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Welcome to our monthly Agent Round-Up Post! This time we have five amazing agents sharing their responses to the following:Jordy Albert
What would make you stop reading when reviewing sample pages?
of The Booker Albert Agency
One of the main things that would cause me to stop reading the sample pages would be if I noticed too much telling/info-dumping, or too much backstory.
Voice is the first thing I look for when I’m reading sample pages. I want the words to jump off the page, to feel immediate, specific to this character, and different from what I read elsewhere. It’s equally important to connect with the character, so I’ll also be looking for what the character wants – even if that initial want doesn’t prove to be significant as the story develops, what a character wants tells me something about them and gives me that connection. Often, I see opening pages that jump into action, before establishing character. Without that, it’s hard to be very invested in action and pages can feel like a bunch of stage directions. Of course, you don’t want to bog the opening down with too much exposition or description either. The key is to strike a balance so that you give the reader enough background to care, and enough action to feel like they must know what’s going to happen next!
of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
A number of things could make me stop reading sample pages: an overabundance of spelling and grammar mistakes, a voice that doesn’t grab me or a premise that feels too familiar to name a few. The biggest one is definitely voice for me. If the project doesn’t have a compelling one, it’s a hard thing to fix.
of The Seymour Agency
When I review a manuscript (from a query, a published author, client, or in final format as a book in a bookstore) my criteria remains the same. I look for an engaging premise, characters I care about, and a hook that grabs me and makes me want to keep reading. Novels/manuscripts that have this--they keep me invested from page one all the way to the end. Those are the types of projects that make me forget I'm working. I'm lost in the story and along for the characters' journey (and when I reach that satisfying end, I'm reminded--yet again--why I love my job so much!) Unfortunately, I don't always get that can't-put-this-book-down feel. There can be components within a manuscript that detract from the story. These issues, if pronounced, can cause me to stop reading altogether. So what are these evil forces? Well, they vary. But here are some of the issues to watch for: --Believability. (As in, characters say or do things that sound false. Or their actions don't match who they have been presented to be. This believability factor also applies to the plot and worldbuilding. If I don't believe the constructs of the 'world' within the book, then I'm pulled out of the story and will stop reading.) --Premise. (Sometimes, the premise falls apart. A story might sound amazing and start off with a bang, but then the plot and premise begin to unravel. For example, if we're looking at a contemporary YA geared toward teens, and the protagonist is totally anti-technology--no Facebook, no texting, etc.--and into 70s music, there should be a really really good explanation for this. Otherwise, the premise of this character doesn't hold up with the audience.) --Relate-ability. (I need to be able to relate to the characters. By this, I mean I need to care about them. I have to be invested in their goals, and faults, and their adversities. If I don't connect with the characters--and this is the #1 reason I stop reading something--then it becomes difficult to stay invested in the story. Look for ways to make a reader care about the characters. Your hero/heroine should possess some traits that are universal. For example, maybe they are: funny, neglected, physically/emotionally strong, the underdog, courageous, scarred, innocent, afraid of something, willing to stand up for others, bullied, etc... Look for ways to make your characters human. And get those details on the page, asap. --Pacing. (Every scene must advance the plot. There should also be a good balance between prose and dialog. Sometimes authors include scenes that are funny/poignant/necessary for a single detail--and these slow the story down) --Bad Writing. (Passive writing. Poor grammar. Repetitive words such as get/got, look, was, feel, walk, see--all of which are indicators of passive writing. Lack of discernible voice). There is a positive side to the above list of negative issues . . . they're all easily fixed! Seriously. Send submissions in small batches. If you aren't getting the feedback you're looking for, then take a good, hard look at the project (and preferably have a beta reader with 'fresh eyes' step in and read) and make some edits. EVERY book can be outstanding. EVERY author can sell. It takes time and effort, but writing is a craft. And this craft can be honed. Never give up, because with hard work, EVERY author will succeed. Please excuse any typos in the above--I'm diving back into a manuscript from my queries--that has me thoroughly hooked! :-)Suzie Townsend
of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
This might sound harsh, but I stop reading when I'm not hooked. Which means: I read the first line. If I'm interested, I read the second line. If I'm still interested, I read the third line, and so on. I keep going until I hit the end or until I don't feel compelled to keep going. This means that sometimes could stop at page 1, page 2, page 5, page 28, or even page 135. I recently signed a YA project. I started reading it, and I did not get out of my chair, I barely even moved positions, until I finished reading. I was completely sucked in. If I'm bored or if I take the time to go get lunch or walk around the office or check my email, I'm ultimately not hooked enough to keep reading.
This is just cool! And mesmerizing to watch...
Click the image below if the video doesn't load correctly for you.
Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up.
By: Diana Burrell,
Blog: The Renegade Writer
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By Diana Burrell
You’ve spent hours–nay days–crafting a pitch letter for a dream market. You’ve researched what feels like every back issue of the magazine, and you know in your gut your idea is a winner. Your idea shines, you’ve got learned expert sources lined up, and you’re even feeling jazzed about your writing style.
So you’re bummed when your killer pitch lands back in your inbox with a tepid rejection note.
Okay, so you’ve been writing professionally for under a year. You only have clips from a couple regional magazines you assured the editor she hasn’t heard of. Or maybe you have zero clips, but you promised the editor you’d do a great job anyway.
