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9076. Sony Pictures Animation Will No Longer Animate Its Films in the US

Animation and visual effects studio Sony Pictures Imageworks has confirmed what many in the industry had suspected for a long while: the studio is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada to take advantage of generous tax credits provided by the Canadian government. This move, combined with Digital Domain's jump to Vancouver and Rhythm & Hues' bankruptcy, prompted "Variety'"s VFX chronicler David S. Cohen to say that the Los Angeles feature film visual effects industry is "in full collapse."

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9077. Bother and Trouble - Guest Post and Giveaway


Please give a very warm welcome to Susan P Moss. Susan is the author of a series of retro-style adventure stories for 9 to 12 year olds. Her latest book, Trouble in Teutonia, was launched at Brooklands Museumon April 17th. Susan lives in Germanywith her husband and teenage son.


There’s nothing more delicious than rediscovering a favourite book from my childhood. Tearing open the packing of my new-old copy of Caroline and Her Friends– reunited after decades, or the joy in seeing that both Mary Plainand Pookiehad been republished, and I could order them to read to my son. Finding that my mum hadn’t given away my Little Grey Rabbit collection to the school, as she’d thought. Opening a hardback of The Wind in the Willows, spotting my dad’s unmistakable writing on the flyleaf and hearing his voice reading about Ratty and Mole messing about in boats. Opening a book from childhood opens a door into a lost world. 

As L.P.Hartley wrote in The Go-Between, ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’

That lost world is the world of the book, be it Bigglesor Tom’s Midnight Garden– and more. It’s the world in which you read it back in those childhood days, under the covers by torchlight, or stretched out on a summer lawn gulping orange squash. A world with all its sights, smells, hopes and fears.




I’ve paid homage to L.P.Hartley in the strap line for my two retro-style children’s adventure stories, The Bother in Burmeon and Trouble in Teutonia: ‘The past is a dangerous country.’ I chose this line as some children don’t seem to be having adventures in the real world any more – it’s becoming “out of bounds” or only allowed if dressed head to toe in protective clothing!

The inspiration for "Bother and Trouble" came while I was writing a biography of my RAF officer dad for friends and family. I'd spent ages poring over log books, black and white snapshots in exotic locations and reminiscences from old chums when my young son asked what his granddad was like. A delightful "what if" question flitted into my mind, and with it one of those lost worlds, full of danger, dirty deeds and derring-do. My publisher described it as ‘a long-forgotten beauty – not fantasy, not ancient history, but something you and I had forgotten was magic: a Britain where country roads were bright and welcoming, where cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes – not to mention their pilots – still had an aura of adventure about them.’


The Author at Brooklands Museum 
 Picture from A.G.Lyttle

What if a 21stcentury boy, who was used to Pause Buttons and Play Agains from his adventures in a virtual world, could go back in time to the days where his granddad had adventures for real? Back to 1962 and South East Asia in The Bother in Burmeonand 1957, the Cold War and a country not unlike Germany in Trouble in Teutonia?


Well, to find out, you can start by looking at the websites for the books www.burmeon.com and www.troubleinteutonia.comand the YouTube trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ixmljOaiKI for a taste of the characters and adventures.

And I’d like to set a competition to win a copy of Trouble in Teutonia.All you have to do is dream up a title for another story in the series, in a similar vein and post it in the comments here. I can’t guarantee that I’ll write it, but you never know. The prize will go to the one that most tickles my fancy, in whatever way!

I’m very happy to answer questions about my books or my life as a writer, either here or via bother@burmeon.com



And, before I whizz off, many thanks to Barbara for having me as a guest at March House Books. The tea was brewed to perfection and the cake was scrumptious!

Toodle Pip!

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9078. DESIGNER - kate Austin

On Fridays I like to post some design eye candy and I thought this gorgeous floral from designer Kate Austin fitted the bill nicely. Its a riot of bright colour and lively drawings on a darker base. Kate studied design in London but is now based in Toronto and exhibited at Surtex this year.

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9079. Trost Richards pencil landscapes

The practice of drawing landscapes in graphite pencil was probably more common in the 19th century than it is now, as most people nowadays think of plein-air work in terms of full-on painting.

 William Trost Richards painted in oil, watercolor, and gouache, but he also did many graphite drawings, often in very small pocket-sized books. Trying to represent such things as complex tree silhouettes faithfully with pencil is good practice for painting them later.

