick a few. I just ate lunch at City Market in Luling on the way home from the TLA conference in San Antonio with author Kristin Rae. It's so trippy, this smoke-filled bbq pit and all this meat! No plates, just butcher paper. It's like cave man eating. This primal thing.

The fake Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. It has a red cowboy hat. Also, this may be a slight spoiler for one of my books.

That's a small start. It's a big state.

What are your ten favorite books of all time?

Geez! 10? I have like a million. And the list changes frequently. But 10 that will probably stick around for a long time: The Great Gatsby, Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time, The World According to Garp, Outlander, Fault in Our Stars, Half Magic, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hunger Games, and MORE YA BOOKS THAN I CAN NAME!

The Sweet Dead Life was released on May 13th. The official book launch was held in Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. The book is available in stores and online internationally!

Click here to check out Joy Preble's website.

The A Word Blog Tour Banner

Add a Comment
16808. Cruise from Rome by Margot Justes

Rome has one of the biggest cruise ports in Europe, and that suits me quite well. It is one of those ancient cities that will take more than one visit to see, and many of the cruises start in Rome. I try to stay for two or three days before boarding the ship. You don’t want to arrive on the same day, especially if it’s an overseas destination, that is much too risky, and Rome is always well worth the extra time. There are many hotels that fit all budgets.

Even if you spend a whole day in the Vatican alone, it is not enough, and would also prove quite exhausting, if nothing else the huge crowds would do you in. They say about twenty five to thirty thousand people visit the Vatican daily. The best I can do is five or six hours at a time.

The treasures housed within that community are unbelievable, it is a Mecca for art lovers. Michelangelo and the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel are sites that once seen will never be forgotten, and must be seen again if at all possible.  The Chapel, a rectangular room in the basement is all Michelangelo, it is bare of furnishings. It is a place to pay homage to a magnificent artist and his immeasurable artistry. It will leave you breathless.

I have done independent tours to the big sites, but now I book a tour to the Vatican and the other special sites because of all the tourists, it is easier and faster to get in. You don’t wait in the long lines, and at my age it is well worth it.

For this upcoming trip I booked two tours through Viator; Vatican Walking Tour- this tour includes the Sistene Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms and of course St. Peter’s; after the tour I can wonder around on my own. The other tour I booked through them is the Ancient Rome and Colosseum Walking Tour.

I’m going with my grandchildren, and it’s their first visit to Europe-I wanted to make sure they would get a decent historical introduction to this magnificent city.

If the stop is part of the cruise, I book through the cruise line, for one excellent reason, if there is a delay, they will wait for you. It has happened where the bus was delayed for about an hour. There was a general announcement about the delay, and we departed once the bus returned to port. That is not the case if you book through an outside agency. For me, it is not worth the extra stress to make sure I’ll be back on time, especially true if the visiting site is a bit of a distance from the port....but I digress.

Ancient Rome offers the Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, these are all places that must be seen, the age and history will astound. There is also the lively Rome, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, so tourist packed that you have to wait, and weave your way to get up close and personal. The outdoor restaurants, the entertainment at said places, where you’ll get a troubadour serenading you, and it’s best to have some change ready for a tip. Rome is a walking city, and, comfortable shoes area must, although I have seen a few Italian women wear heel; how they managed is beyond me. Just walking the old streets is a delight.

Then of course there are the espresso stops, I prefer to linger, the Italians prefer to stand and gulp theirs. It is less expensive to stand and drink your coffee, if you sit down there is a charge for that privilege. However by the time I need a coffee break, I also need a sit-down break to recharge.

I try and avoid the height of the tourist season, it is far more expensive, and overcrowded and prefer to go early Spring or late Fall. Sometimes that is not always possible, as in this trip the timing depended upon the kiddies and their activities. 

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

0 Comments on Cruise from Rome by Margot Justes as of 5/24/2014 10:38:00 PM
Add a Comment
16809. “To love at all…

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up…

2 Comments on “To love at all…, last added: 5/24/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
16810. Neuromuscular Training For Runners: Quick feet box taps

Everyone wants to run faster, right? Part of getting faster is of course doing the shorter repeats; one must build that explosive power of course. BUT, there’s another part to getting faster and it’s training your BRAIN and nervous system to respond at a quicker rate.

A runner can’t utilize that explosive power to run faster without the nerve and synapse networks first being created to ‘tell’ your foot to move faster off the ground. Isn’t science and the brain cool?

The neuromuscular part of training isn’t something every runner is aware of, but if you’re not addressing it you can run all the 200′s in the world and not really be tapping into your full potential. I’ve written a few articles about the neuromuscular training and how it relates to runners:

* The Multi-Level Approach to Getting Faster
* Work on Getting Faster in Tri-Fecta Form

One of the exercises I mention are ‘Quick Feet Box Taps’. I got an email from someone who wasn’t quite sure if they were doing them right so I decided to make a little video.