If you mentioned these things, any of them, in your e-mail, it may be why your pitch dangles off the loser board.
Because here’s one of life’s truths: People are attracted to confidence. When you sound unconfident in a pitch, it’s like branding your writing with a giant L.
Here’s another life truth: People who seem confident usually feel no more confident inside than you or I. They’re just better at appearing confident.
We’ve all met people who are rather ordinary looking, but who possess seemingly magical powers at attracting a constant stream of admirers. Or friends who are of average intelligence who land jobs and opportunities far beyond what you’d expect and bosses who could turn a roomful of reluctant prospects into eager customers.
How do these folks appear more attractive, more intelligent, more influential than the rest of us?
By acting with confidence.
The great thing about confidence is it can be faked. Even better news for you, the freelance writer: you don’t have to fake it IRL, just in your writing.
1. Eliminate wishy-washy wording from your pitch.
What sounds more confident?
“I hope to interview Dr. Christiane Northrop for this proposed article.”
“I plan to interview Dr. Christiane Northrop for my article.”
“I could interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition.”
“I will interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition; I’ve already lined up some moms who are willing to talk.”
Don’t hem and haw about how you can maybe, kinda, hopefully do something. Say it with confidence!
2. Focus on the positive.
Think about what makes YOU the perfect writer for this story and figure out a way to slip that into your pitch. It can be as simple as mentioning to an editor at a women’s magazine that the ten tips you’ll offer readers to save on their utility bills are ones you used yourself to reduce your bills by 20 percent last winter. For a story on how to move overseas, this is where you mention that you picked up and moved to Europe and Asia ten years ago.
3. Ditch the negative.
Read your pitch carefully. Is there anything in there that could be construed by an editor as a negative? Here are some negatives I’ve seen in pitch letters:
- “I’m a part-time freelancer.” (Your working hours are your business only.)
- “I’ve only written for…” (Only? Just list names of the publications and move on.)
- “I wrote this for Magazine X, but it was killed when a new EIC came on board.” (Again, no one’s business but your own.)
- “English is my second language.” (Here an editor will assume you won’t be able to write well enough for a magazine, even if you can write beautiful prose en anglais. Surprise the editor with your multilingual skills once you’ve successfully completed a few assignments for him.)
- “I’m willing to write for free to prove myself.” (It’s called a blog. Start one.)
- “I’ve never written about X before, but I have a mountain of clips in other subjects.” (You’re a writer. Writers write about subjects they don’t know a lot about because they have mad reporting skillz and possess curious minds.)
Do a search and destroy on negative language in your query. Remember, you want to tell an editor what you can do, not what you can’t.
4. Zip it.
So many beginning writers worry about not having clips or enough experience and shoot themselves in the feet by admitting this in a pitch letter. My advice is to say nothing and just end your letter with, “I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Some editors will assume you are far more experienced than you really are if your pitch letter is well-written and spot-on for their publication. They’ll just figure you’re so good at what you do, you don’t need to upsell yourself.
5. Remember, blogging does get respect.
Blogs were once pooh-poohed by editors as playgrounds for navel-gazing diarists. But if you run a successful blog–meaning you update it frequently, craft well-written posts that attract commenters, and generate lots of page views each month–be sure to mention it in your closing paragraph especially if the article you’re pitching relates to your blog. You can also provide links to blog posts you’ve written for sites owned by others; again, only if your writing sings.
Have you ever faked confidence in a pitch? Let us know your tips in the Comments below. –Diana Burrell.
Diana’s next 3-week Become an Idea Machine workshop starts Monday, March 10. Sign up here or visit her website to learn more.
It’s one of those days when I spend more time thinking about
what I’m writing than actually writing.
I think about how I want to proceed, and where I think the story
is going, and where the story is actually going.
These days devoted to thinking are becoming almost as
important as the days that I spend writing.
One of my teachers, Norma Fox Mazer, once told me that the hardest
Irene S. Roth is an Author and Editor for Halo Publishing. She has a Masters Degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University and is currently using her expertise to write for kids about empowerment and self-esteem. She has published articles for kids, tweens and teens in Encounter, and Stories for Children Magazine. Irene Roth also has a children’s book that is about to be released in the late fall of 2012 which will be part of the empowerment series for kids 3 to 8.
I posted this over on my author facebook page (If you haven’t liked me there, you really should! Lots of teasers, updates and giveaways!) Anyways, for those who missed it I promised if Broken Aro got to 100 reviews on Amazon I’d post ANOTHER teaser of my current work in progress-Book 3! Well you all did it… so here you go!
He stopped, grasping her arm and forcing her to stop as well. The incredulous look on his face surprised her. “Are you saying you did this? You intended to make a pack?”
Kei growled beside her, shifting uneasily. Don’t. It’s fine.
She shrugged at Rhee-En, trying to pull her arm from his hand. Mostly, she concentrated on keeping her mind locked and safe, and her tongue still.
“Have you any idea what you have done?”
“I saved his life,” she snapped. She met his gaze defiantly. “I did what I had to do. They are my family.”
A weary sigh escaped him as he shook his head, dropping her arm. “I do not think it can be undone. Not easily. I suppose that matters not for now. Such a thing is a matter for the king, not I.”
