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1001. 4 Things You Should Know About Writing a Cozy Mystery Novel

When you think of mystery novels today, you might think of stories filled with in-depth police procedure and cringe-inducing violence. But you might be surprised to learn that the bestselling mystery novelist of all time is still Agatha Christie—and her timeless mysteries are quaint stories that leave all those gory details to the imagination.

True, crime fiction as a whole may have grown grittier by the year since Christie’s Miss Marple character gained popularity in the 1940s, but a subset of modern mystery novelists are finding success by bucking that trend and spinning tales that hearken back to the Golden Age of detective fiction.

—by Zac Bissonnette

The cozy mystery (sometimes simply called a cozy) is a subgenre of crime fiction that gives readers a chance to delight in vicariously solving a murder—without graphic violence or sex. Protagonists are typically amateur (and usually female) sleuths solving small-town crimes with old-fashioned detective work rather than forensics. These unlikely heroes are often small-business owners who find themselves drawn into detection by crimes impacting their work; sometimes their investigative efforts are aided by a significant other with police connections.

Natalee Rosenstein, senior executive editor of Penguin’s Berkley Books, traces the renewed interest in the genre to the early 1990s. “With the breakthrough of Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series, the market for cozies really opened up,” Rosenstein says. “There was a great untapped market for cozier mysteries that was really not being met.”

Cozies offer readers the kind of escapism that harder-boiled detective stories simply can’t. Marilyn Stasio, who has been the Crime columnist for The New York TimesBook Review since the late 1980s, recently wrote: “The abiding appeal of the cozy mystery owes a lot to our collective memory, true or false, of
simpler, sweeter times.”

And the genre’s resurgence has opened up new opportunities for authors for whom success in other genres has been elusive.

Jenn McKinlay was, by her own description, a “washed-up Harlequin romance writer” when she decided to craft cozies. It took two years of writing and rejection before she signed with Berkley Prime Crime to create the Decoupage Mystery series. The first book was published in 2009, but after three books with lackluster sales, the series was cancelled.

By then, though, McKinlay had learned a lot about what makes cozies work—and moved on to a new series with Prime Crime starring the owners of an Arizona cupcake shop: The Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. She followed that with three new series: the Library Lover’s Mysteries, the Good Buy Girls Mysteries and the Hat Shop Mysteries. In all, Prime Crime has published 16 of her cozy novels—seven of which have landed on The New York Times bestseller list.

“My husband sleeps really well knowing I am much better at killing people off than I am at making them fall in love,” McKinlay says.

If you’re considering venturing into cozy-mystery writing, here are four things you should know:

mediumrectangle

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1. Cozies have evolved.

Sheila Connolly, TheNew York Times bestselling author of three cozy series including The Orchard Mysteries, says that while Christie and Dorothy Sayers inspired her (and most of her colleagues) to write in the genre, the pacing of cozies has changed over the years. While detection is still at the heart of the story, that plot must move along with more driving action than the genre used to demand. Today’s readers aren’t content to simply follow along while a sleuth interviews suspects in hopes of solving a crime; they want to feel compelled to keep turning pages long after bedtime.

The good news is that today’s cozy authors also have a broader range of subject matter to work with to pull that action off. “Cozies can really be about anything, as long as the writer understands and respects the readers’ desire to not have explicit or gory violence,” Rosenstein says.

McKinlay jokes that writing the part well can give readers the wrong impression. “I get these emails [from readers] that say, ‘Your books are so nice and proper,’ and my husband’s like, ‘You’re the most foul-mouthed person I know!’”

[Learn 5 Tools for Building Conflict in Your Novel]

2. Series are the way to go.

Virtually all cozy mysteries published today are part of a series with recurring characters (some publishers even offer deals based on one complete novel and a proposal for a full series). Creating a series that’s anchored around a hobby or craft is a great way to break in: recent popular series include the Book Collector Mysteries by Victoria Abbott, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries by Victoria Hamilton and the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries by Kylie Logan.

3. Sales are steady, but moderate.

“The market for cozies today is very strong and growing, as evidenced by all the bestseller lists,” Rosenstein says. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean six-figure sales (or advances). Generally, paperback original cozies sell in the $5,000–10,000 range, and first-time cozy authors typically receive an average advance of $5,000 per book for a three-book series. Of course, breakout titles have seen bigger numbers on both sides of that fence. McKinlay’s first Cupcake Bakery mystery, Sprinkle With Murder, has sold nearly 25,000 paperback copies since its 2010 debut, according to Nielsen BookScan.

[Get Query Help: Click here for The 10 Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Query Letter]

4. Genre-specific support is available.

All authors can benefit from the support of fellow scribes, and a great way to find that help is through a writing group. Sisters in Crime (sistersincrime.org), one of the leading networks for mystery authors, offers a Guppies program that provides resources for new mystery writers—including those
of cozies.

Zac Bissonnette is The New York Times bestselling author of How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents. His latest, Good Advice From Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong, will be released in April.