Here he sorts out the light and dark puzzle of the plank railing on a log bridge.

The Metropolitan Museum has a large sampling of William Trost Richards' pencil, watercolor, and oil landscapes in their collection, which is available online.

Here's a well-illustrated survey of his work, based on a recent museum show: William Trost Richards: True To Nature: Drawings, Watercolors and Oil Sketches

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9080. Talbot Toluca Crosses Dimensions in an All-Ages Epic Adventure

Las Vegas, NV May 29, 2014 – Two weeks ago, award-winning children’s picture book author and illustrator Kenneth Lamug launched a Kickstarter campaign for his newest book,The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca.

This adventure book aims to reignite the all-ages genre by combining the high-impact visuals of comics while engaging the reader with Where’s Waldo-like hidden-object games, mazes and puzzles. The story follows a group of friends who must save their science professor by travelling through different dimensions and battling the robotic minions of evil scientist Dr. Kadoom.

“This campaign has definitely been an adventure all of its own,” says Lamug. “We’ve been lucky enough to have a great launch and consistent pace. Friends and social media have made a huge impact on getting the word out. Now we just have to make it across the finish line.”

New add-on rewards and incentives have been added for current and future backers, including exclusive art prints and free domestic shipping. Backers who wish to be part of the book as a character can still pledge under the Monster Package.

Currently, the project is 75% funded with less than two weeks to go, ending on June 10th.

For more information visit the Kickstarter campaign athttp://kck.st/1skCg51

Contact:
Kenneth Lamug
www.talbottoluca.com

Talbot-cover

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9081. Comic: The Font Restaurant

 

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9082. ‘Book of Life’ Trailer Looks Unlike Any CG Feature You’ve Seen

The first trailer is out today for "The Book of Life" directed by Jorge Gutierrez ("El Tigre") and produced by Reel FX.

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9083. PAPERCHASE - alphabet cards

Fans of typography will be pleased to see these Alphabet cards from Paperchase. There are 26 designs in the range each in a different font, style, or pattern from super modern to retro and decorative. All the cards are blank inside making them suitable for all kinds of uses. 

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9084. Quote of the Week: Leonardo Da Vinci

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9085. Timothy Hunt

Timothy Hunt on grainedit.com

 Timothy Hunt is a UK-based animator and illustrator with a penchant for the bold and the absurd. Bursting with color and whimsy, his print and editorial driven portfolio highlights his deceptively simple yet humorous style.

 

Timothy Hunt on grainedit.com

Timothy Hunt on grainedit.com

Timothy Hunt on grainedit.com

 

——————–

Also worth viewing:

Vicki Turner
Asatte
Tom haugomat

Not signed up for the Grain Edit RSS Feed yet? Give it a try. Its free and yummy.

——————–

Sponsor // LG UltraWide QHD Monitor






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9086. ABOWS on Writers in Focus!

I was recently interviewed by James Taylor of the Fulton County Library, for his tv show Writers in Focus. It was right in the middle of my "Southern Appalachian Book Tour" and such a treat to be able to discuss A BIRD ON WATER STREET in depth. James asked great questions, and the whole experience was so much fun. I hope you'll have a listen:

If the embedded video doesn't work for you, click the image below to go to the video on YouTube:

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9087. meet Kiiro....

kiiro kokeshi
©the enchanted easel 2014
ok, so guess what color Kiiro is in japanese...? (hint-it's the name of a very popular Coldplay song...and my favorite Coldplay song).

if you guessed YELLOW you are correct! ;)

Kiiro is the third kokeshi in my series of four. 
PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE:

Midori and Akai are also available in my etsy shop, found here:

up next, Aoi...

"look at the stars, look how they shine for you. and everything you do, yeah, they were all yellow."~chris martin


{best thing about this video...it's only him! :)}

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9088. Quote of the Week: Leonardo Da Vinci

603616_10203749910613125_6631640526702808237_n


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9089. Spires

An old one

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9090. Away again -

Spending the week in Utah helping out my 8-months-pregnant sister and family.... Back soon!


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9091. Packing with Luna

Getting lots of help packing for next week's author visit to Wilmington, MA.

IMG_8236

The post Packing with Luna appeared first on Lita Judge.

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9092. Dragon and doggie storybook

I am working on some illustrations for a small story book for friend.  I finished the last of the thumbnails today, so I am ready to start working on the finished illustrations.