You can also find it on my Instagram page. Start with a set of 15-30 seconds and see how many taps you can get. REMEMBER it’s QUALITY over quantity. If you’re getting slopping you’re going to start reinforcing bad habits and that will defeat the purpose. Work up to two sets and do the 3 times a week…preferably as part of your dynamic warm-up routine before workouts or immediately following the workout. It can be fun to watch yourself improve with more taps every week…you know us runners and that competitive spirit. ;) But again, quality over quantity…so if you have to start slow that’s what you need to do!

What, you love my shirt too?! Well, thanks…it’s my Ezzere Runner Face Tee! :)

Happy Saturday my runner friends. Get those feet firing off the ground, coupling neuromuscular training and speedwork, and watch your PR’s get faster! :)

Add a Comment
16811. “To love at all…

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up…

0 Comments on “To love at all… as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16812. Growing up on the River Slaney in Ireland

A great RTE production about rivers in Ireland.

My river: The Slaney.

Watch it here.  http://www.rte.ie/player/us/show/10286116/


Add a Comment
16813. Ed Boyd

Stories That Keep Popping Into My Head by Ed Boyd

Add a Comment
16814. Victor Nelson

Molly’s Secret Garden: In the Beginning by Victor Nelson

Add a Comment
16815. scenes

Hi your site is wonderful. I've learned so much. My question is if I'm planning for sixteen chapters and I have 4 scenes should there be one scene per

Add a Comment
16816. Asror Allayarov

A Decision: Short Stories by Asror Allayarov

Add a Comment
16817. George Arnold Canon

Hero of Zwickau by George Arnold Canon

Add a Comment
16818. It's Been a Long Time....

So, it's been awhile since I last posted. A long while. As in "over a year" while. What can I say? I've definitely fallen behind on many important things. But hopefully, I'm back.


I may or may not post as much as I'd like to, but I will post. I miss blogging. It helps keep my creative juices flowing.

Although, do people even blog anymore?

Anywho, I'm back for the time being. Back to share my wisdom...my sarcasm...my wittiness...my all-around awesomeness. Hehe.

So stay tuned...

0 Comments on It's Been a Long Time.... as of 5/24/2014 2:42:00 PM
Add a Comment
16819. Giveaway: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (US & Canada)

Book’s Title: FAN ART

Author’s Name: Sarah Tregay

Book’s Release Date: June 17, 2014


About the Book

When the picture tells the story…
Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend.
As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn’t sure if that’s what he wants—because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?
Fan Art is about what happens when a picture reveals what we can’t say, when art is truer than life, and how falling in love is easy, except when it’s not. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_sarah-tregay.jpgAbout the Author

Raised without television, Sarah Tregay started writing her own middle grade novels after she had read all of the ones in the library. She later discovered YA books, but never did make it to the adult section. When she isn’t not jotting down poems at stoplights, Sarah can be found hanging out with her "little sister" from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sarah lives in Eagle, Idaho with her husband, two Boston Terriers, and an appaloosa named Mr. Pots.

Like Sarah on Facebook.
Follow Sarah on Pinterest.

Giveaway Details

2 Winners will each receive a SIGNED hardcover copy of Fan Art.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends. 

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

Have you read any good YA books with LGBT characters? If so, please share your recs.

Read More

0 Comments on Giveaway: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (US & Canada) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16820. Ajay Ramphul

Stanley’s Noble Deeds: An Inspiring Journey Beyond Life by Ajay Ramphul

Add a Comment
16821. WIFYR special guests

I don’t know how she does it, but Carol Lynch Williams seems to always pull in some big names to the WIFYR conference and this year is no different.

Thursday’s keynote speaker will be The Maze Runner author, James Dashner. The trilogy includes The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure and the movie hits the theaters in September. The Maze Runner is what he is most notable for, but Dashner has also written The 13th Reality series, the Jimmy Fincher series and two books in the Mortality Doctrine series.

The book I’m reading now is book one of The Infinity Ring, A Mutiny in Time. As a WIP is a time travel book, I wanted another perspective on the genre and Dashner starts with an interesting premise. Modern society is dystopic, and Christopher Columbus did not discover America. Dashner’s characters must travel back in time to repair breaks in history, such as the one in which the mutineers on the Santa Maria prevented his famous discovery. Similar to the 39 Clues series, each the book is written by a different author, including Utah’s own Jennifer Nielsen and Matt Kirby (a current and former WIFYR instructor respectfully). Scholastic Books has picked it up and has online games that go with it. Talk about use of social media.

Attendees at WIFYR will have greater access to the publisher guests. Editor Kristin Ostby will be there from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Agent John Cusick returns and he represents Greenhouse Literary Agency. The other agents are Michelle Witte from Mansion Street Literary Management and Amy Jameson of A+B Works.

The once thing about this conference is that these agents and editors respect the time and energy writers put into writing and their commitment to the craft. Utah has been noticed by the publishing world and they come to WIFYR seeking that talent.