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

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1002. It’s coming along

unexpectedsketchbook

 

I’ve been diligently working away at my FAIRY DECK for its September release. You can see my process on Instagram or Tumblr.


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1003. And straight on ’til morning

finding neverland musical And straight on til morningThe other day my friend’s four-year-old daughter asked me, “Guess what I wished for?”

I was a little nervous about this — after all, isn’t it bad luck to tell others your wish? — but she insisted.

“A puppy? A pony? A baby elephant?”

No, it wasn’t an animal at all. It was the second star to the right!” I didn’t follow this logic, so she patiently(ish) explained, “I wished to go to Neverland!” Well, obviously. What a dumb grown-up moment.

Brand-new musical Finding Neverland, based on the 2004 Johnny Depp movie about author J.M. Barrie and his friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family, opens tomorrow at Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater. I should probably go and get back in touch with my inner lost kid.

What’s your favorite Peter Pan adaptation? Hook will always have my heart. (Bangerang!)

share save 171 16 And straight on til morning

The post And straight on ’til morning appeared first on The Horn Book.

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1004. John Carter: Warlord of Mars Relaunches (and finally gets to use the proper title) at Dynamite

JCWoM01-10As you may recall, Dynamite and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. came to an understanding a little while back and we’re continuing to see the fruits of the agreement.  The John Carter franchise has been practically a sub-line for Dynamite with Warlord of Mars, Deja of Mars, Lords of Mars and Warriors of Mars.  Now they finally get to have a title called John Carter: Warlord of Mars, which will be the flagship title for that family of comics.

Ron Marz will be writing.  (Marz of Mars?  I see what you did there, Dynamite.)  Art will be by Abhishek Malsuni.

Official PR and some more art follow:

 

DYNAMITE SIGNS RON MARZ TO NEW ONGOING JOHN CARTER: WARLORD OF MARS ONGOING SERIES

BURROUGHS’  ICONIC HERO RETURNS TO COMICS WITH NEW #1 LAUNCH IN NOVEMBER

July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce a brand new chapter in the history of Edgar Rice Burroughs creation, John Carter: Warlord of Mars, to be written by the masterful pen of comics legend Ron Marz.  Illustrated by newcomer Abhishek Malsuni, John Carter: Warlord of Mars is the newly-minted cornerstone of the publisher’s Warlord of Mars line, launched in the wake of their May 2014 announcement of the comprehensive licensing agreement between Dynamite and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

John Carter: Warlord of Mars welcomes science fiction and fantasy fans to the exotic landscape of Barsoom, where displaced earthling John Carter has to save his adopted world, not to mention his beloved Dejah Thoris, from an enemy like no other he has ever faced.  John Carter must truly become a Warlord of Mars against an adversary who is every bit his equal on the savage red planet.

Marz’s enthusiasm for John Carter has been building for many years.  He says, “This is literally a job I’ve been wanting to do since I was twelve years old. I was just the right age when I discovered John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, and the wonder of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars. It fired my imagination like almost nothing else. So to finally get a chance to write these characters, to visit that world, is a dream come true for me.”

Ron Marz is an industry veteran with decades of experience as a writer and editor under his belt. He is best known for his work on Green Lantern andSilver Surfer, and as one of the original creative masterminds behind CrossGen Comics. His more recent work includes WitchbladeCyberforce, andVoodoo. He currently lives in upstate New York with four horses, three children, two dogs and one wife.

“We are incredibly excited about Ron coming on board for this project,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “When we originally launched the Warlord of Mars series in 2010, Ron and I ran into each other at a comic convention, and Ron grabbed me by the shoulders and said something to the effect of, ‘How can you launch a John Carter series and not call me to write it?’ It wasn’t a question.  It was a statement!  As we looked at the potential creators for this series, we instinctively remembered Ron’s passion for the mythos. He is simply the perfect fit.  Add in the fantastic art by Abhishek Malsuni and Neeraj Menon, this series will take John Carter to new heights.”

John Carter debuted in 1912 as the lead character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first novel, serialized as Under The Moons Of Mars in the pulp magazine,The All-Story, and later published as a complete novel retitled A Princess of Mars.  The character excited the imagination of readers and quickly imprinted onto the public psyche. As many literary and popular culture scholars attest, John Carter served as the template for a litany of adventure heroes to follow, from Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Superman to the Jedi Knights of Star Wars fame and Avatar.

Dynamite’s John Carter: Warlord of Mars comes on the heels of the reacquisition of comic book rights by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. that had been held by Walt Disney Pictures and its Marvel Entertainment subsidiary, as well as a recent legal settlement with Dynamite that cleared the way for Dynamite to introduce key characters and plot elements from the John Carter backstory that were, until now, absent from recent comic book interpretations.

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ September Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in November.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 with their local comic book retailers. John Carter: Warlord of Mars will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

JCWoM01-07 JCWoM01-08-09 JCWoM01-14-15

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1005. Author Thomas Berger Has Died

American novelist Thomas Berger has died. He was 89 years old.