All done in ArtRage.

doggie story thumbs

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9093. PAPERCHASE - snapshots

And finally from Paperchase are a few extra little store snaps and web pics that I couldn't quite fit in yesterday. These 'To do List pads' really caught my eye for their bold designs.

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9094. Noel Coward on being professional

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9095. Chengdu Process


looking though old sketchbooks today and found the early workings of little chengdu.



keep a notebook handy one drawing, character, phrase, or a single word can turn into a great book!


chengdu trying to find the perfect spot to get some sleep.



stay tuned to see more doodlings and noodlings that go on in the studio!

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9096. Runner’s Strip: Running Insurance

I think I’m in love with my new penguin. First he schools us on ice cream, now he speaks to another runner’s truth.

runner penguin with toilet paper

What nugget of wisdom with Mr. Penguin be dropping on us next time?

——-
More running CARTOONS AND LAUGHS

Posts on GI Issues for Runners HERE and HERE
——-

1) What nugget of truth do you think our penguin will be quipping about next time?

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9097. Friday Linky List, May 30, 2014

At HuffPost: Diversity in Children's Books: Moving From Outcry to Real, Market-Driven Solutions

At "From the Mixed-Up Files": Summer Writing: tips for a successful season by Sarah Aronson

Caldecott winner Eric Rohmann is interviewed at the new "Number Five Bus Presents..." blog by Erin and Philip Stead. Eric will be teaching in our Hollins University MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating this summer!

The Writing Process - Author Blog Tour with Mike Curato

At Writers' Rumpus - What's in a Cover?

At Shelf Awareness: Children's Picture Books: Swinging Toward Nonfiction

From PW and Flavorwire: 8 Literary Homes You Can Buy Right Now - including Beverly Cleary's 1910 Bungalow. Can you imagine? Groovy.

At The New York Times - a good summary of "the war" between Amazon and Hachette: As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish

From PW via USA Today: 13 of Maya Angelou's best quotes - for instance, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Kirkus Reviews Founds $150,000 Kirkus Book Prizes at Shelf Awareness - awesome!

At PW: How To Write YA by Seth Fishman

At HuffPost: Jane Yolen, America's Hans Christian Anderson, on Rejection, Reading Out Loud & the Keys to Writing Great Books for Kids. I love this quote: "it's harder to sell a great book to a publisher than a good one" - by Jane's late husband.

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9098. Harts Pass No. 203 & sign painting in downtown Winthrop!

The first BIG waves of summer tourism descended upon Winthrop this past Memorial Day weekend. And from my perch atop a friend's brand new local retail establishment, I couldn't help but notice that everything is looking pretty spiffy and inviting. The art brain was also working a little overtime this past week -- and at two drastically different scales (GIANT signs and tiny comics) to boot. "Lookin' good" to all and thanks for stopping by!

The almost blank canvas (letters lightly penciled in)...
...to early progress from the Genie Z Boom... 
...to getting pretty close...
... to the final touches...
...and the finished product!

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9099. MAKING OUR OWN MARKET: JQ Sirls, Illustrator, Author and Founder of Moodi Studios

IMG_0319Why I chose Kickstarter to fund my Children’s Picture Book

by JQ Sirls

There are many reasons why I decided to go in the route of Kickstarter, all of which stem from a common idea about people in my generation (millennials). People of my parent’s generation often claim that we are lazy, entitled, ungrateful, selfish, the list goes on. The truth is that we are a highly observant and instinctual group of people, who have watched how the effects of following certain traditions harmed our parents, grandparents and families in general. 

I witnessed my parents and grandparents endure jobs that they hated, while missing special moments with their families, only to be laid off later on down the line, for someone younger who will accept less pay. I chose to honor their sacrifice, by using it as a trampoline to aim higher, so that no one in my family will ever have to endure that pain again. I took control of my own destiny by starting my own multimedia company that also publishes books. I would not only publish my own books, but in time, merge multimedia with physical product development to potentially create a whole new market for children’s storytellers.

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JQ paces the story, inks final touches to NO MONSTER NO!

Yes, I could have published traditionally, and done exactly what history’s insanity cycle said was the correct path to comfort and happiness. But I witnessed too many others get burned from following that path. Many authors and illustrators of color follow the traditional path of publishing. They publish to critical acclaim, they win many awards, only to end up wondering why their books aren’t given the same marketing support as fair skinned creators. I did not want to become another goldfish in the same ocean. These are just a few of the many reasons why I chose Kickstarter over traditional publishing. It was my goal to shift history’s insanity cycle, and to create a better path for tomorrow’s children’s book creators. For the children’s book creators who came before me, I want to make them proud.

In 2007, my company, Moodi Studios, wrote and successfully funded our first picture book, No Monster No. The story is about a bold little girl who takes the monster under her bed to school and teaches him manners. I’d heard about Kickstarter through friends whose projects had been successfully funded. I was raised on two core principals: do better than the best you can with what you have and no matter what, keep moving forward because motion itself is a professor. So, without any extra marketing funds or heavy marketing experience, I started a campaign. However, the first campaign failed, and boy-oh-boy, was that an emotionally heavy learning experience. But without that failure, I wouldn’t have learned the steps that allowed my second campaign to soar beyond expectations.

IMG_0322

Here’s what I learned:

1. Focus your fundraising on professional colleagues and social networks. And don’t rule out total strangers who are meeting you and your work for the first time. Imagine going to a department store and being exposed to something really cool. You talk about it, share it, and support it with a purchase. Then after you make that purchase, it’s like you justify it by getting others to agree with how cool it is and have them get one too. It’s kind of like that. They don’t  necessarily know you, just the work you represent. Close friends and family will likely be the last to support you — if at all. Keep them informed, though. When they see your success, they may want to join in at a later time.

2. No one is too little or insignificant. You will need to promote your Kickstarter campaign in various IMG_0279ways — but for now, lets focus on blogs and social networking (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc). When you create a crowd-funding campaign, you are asking hundreds of people to be somewhat tech-savvy and pay for something they can not interact with. That requires trust. Social Media and blog articles create that trust, and trust is equivalent to the rarest stone on earth. Blogs allow you to communicate who you are, what you do and what you are trying to say. Much like what’s happening with myself and this very article. Social media, on the other hand, is like cable television where everyday people are searching for new channels to ‘follow’ for new content. Like television, many people do not want to think. You have to think for them. Your job is to create specific content that cater to the specific needs of a specific audience. You then have to remove the bells and whistles of distraction and communicate your topic simply and effectively. I am still learning this. Once you do that, your following that will come to see you as the foremost authority of a certain topic or product (think Apple and a new iPhone or Oprah and practically anything). Your following will buy whatever you sell and pledge on your crowd-funding campaign through trust. However, If you focus only on big blogs, like Huffington Post, or Buzzfeed, and promote on social media with no clear niche definition, you could miss the golden opportunity to grow outrageously. Smaller blogs (blogs with very little following) should never be counted out as they need content as bad as you need crowd-funding pledges. If the blog grows, you grow. Social media is crowded with millions of people who do millions of things. You will stand out through consistency of posts, clarity of topic, and discipline of work-ethic. If you plan on crowd-funding your book, Trust is your best friend.
JQ sought and received the support of various music and media stars, such as Da Internz and Timbaland, pictured here.

JQ sought and received the support of various music and media stars, such as Da Internz and Timbaland, pictured here.

3. Define it as it is—crowd-funding is pre-ordering. Never look at your campaign as soliciting  for donations. You are selling a product and getting pre-orders for that product. Market or sell it as anything else and you destroy the cool-factor and lose the magic, as you look like your are begging. Your product is amazing and one of kind. When people make a pledge, they are securing a copy of your first edition. I can’t stress this one more.

4. Don’t assume that everyone knows about Kickstarter and what it is. Even though Kickstarter has had millions of dollars pledged from millions of users, you have to assume and act as though NO ONE has ever heard of it or crowd-funding before. Then, you must assume that more than half of your potential pledges are people who think the internet is out to get them and steal all their money. Go with that assumption from the beginning and have a clear, holding-of-the-hand method to address it.
JQ documents his journey

JQ documents his journey


  • 5. Create an amazing video. Luckily for us, we had a cinematographer, video editor, audio engineer, and motion graphic artist on hand to create a nice video. However, with the first campaign, I failed in not having a great shot of me reading the book to kids. I added these features just days before the campaign ended, only reached half of my goal, making it unsuccessful. But I did use the same video for the second campaign that I started just two weeks later that eventually became funded. 

 

Here is what I learned from the second campaign (that succeeded).

1. There is power in happiness and a positive mind. Basic laws of attraction work here. You have to believe and be happy. It’s infectious and people are drawn to it like a magnet. They want what you have. The first campaign I let lack of support and struggle turn me into a stressed out bitter guy — totally the opposite of my own message with Moodi Studios. The second campaign, I approached it with peace and tried to remain childlike and optimistic. My faith changed for the better and I noticed other people noticing it.