“The king?” Her words came out sounding strangled.
“He knows of you already.”
“Why? Why would he know of me?” As panic rose within her, Kei’s hand found hers, lending her strength.
“The king knows of everything in his lands, Arowyn. We are to report to him anything out of the ordinary, or of interest. Since the first time we met, he has known of you.”
Of course, since a human travelling with Fey and Were and an Elven prince was certainly not normal. “I suppose he knows of me fighting the Vor.”
“Yes. And the prophecy, and you healing the Fey. Also of your healing. He knows everything.”
“Rot,” she muttered, rubbing her face. Though she felt Rhee-En meant her no harm, that didn’t mean she trusted him. Not when it came to the lives of her boys. “What will he do?”
“That I do not know. He has shown interest, but has not come. He has been north most of the summer. However, I would not be surprised if he will come now.”
“Does he know already?” Rhee-En shook his head. “Do you have to tell him?”
“He is my king.”
That of course, meant more to the Were than it did to her. “Wither me.”
Want more teasers for book 3 of The Broken Ones?
Next teaser will be posted here when Broken Prince gets to 90 reviews!
(At time of posting it’s at 77… so not too hard!)
This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.
WHEN to Start your Online Presence? NOW! Why?
It might help you sell a book!
Here are the stories of how Ruth McNally Barshaw and Greg Pincus turned an online presence into a contract.
Ruth McNally Barshaw: Author/Illustrator
Ruth’s road to publication took an upturn when she attended the 2005 SCBWI Winter Conference. Tell us about what happened:
Upon returning home from the 2005 SCBWI Winter Conference (which Tomie dePaola had told me I HAD to go to) and feeling like a failure (because no publisher showed an interest in me), I uploaded the 180 pages of sketches onto my website, http://ruthexpress.com/
(Note from Darcy: The site has undergone a major remake and she haven’t reposted all of her sketchbooks. Notice that the purpose of a website may change as your career develops and that’s great!)
I sent a link to the Children’s Writers list on Yahoo — the big one Jon Bard started, Peter Davis helped run, and Jan Fields moderated till a few years ago when she started working for ICL. It went viral — I got a thousand emails about the sketches.
Some of the emails (especially from Mary Siddals, Roxyanne Young, and Kelly Milner Halls) pushed me to do a kids’ book in that sketchbook style, instead of the picturebooks I’d been doing. It all unfolded online — I told the CW list I was working on something in my sketchbook style; it eventually became the first Ellie McDoodle book.
Susan Vaught (author of Trigger, My Big Fat Manifesto and other YA novels) saw the discussion on the CW list, checked out my sketchbook on my website and pointed her agent, Erin Murphy, to it. Erin wrote to me — I had no idea who she was (nor Susan!). I wrote to my most connected writer friends to see if they’d heard of Erin — they were all excited.
Erin and I signed to work together, she sent it out right away, and it sold pretty fast.
(I got to meet Susan 2 years later at Erin’s first client retreat in 2007. She’s brilliant and gracious and I’m forever grateful to her!) I didn’t know about Diary of a Wimpy Kid back then — I think it was an online comic. His first book came out one month before the first Ellie. There are now five Ellie books, and the sixth comes out in fall, 2014. Ruth is working on a few picturebook series at the moment.
Greg Pincus – Poet
On April 1, 2006, Greg Pincus wrote a blog post about a new type of poetry form, “the fib.” Greg described it as a “six line, 20 syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8 – the classic Fibonacci sequence.” The blog post went viral. It was picked up by Slashdot on the 7th of the month and was in the New York Times on the 14th.
That was exciting enough, but it wasn’t the end. Instead, publishers started bidding on a book contract for Pincus, something that would include the Fib poetry form. Greg tells the whole story here, but the bottom line was a two-book contract with Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic.
Greg said, “Yes, of course, it was surprising…though it was also the hoped for result. I mean, I did have intent when I launched The Fib.”
An author website can help you GET published. And when you DO sell, you’ll be well on your way to developing an audience!
Building a successful blog can take 3 years. Surprised?
Think about it—the amount of content on a beginning blog is small, so there’s nothing for a reader to DO when they come to your site. Usually, you’ll need a significant amount of info to bring readers to your site on a regular basis. That takes time. Posting 5x/week for a year gives you 260 posts; after two years you would have 520 posts; and, after posting 5x/week for 3 years you’ll log 780 posts. With a blog that deep you have a chance of hooking a reader and keeping them on your site reading for a long time. Over time, you pick up readers who like your way of discussing things and you grow an audience. But it doesn’t happen over night.
Do you want to sell a single book or do you want a career? If you want a career, start now to network, to find readers, to build an audience. Think about it this way: you are a small business. In the US, it usually takes a small business three to five years to turn a profit. Three years to build a good blog audience is about normal!
This is a screenshot of this blog’s statistics for traffic from 2007-2012. As you see, it took a long time to build to an audience of about half a million per year.
2007-2012 Blog Growth for Fiction Notes.It took several years to build a good audience and it was a slow build.
You Must Start Now!
Jane Friedman said this about the importance of a direct marketing strategy: “Authors are in a key position to reach readers directly, but most are ignorant of its importance, and of how to turn reader contact today into revenue tomorrow.”