The New York Times has more details: “His agent, Cristina Concepcion, said she learned of his death, at Nyack Hospital, on Monday. Mr. Berger lived in Grand View, a village in Rockland County, N.Y., where he had remained fiercely protective of his privacy.”

Berger was the author of twenty-three novels which also included: Best Friends; Meeting Evil; Adventures of the Artificial Woman and The Feud, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1983. He was best known for the book Little Big Man, which was adapted into a film starring Dustin Hoffman in 1970. The novel explores Western mythology through the eyes of 121-year-old white man that was raised by Native Americans.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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1006. ALA Files Comments Supporting Net Neutrality

The American Library Association (ALA) is urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt network neutrality rules necessary in order to support the mission of libraries.

“Network neutrality strikes at the heart of library core values of intellectual freedom and equitable access to information,” stated Courtney Young, president of the ALA. “We are extremely concerned that broadband Internet access providers currently have the opportunity and financial incentive to degrade Internet service or discriminate against certain content, services and applications.”

 

The ALA has joined with 10 other national higher education and library organizations to file joint public comments with the FCC, as part of the government agency’s public comment period on the debate. The period to comment ended on Friday, and the FCC reported receiving more than a million comments. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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1007. The Laziest Writer Ever? A Vent and a Lesson

Last spring a writer (let’s call her Jill) emailed me that she was pitching a profile of me to a UK writing magazine — and would I be available for an interview?

Here’s how the conversation went:

*****
Jill:

I’m interested in interviewing you for [magazine]. If you are agreeable, I’d need to ask you a few questions in order to prepare my pitch.

Me:

Hi, Jill! Did you want to ask your questions via email or phone?

Jill:

I live in Australia, Linda, and find email is simplest because of the different time zones.

Will just ask a few questions to start with. If my editor at [magazine] likes the proposal, I’ll be in touch again. If he’s already accepted something similar, I’d like to pitch the interview to [two other magazines] if you’re happy with that.

Here goes -

* You list Redbook, Woman’s Day, Family Circle and Writers’ Digest as magazines you’ve sold to. I’m wondering how many you’ve sold to each. What’s the most number of commissions you’ve had from any one magazine that you’ve broken into by initially breaking rules?
* Are there any rules you definitely wouldn’t break?
* What’s the most daring way you’ve broken a rule and gained a commission?
How many magazines have you broken into by breaking rules?

Me:

[I answer all the questions, which takes about 300 words.]

Jill:

My editor at [Magazine] is interested in the interview. I’ll need to slant it to UK writers subbing internationally, and also point out if any of the advice is wrong for the UK market. [Following are 11 questions, many of which are actually composed of two or three separate questions.]

Me:

Hi, Jill! That’s good news!

This is a LOT of writing. Can we do a phone interview? I’m available outside of business hours since we’re in opposite time zones.

Jill:

I’ve been thinking what the best way to proceed might be, Linda. I didn’t mean to swamp you with questions.

One thing I’m wondering is whether you’ve already written pieces that I could read and draw on, that might cover some of this.

Then perhaps we could Skype?

What are your thoughts?

Me:

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to write or research for you on this project. I think you will be better off finding someone else to profile.

*****

Okay, so what went wrong in this process?

Let me start off by saying that unless you are just looking for bare facts — data mining, basically — email interviews are less than ideal. I do them for a column where I’m asking for dates, prices, and workshop names for events, but in all other cases I rely on the phone.

But to be fair, I did give Jill the option, thinking there would be just a few questions. Instead she slammed me with 15+ questions (which actually ended up being more like 20 questions). I spent 300 words on the first set, and estimate it would have taken me another 1,200 words at the very least to answer the second set.

Hmm, does that sound to you like I’m writing an entire article?

Then, when I offered to make myself available at some weird time of the day to make it easy for this writer to do a phone interview, she responded by asking if I had ever written anything she could basically lift for her article. Because God forbid a writer should have to do an interview outside the 9-5, right? Much better to ask your source to spend a couple hours writing and researching your article for you.

It reminds me of the writer who interviewed me, and when I asked her to send me a link to the article when it went online, replied, “Oh, just Google your name and the name of the magazine and it should come up.” Um, no. I just took half an hour out of my workday talking to you for no benefit to myself so YOU can earn a few hundred bucks — you can spend 10 seconds emailing me a freaking link.

As a freelance writer, I have done interviews after my normal bedtime and before my usual wake time with people in opposite time zones. I have paid for a Skype phone number and added funds to be able to call overseas to people who don’t have Skype. And I ALWAYS let my sources know when an article I interviewed them for has been published, and try to get them a copy if it’s not available on the newsstands.

In short, I never put the onus on my sources to make it easier for me to do my job.

Too many would-be writers have the impression that freelance writing is a cakewalk — and when they find out to their horror that they have to do actual work, and that it (gasp!) may not be 100% convenient for them, they look for shortcuts.

I’ve earned up to $85,000 per year writing (and yes, this was before I started earning income from my classes) because, well, I worked my ass off. Freelance writing is a job. It’s not all sitting at cafes with a laptop and a cup of joe, typing away as the muse strikes. I really can’t fathom why any person would think that this is the world’s only job where you can put in little effort and reap great returns.

As a freelance writer, you need to put in the hours and shoe leather to get gigs, do great work, keep your clients happy, and deal with sources in a way that they’ll want to help you again in the future. In other words, it’s work.

Enough of the vent. How about you: Can you tell us about a time you went above and beyond in your freelance writing career? Or how about describing a time you dealt with a lazy writer? Let us know in the Comments below! [lf]

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1008. Illustrator: Jesmond Cat Designs

Jesmond Cat Puffin

Jesmond Cat Turtle

Jesmond Cat Space2

Jesmond Cat Space

 

After attending a craft fair, I was kindly introduced to the wonderful illustrator, Chris Leaper, founder of Jesmond Cat Designs. He is based in West Yorkshire, England and uses traditional media, acrylic on canvas or board to create these vibrant, quirky works of art.

The name ‘Jesmond Cat’ comes from a personal character story Leaper created which continued to progress and now acts as a ‘mascot’ for his personal illustration brand. There is a sense of softness in his work which can only be given justice when seen in person! Completely talented and imaginative, the artist has worked on children’s books previously which this style fits into very well!

More of his work can be seen on his Website  and Facebook page which he updates regularly.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

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1009. SDCC: Dynamite Nabs Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Spirit_Archives_Vol_1_1.jpgby Brandon Schatz

One day before the madness of this year’s San Diego Comic Con officially begins, Dynamite has announced their future intentions for Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

Most recently, the character has been a tangental part of the DC Comics line, starting with a ongoing originally helmed by Darwyn Cooke in 2006, before moving the character over to their ill-fated First Wave line alongside pulp heroes such as Doc Savage. He also briefly appeared in a Rocketeer crossover at IDW through an agreement with DC, who still held the rights for publication at the time.

This addition to Dynamite’s line makes perfect sense, as they seem to be building quite a library of pulp heroes. The company’s predication for those heroes to interact in various mini-series should make for some interesting content down the line. As it stands, we are still waiting on news as to who will be the creative team on any new book, as well as what form such a series would take.

More on this as it develops.

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1010. Join Cheryl Rainfield on Sat, Sept 13, 2pm at Chapters Scarborough in Toronto

If you’re in Toronto, join me at

Chapters Scarborough
on Saturday, September 13th at 2pm

to hear me talk about STAINED–why I wrote it, the need for strong-girl characters, and more–and get a signed copy of STAINED, SCARS, and/or HUNTED.

stained-launch-cheryl-signing-via-jean

I draw on my own trauma experiences to write all my books.

In STAINED, Sarah is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself.

Cheryl Rainfield has been said to write with “great empathy and compassion” (VOYA) and to write stories that “can, perhaps, save a life.” (CM Magazine) SLJ said of her work: “[Readers] will be on the edge of their seats.”

I hope you’ll join me.

STAINED-display-Yorkdale-Indigo-cropped

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1011. Soldier Doll (2014)

Soldier Doll. Jennifer Gold. 2014. Second Story Press. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Soldier Doll is a message-driven novel with an interesting premise. Towards the end of World War I (1918), Margaret Merriweather, an English woman, gives her fiance a wooden doll. This is a doll that her own father made for her when she's a child. She paints a soldier's uniform on him. She gives him as a good luck charm, a way he can carry her with him wherever he goes. After he dies, Margaret is inspired to write a poem. This poem becomes famous. The doll itself is gone forever. Or so everyone thought. Soldier Doll follows the adventures of this wooden soldier with the baby-face. The framework for all the stories is his being discovered in Toronto in 2007 by a teen girl, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is buying her dad a DOLL for his birthday. Her dad is a soldier preparing to go to Afghanistan. A moping Elizabeth ventures into a used bookstore and discovers the poem-book by Merriweather. She's convinced she's found THE DOLL from the poem. She and her Dad team up to see if this is so... (view spoiler)

The chapters alternate between the 2007 story and the doll's adventures in the past beginning with World War I. The doll also heads to other wars: World War II, Vietnam, and the Iraq War. His ownership is passed along many times. I should clarify that readers don't get the perspective of the doll at any time. It remains just an object. What readers do get are glimpses of various soldiers from various countries. It captures scenes from life on the front.

War. War. War. That is the focus of Soldier Doll. Why do nations go to war? Why do men go to war? What is the point of it all? Those are the questions asked openly and honestly in Jennifer Gold's Soldier Doll. It is an anti-war novel, as you might imagine.

I found the 2007 story to be awkward. I found the past stories to be much better. The past sections were written in past tense. The 2007 story was written in very awkward present tense. It was third person present.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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1012. So, is Duchovny's book a picture book? :snort:

©2012, Debbie Ridpath Ohi. P.S. - Don't miss Liz Garton Scanlon on BookPeople, Austin's blog today. Good stuff! This work is copyrighted material. All opinions are those of the writer, unless otherwise indicated. All book reviews are UNSOLICITED,... Read the rest of this post

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1013. BOOKMARK CONTEST!!