2. People tend to help those who help themselves. Many people were moved by my determination to get back up and try again just weeks after the first project failed. If you believe in it this much, then it’s worth pledging in to find out why.

3. Don’t just post, become social. Don’t get on social media and talk at people like a club promoter. Engage in things with them and build a conversation. Let your profile or page say all that is needed to bring them to Kickstarter, with a post or two a day. But engage with people on their topics and ideas. Post a comment and retweet. Being self-centered will not create a following. I highly recommend the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk. Whether or not you choose crowd funding, it’s a must read if you have a product or service you are selling.

4. “Thank you” goes a long way. There is nothing else more to write on that.

5. Like-ability is golden. You have to be likable and charming. If you aren’t, then let your campaign be led by someone who is. Be completely honest with yourself and set your ego aside for the success of the project. No one should want to punch you in the face after watching your video. 
Launching NO MONSTER NO with friends and family.

Launching NO MONSTER NO with friends and family.

And the biggest step of all:

6. Trust your instincts and embrace failure. I cannot stress that more. If you allow it, your instincts will tell you step-by-step what works and what doesn’t work. They already know what you want to do as they are the compass to how you will get there. Kickstarter success is primarily instinctual. It’s entire model is to grab and touch the hearts (and wallets) of people. But you have to embrace fear and failure to hear your instincts clearly. My biggest fear during my first campaign, was failure and  the embarrassment of everyone seeing that failure. My ego, pride and hinge of doubt caused me to become deaf to my instincts and walk with panic. Following your instincts involve further risk, and when you are already in the midst of a larger risk, taking another is scary. However, when I eventually saw failure and embarrassment from the first campaign, my greatest fears came to pass and they didn’t kill me. I was just fine. The book didn’t explode and life as I know it didn’t end. I jumped off a cliff, expecting wings, but fell on my face instead. From there I learned that as long as you trust your instincts and jump, you can survive the fall. So keep jumping and embrace the fall. Embrace failure. 

Life after the kickstarter is fantastic! The books were printed and families absolutely love No Monster No! Honestly, many adults who don’t have kids at all have purchased the book for themselves as a coffee table book and one teacher called us, “The dawn of a new Seuss.” Not one that gets giddy’ over accolades, but that one felt pretty awesome.

Celebrating with young fans at a school visit

Celebrating with young fans at a school visit

http://www.moodistudios.com


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9100. Free Fall Friday – Quinlan Lee

quinlan

I want to thank Agent Quinlan Lee at Adams Literary for taking the time out of her busy schedule to critique four first pages that were submitted. It really helps all of us to read what was submitted and what an industry professional thinks.

Quinlan is a published author of numerous books for young readers and more than 15 years of business and project management expertise. She has been a part of the Adams Literary team since 2008, representing clients in all genres from picture books to YA. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a founding board member of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA).

Carol Foote                                          TROUBLE DOG                                         PB

Pepin never meant to be trouble. He just liked to play – romping, sniffing, nosing, digging … toppling, grabbing, leaping, crashing…

So Pepin was always in trouble. And his foster family, who was trying to find him a good, forever home, wasn’t having any luck.

When the first visitors came to consider adopting Pepin as their pet…

Pepin was scrabbling at the kitchen wall. Mouse! I smell mouse! He made a small hole and thrust his nose inside.

“No, Pepin!” Father shouted.

Pepin pushed harder and made the hole bigger. Mouse! He wants to play!

“Out of the kitchen!”

Shaking their heads, the family left. “We can’t have a dog like that,” the man said.

When the next family visited, their little boy roared his T-Rex through the air.

He wants to play! Pepin took one leap and – WHAM! [ART: boy is on the floor wailing.]

“No, Pepin!” Mother grabbed the dinosaur in Pepin’s mouth.

She wants to play! Pepin pu-u-u-lled as hard as he could, and – BAM!

Mother rubbed her elbow. “Outside! Now!”

Shaking their heads, the family left. “We can’t have a dog like that,” the boy said.

When a couple visited, Pepin was in the yard. He sniffed the air. Mmmmm! People food! Pepin nosed the lid off the trashcan and leaned in. The can tipped, tipped, tipped and – CRASH!