Authors must begin to develop an audience long before they need an audience!
Here’s Jane talking about the slow build to growing an audience.
If you can’t see this video, click here.
How has your website helped your career? Leave a comment with your experience Pre-Publication.
By: Evil Editor,
Blog: Evil Editor
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Guess the PlotBridge of Giants
1. Four retired giants meet for their weekly Bridge game and exchange tales of how many humans they terrified in their younger days.
2. Ivan Stansky longs to be part of the family tradition by working on the Golden Gate Bridge. Can he overcome the fact that he's blind, a quadriplegic and confined to house arrest?
3. Near the entrance to forbidding Black Canyon is the Bridge of Giants, a vast natural bridge carved from sandstone. Can Rhatupet and his little band of adventurers battle wild desert elves and dune dwarves to prove how apt the name is?
4. When NASA decides to cut expenses for once and for all by building a bridge to the moon, soon-to-be-ex-astronaut Bud Narayana goes rogue and attempts to pilot an asteroid into the new structure. It's up to alcoholic environmentalist Rosie Grimaldi to save the day - and Bud's career.
5. Everyone who wants a job keeps leaving the tiny Irish village of Kerryboondoggle - until a prodigal son returns from America and builds a theme park on Giant's Island. Now even Granny O'Hare is raking in the cash in costume as a ticket-taking banshee, and won't listen when Padraig reminds her about the poltergeist.
6. Nathan walks out of his home in Wisconsin and into Mongolia! Now can he find a map that will help him locate his missing mother before Evil Santa gets her?Original Version
I am seeking representation for Mapwalkers: Bridge of Giants, a 72,000-word middle grade fantasy, the first in the Mapwalkers series.
After the inexplicable disappearance of his mother, thirteen year old Nathan Hillbridge finds a collection of bizarre maps in her belongings. He follows one of these maps, [Follows the map? I'm looking at a map of California. If you told me to follow it, I would have no idea what you meant? Is it like a pirate map with a big X at the end of a dotted line?]
and moments after walking out of his back door in small-town Wisconsin, finds himself pursued by armed horsemen across the wilds of Mongolia. [If he's fleeing through the wilds of Mongolia the minute he leaves his house, how can you claim that he followed the map at all? Were Wisconsin and Mongolia both on the map? Is this the map?
Narrowly escaping, [In Mongolia, on foot, he escapes armed horsemen? Are they blind armed horsemen?]
he retraces his steps and somehow returns home. [That is, he wakes up.]
He soon discovers that he and his mother are Mapwalkers—members of an ancient people with the ability to travel to distant lands as easily as most people walk down the street to visit a friend. [Is this like the transporter on the Enterprise? By which I mean, Does it malfunction most of the time?]
Desperate to find his mother, he begins using her cache of mysterious maps [You called them bizarre maps, not mysterious maps.]
to scour the world for her.
As he searches, Nathan finds friends who aid him in his quest: Robert, an honors student who helps him decipher the bizarre clues [The maps are bizarre. Let's call the clues mysterious.] [Is one of the clues a mysterious bazaar?] [I think they should be Bizarro maps, made out of crystal.]
that litter his mother's trail, and Kahn, a Mongolian girl eager to explore the world with him. But as he learns about his mysterious power [We just declared the clues are mysterious. Let's call his power "uncanny."]
and the secret history of the Mapwalkers, he realizes that he [and Robert may soon be facing . . .the wrath of Kahn!]
and his friends may be up against far more than they can handle: a sinister man in red
who stalks their steps, the uncanny in-between places infested by hideous creatures that may or may not have once been men, [Why does this keep happening? Okay, as Nathan's power is now uncanny, we'll call the in-between places infested by hideous creatures that may or may not have once been men "nightmarish."]
and the long-lost hordes of Genghis Kahn. [Kaaaahhhhhnnnn!] [I don't mind if the Mongolian girl spells her name Kahn, but we spell Genghis's name "Khan." [Also, any creatures can accurately be described by saying they "may or may not have once been men."]
This novel would best be compared with “A wrinkle in time”, or the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. [That sounded familiar, so I searched this blog and found: "...can be compared to other fantasy works such as “Eragon” or the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. (Face-Lift 762); "...it has similarities to Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials Book One... (Face-Lift 547); "Similar in theme to the works of Madeleine L’Engle and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy..." (Face-Lift 124); "To use my favorites, it is similar to Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS in its deep world-building." (Face-Lift 1132) . One possible problem with claiming your book is like some classic is that the agent may think, Christ, not another book that's like the His Dark Materials trilogy. If someone would just send me a book that isn't like His Dark Materials, I'd buy it without even reading it.]Notes
He's walked out his back door a thousand times and ended up in Wisconsin, but if he walks out the same door holding a map, he ends up in Mongolia? Have I got that straight?
Okay, he goes here, he goes there, and each place he goes he has another adventure. And eventually he ends up where his mother is. Is it just a series of trips? Or is the man in red a villain who appears on all of his mapwalks? Is the man in red trying to prevent Nathan from finding his mother? Why? Does he have to find his mother before the hordes of Genghis Khan do? How is he going to mapwalk to where his mother is if she has the map that took her there?Selected Comments
AlaskaRavenclaw said...What's this? A middle grade query in which the writer evinces absolutely no desire to teach his or her readers an important lesson?