James Dashner’s keynote is Thursday afternoon, June 19. Conference attendees, of course, get in. Others may come for free, however they must have a ticket, a copy of which just happens to be below and above. Print it out and present it for admission. Print out several and bring your writer friends, too.

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

0 Comments on WIFYR special guests as of 5/24/2014 11:07:00 AM
Add a Comment
16822. Comic: Punctuation For Sale

Which would YOU buy?

0 Comments on Comic: Punctuation For Sale as of 5/24/2014 12:33:00 PM
Add a Comment
16823. Taxis

When the roof light is on
Then the taxi is free
So it cruises around for a fare,
But the mornings on weekends
Are quiet and still;
As for takers, there’s nobody there.

Thus they circle and seek
Someone needing a ride,
Set to take him where he wants to go
And the gas needle drops
As they drive and they drive
For on Saturdays, business is slow.

Now of course, at those times
When you’re needing a cab
And you’re searching around and around
With so many in just
The same fix you are in,
There is nary a one to be found!

0 Comments on Taxis as of 5/24/2014 8:58:00 AM
Add a Comment
16824. Brady Styles

Nightmare Begins With an Eye by Brady Styles

Add a Comment
16825. Katie Davis' DANCING WITH THE DEVIL - Guest Post and Giveaway

You know I love supporting my talented friends. It's especially cool when one branches out into new genres like Katie Davis has. You probably know her picture books (like LITTLE CHICKEN'S BIG DAY) and mid-grade novel (THE CURSE OF ADDY McMAHON), you may even be familiar with her book on marketing: HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILDREN'S BOOK. Well, she's broken through another barrier into YA with DANCING WITH THE DEVIL. Katie dropped by to tell us about it...

Katie, this story is such a departure from the other fiction you’ve written. Can you talk about what got this idea rolling for you?
      I was at Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith’s house, listening to authors Laura Ruby and Franny Billingsley talking about writing. The whole thing came to me in such a memorable moment I feel like I have a physical photo of it.
      I don’t think this book is that big of a departure for me, but maybe it just feels that way because I’ve been working on it for so long. It took me nine years to write, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, and rewrite, and so on. Plus, I do think that every person has so many different facets that it shouldn’t be a surprise when someone shows a different side. I’m not just someone who writes funny picture books, I’m also someone who’s written so-called “dramedy” middle grade novels and marketing guides for adults, so why not YA?

This book was so scary. Were you scared while you were writing it?
      Definitely. I didn’t even know that was possible. I was scared for a lot of reasons. Scared for my characters, and scared for the real kids who don’t have someone like Barb in their lives. In fact, I was so scared, I didn’t even know Lily was in danger. I was stuck, and the book just wasn’t moving, and Mac wasn’t a sympathetic enough character. She keeps the world at arm’s length because she can’t risk getting hurt. But I was also keeping the reader at arm’s length because of that.
      So one day I was talking with another writer about this problem. She asked me about Lily’s abuse. I looked at her in shock. “What do you mean, Lily’s abuse? No, not Lily!” I love little Lily. Lily is in the present. Mac was in the past. I now had to deal with this in the present. That is when the book really started rolling. I’d been working on it four years by that point.

You use a lot of imagery, but your writing is deceptively straightforward. What was that like in the writing process for you?
      Similies are a bear for me! You know that scene with the washer/dryer, where Mac is retrieving her dress? I wrote and rewrote that a million times, it seems. I have a terror of being trite. But similies and metaphors don’t come easily to me (and I get them confused, so whatever you do, please don’t quiz me).
      In terms of its being straightforward, I felt this book called for spare writing because Mackenzie is spare. She has cut out everything she can in order to survive. Her feelings, her memories, her emotions. She’s trying to control her world; she’s turned herself into a survival machine. So I thought: the fewer words, the better.

Why did this book take you nine years to write? Also, can you talk a bit about the tension in the story and how you ramped it up, or was that there from the get-go?
      When the story first hit me over the head, Mac didn’t like Lily. The relationship they have now didn’t exist in the early stage of the book. I ended up researching and learning that kids who are being abused often protect younger siblings. That changed the entire story and gave it much more depth and heart.
      I think the tension is created in a few ways. First of all, her abuse is made clear instantly, so the reader wonders right from the start what could top something that dramatic? Then, when she has to give up the one thing she’s been saving up for all those years, the one thing she’s wanted more than anything, to go back into the belly of the beast, you’re afraid for her. But as she’s on that journey, you’re also afraid for her not to go, and you want her to hurry. So all those conflicting feelings add up and create tension. You want her to hurry up and go back to the place you don’t want her to go at all.
      I love Mackenzie. I hope you love her, too.

Thanks for stopping by, Katie!

Katie is generously giving away one free, signed and dedicated copy of DANCING WITH THE DEVIL to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.

0 Comments on Katie Davis' DANCING WITH THE DEVIL - Guest Post and Giveaway as of 5/24/2014 9:48:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts