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1001. First #UKYA Easter Egg hunt starts today!

by Teri Terry Have you seen this banner here, there and everywhere today? It is the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt: and this is what it is, how it came about, who is involved, and what we hope to achieve. A few months ago I was reading an article published in the UK about YA books that seemed to focus rather hard on books published in other countries.Well...one other country in particular: the US.

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1002. The Secret to Sending Updated Material

It's no secret that agents tend to take a while to read submissions. I'm currently backed up to December on requested material. That's almost three months which, in the grand scheme of things, I don't think is so bad. Recently though, because of my slow response time, I've been getting a rash of authors resending material because they've since revised it and believe it's much stronger. And for a long time I was at a loss on how writers should handle a situation like this.

I think I've come up with a solution and this is based almost entirely on how I would handle a similar situation if I had material with an editor that we since decided to revise.

1. The first thing I'm going to say is that revising material that's already out on submission just shouldn't happen. Why? Because, once you decide a book is ready to go you've more or less put it away and started work on your next book. The first book is dead to you as far as revisions are concerned.

2. I'm an idiot and that's completely unrealistic. If you have a good book and you're close to getting that elusive publishing deal #1 just isn't feasible. At some point, some agent, is going to reject your book, but give you some real feedback that flips the switch. It was the one thing you needed to hear that will make your book shine. So no matter what Jessica Faust has told you, you're scooping that book up and revising.

3. So what do you do about those agents who are reading the material you previously sent, but now feel is flawed? I think you pull it from submission. Instead of rushing through revisions in the hopes the agent doesn't read the first round in time or clogging her inbox with multiple copies of what is essentially the same book I think you email the agent, explain that you received advice that will make the book stronger, and let her know that you'll resend the material once it's been revised (don't ask if you can, just do it). She can simply delete what she currently has.

Is every agent going to be happy about this? Nope, probably not, but I think you will and I think the agent who is unhappy with the new Jessica Faust plan wasn't happy when you sent a second copy of the book because it's been revised.

So go forth and write, but remember, don't even start submitting until you've started the next book.

--jhf

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1003. RIP Walt Reed, Historian of Illustration

I'm sad to hear that Walt Reed, renowned historian of American illustration, died early this morning.

Walt Reed, painted by James Gurney in 2009
An artist himself, Walt studied at Pratt Institute and worked for a time as a freelance illustrator. Walt served on the faculty of the correspondence course called the Famous Artists School, working closely with mid-20th century masters such as Norman Rockwell, Robert Fawcett, and Al Dorne. 

Genial, good natured, and enthusiastic, he almost singlehandedly pioneered illustration history as a field of research, and he legitimized original illustration artwork as a category for collectors. 

He cultivated relationships with working professionals, and he helped to revive the reputations of nearly forgotten illustrators such as J.C. Coll. He wrote the classic survey of illustration history The Illustrator in America, 1900-1960's

I discovered The Illustrator in America when I was just nine years old, and it awakened my interest in illustration as a profession. In 2009 I had the privilege of painting his portrait from life at the Society of Illustrators.

In 1974 he founded the Illustration House, one of the first galleries in America to specialize in original illustration art. If you were lucky enough to visit Illustration House, he would let you hold an original J. C. Leyendecker or Tom Lovell in your hands.

Walt Reed advised the New Britain Museum in Connecticut as they built the Sanford Low collection, one of the finest museum collections of illustration art. He wrote two later editions of his illustration history book, including Illustrator in America, 1860-2000, which still stands as the best illustrated survey of the history of the field.

He also wrote The Figure: The Classic Approach to Drawing and Construction, Harold von Schmidt Draws and Paints the Old West, The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll, and Harvey Dunn: Illustrator and Painter of the Pioneer West.

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1004. Mem and Me - a Guest Post by Laura Ljungkvist

I recently had Laura Ljungkvist on to talk about her latest book, A LINE CAN BE. When I found out she had illustrated a book for Mem Fox - one of my kid lit faves - I asked her to please come back and tell us about it! So here she is again to talk about...


Mem and Me
This is the story of how I got to illustrate a children’s book written by Mem Fox
by Laura Ljungkvist

      After the publication of my first children’s book, I made a holy promise to myself I would never illustrate another author’s book. Being an editorial illustrator for many years, ”solving other peoples problems” by communicating their messages visually, I was finally “solving my own problems“. All of a sudden I was being called “author”, which is something I never really aspired to. I simply wanted to be able to follow my own narrative!
      For my 6th book, Pepi Sings a New Song, I had a 2 book deal with the publisher, Beach Lane Books, but unfortunately sales did not justify another book about Pepi.
      Then something happened that reinforced to me that I am so not an author, I got to meet a real one!
      I was at the time going through a very stressful and difficult time professionally and there was no way on this earth I was going to “spit out another idea” to fulfill my contractual obligations.
      My editor whom I loved, knew what I was going trough, so she sent me a manuscript to see if I would possibly reconsider illustrating somebody else’s story and take on a manuscript by Mem Fox.
      I asked if this author had published anything else because I didn’t think that a “semi known” illustrator (me) and a debut author would be such a good match.
      Her e-mail back to me said - Yes. Just a simple - yes.
      Now, here I have to explain something – what I do, I do because it’s a total love /passion/obsession of mine. I don’t get my inspiration from other people’s work (except in one case – thanx J.Otto!). I don’t really care, nor am I that interested in, “what’s out there”, “who’s who”, or “who does what."
      My inspiration comes from hardware stores, flea markets, packaging of all kinds, airline safety on-board brochures, street fashion, signs, menus, odd vintage stuff, tickets, NEW YORK CITY and every day utilitarian design that is just “there”.
     So when I asked my editor if this woman had published anything else, I really didn’t know who Mem Fox was!
     I read the manuscript. It was quite lovely. So I agreed, reluctantly….
      I started without great enthusiasm, but as my work progressed I lost my self in the work. I had a hard time turning the computer off at the end of the day and I immersed myself in the world of this book and it became a refuge from all my other worries. I didn’t have the responsibilities or pressures of “authoring” but could just focus on what I am most happy doing – illustrating!
      When my work was done, I did some research on this Australian woman with the funny name and I understood that I had just illustrated, as I explained to my daughter – “the Steven Spielberg of children’s literature’s” latest book, that I realized how hilarious my question must have been to my editor - Has she published anything else? Ha ha!!!
      And then to receive in the mail, a handwritten folded gift card from Mem, full of praise for my work, calling me a genius!!!
      I had the pleasure of meeting Mem when she came to New York one time. By now I knew what a gifted, successful author she is, but I learned over lunch that she is also generous, humble and wise. And on top of all that, absolutely hilarious!
      Although I will soon have published 10 books that I have written myself, I would never call myself an author in this woman’s presence!

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1005. Agent Sarah Nagel of Writers House Answers Three Questions On What She's Looking For

Sarah Nagel joined Writers House in 2011 to work with Senior Vice President, Merrilee Heifetz and is now actively building her own client list. Previously, Sarah was a media lawyer in London and graduated with two separate degrees in English Language and Literature, and Law. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahNagel14. - Read more in her Writer's Digest Interview.



1. What is on your wish list?

A YA PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER THAT REALLY MAKES YOU QUESTION WHAT YOU’RE READING AND WHOSE POINT OF VIEW YOU’RE GETTING.

2. What are some things you love to see in a query?

THE AUTHOR MAKING AN INFORMED DECISION ABOUT WHO THEY’VE SUBMITTED TO! I.E. THAT THEY’VE DONE THEIR RESEARCH AND ARE SUBMITTING TO YOU BECAUSE THEIR PROJECT TALLIES WITH YOUR TASTE. ALSO A VERY CLEAR AND SHORT SYNOPSIS THAT WHETS THE APPETITE ENOUGH FOR ME TO WANT TO READ THE 10 PAGES, NOT TAKES ME THROUGH THE ENTIRE TRAJECTORY OF THE BOOK.

3. Character, world, or plot?

ALL THREE! WORKING IN CONJUNCTION – AN AMAZING STORY NEEDS TO HAVE A COMBINATION OF ALL OF THESE IN ORDER TO BE WONDERFUL. I WOULDN’T ADVISE FORSAKING ANYONE AT THE EXPENSE OF ANOTHER.

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1006. EEEK!

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1007. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dorothy Dreyer, Author of My Sister's Reaper

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13597733-my-sister-s-reaper



In My Sister’s Reaper, Zadie’s first mistake is telling the boy she likes she can bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake is actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore. Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. To top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara’s soul. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die…this time for good.

Fighting Reapers can sure make a teenage girl hungry. So what do Zadie and Mara Stonebrook chow down on when they’ve taken a break from battling evil?

For Zadie, nothing says satisfaction like a big, juicy burger from Xavier’s. What makes the meal is the order of sweet potato curly fries served with a sour cream dip. It has always been a favorite of hers. In fact, it’s exactly what she ordered when she was on her first date with Gavin.

Mara doesn’t usually indulge in fast food. In fact, she’s pretty good about sticking to a sensible diet. But when stress gets to her, she can’t say no to an extra-large pizza with the works. This is hers and Zadie’s go-to food when they just. can’t. anymore.

And Zadie and Mara can both agree that nothing in the world quite beats their mother’s home-made brownies. Soft, chocolaty, with a generous amount of love thrown in? That always hits the spot.

In any case, Zadie and Mara expend a lot of energy fighting Reapers, so you just know that at the end of the day, a good meal is definitely in order.


Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Dorothy!




You can find Dorothy and her Reaper's Rite books here:




 






My Sister’s Reaper (Reaper’s Rite 1)








My Tethered Soul (Reaper’s Rite 2)



















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1008. When the rain brings the weeds....

...the flowers are not far behind. A quick sketch of the day lily's tiny sprouts around my mailbox amongst the weeds I'll chase all summer.

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1009. Cartoon … Commentator….

आज कल क्रिकेट फीवर चल रहा है बातचीत के लहजे भी अब तो क्रिकेट ही झलकने लगा है कोई किसी तरह का “मौका” नही छोडना चाहता तो ये श्रीमति जी किसलिए पीछे रहें

The post Cartoon … Commentator…. appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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1010. Entertainment Round-Up: Preacher find its first cast member, Another Suicide Squad rumor, Your Dredd 2 hopes continue to be dashed

ruth-negga

We’re in the homestretch for the weekend, and after a pretty eventful day in the comics world, let’s take a look at a few headlines being discussed on the Entertainment side of things:

– AMC’s Preacher has acquired its first cast member and it is someone not wholly unfamiliar to the comic book world. Ruth Negga, who plays Raina on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has joined the new series as Tulip. For those unfamiliar with Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon‘s much loved Vertigo series, Tulip is one of two compatriots of Jesse Custer, a man who merges with an escaped creature from heaven and goes on a quest to find God.

Here’s how Tulip is described by Deadline:

a volatile, action-packed, sexified force of nature, a capable, unrepentant criminal with a love of fashion and ability to construct helicopter-downing bazookas out of coffee cans and corn shine who’s not afraid to steal, kill or corn cob-stab her way out of a bad situation.

The pilot for Preacher is written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and the series will be showrun by Sam Catlin (a writer for Breaking Bad). The indication with Negga’s casting means she will likely be written out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is a shame given she’s one of the few highlights of that series.

– Another day, another interesting Latino Review rumor; this time they report that Watchmen actor Jackie Earle Haley‘s name is being tossed around Suicide Squad for the role of The Thinker. While they say to take this one with a grain of salt, more interesting to me is the fact that The Thinker is in the film. Based on comics history, the character will likely be one of the film’s antagonists.

– Were you keeping your fingers crossed for a possible Dredd sequel? Well, you can loosen those digits up a bit, as Alex Garland, the screenwriter for Dredd, has stated that it’s pretty unlikely to happen in an interview with Collider:

GARLAND: And I also feel a sense of responsibility because I know there are these people who do this stuff like they’ve got money and they spend money on a DVD to try and up the chance of a sequel getting made. Because I don’t have an online profile or persona or anything like that I can’t speak to these people directly, but what I want to say is that’s so good of you, and thank you, but keep your money because the people who make the decisions don’t get moved by that kind of thing. They’re moved by other stuff, other equations, other algorithms…How can I say this without being soppy? It’s touching. It means something that these people support the film in that way, but the thing people want, which is a sequel, I don’t think is going to happen. I think it will happen (let me rephrase that) I don’t think it’s happening with me and the people who made the last one.

It’s worth noting that Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, is getting great reviews from the UK crowd where it has been screening. Hopefully that reaction will carry over here stateside. It’s easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

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1011. It's live!! Cover Reveal: Strike by Delilah S. Dawson + Giveaway (US Only)

 

Hello, YABCers!

Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for STRIKE by Delilah S. Dawson, releasing March 2016 from Simon Pulse. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Delilah:

 

If you've seen the HIT cover, you know that it's utterly unique and hard to follow. That's why I dig the cover for STRIKE. It's as in-your-face and take-no-prisoners as the book. If you've ever wondered how your favorite tunic-and-test-filled dystopias came to be, this series is for you. The premise is one step away from our reality: What would happen if a bank took over America and sent teens out as bounty hunters against people with credit card debt? STRIKE takes the fight to an even more explosive level.
 
~ Delilah S. Dawson (STRIKE, Simon Pulse)
 

 

 

Ready to see?

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Here it is!

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_STRIKE_cover.jpg

*** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Delilah's giveaway. Thank you! ***

 

STRIKE

by Delilah S. Dawson
Release date: March 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
 
 
About the Book

The pulse-pounding sequel to HIT!

 

Patsy Klein is on the run. With her boyfriend, her dog, and two laptops snatched from a secret agent's burning trailer, she has nowhere left to go. Except to a meeting of the Citizens for Freedom, the group that claims to be striking back at the new Valor government that turned Patsy into an assassin. But Patsy soon learns that the CFF aren't necessarily the good guys they claim to be, and now she's fighting the war she was trying to escape--from the other side. As she loses everything she held dear before Valor Savings Bank took over, Patsy trades yarn bombing for anti-government graffiti. Things only get more complicated when a mysterious figure from her past shows up. As pressures mount and the people Patsy cares about start to suffer, the violence escalates to terrifying new levels.

 

To learn more about the series and read an excerpt of HIT, visit www.hitbookseries.com.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_dsdawsonauthorpic2015.jpgAbout the Author

Delilah S. Dawson is the author of Hit, Servants of the Storm, and the Blud series. Her next book is Wake of Vultures, written as Lila Bowen. She's a geek who loves cupcakes and lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family, a floppy mutt named Merle, and a spotted pony named Polly.
 

Twitter | Web | Tumblr | Goodreads | Facebook | Pre-order

 
 
 

Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a copy of HIT (when available) and a signed bookplate. 

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:

What do you think about the cover and synopsis?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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1012. Inflatable parade


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1013. Journeys in your art journal

Traveling can feel like magic. You step into a plane or a train and a few hours later, you're in such different surroundings, and there can be so much to explore. Both while on the move and after arrival. But even without leaving, places like airports and train stations can be a fantastic place to hang around. On a Sunday afternoon, I sat down with sketch pal and while we chatted, we sketched. It really wasn't the other way around - we just had a lot of catching up to do.
While the hustle and bustle of people leaving and arriving went on one floor below,  I chose to draw part of the train station that felt a little bit like a museum. Silent, not much people in sight, and great architecture in sight:


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1014. Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born - a bookwrap




Unwrapping some quotes...










Unwrapping...






Authored by Jamie Lee Curtis and Illustrated by Laura Cornell

Ages:  3-6

This is a heartwarming and tender book about adoption that combines wit with candor.  This precious child asked her mother: 

"Tell me again how you got on an airplane with my baby bag and flew to get me."  

"Tell me again how you carried me like a china doll all the way home and how you glared at anyone who sneezed." 

"Tell me again about the first bottle and how much I liked it."  

"Tell me again how you couldn't grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me."


The book radiates love and reassurance to the child and the whimsical watercolour pictures are crammed with amusing visual aids that will delight parents.   This book affirms family love and how children feel. It gives them a sense of security, familial roots, and the pure pleasure of hearing once again their own personal life story.  This story will touch your heart as you experience not only how one child is born but also how a family is born.  

It is both tender and fun and is a perfect way to start a conversation with a young child about the night he or she was born and your first days together as a brand new family.  Reading this book together will affirm to your child that he or she is special, loved and connected to his or her history.  I loved the book and highly recommend it. 




Jamie Lee Curtis is the author of eight best-selling children's books that address core childhood subjects and life lessons in a playful, accessible way. Jamie finds the inspiration for her writing all around her - in the experiences of her children, her godchildren, her friends - and of course in her own life. Her first book, When I Was Little, was sparked by her then-four-year-old daughter's boast that she was no longer "little." Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, a celebration of adoption and the start of a new family, was inspired by the adoption of her own children. And as an author, of course Jamie loves big words and knows that words have power. Her latest book, Big Words for Little People, gives young children the knowledge and power of their own "big words." All of Jamie's best-selling picture books are illustrated by Laura Cornell: Big Words for Little People; Is There Really A Human Race?; It's Hard To Be Five: Learning How To Work My Control Panel; I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off A Little Self Esteem; Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery; Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day; Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born; and When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth. Jamie is also well known as a film actress, with starring roles in such acclaimed films as Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Freaky Friday, True Lies, Trading Places and A Fish Called Wanda. Jamie is the mother of Annie and Thomas and is married to actor/director Christopher Guest. They live in California.

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1015. Between terror and kitsch: fairies in fairy tales

This story may or may not be a fairy tale, though there are certainly fairies in it. However, unlike any of his Victorian forebears or most of his contemporaries, Machen manages to achieve, only a few years before the comfortably kitsch flower fairies of Cicely Mary Barker, the singular feat of rendering fairies terrifying. With James Hogg’s 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner', Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Thrawn Janet’ and several of M. R. James’s marvellous ghost stories, ‘The White People’ is one of only a handful of literary texts that have genuinely unnerved me.

The post Between terror and kitsch: fairies in fairy tales appeared first on OUPblog.

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1016. The street where she lived: My Fair Lady at 59

Fifty-nine years ago this month, My Fair Lady made its debut on Broadway to a rapturous critical response. It became the longest-running musical to date, and was a landmark in the genre.

The post The street where she lived: My Fair Lady at 59 appeared first on OUPblog.

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1017. Guess whose now on Apple, Nook and Kobo?

One of the big takeaways (for me) from attending the London Book Fair last year was to publish my books to multiple platforms. Now, when I started this journey as a children’s book author, I had my books exclusively on Amazon.Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Why you may ask?

Well, the Amazon platform was very simple to use and Amazon had wonderful perks for newbie authors like myself that made publishing exclusively to their platform a no-brainer. Plus, and I believe this is still the case, most eBooks are downloaded from the Amazon Kindle store.

Well, things have changed and let’s just say the publishing world has changed a bit since 2012, warranting a change of strategy from myself. I hope to reach new readers and fans by having my books on other Online retail channels. It’s been a gradual process but I’m happy to say you can now get the books below on Apple, Kobo, Nook, Barnes and Noble and Scribd.

Billy and Monster: The Superhero with Fart Powers

Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

Billy and Monster’s New Neighbor Has a Secret

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost

Counting to Ten and Sharing My Easter Eggs

I’ll be migrating more titles in the days to come. Would love to know what Online channel you download your eBooks from.

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1018. Back to Work!

Hello my lovely followers. I feel like I've been away from blogging forever! And I must admit, I am literally forcing myself to write this week but I know it's important that I get back to it.

As some of you know, we lost our wonderful father, Robert W. Swope on February 17th. This has been devastating to my family because dad was so special to all of us. He'd been struggling with Alzheimer's for awhile so we knew that we might not have much longer with him but we had no idea he would go so quickly. In the end, he was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer on 1/23/15 and passed away less then a month later. However, he didn't seem as though he was suffering until maybe the last day or so. Even though it's so hard to realize he's gone from us, we all feel blessed that he went quickly and without much suffering. If he'd lingered on, it could've gotten much, much worse for him.

One thing I do know is that he's looking down from heaven shouting, "get off your butt and get back to writing!"


Dad was so proud of me, my mom and my sister for working so hard to get published. His eyes sparkled and his heart always burst with pride when he attended one of my brothers music concerts. And boy was he filled with joy and pride when his oldest daughter gave him two wonderful grandchildren and as he watched her become the fantastic mother she is. He had a lot of pride with all his kids and always made us feel special in our own little ways.

It's hard to get back to writing though since all I feel is sadness. How do I go from feeling heart broken and empty to writing a fluffy happy children's book? Well I have to remember why I started writing for kids in the first place. Because I love them that's why! And nothing makes me happier (besides going to the dog park and watching all the dogs run wild and play) than watching a child giggle, play, and just be a kid. Children have such an innocent light inside them that makes us realize what life is all about.

Enjoying every minute that we have on this earth is so important. Sometimes, in fact a lot of the times, it's hard to remember this but all of us need to try harder. We only have one life to live so we must make the best of it!

And to me, writing children's stories is one of the best experiences in my life so I simply must get back to it! There's a kid out there just waiting for one of my books to be read to them.
I can't let them down.

But soon, they will have my next book The Color of  Love in their hands. I'm self-publishing this one because I just wanted to experience it and be able to work with a local illustrator (Deborah Forbes) that's in my writing group. All the illustrations are complete and it's in the hands of Mascot Publishing right now. It should be available in 30-45 days. Yippee!

So that's it for me right now. Does anyone else have some good book news to share?






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1019. Ping! Ping!

Late yesterday afternoon as I was winding up the affairs of the day I got an email from a writer asking the status of his query.

As most of you know I keep a running count of how current I am, right here on this blog.

It looks like this:






This writer pinged me for something sent on 1/25/15 so clearly he should have heard back.

I checked my incoming queries. Sometimes I flag something for a more thoughtful reply than the form letter that goes out, and forget to adjust for that on the "current through" date.

Sometimes I have queries on hold pending something else. (Inspiration, mostly. Sometimes just wanting to give the pages a second read.)

And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, things get lost. Or misfiled. Or tossed (by mistake.)

Which is what had happened here. Even thought it came after several rounds of conversation in the Chum Bucket (which means his emails were getting through just fine) that final query was nowhere to be found.  Yes it was in my gmail archives so I knew I'd received it, but nope, nowhere on the mail management program.  Ooops.

I asked the writer to send again, and this time I made sure it went in the Incoming Query folder and I plan to answer it tonight...just to make sure it gets a reply.

What does this mean for you? Never assume no if the agent says they'll reply to your query.  Always ping at least once.  Things get lost. Things go astray. Even here at The Reef where emails are color coded and royalty statements are numbered.


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1020. New Voice: Stacey Lee on Under a Painted Sky

Stacey Lee
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Stacey Lee is the first-time author of Under a Painted Sky (Putnam, 2015)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

An unforgettable story of friendship and sacrifice.

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life.

With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. 

With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

When and where do you write? Why does that time and space work for you?

Stacey's office
I write in the evening into the wee hours of night, and go to bed typically at 1:30 am.

With two kids, I'm too distracted to do much during the day, so I must wait until everyone is in bed. It's hard for me to write with any noise around me, so I rarely listen to music when I'm at my desk.

As a historical fiction writer, how did you capture the voices of the era? What resources did you turn to? What advice do you have for other authors along these lines?

I read a lot of pioneer diaries! I always gravitated toward books/film from the 19th century, so the voices weren't hard for me to hear. I love the 'formal' way they spoke during that time period.

The trick is to immerse yourself in the 'culture' you're writing about as much as possible, the way you would learning another language. You can't help picking things up.

How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?

Under a Painted Sky
I researched agents through Writer's Digest, and identified Kristin Nelson as someone who might be a good fit. I was looking for someone who knew her stuff, and she ran a popular blog called Pub Rants that many writers, including myself, used to understand the in's and out's of publishing. She actually rejected the first book I subbed to her.

Several years later, I wrote Under a Painted Sky, and she was one of the first agents I queried.

I think it's important that writers find an agent who not only can make a sale, but someone who will continually advocate for their writers during the entire process.

Publishing is not just about selling the book. You want someone who takes a holistic view of your writing career.

Cynsational Notes

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul.

A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, wrangles children, and writes YA fiction.

Find Stacey at Twitter @staceyleeauthor, Facebook and Pinterest.

Stacey contemplates her plot as she walks along this path.


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1021. are we in ultimate control of our own artistic impulses?

In just a few hours, I'll be on the Bryn Mawr campus with my dear friend Cynthia Reeves and her students to talk about Handling the Truth, Flow, the empathetic imagination, the past and the present and—well—I have far too much planned for the hour and twenty minutes we have, but I guess that is who I have become. Persistent. Insistent. Still wrecked and unreasonable with the impossibility of it all.

But this one One Thing Stolen thing before I go. The novel, due out shortly, is, as I have written here on Huffington Post, about a neurodegenerative disease—about the slow peeling away of my Nadia's language and historical self. Nadia, in One Thing Stolen, becomes trapped in a cycle of art making. She cannot stop herself.

A few weeks ago, Taylor Norman, a young and wondrously talented editor at Chronicle Books, took the time to send me this true story of a former lawyer whose traumatic brain injury resulted in the emergence of an unexpected artistic talent. This is art arising from injury and not disease. But it is, in so many ways, a story that yields insights into Nadia and into the question: Are we are in ultimate control over our artistic leanings, aesthetics, impulses? Can we definitively source the many ways that story, color, and shape erupt in us?

I would wager that we aren't, and that we can't.

From the story that Taylor sent that first appeared in the NY Daily News:

Doctors diagnosed Fagerberg with a traumatic brain injury. He suffered memory loss and had problems with processing language.

The accident ended his legal career. To cope, he turned to art therapy - and suddenly realized that he had a particular gift for painting.

"A little trigger went off and I became hooked. It became a compulsion," Fagerberg told KHOU, adding: "I see everything sort of in composition, so everywhere I look it's a painting."

The whole story, and a video, can be found here.


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1022. An Ember in the Ashes: trailer feature + giveaway

Two months ago, I was invited to attend a lunch to meet author Sabaa Tahir and to watch the filming of  the trailer for her book An Ember in the Ashes. The shoot took place here in Los Angeles, and while I’ve been on location before as a film publicist, this was the first time I’ve ever walked into a studio filled with smoke! It was a dark, moody setting that suited the book perfectly, since the story follows an orphan named Laia who risks her life to save her brother Darin, who’s held captive by a brutal empire. The actress who played Laia was friendly and chatty, and she showed us the tattoo painted on her shoulder. It’s an important and serious part of the book, so it was cool to see the attention to detail in the make-up and costumes. The Kommandant was small, blonde, and totally badass... Read more »

The post An Ember in the Ashes: trailer feature + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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1023. Work in Progress, Easter Chick

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 6.09.04 AMEaster fast approaches and therefore it is time for some Easter Chicks. I am currently working on an illustration with 3 of these little cuties. Stay tuned and you will see why she is pink...

       

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1024. A little more Insight on “Fantastic Beasts” Films

Recently, at a luncheon that celebrated the launching of the Hogwarts Express expansion to Leavesden studios, CEO Kevin Tsujihara and other Warner Bros. executives talked a little of the upcoming “Fantastic Beast” movie trilogy. The context of the conversation was discussing a comparison between the Star Wars franchise and the Harry Potter franchise, discussing how the new trilogy fits into the Harry Potter storyline. The Hollywood Reporter wrote:

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara and other top studio executives, staff members and guests celebrated the launch of the new Hogwarts Express attraction, part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter, on Tuesday night.

When asked how important the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy was in extending the Potter film world and whether the combined franchise set in the magical world was comparable to the likes of Star Wars — which also is getting new installments — Tsujihara noted the similarities.

“[Beasts] is really a wonderful gift ?from [J.K. Rowling] to the fans, and we are a part of it. It is like Star Wars. It is not exactly a linear story but an adjacent story,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “And Jo wrote [the film version of Beasts] herself, which is just absolutely amazing, and she is so talented. You see the passion that everyone has for the world that she has created, and it’s just fantastic to extend it.”

The Potter spinoff trilogy, Fantastic Beasts, will be filmed at the Leavesden studio and released over the coming years. Warner Bros. has said the David Yates-directed first installment will hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016, with filming set to start later this year. The second film will be released in November 2018, with the third installment set for November 2020. When asked what else may be next for Leavesden, said Tsujihara: “Right now, we are focused onFantastic Beasts. And Jo has a storyline in her head, and right now, we are letting her go [with it].”

The article discussed the opening of the Hogwarts Express expansion at Leavesden, explaining the importance of the expansion and it’s iconic importance to the Harry Potter world. They went on to talk about how the Hogwarts Express represented the  creativity of the studios, and Warner Bros. partnership with British studios.

In his comments, Berger lauded Tsujihara for championing the U.K. studio and for having been “the driving force” behind “our ongoing and expanded partnership with Jo Rowling.”

He also called the new Hogwarts Express attraction “an example of the creativity and craftsmanship that exists here,” as well as part of Warners’ commitment to investing in the U.K.

The extensive article can be read here.

SnitchSeeker also had the amazing opportunity of sitting down with Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) and discussing the Hogwarts Express expansion. The video of the interview with SnitchSeeker can be seen here.

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1025. Morten Overgaard on consciousness

Why are we conscious? How can it be that physical processes in the brain seem to be accompanied with subjective experience? As technology has advanced, psychologists and neuroscientists have been able to observe brain activity. But with an explosion in experiments, methods, and measurements, there has also been great confusion.

The post Morten Overgaard on consciousness appeared first on OUPblog.

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