The story idea's not a bad one. Comparing it to already-published books that have sold millions of copies is. There's no need to compare your book to anything. And the two series you chose for comparison don't actually have much in common with each other. (Other than that they both deal with religion. RATHER differently.)
Other than that, this looks good to me, sounds like an interesting idea and will probably get some requests.
Good luck with it.
Jenna said...Every kid wants to find a map to something awesome so props for the subject! I'm interested in the main character and would be excited to read about an adventure like this one. I think if you delve a little deeper into portraying the motives, take out a bunch of stuff we don't care about yet (like who the friends are) and add some specifics that make this story unique it could read quite nicely.
Whenever I read queries I always ask myself "Why should I care about this book?" He's searching for his mother, great. But what stands in his way? I can't get much from a vague "man in red", creatures we can't picture, and something about Khan. What makes them threatening? And what is so bad about being a mapmaker? What is he fighting? What's the major conflict that stands in his way of getting what he wants? That's what I'd like to know a little more about. Good luck!
david hanley said...Thank you, everyone ( particularly you, Evil Editor)! I'm already busily revising my query based on the comments and feedback thus far. I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement!
Dave said...It needs some feeling. It felt dry as dust as I read it the first time.
batgirl said...It sounds like fun, but why is the girl named Kahn? That sounds more Jewish than Mongolian. How about Khongordzoi, or Oyunbileg?
no-bull-steve said...Very nice. I think a few wording changes suggested by EE and you're good to go. I get that if he goes outside of the house WITH the map, he's transported but being a bit clearer might be helpful.
arhooley said...I still remember what an impression Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen made on me as a wee tot. (Andersen is one cynical writer.) The little girl, Gerda, sets off heartbroken in search of her friend Kai, who had unexpectedly starting being mean to her and then disappeared. She's stuck with indifferent or capricious assistants on her long, agonizing search for him.
All I get from your query is "Hmm, wonder where Mom is?" Maybe that's what you intend, maybe not. In any case, I'd infuse Nathan's quest with a sense of urgency. As it is, he's simply looking for the answer to a question, not the answer to a problem.
But I do like the concept.
BuffySquirrel said...What makes Genghis Khan so threatening? You're asking that question for REALS?
I like this. And I'm with Steve on the idea that it's carrying the map with him as he leaves the house that makes the difference. The story does sound fun.
A little more clarity on the goals and obstacles would be good, esp the man-in-red.
Jenna said...Obviously, hordes of Khan-ites are threatening :) But I meant, how do they threaten the storyline? Are they literally standing between him and his mother? The same for the man in red and other creatures, do they want a map he has? etc..I think being more descriptive here will add force to the conflict and intrigue and better pique an agent's interest.
BuffySquirrel said...If you're a little boy with a map, one Khanite is pretty threatening :). But yes, the query needs to up the stakes.
Julia B said...I really liked the premise, it sounds like a brilliant series that you get to basically write in whatever time period you feel like ^_^
My main problem was a bit of a practical one - so is it only these maps his mother owns he can use to mapwalk? If not, why has he never disappeared in the middle of geography class? If yes, then I'd be fascinated by how they were made, and by whom, and how many of them there are in existence.
Oh, and the idea of crystal maps kicks ass.
In this second fabulous release in the Diary of a Real Payne series you’ll find yourself ROTFL as EJ is more than ready to be done with Ms. “Picky” Pickerington, CoraLee McCallister, and fourth grade in general. Hello sunshine, hello 11th birthday party, hello. . .CAMP! It’s EJ’s first summer to spend an entire week at Camp Christian: friends, swimming, bunk beds, games, campfires, s’mores, hiking, and even a gigantic zip line. In classic EJ form, she dreams up even more fantastic adventures for herself—promising colossal fun as you become part of her daydreams in Church Camp Chaos!
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Series: Diary of a Real Payne (Book 2)
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2014)
Dawn Menge has a Bachelors in Human Development, Masters in Special Education and a Clear credential as an Education Specialist. She is currently a doctoral student specializing in Curriculum and Instruction.
She has worked with the Severely handicapped population for the past fourteen years. Her experiences include from teaching the elementary level up to adult education in special needs. She has been nominated for teacher of the year by SBCSS, awarded a Learning Leader by Leapfrog, served as a Lead teacher and has been a BTSA support provider. The disabilities she has experiences with include but are not limited to Autism, Visual Impairments, ADHD, Seizure Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual Disabilities, Emotional Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairments, and Down Syndrome.
Dawn Menge has won fifteen national awards as a self-published author of the Queen Vernita’s Educational Series. Queen Vernita’s visitors has won; Reader Views, Readers Favorites, First Place Evvy, Scooter Award and A+ rating from the American Children’s Book Society, and a Purple Dragonfly award. Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains has won Finalist in the Readers Favorite and a Purple Dragonfly award; Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer has won an Evvy, USA Best Book Award, Readers Views and a Purple Dragonfly award, Queen Vernita Visits the Islands of Enchantment has won a Purple Dragonfly award, Readers Views and a Silver in the Mom’s Choice award.
Dawn Menge is the mother of three and the grandmother of five beautiful grandchildren.
I'm having one of those slow, wet, lazy Sundays that you wish could go on forever. It's midday as I write this post, and I'm sitting on my bed with pillows balancing my back, a laptop in front of me and curtains wide open so I can watch the slow gentle rain outside.
I had a massive cook-out yesterday, preparing various dishes to freeze for days when I don't want to cook. The house is clean and
...this:And is therefore aqua cool. (“Super” cool = so overused.)
I'm sending Burly and Grum away on a short vacation while I move house. I'm sure they'll have a great time on the beach while I'm slaving away, sorting through 23 years worth of stuff in my attic, shed and every available cupboard! They'll be back I think in about 6 weeks relaxed and raring to go!
Annie Tipton made up her first story at the ripe old age of two when she asked her mom to write it down for her. (Hey, she was just two–she didn’t know how to make letters yet!) Since then she has read and written many words as a student, newspaper reporter, author, and editor. Annie loves snow (which is a good thing because she lives in Ohio), wearing scarves, sushi, Scrabble, and spending time with friends and family.
In this book, Ms. Roth argues that there are four seasons of empowerment for adolescent girls. Sadly no adolescent girl can simply wake up one day, snap her fingers, and be empowered to tackle the world and all the forces that exist inside and outside. Becoming empowered to be who we are can be truly difficult. This book consists of a step-by-step guide to help adolescent girls achieve self-empowerment.
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, belief without borders
, Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious
, linda mercadante
, national spiritual wellness month
, Spiritual but not religious
, Add a tag
By Linda Mercadante, Ph.D.
Many religious people think—or hope—that all those who self-identify as “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) are “seekers” looking for a spiritual home. And many non-religious people assume that SBNRs are routinely hostile to religion and probably have been hurt by it. In fact, after speaking with hundreds of SBNRs all across North America over a five-year period, I have found neither of these assumptions to be accurate or widely representative.
Photo courtesy of the author.
Instead, I have found my interviewees falling into five types. I spoke with adults from many generations and found that the types cut across all age groups. While I found that people sometimes moved from one type to another, many others stayed put. Having a set of categories like these helps us better understand this rapidly growing segment of the United States.
Here are the five types I found:
Dissenters: Dissenters largely stay away from institutional religion, whether from bad experiences or, more often, theological differences. Many of these had a religious background and either protested or simply drifted away from it. Against popular assumptions, however, this type made up a fairly small percentage of my total.
Casuals: For Casuals, religious and spiritual practices are generally approached on an “as-needed” basis and discarded or changed when no longer necessary. Spirituality is not felt to be the organizing center of their lives. Many of the “casuals”—especially younger ones—had little or no religious exposure either as children or adults. This type represented a very large percentage of my total.
Explorers: These people seem to have a spiritual “wanderlust.” Acting more like tourists, they don’t expect to settle down in any permanent spiritual home. They are different from “casuals,” however, because spirituality is a central interest for them. Thus, they are always ready to try something new. Explorers represented a modest but significant percentage and were certainly some of the more intriguing interviewees.
Seekers: Unlike the above types, these SBNRs are actually seeking a spiritual home in which to settle down. They may frequently be frustrated in the search, but they persevere. They do this because they long to belong, whether that is to God, Spirit, or a spiritually-grounded group. Against popular assumptions that every SBNR is a “seeker,” they only represented a modest percentage of the total.
Immigrants: These were interviewees who had moved to a new spiritual “land” and—like geographic immigrants—were trying to adjust, usually with some difficulty. Often they had once been “seekers.” This represented, by far, the smallest number of interviewees.
Once we understand that “spiritual but not religious” people come in different types, both religious and non-religious people will avoid the common conceptual traps that prevent us from fully seeing and appreciating this growing group. For religious people, there are two traps. First is what I call the “mea culpa” trap (“What did we do to hurt them?”). In fact, I heard very few religious “horror stories.” Clearly, religion isn’t as unilaterally repressive as some people like to think. But, in addition, fewer and fewer numbers are raised with any religious exposure at all. Thus, many interviewees had no bad experiences with religion to prevent them from considering it.
The second religious trap I call “If we build it, they will come” (“If only we fix our music, greet newcomers better, have better community, they will want to join us”). Yet for increasing numbers, religion is not a habit, but a strange world. Religious people should not expect SBNRs to show up at the sanctuary door. Instead, they will have to be encountered in other ways and places.
Non-religious people, too, need to avoid some traps. It is a mistake to assume SBNRs are generally hostile to religion. It is also misguided to assume SBNRs don’t take religious issues seriously. When I did find SBNRs who had explicit issues with organized religion, it was often a theological problem that kept them away or a sadness that, unlike others, they never quite “got it.”
Knowing the types and traps will help us take a more nuanced view towards the growing phenomenon of SBNRs. On the plus side, increasing numbers are becoming open to a variety of spiritual guides, alternatives, and even religious traditions, as they continue to nurture the spirit within. The downside, however, is that as many bring less information, heritage, or background with them on their spiritual journey, they will have to work harder to distinguish the deep spiritual wells from the shallow puddles.
Linda Mercadante is the B. Robert Straker Professor of Historical Theology at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is the author of Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.
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Do you know what a Stalagmite and a Stalactite is?
Queen Vernita and Carl take a coach trip up Oceaneers majestic coast. They learn what a Stalagmite and Stalactite is as they explore caves. The Queen learns of the many ocean creatures such as a sea lion, seal, jellyfish and tidepools.