Pepin shook the bag. RRR-RIP! [ART: various kinds of garbage spill out, including diapers] Here’s something to play with!

“No, Pepin,” Mother yelled.

Shaking their heads, the family left. “We can’t have a dog like that,” the woman said.

Here is what Quinlan had to say:

Trouble Dog

I liked the set-up in the opening with a dog who didn’t want to be trouble but whose puppy behavior put him spot-in the middle of it. There were nice fun action words to draw the reader in. I’d love to see a few more of those later in the manuscript. I’m a little concerned that the overall concept of the book—a puppy being fostered, looking for a forever home—might be a little complex for the youngest PB readers.

Also, don’t be afraid to let the illustrations do some of the storytelling. For example, instead of writing “He made a small hole and thrust his nose inside,” just write “Mouse! I smell a mouse!” and let the illustrator go to town bringing Pepin’s character and enthusiasm to life and showing the readers how he reacts to the idea of a mouse in the kitchen.

I liked the repetition of “We can’t have a dog like that.” But you could punch it more by taking away the shaking your head line. Again the illustrations could show that. It would be fun if you played with the line so it brings it back to the Trouble Dog line, such as “We can’t have a dog like that. That dog is trouble!”

They key to whether this story works or not will be the ending. We already have over 260 words, so the clock is ticking. If there is fun and funny resolution that shows that Pepin really isn’t trouble and that he finds the perfect home (or his foster family decides to keep him) then it will make the destination worth the journey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

B. A. Rieth                                 Title: MS AMERICA                                    YA

I forgot to breathe the first time I saw Noah Vale. Dressed in khakis and a white button down shirt, he dribbled a basketball in the driveway across the street from our house. He wore a tie. “Will you look at that,” Dad said. “I think we have new neighbors.”

Believe me, I was looking. Noah moved like a dancer, long and sure and strong. Cutting left, then right, he guarded the ball against some phantom opponent and pulled at something real in me. I couldn’t keep my sighs off him. “Humph,” Dad said.

I knew what he was thinking. With all his years in the real estate business, how could he have missed the clues of a home about to change hands? The white picket fence freshly painted, the gutter that had drooped for years, now straight as a balance beam. I thought of Mom, her phone calls stretching across time zones. We had missed clues before, Dad and I.

We stood side by side in front of our big picture window. It was Sunday. Early. Almost 10:45. Dad sipped coffee from his favorite mug, bathrobe opened, pajamas rumpled. I pushed up my glasses and smoothed the sleep from my hair. I’d heard about Noah and his family last evening, from our next door neighbor, Mrs. Kurowski. “They have a boy your age,” she’d said across our backyard fence as I stuffed a bag full of Chinese take-out containers into our garbage can. “A nice boy. Cute. That’s the word girls use these days, isn’t it, dear?”

Rumor, I’d thought. Wishful thinking. Not anything I was willing to believe until I saw it with my own eyes. Mrs. Kurowski had been wrong before. Years ago she’d told me the Savoys were in the movie business. The day they moved in I’d stood at the curb, autograph book ready, as their moving van lumbered into the neighborhood. Not the one they had hired. The one they owned. Savoy Family Movers.

But this time Mrs. K had gotten it right. Cute was the word. I fought the urge to pirouette. Me, with two left feet and a tongue always ready to trip me up.

Here is what Quinlan had to say:

Ms. America

This has a nice opening. I was pulled into this girl’s voice right away with “I forgot to breathe the first time I saw Noah Vale.” Also the way she told the readers that her mother was gone was quick, deep and cut straight to the heart: “I thought of Mom, her phone calls stretching across time zones. We had missed clues before, Dad and I.” That is a perfect example of spare, strong writing. Similarly, saying “It was Sunday. Early. 10:45.” and even talking about her throwing away the take-out containers was nicely done. The author’s given us a great snapshot of their lives without telling us or over explaining.

I also liked the humor in the story of the neighbor and the “movie company” and the girl’s reaction of “I fought the urge to pirouette. Me, with two left feet and a tongue always ready to trip me up.” Again, it gives us an idea of who this girl is—self-depreciating and funny, not too bitter—and it made me want to know her more. I’d keep reading for sure, even just to learn her name and see her meet this breath-taking boy.

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LIKE VANESSA by T. Charles                                                                        MG

The soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture…but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late. At least on the edge of my town, among the garbage and the sunflowers of my town, it’s much, much, much too late.

Focusing in class isn’t even an option. Every word of The Bluest Eye haunts me. I’m convinced Toni Morrison has stalked my life for the last thirteen years and renamed the main character Pecola. She is my long-lost twin. Black like me. Screaming for the ugliness to escape. For people to see her for what she is on the inside. Beautiful. Like Miss America. Like Vanessa Williams. Like me?

I wonder if Ms. Morrison’s ever been to Newark, New Jersey. Cause there ain’t nothing but garbage here, too. Garbage on the streets. In those pipes the meth heads sprinkle through the alleys. In the elevators that carry me to the eighth floor of my apartment in the Grafton Hill Projects. Except there ain’t no sunflowers in my ‘hood. Just them fake, plastic, dollar-store-looking ones Pop Pop puts on the windowsill.

It’s sixth period Chorus, and I’m not the only one ignoring the teacher. The scattered noises of gossip and hip hop rhymes battle it out against the melody Mrs. Walton is playing on the piano. Clearly, the students are winning. My seat is wedged in the furthest corner of our dungeon-like music room. I am invisible. The darkness of the walls blends into my dark clothes and even darker skin. I sink into my chair, placing The Bluest Eye under my seat, and reach for my next read, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Pop Pop says he got it special for me because I’m his little songbird.I turn to the first page, ready to lose myself in Maya Angelou’s words. Anything to escape this jungle called school.

Here is what Quinlan had to say:

Like Vanessa

            The writing in the opening paragraph is strong, but it is little abstract, and so it took me the rest of the page to get my bearings. Perhaps starting the story with the third paragraph so we know that we’re in chorus class and it’s chaotic and our protagonist is using THE BLUEST EYE to tune it all out. Then going into wondering it Ms. Morrison has ever been to New Jersey (which places the reader even more concretely in a time and place) and then going into the first paragraph’s ideas about how she connects to Morrison’s work would help the reader connect more easily.

The picture of Newark is haunting and the use of “Pop Pop” starts to hint at the girl’s world and who we will meet in her story. The references to Vanessa Williams threw me a bit, especially in connection with all the Morrison and Angelou references. I’m assuming they are important to the story because of the title, but if not then I’d say to drop them. Not many young readers today will make the immediate connection to who Williams is and her importance to the girl. Overall the voice is very strong, and I would read more.

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Bebe Willoughby         PERMISSION TO LOVE             YA  

A screeching noise sounded within the cabin. The airplane turned, then dropped sharply.

We were on our way to Athens, but we were circling a different airport. The sign came on that told us to return to our seats and fasten our seat belts

“Something’s wrong.” the guy beside me said. Neither of us had slept. We’d talked all night.

A hushed sound came from the passengers. “What’s happening?” I asked.

“There’s a small mechanical problem. The pilots are fixing it,” a flight attendant said.

Panic rushed in. The noise continued, sounding like the brakes on a bike coming to a sudden stop.

“This is your Captain speaking. Due to mechanical difficulties, there’s going to be an

emergency landing. Everyone should pay close attention to the flight attendants as they review the emergency landing procedures.”

“Tighten your seat belts, and put your head down between your legs.” It was the last

We were going to crash, I thought. The flight attendants took the seats in back.

A woman across from us started to cry. Another woman took out her rosary beads.

“What’s your name?” I asked the guy I’d been talking to so long. Suddenly it was

important that I know.

“Miles. And yours?”

“Jade.”

Here is what Quinlan had to say:

Permission to Love

            I had some difficulty with tone of this one. The action of the story is gripping—the plane is going down!—but the description and writing is clinical and detached. I want to feel the danger and the fear of the main character. The dialogue is very calm and unemotional, even though we’re told that “Panic is rushing in!” Where is the tension? If I was thinking, “We’re going to crash.” My inner thoughts would be spinning. Show us that!

I liked the line, “We’d talked all night”, but I wanted more. How had they talked? Just to pass the time? Because she was attracted to him? Had people shushed them but they just couldn’t stop talking? Was it soft talk once the lights were turned down low, while they held hands under a blanket? Or was it boring talk about celebrities and subjects they like in school? You don’t need to go into lots of detail here. But just a sentence or two more will show us more about Jade and make us more emotionally connected and worried about her dying in a fiery crash.

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Thanks again Quinlan. Good job!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, revisions Tagged: Adams Literary, BeBe Willoughby, Bette Anne Rieth, Carol Foote, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday - Results, Quinlan Lee, Tami Charles

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