Calling all Midsouth illustrators!

Here’s your chance to win fame and fortune (or something like that) while giving our region a boost. Come up with a winning design for the new SCBWI Midsouth promotional bookmark, and you will receive a $50 discount on a future Midsouth event – plus love and adulation from your fellow members.

See the contest section of our blog for all of the details!

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1014. New Lone Ranger Series by Gray/Villegas in November

Dynamite will be starting a new Lone Ranger series in November.  Justin Gray will be writing it, which is interesting for a couple reasons.  First off, it’s unusual to see Gray’s name without his usual co-writer/co-conspirator, Jimmy Palmiotti.  Secondly, Gray (along with Palmiotti) is the longest tenured writer of the western genre in recent memory.  His association with Jonah Hex goes back to 2006, so that’s 8 years.  Although if you wanted to make the argument that All-Star Western wasn’t a western, so much as a comic with a western lead, I probably wouldn’t quibble.  Either way, Jonah Hex and All-Star Western were two of DCs most consistently well-reviewed series of the last decade.

Joining Gray on art will be Rey Villegas, who’s been doing Lady Zorro for Dynamite.LRvol3-01-Cassaday

 

JUSTIN GRAY, WRITER OF JONAH HEX,
RIDES INTO DYNAMITE WITH THRILLING NEW CHAPTER
IN THE LONE RANGER‘S HISTORY

July 22, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the signing of Justin Gray, who will be continuing Dynamite’s long standing success with America’s quintessential Western hero, as he takes the reins on a brand new series of The Lone Ranger.  Launching with a new #1 in November 2014, The Lone Ranger will feature the exciting interior artwork of Rey Villegas (Lady Zorro), as well as covers by John Cassaday (Uncanny AvengersAstonishing X-Men) and Marc Laming (All-New InvadersKings Watch).

“I’m proud to be working with one of the longest standing and best known Western characters in all of literature, because to me The Lone Rangerrepresents a moral code, unquestionable justice and a sense of adventure that embodies the classic American western,” says Justin Gray.

No stranger to Western thrills, Justin Gray is a frequent contributor to Jonah Hex and All-Star Western, tales of an Old West gunslinger set within the larger DC Comics continuity. Gray has contributed to dozens of name-recognizable titles from Marvel Comics and DC Comics, including BatwingAme-Comi GirlsPunisherPower GirlCountdown, and many more.

Since his radio debut in 1933, the masked Lone Ranger has endured as an icon of American culture. Dynamite first launched The Lone Ranger as a comic series in 2006, written by Brett Matthews and illustrated by Sergio Cariello.  Its #0 prelude issue was a part of that year’s nationwide Free Comic Book Day celebration, and the series would go on to score an Eisner Nomination for best new series in 2007. A second volume of The Lone Rangerfollowed, as did such miniseries called The Lone Ranger and Tonto and The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron.

“We are incredibly excited to have Justin on board for this title,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “We’ve had a great run with The Lone Ranger as one of our most consistent critically acclaimed comics, and needed someone who we could trust to fill these ‘big boots,’ continuing one of the best Western heroes ever.  With a track record like his, we’re in for a Western comic that we won’t soon forget!”

The Lone Ranger #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ September Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in November.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Lone Ranger #1with their local comic book retailers.  The Lone Ranger will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

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1015. The Florist-Assassins

The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had woken some sort of angry territorial lizard in my head. Something about the pattern of their approach, the vectors and the way they would all [...]

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1016. Out-of-This-World Books!

The Apollo XI moon landing celebrated its 45th anniversary this past Sunday. First Book is celebrating this momentous event with some of our favorite space-inspired books:

 1. Almost Astronauts: Thirteen Women Who Dared to Dream
What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape–any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. ALMOST ASTRONAUTS is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age.

2. Discover Science: Solar System
Solar System is the perfect introduction for young readers to the endlessly fascinating topic of space and the vast, mysterious worlds that make up our solar system. Discover the activity of the flaming prominences of the sun and the bubbling volcanoes of Venus. Examine the apparently lifeless craters on the moon, Saturn’s swirling rings, and giant Jupiter’s great red spot. Marvel at space travelers such as the comet Halle-Bopp, mighty meteorites, and the Spirit and Viking space probes on their missions to Mars. Budding astronomers will be intrigued and enthralled by the strange and diverse worlds that make up our solar system.

3. Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space
The mysteries of the universe and the science of space exploration are perennially popular subjects, and Out of This World is a wonderful introduction. Amy Sklansky has written evocative poems about planets and stars and rockets and moon landings and satellites. Each poem is supported by additional facts and explanations in the margins. Stacey Schuett brings it all to life with color-soaked skies and beautiful perspectives in her fabulous paintings.

4. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #6: Space: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #8: Midnight on the Moon
How did the universe begin? How hot is the sun? How long does it take to get to the moon? Find out the answers to these questions and more in Magic Tree House Research Guide: Space, Jack and Annie’s very own guide to the secrets of the universe. Including information on stars, planets, space travel, life on other planets, and much more!

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and the Apollo 11 crew inspired a generation to reach new heights. Now Buzz is  inspiring readers – young and old. Check out his new science fiction book, “Encounter with Tiber” in this week’s Humble Book Bundle. Special thanks to Buzz Aldrin, Humble Bundle and Open Road Media for their support of First Book.

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1017. Squeetus summer book club: Enna Burning, chapter 15

Ebkorea2Sileph and Enna: some are upset by this relationship, but it occurs to me how important stories are, how a distanced reader can see and understand things that a character can't. And in turn, that helps us take a step back from ourselves and see and understand ourselves better. How many people have been in a relationship like Enna's with Sileph but couldn't see it for what it was?

"You lying son of a goat." Feel free to use this at need. You have my permission.

Someone close to me had a hard time with this book, and it occurred to me that she had never made any big mistakes. Maybe it's uncomfortable for those who have lived a quiet kind of life to try to empathize with a character like Enna.

A note to myself in an earlier draft: "What are Sileph's motivations? Does he really love her?" I came to my own conclusion in later drafts but since the text doesn't specifically say I'll let you decide for yourself.

Rebecca asks, "Would you rather have this series adapted into movies or a TV show ...or neither if you had the choice?" Ooh, wouldn't a Game of Thrones style miniseries be wonderful? If done well. But I highly doubt any of the Bayern books will ever be made into a movie. The Goose Girl was optioned  years ago. And I remember (about 7 years ago?) someone shopping it around as a potential vehicle for a young actress. Obviously nothing happened. It's very rare that any book is optioned for a potential movie, and of those that are, maybe 10% actually are made into one. The only power a writer has in the matter is to wait, and if someone asks, to say yes or no. That's it.

Viola says, "Haha, they definitely have stood up to many rereads--with me, at the least. They're my go-to books for when I've got nothing else to read. I've lost count of how many times I've read each one. Each time, they feel like old friends and new adventures all at once. I'll never grow out of them." Thank you! Someone who read a draft of the last book in the Princess Academy trilogy (not out yet - next spring) said that reading it felt like coming home. I feel that way too when I write these characters.

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1018. Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

blair baby animal farm Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionBaby Animal Farm
by Karen Blair
Candlewick    18 pp.
4/14    978-0-7636-7069-6    $6.99

Blair, doing her best Helen Oxenbury impersonation (successfully!), depicts a gaggle of cutie-patootie toddlers (accompanied by a puppy and one of the kids’ teddy bear) visiting a farm populated by baby animals: ducklings, chicks, piglet, etc. Simple, active sentences include accompanying kid-pleasing sound effects: “Feed the lamb. Baa, baa, baa… / Time for lunch. Nom, nom, nom.”

 

deneux jojos first word book Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionJojo’s First Word Book
by Xavier Deneux
Twirl    60 pp.
3/14    978-2-8480-1943-7    $16.99

Little rabbit Jojo and his sister Lulu learn basic kid-skills: getting dressed, eating with utensils, using the potty, etc. Each clear, uncluttered illustration shows one or both bunnies with items around them labeled with simple words (in script, for what it’s worth): “Jojo and Lulu’s house: chimney, roof, window, mailbox, door.” The sweet illustrations feature lots of rounded edges and saturated colors. Sturdy pages include thick tabs to quickly flip to four sections (“Jojo and Lulu,” “Home,” “Out and about,” “Animal friends”).

 

holub be patient pandora Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionBe Patient, Pandora! [Mini Myths]
by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli
Appleseed/Abrams    26 pp.
9/14    978-1-4197-0951-7    $6.95

 

holub play nice hercules Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionPlay Nice, Hercules! [Mini Myths]
by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli
Appleseed/Abrams    26 pp.
9/14    978-1-4197-0954-8    $6.95

Board book master Patricelli (Yummy Yucky; No No Yes Yes; The Birthday Box, among many others starring the adorable gender-neutral baby with the single spiral curl) and Ready-to-Read maven Holub (recent coauthor of the middle-grade Goddess Girls series) team up for these witty introductions to Greek myths for preschoolers — and also starring preschoolers. Hercules’s bearded, jeans-wearing dad tells him to “play nice” with his baby sister (“I am not nice. I am strong!”). Pandora’s mom warns: “Do not open the box” — which turns out to contain cupcakes. The last page in each book gives a very brief synopsis of each Greek myth.

 

samoun how gator says goodbye Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHow Gator Says Good-Bye!
by Abigail Samoun; illus. by Sarah Watts
Sterling    22 pp.
2/14    978-1-4549-0821-0    $6.95

 

samoun how hippo says hello Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHow Hippo Says Good-Bye!
by Abigail Samoun; illus. by Sarah Watts
Sterling    22 pp.
2/14    978-1-4549-0820-3    $6.95

In each book the title animal character visits seven countries — France, Russia, Egypt, India, China, Japan, Argentina — then returns home to the U.S. (a map appears at the end). Left-hand pages include text (“He says ‘Alvida!’ in India”) with pronunciation (“[AL-veh-da]”), while right-hand pages feature friendly scenes of Hippo or Gator smiling and waving at the people (well, animals) who live in each place. Simple shapes and subdued hues make these useful books eye-pleasing and approachable.

 

thomas birthday for cow Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionA Birthday for Cow
by Jan Thomas
Houghton    38 pp.
4/14    978-0-544-17424-5    $7.99

Thomas’s gleefully silly picture book about turnip-obsessed Duck trying to hijack Cow’s birthday cake prep translates well into a board-book version. If anything, Duck’s personality is even more outsized in this smaller format, and little kids will easily be able to follow the action and the humor.

 

van genechten 8 9 and 10 2 Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 Edition8 9 and 10 [Odd One Out]
by Guido van Genechten
Clavis Toddler    20 pp.
2/14    978-1605371870    $12.95

 

van genechten happy angry sad Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 EditionHappy Angry Sad [Odd One Out]
by Guido van Genechten
Clavis Toddler    20 pp.
2/14    978-1605371863    $12.95

These lively books reward close observation from little kids. Each spread features an array of adorable, nearly identical looking critters (flamingos, camels, rhinos, spiders). The text asks a series of questions, including those that are number-based in 8 9 and 10 and emotion-based in Happy Angry Sad: e.g., for ladybugs — “Who has 4 dots and who has 5? Who can’t keep up? And who is going to the beach?” Spoiler alert: at the end of 8 9 and 10 all the animals end up at the beach; the mountains are their destination in Happy Angry Sad.

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1019. Bring Your International Stories on Motherhood to Brain, Child Magazine

Brain, Child isn’t your typical parenting magazine. In it, you won’t find the top 10 summer activities for kids or a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies. Instead, the literary magazine focuses on the issues of women and motherhood with perspectives that are parent focused rather than child-centric.

Every section of the mag is open to freelancers and, in particular, author and editor-in-chief Marcelle Soviero encourages international writers to pitch stories on parenting to offer a more unique perspective. As the magazine is comprised of up to 70 percent freelance content, Soviero, a former freelancer herself, considers writers the magazine’s “lifeblood.” She adds:

We’ve published well-known authors but also new authors. I’ve been that new author. I know what that’s like, and I always appreciated when magazines would take a chance on me. I like to do that for people, as well, as long as the work is excellent and meets our criteria.

For more information on what Brain, Child editors are looking for, read: How to Pitch: Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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1020. SDCC: Ron Marz tackles a Skylanders Ongoing at IDW

by Alexander Jones

Skylanders00-cvr-5fa17The acclaimed writer Ron Marz is tackling the popular video game franchise known as Skylanders in comic book form. The comic was announced this morning from IDW on their site under the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive content. The first installment into the series known as the Skylanders #0 will be available at the show. Marz was also involved in the Skylanders SWAP Force comic from IDW. Joining him on the new series are artists David Baldeon and Mike Bowden. The new title starts in October, and is going to be an ongoing monthly series. The author stated that in the first Issue of the series, every single character from the franchise will be present. He also teased multiple protagonists in the book.

More as the story develops.

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1021. Fight Club Sequel Coming as Graphic Novel Next Year

Dark Horse Comics and Chuck Palahniuk are teaming up to produce a graphic novel sequel to Palahniuk’s classic novel Fight Club.

Palahniuk revealed the news last week while he was speaking at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The book is slated for publication next year. Palahniuk told the fan site Chuckpalahniuk.net more details about the story. Check it out:

Chelsea Cain has been introducing me to artists and creators from Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, and they’re walking me through the process.  It will likely be a series of books that update the story ten years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden.   Nowadays, Tyler is telling the story, lurking inside Jack, and ready to launch a come-back.  Jack is oblivious.  Marla is bored.  Their marriage has run aground on the rocky coastline of middle-aged suburban boredom.  It’s only when their little boy disappears, kidnapped by Tyler, that Jack is dragged back into the world of Mayhem.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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1022. A comic for those who think it's easy to write children's books

Originally posted for PiBoIdMo.

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1023. Pantsing aka Free Writing



It wasn’t until I went to the last LTUE in Provo that I first heard the term “pantsing,” short for “flying by the seat of your pants.” I attended the panel on the topic and found it to be one of the most liberating writing panels I’ve ever sat in on.
I’ve known for a while that writers pretty much divide themselves into two camps: outliners and free writers. Both camps have their pros and cons. Outliners have the big advantage of being organized in how they approach their writing, so they know exactly what’s going to happen before they write it and they don’t have to do as much rewriting and editing later. Free writers, on the other hand, seem to have no idea what they want to write until they start writing. They just get words on the page, and only later do they go back and make sense of it. This often allows their writing to be more organic and natural, whereas outliners can be more confined by their structure (emphasis on can). However, free writers have to put in at least ten times the work that an outliner does, because they have to go back and redo everything many, many times after their initial creative word-vomit session.
I’m definitely a free writer. Many, many times I have wished I could be an outliner. It just sounds so much easier. It’s such a struggle for me to define in advance what my characters are going to do. One of the writers on the panel at LTUE put it this way: pantsers often have the characters of a story come to us first, and we just don’t know what we want to do with them yet. We like letting the characters “decide” for themselves, which basically just means we prefer to figure that out as we go, using the character we know in our head as the guideline.
There were many times that I felt like maybe I was less of a real writer because outlining was so hard for me. That’s why that LTUE panel had me feeling so validated. I realized how many other writers there are out there who are like me, and yet are still successful. I realized it was ok to be a pantser, as long as I recognized both the benefits and pitfalls to this method of writing, and adjusted accordingly.
Here are a few important tips for successful pantsing (hopefully I’ll get good at following all of these one day):
·         You CANNOT edit as you go. If you let yourself go back and fix things before you finish your first draft—you will never finish that first draft. Also, you never know when something you went back and changed might have turned out to be just what you needed after you finish. Leave it alone, finish your first draft, no matter how crappy, and leave the editing for later.
·         Don’t be afraid to redo everything. This is hard for me sometimes. Not only do I get attached my writing, but I also get lazy. Sometimes I look at it and think, “This scene is already written. It’s decent. It could be a lot better. My whole story would drastically improve if I let myself completely redo the whole first half, but it just sounds like so much work.” In the end, you just have to face the monster. The biggest pitfall of pantsing is you have to go back and drastically rewrite everything after your first draft in order to end up with a decent manuscript. As a pantser, you can’t be afraid of how much extra work you give yourself because of your chosen method of writing, or it won’t work for you.
·         Make an outline as you write. This would have saved me so much effort if I had figured this out from the beginning. Though we pantsers never outline before we write, we need to outline after we write. After every writing session, update a separate document with chapters or page numbers listed and what is going there. Make it detailed and keep it updated, or you will be very sad later on. It helps so much to know what you’ve written and where for when you have to go back, rewrite, and rearrange. The truth is, just because you’re a free-spirited pantser doesn’t mean you get to be totally disorganized. Often times, you’re actually just making your outline by writing the whole first draft first. By the time you’re done, your outline should be ready for you to work with for when you start over again—and make it all make sense this time.

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1024. "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"

 
For our final project for Make Art That Sells Bootcamp, we were given the assignment to make a piece of art featuring our favorite beverage. Drawing something coffee themed was a no brainer for me, but it took me awhile to figure out a plan of attack. At the end of the day, my love of coffee isn't rooted in taste per se, but rather emotion. For me, coffee is family get togethers, working in cafes and cups of Dunkin's before heading out on a road trip. Like T.S Eliot said, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." And this inspired me to draw the above, mindful of the way all those mugs of piping hot liquid have bound together so many disparate life events.

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1025. publishing my first adult fiction in many years, in Clockhouse

Years ago, when I was a young mother desperate to find more hours in each day, all there was for me was fiction. Short fiction. Published in journals like Sonora Review and Alaska Quarterly Review and International Quarterly and Rosebud. Publishing was my conversation with the world. I had yet to meet an actual writer. I'd taken no classes. I was naive. My critiques came in the form of letters from the editors.

Later there would be attempts at "adult" novels, but always something intervened. The El Salvador novel became the El Salvador memoir (Still Love in Strange Places). The adult novel about southern Spain became, after nearly a decade, Small Damages, a novel for young adults. And so on.

In the meantime, through other projects, panels, moments, rides on subway trains, I met so many special people, including Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, who remains my dear friend today; indeed, I recently spent a blissful Brooklyn afternoon in her company and missed her for days afterward. It was Reiko, a beloved faculty member at Goddard College, who suggested to the Clockhouse team that I might be a right contributor for the second issue of this new and beautiful magazine. An essay, they suggested. How about a poem? I suggested back. But in the end, we went with fiction.

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see this first sliver of adult fiction, an excerpt from a novel in progress, appear in a magazine produced by such an incredibly kind team, including Julie Parent, Kathryn Cullen-DuPont, and Stacy Clark. I am equally happy that Reiko is the angel on all our shoulders. And I was touched to learn, a few weeks ago, that Heather Leah had been asked to read my story aloud to a gathered few as the printed journal emerged from the press. I wish I could have been here.

There are excerpts from a number of pieces here.

The list of contributors can be found here.

Thank you, Clockhouse.

from Beth Kephart’s The Velocity of Wings:

“Oh, Love,” Becca said. “Oh, God. Kate.” And she couldn’t lift her, couldn’t hold her, had to keep herself back, no harm, she kept thinking, no harm, and she ran her finger just as gently as she could up and down Kate’s one whole arm, singing a song she remembered from long ago, some idle tune from Prague that Kate had loved, that Kate remembered, she could tell that Kate remembered it now; it was the right thing to sing, it was all Becca could do—no questions, don’t make Kate talk, no harm—and now, at last, from around and above, from a place far away but growing near, there was the sound of sirens.

Blue, Becca thought. The sound of blue. A hard scream into a spring day until the macadam crackled and a van door slammed, and there were two pairs of boots coming, a stretcher between them, Becca calling them around to the rear.

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