Print Length: 31 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. (November 4, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer
. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
Well, our steak of bad luck continued, and the weekend got off to a poor start. We had a drain that was backing up into the laundry room. I discovered this unfortunate mess Friday while doing a load of laundry. Luckily, a friend suggested we call his buddy, who operates a sewer and drain company. A call to him at 7:30 am resulted in a visit by 10am, and our plumbing was back to order in less than an hour. If you are in the Metro Detroit area, call Scott’s Sewer and Drain if you are having issues with your pipes. Thanks again for getting us back to rights so quickly!
We had a brief warm spell today – temps actually hit the mid-20s. Too bad we are expecting a drop back to the teens, and 3” of snow tonight!
Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.
New Arrivals at the Café:
Searching for Perfect
This Is How It Ends
White Hot Kiss
V is for Villain
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
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In a textbook called The New Literacies
, I read the following sentence:
“It is even possible to conceive of a future in which all paper-and-pencil literacies are replaced by digital literacies.”
We have seen the advent of this already…How many of you have a Kindle? (My hand is raised. I, in fact, LOVE my Kindle. And not only do I have a Kindle Paperwhite, I have the Kindle app on my Android phone and Android tablet. But I digress.)
What this sentence is saying goes beyond the shift from paperbacks to e-book readers. These authors suggest that in the future, humans will no longer write long-form essays and stories. They will create content digitally through photos, other graphics, music, and sound…maybe with the assistance of some words, but not necessarily in sentences. And not necessarily lines of verse, either. Possibly just a word here or there to accentuate the other media being used.
This prompted me to look up the definition of “to write”: “to form (as characters or symbols) on a surface with an instrument (as a pen).”
This could also be applied to typing letters on a computer, and I suppose it could also cover the process of putting other types of symbols together (other than letters) to communicate a message. In this case, using digital media to communicate a message or story could be like a form of writing. Will digital media eventually replace writing as we know it?
|"Borneo: Memory of the Caves"|
My first reaction to this is "No! We cannot and we will not lose writing!" When I pause to reflect on it, this doesn't seem like an outrageous trajectory for the writing process. Human's written communication skills have evolved from cave drawings
to what it is now because of new tools and technologies, so it makes sense that it will continue to evolve.
If that is the case, what do you suppose that means for the future of writers? Do you think in the future, instead of writing this blog post, I will communicate it to you in a series of photos and audio? Some blogs and websites already do this.
In the future, instead of writing a novel, will it be read aloud (like an audiobook) with a companion series of images or video (maybe like a really long movie)?
What might the future hold for writers given the changes in technology? I do not anticipate that in my lifetime I will see the demise of the novel as we currently know it…but what might it look like in a 100 years from now?
By Anne Greenawalt
: writer, writing instructor, and Adult Education doctoral student
The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy
The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy series is a paranormal romance series with mystery and suspense elements where dragon shifters hunt a magickal hoard thief who threatens to bring down the entire dragon mage race.
TO HAVE & TO HOLD
The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy, #1
Release Date: December 2013
American-born heiress Cate Cooper never believed her sexy, stalwart English husband of two years, Grayson, could be a monster of epic proportions until he shifted into a fire-breathing dragon right in front of her eyes. After several near-miss encounters with the dragon who almost killed her, Cate trapped the beast in the attic using her own magickal skills as spell-caster and an enchanted chatelaine left to her by her grandparents. She agreed to give her husband one year in the magickal confines of their attic to battle the dragon within before she gives up on him for good.
During the year Grayson Cooper has been trapped in his attic fighting for his life and his marriage, his best friend and legal partner, Michael James, seduces his wife and devises a plan to take over her fortune. If that’s not bad enough, clues in an intricate embezzlement scheme all point to Grayson, who, according to the world, disappeared without a trace the year before along with a million dollars. Only Grayson and Cate know the truth of where he’s been.
In this paranormal romantic suspense novella, Grayson Cooper must embrace his dragon shifter heritage, clear his sullied name, and save the only woman he’s ever truly loved from a ruthless villain bent on destroying him and Cate as well as the whole dragon shifter race.
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD
The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy, #2
Release Date: January 15, 2014
This is a contemporary paranormal romance novella with mystery and suspense elements. This is the second story in the Derkesthai Dragon Mage Academy series. Derkesthai Academy is Hogwarts for dragon shifters.
Noah Easton, a Special Forces dragon shifter, escapes the torture of a hoard thief bent on stealing dragon hoard stones and their elemental power from the mages who possess them, but the situation becomes personal when the hoard thief targets the woman he loves. He must return to his hometown of Mystic Springs to protect those he loves from a magickal threat he cannot identify before he loses everything.
April is a modern day oracle. She reads tea leaves and just about anything else that can predict coming events. However, past abandonment issues make her resistant to reading her own signs. But when evil comes to Mystic Springs, April must face her biggest fears of abandonment and betrayal in order to save what’s most important to her. Only by studying the past and owning her future can she stop a magickal criminal who threatens to steal everything she’s ever loved and destroy the dragon mage who holds her heart.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/from-this-day-forward-mackenzie-lucas/1118070485?ean=2940148166061
UNTIL DEATH DO US PART
The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy, #3
Look for Until Death Do Us Part, the next story in The Dragon Shifters of Derkesthai Academy series, out later this year. In Until Death, David Pearson hunts the wounded hoard thief who is a dragon shifter herself and his ex-wife, whom he still loves. Iona LeFay only ever wanted the attention of the one man she’s always loved, her ex-husband David Pearson. Unfortunately, now he must kill her in order to stop the wheels of a huge conspiracy that could bring down the whole dragon shifter race.
Author Bio & Contact Links:
Mackenzie Lucas is a lover of story in any form. She’s an avid reader of genre fiction, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance, and she listens to an eclectic mix of music that spans from pop/rock to country to gospel. She loves a good story whether it’s an erotic short, a full-length romance novel, or the narrative slice-of-life found in country music. In any story, emotional integrity and authenticity are most important to her as well as a big dose of romping hot sexual tension. She enjoys smart-mouthed, sexy heroines, hunky alpha heroes who know how to take care of their women, and plot twists that surprise her, but most of all, she just wants to experience a satisfying emotional arc of a character falling in love and finding what he or she needs most in life.
Mac is a small-town country girl with a world-traveler’s soul. She grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and she’s lived in Dublin, Ireland, in Long Island for a summer, and now resides in the Washington, D.C. area. She obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Dickinson College and received her M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She’s currently an author, writing coach, president of Washington Romance Writers, a mother, and a wife. Her latest contemporary romance, Essence, was published by Soul Mate Pulishing in January 2014.
With Mackenzie Lucas–whether you’re reading her light paranormal romance or her small-town-based contemporary romance–you’ll always get a story about connectedness, community, and emotional authenticity, and, at its core, love. No, and it doesn’t hurt that all her heroes are panty-melting gorgeous alphas and all their sexy, sensually aware heroines know how to stand up to them, give no quarter, and love them just as they are.
To find Mackenzie Lucas online go to: http://www.mackenzielucas.com. You can also find her on Twitter at: @MacLucas_writer. Follow her on Facebook at: MackenzieLucasFanPage to keep up with her latest releases and book news. Or sign up for her newsletter at: http://www.mackenzielucas.com/newsletter.
Twitter: : https://twitter.com/MacLucas_writer
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I’ve written before about our great experiences with various MOOCs one or more of us has taken via Coursera. Here’s another list of offerings, this time from FutureLearn.com. Courses that have caught my eye include:
• Moons— “Explore the many moons of our Solar System.” This has Beanie written all over it. Eight weeks, starts March 17. The Open University.
• Kitchen Chemistry— “Along the way you will use fruit tea to identify acids and alkalis, investigate chemicals that speed up reactions and experiment with electron transfer reactions. This should give you a feel for the world of molecules and an idea of some reactions. It should also introduce some methods to separate chemicals, to find out what chemicals are present in a mixture and ways to change chemicals from one form to another.” Six weeks, starts in April. University of East Anglia.
• England in the Time of Richard III! Exclamation point mine. “Explore 15th century England through archaeology, history and literature against the backdrop of the excavation of Richard III.” Yes, please. Methinks it’s time to introduce Rose and Beanie to Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time—a compulsive reread for both Jane and me—as a backdrop to this course. Six weeks, starts mid-2014. University of Leicester.
Those plus the Courseras we’re already signed up for—including a History of Art for Artists, Animators, and Gamers via CalArts, which is just getting rolling—may tide us over until the next iteration of ModPo kicks off in September. Boy do I love sending my kids to college around the world in our own living room.
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We love that even though our blog birthday was on January 1, we are celebrating it all year! On our 8th Birthday, we decided to celebrate 2014 by celebrating others who inspire us every day
. Each month, on the 1st (or so) of the month, we will celebrate a fellow blogger whose work has inspired us recently. We feel so lucky to be part of the blog world that we want to celebrate all that everyone gives us each day.
This month, we are celebrating the team at the Nerdy Book Club
: Donalyn Miller, Colby Sharp and Cindy Minnich.
The Nerdy Book Club is the most democratic club on the planet. "If you love books, especially those written for children and young adults, then you are an honorary member of The Nerdy Book Club."
The Nerdy Book Club blog is the most democratic group blog on the planet. Want to write a guest post
? Go on -- submit one!
The Nerdy Book Club is huge -- when last I visited, I was greeted by the proclamation that "You and 2,781 others like Nerdy Book Club." There are nearly 70 Nerdy Book Club Bloggers in the blogroll
Have you been to a Nerdy Book Club meet-up at a national conference like NCTE recently? Readers and authors fill a room and spill out into the adjacent areas. It's such a happy gathering with lots of hugging and laughter and photos that go straight to FaceBook and Twitter. There is no need to be a wallflower at a Nerdy Book Club meet-up. Everyone has lots in common: books, reading and readers.
We are honoring the Nerdy Book Club by making a donation to LitWorld
in their name. We love LitWorld and this month seemed the perfect month to donate to them as March 5 is World Read Aloud Day
! If you have no plans to celebrate World Read Aloud Day in your classroom, you might want to change your mind! World Read Aloud Day is "about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people." What an amazing cause. LitWorld has lots of other amazing projects too. And we believe in all of them.
Here is a little glimpse of the vision and work of LitWorld: