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1. take a peek with Peek-a-Bear .... taking a deeper look

Remember when I featured this amazing little book last week?  Well I got a guest post from the author to share with you today. It will  give you a little more insight as to how this little gem of a tale came to be.  I know you will be interested to hear from the author Jill Mangel Weisfeld and find out more about her.  Enjoy.

The Inspiration Behind Take a Peek with Peek-A-Bear

by Jill Weisfeld

 Art has always been part of my life.

My parents owned an art gallery in Philadelphia so I grew up in a creative environment surrounded by talented artists. 

As a child I had a vivid imagination and I loved to express my creativity through writing poems, drawing and painting. I was always thinking of new ideas. 
When I was around 8 years old I was painting the shed in my back yard when I got the idea to splatter paint all over it, when I told my Dad about my ingenious idea he said, he loved it but Jackson Pollock beat you to it.

I knew I wanted a career in a creative field so I decided to major in Visual Communications at The University of Delaware. It was a very competitive major where I had to make two rounds of cuts from 80-20 people to be accepted into the program.  After college I moved to New York City and I worked as a Graphic Designer at Macy’s Advertising and Bride’s Magazine. Although I enjoyed being a designer my dream was always to write children’s books. 

My mind is always spinning with ideas for books, which I write down in a notebook that is bursting with ideas just waiting to be created.

I love looking out of windows and the idea for “Take a Peek with Peek-a-Bear” came to me when I was looking at clouds shaped like animals with my daughter while flying on a plane.

I wrote this book between my fulltime job of raising three daughters, two cats and a dog and during my part time job as Art Director for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. My three daughters, Emily, Danielle and Lulu as well as my husband Bruce have all played a part.

Here's a peek inside to give you a flavour of the illustrations...

I guarantee that your child will love to pull, lift and peek through bear's windows with him and follow the fun poetry as it weaves around the pages further enhancing the playful vibe of the book.  This book is in sturdy board book format which makes it a perfect choice for little busy hands (and mouths), and a perfect invitation for a little one to pick it up, interact with it and enjoy.

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at: Storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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2. It Was A Cosmic Fulcrum........

It was "back in the day" (about 1989/1990?) and I was visiting the Fleetway-Egmont offices regularly if not to take in scripts for Revolver then to pitch ideas.

I have already posted on The Ultimate Game and mentioned its predecessor, The Cosmic Fulcrum. Blogger has managed to delete most of the images (AGAIN!) but you can find it here:


Now this all became Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes.  And I had lost all the pages to the Cosmic Fulcrum....or so I thought.  I'll explain.

I had only photocopies of Fulcrum, drawn originally by Dean Willetts whose black and white art I posted samples of a couple days back. LOVELY  art but, though I never got excited since I knew what companies were like, Fleetway-Egmont expressed interest.  I had spoken to the Revolver editor and had a rather heated few words about WHY I was very unhappy that "Igor thinks this series title is so great he wants to use it so if you can re-name the series---" and on my way out bumped into another editor and we got talking.

Apparently, Egmont, owning Fleetway, were looking for something new.  I arranged to call back the following week having pitched The Cosmic Fulcrum.  Next week I turned up with the pages -black and white and the hurriedly coloured pages.  I was told it all looked good but he'd need to show it all to the boss.  So, he took everything and was going to copy it all and hand it back on my next visit (a third trip to London in a week -eugh!).

So, I turn up at the offices and the man "isn't here any more" -this happened a lot back then for no reason. But the young lady handed me my folders back and had been instructed to tell me "no thank you".

I got home not very happy.  A week later I needed to make more copies but the black and white pages were gone -someone had accidentally put various financial documents in the folder.  And some colour pages were missing while others had been hole-punched!  I return the financial papers but I never got the art returned.  After six months I gave up.

There are differences here compared to Return in which RIM (Robotic Infantry Man) and Femme Avenger and Justice (being watched by the trilby wearing shadow) never got to Neo Olympus.

Here is what I found in a folder at the bottom of a box -inked using Windsor & Newtons.  I've not tidied them up but this is comics history....somewhere!

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3. Review of Meet the Dullards

pennypacker_meet the dullardsstar2 Meet the Dullards
by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Daniel Salmieri
Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   32 pp.
3/15   978-0-06-219856-3   $17.99

The tradition of Bottner’s The Scaredy Cats (rev. 3/03) and Allard’s Stupids books (The Stupids Die, rev. 8/81) lives on with the Dullards, a family of five engulfed in ennui. The Dullard parents are horrified when they catch their children Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud reading books, asking to go to school, and even trying to play outdoors. Though the parents try to nip this revolt in the bud by moving to an even more boring house, they are challenged when a welcoming neighbor brings over a cake made with chunky applesauce (“so unpredictable”) and speaks enthusiastically (“‘Please don’t use exclamation marks in front of our children,’ said Mrs. Dullard”). And so it goes until, while watching paint dry (a mix of beige and gray labeled “Custom Dull”), the children finally escape out a window and make their own fun. Close readers will no doubt notice that the books the children were reading in the first pages of the story inspire both their imaginative play and the final circus scene. Pennypacker’s droll, deadpan text is matched by Salmieri’s flat and hilarious illustrations; the characters, with their elongated limbs and prominent eyes, might remind readers of Gru in the movie Despicable Me. The big, wide world is painted in bright reds and blues, while the Dullard parents stick to their predictable oatmeal-colored world, “secure in the knowledge that their children were perfect bores.” Not.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Review of Meet the Dullards appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. FYI from Storywraps

Reminding you that there is still time to win one of Brad Snyder's signed books on parenting ... "The 5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids".

Just answer the question,  "What were Sir Winston's Churchill's favourite drinks"?

(If you don't know Google does)

 Leave your answer, with your email:

*  Here on comments section of Storywraps

* Twitter (Storywraps@Storywraps1) -Twitter button on blog.

* Storywraps on Facebook

 I'll contact you for mailing info and it's yours.  There are two books to giveaway so don't miss an opportunity to get a copy FREE!!

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.


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5. On the Road - 1000 Books B4 K and Programming Mightiness

Pixabay Image
I'm traveling to the beautiful southwestern part of WI along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers to present a workshop on programming mightiness - and in particular 1000 Books Before Kindergarten how-to's. Below are the live links to the topics we plunged into!

While programming isn't all we do, it is certainly the most public and often the most pressured thing we do (from preparation to conflicting demands). Today we look at strategies to program smarter and more effectively; the importance of balance and how to fairly meet the many needs of our public - and our funders. Creating a zen balance between service to all ages, finding time to recharge and plan, learning to get off the hamster wheel of constant programming and program shares were just some of what we explored.

Here are the workshop resources that were shared with my colleagues:

Today's Workshop Pinterest board
Let 1000 Books Bloom Pinterest board
Basic Resources how-to post for 1000 Books
My general Pinterest boards  - (boards on different program types and samples)
Pixabay (free images)  
Struckmeyer, Amanda Moss.  DIY Programming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming without Stretching Your Budget and Staff. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

A *Few * Favorite Programming Blogs:
Jbrary   (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Mel’s Desk  (great resource list of blogs to explore!)
Kids Library Program Mojo (for a full list of fantastic program idea blogs AND great program idea posts- this is the class crowd-sourced blog from our spring CE course and has a ton of ideas from students!)

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6. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Eleven: DIY Recycling

One of Michael's tasks for The Earth's Wife is to research "second lives," so to speak, for the waste that had been diverted to Walt and Nora's spare bedroom. He uses 1001 Ways to Give New Life to Old Things (Northampton, Mass.: The Free and Open Press, 1973) for this task.

     On Monday morning, Roberta asked him, "What kinds of things have you been finding in your room? You said you made a list."
     "Butter containers," Michael said. "There are hundreds of butter containers under the bed. They're all different sizes and colors and brands. And then there are lots of those artificial-whipped-cream containers."
      "Someone must have given Nora those. She would never buy anything in a plastic container herself. And she wouldn't buy artificial whipped cream no matter what it came in."
      "Plus, there are empty bleach bottles all along one wall," Michael said.
     Roberta groaned. "I swear, when I was in college, people were making purses out of bleach bottles. Or maybe that was just one of those urban legends, because you never actually saw anyone carrying one of the things. I did know a guy who made himself a vest out of the ring tabs on soda cans, though."
     "There are only a half dozen soda cans. I brought them in yesterday," Michael admitted.
     "Fortunately that's not enough to make anything out of. Whatever you do, don't buy any more. What else have you got?"
      Michael looked at his paper. "There are some used beach towels."
     "Are they nice?"
     "Maybe we can make pot holders out of them. What's that you've got written there? 'Blue jeans'? Are there a lot of them?"
     Michael nodded. "But they have holes."
     "Now those we can use to make a quilt. I've seen a few of those. They're actually attractive."
     "A quilt!" Michael repeated. And then he thought, What does she mean by "we"?
I think my Aunt Tessy really did make one of those bleach bottle purses. I don't know if she went out in public with it.

When the original edition of this book was in the editing stages at G. P. Putnam's Sons, someone there told my editor that no one would cut up old blue jeans for a quilt. They were too valuable. Well, I would. I don't have any kind of emotional attachment to my old Levi's. Or those of any of my family members.

And so, folks, I have, indeed, made a denim quilt out of old blue jeans. I think it was done either just before I was writing this book or soon after. It went away to college with someone and is now in his house. I also made a cute little bag for a girl out of denim with a denim patch work side. Don't have a picture of that.

What I do have a picture of is all the denim, some of it already cut into squares, that I've collected for another quilt. A couple of weeks ago a family member was visiting and told me he had a bag of denim for me but had forgotten to bring it. So there will be more squares and more quilts and maybe more denim bags.

Wow. Little denim bags. I could have cranked out a bunch of those and used them for swag. I could make a little denim bag and put a copy of the original paper STP&S in it for raffle donations! Got to think seriously about my ROI on that idea.

This whole recycling old things business was a bigger deal in my college days, so this is another example of an autobiographical element making its way into my work. Recrafting recycled items still has its advocates, however. Team EcoEtsy is a group of sellers on Etsy who reduce, reuse, and recycle. This past month they ran a trash-to-treasure challenge to celebrate Earth Day.

Nora would have done an article about them for The Earth's Wife.

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7. Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello to Write For the New Dark Knight Saga

Frank Miller Batman CoverDC Comics will publish an eight-part Batman saga called The Dark Knight: The Master Race. Famed comics creator Frank Miller and writer Brian Azzarello will work on the story together.

Miller recently announced the news on Twitter; the post has earned over 3,000 “retweets” and “favorites.” In the past, Miller wrote the first two installments of this trilogy: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001-2002).

According to the press release, the new series will be released in time to honor “the 30th anniversary of The Dark Knight Returns original series.” At this point in time, “artists for the project have yet to be announced.”

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8. BOBBEE BEE: Lessons From Steel Magnolias

1. Pain Does Not Discriminate.
When we meet Shelby she seems like a spoiled princess with every advantage. Then she nearly falls into a diabetic coma at the beauty parlor and we feel like jerks for misjudging her.  That one early scene reveals the heart of the whole film: everyone suffers; try not to do it alone.

2. Holidays & Events Are Meant To Be Celebrated.
And unless that celebration can be seen from space, it doesn’t count.

3. ‘Thirty Minutes of Wonderful’ Is Better ‘Than A Lifetime Of Nothing Special’.
4. ‘Personal Tragedy [Should] Not Interfere With [The] Ability To Do Good Hair’.
Or wash your face. Or put on a pretty dress. Southern women understand half the battle to regain your footing is looking the part.

5. Perfection Is A Myth.
Also, boring. Every character in the film is his or her own brand of crazy, and as such, none seem crazy at all.  They seem human.  Which is why we love them so dearly.  We should be so kind to ourselves.

6. Old Southern Women Are ‘Supposed To Grow Vegetables In The Dirt’.
And wear silly hats. An utter off-color remarks. Eccentricity is our birthright.
7. There Is No Such Thing As ‘Too Much’.
This applies to hair, jewelry, laughter, heel height, cake, cleavage, pulled pork, emotion, faith, persistence, and revelation.  Contrary to the old adage, less is actually less, and more is divine.
8. Busy Is Better Than Therapy.
Just as M’Lynn goes right on cooking as Shelby delivers the news of her health-threatening pregnancy, women know that when calamity comes knocking, you don’t sit on your fanny and do nothing.  Productivity beats wallowing every time.
9. Women Can, Should, And Do Share Everything.
TMI did not exist in the world of Steel Magnolias, and the women were the better for it.

10. Life Is A Joking Matter. 
Southerners know the more serious the situation, the more critical it is that we laugh.  Humor is as lifesaving as any flotation device in the rough sea.”

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MAY is a busy month of appearances, theater, and a big exhibition.  I look forward to seeing you if you're in the area. EXHIBIT! The big news this month is the opening of SERIOUSLY SILLY: THE ART & WHIMSY OF MO WILLEMS at the HIGH MUSEUM in Atlanta, GA opening on MAY 23 and running through January of 2016.   The exhibit is based on the 2013 solo show at the Eric Carle Museum, with added

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10. BOBBEE BEE: "The Optimist Creed"

bob_0024"The Optimist Creed"

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

optimistTo be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but great deeds. To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
by Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

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11. This is my more: on the purpose writing serves, and last day with the Spectaculars

Yesterday Kelly and I walked Longwood Gardens where the tulips were like new crayons in tight boxes and the rose grapes hung from ceilings as if waiting to be pressed toward wine and the trees were actually flowers and the treehouse mirror turned us into a 17th century painting with 21st century iPhones. It was spring, crisp, crowded.

The hours served as punctuation. A period, perhaps a colon marking the end of a long winter of talks and workshops, essays and reviews, teaching and papers, intense client work and client revisions, the quiet launch of a novel and the heart-ish completion of a collection of essays. Tomorrow is my last class with the Spectaculars at Penn. We have worked hard together, grown together, hurt together, soared together, and on this day I sit reading their final work—the profiles they have written about people who matter to them. I believe that writing can serve no greater purpose than to awaken the writer to the world itself—the things that matter—and to, in that way, force love (or call it attention) onto the page. I believe that teaching craft is teaching soul. I believe in the quiet things that happen in the margins. I believe.

It's the kind of belief that won't make a person famous. The kind that simmers just off to the left, that urges with wet eyes, that suggests and does not demand, that says, Maybe. The kind that is noticed by a few but rarely by many. Am I, I am asked often and ever more frequently, okay with that? Don't I, after all these quiet books, all these quiet years, all these words living in the shadows, want more?

There are crayon tulips. There are decorated trees. There are steps leading up to the sky. There are moments. There are students. There are friends; there is family. There is a husband and a son. There are books on my shelves written by authors with far greater talent, wisdom, seeing, stretch—and I see that talent, I am grateful for that talent, I am instructed by it, happy for it, elevated and poem-ed by it.

This is my more. This is my life.

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12. Norwegian State Railways illustration

Finished commission piece I did a couple of weeks ago. The illustration is for NSB (Norwegian State Railways) the ad agency is Pol Oslo. It clocked in just under 70 hours worth of drawing and painting. 

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13. On Poetry

To me the world of poetry is a house with a thousand glittering windows.
– Naomi Shihab Nye

The post On Poetry appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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14. How Exclusives Harm Authors

Last week I wrote a blog post about exclusives and I received a lot of great comments and questions. Rather than answer in the comments I decided to use the opportunity to write another blog post, or a few blog posts. That way anyone with the same questions can see the answers and I have filled yet another day (or days) on the blog :)

For those who might not know, an exclusive is when an agent asks for you to submit material exclusively to her. That means you stop querying other agents and if you do get a request on a query that is already out you must wait to either hear from the agent with the exclusive before sending to other agents, or wait until the exclusive time period is up.

Why is this a problem?

1. We all know how long agents can take with submissions. It's not because they want to take forever, it's because other things come up. Contracts must be negotiated or reviewed, an author's manuscript needs to be read or edited, or lunches with editors must be lunched. All of these things mean the submission pile grows and before long said agent (ahem) looks at her list and realizes she has requested material from as far back as February 1 (sorry about that).

2. Giving an exclusive, even with a strict time period, means that you've already committed to this agent. You've said, "yes I want you to read my work and if you like it and offer representation I'll sign with you because I have no other options." This is the part about exclusives that tweaks me the most.

When you commit to an agent you are hiring someone to work with you. Repeat this: YOU are HIRING someone to work WITH you. Would you ever agree to have a landscaping company give you a quote only if you give them an exclusive on that? Meaning you can't ask any other landscaping company to give you a quote. I hope not. And that's just to have someone cut your lawn.

By offering an exclusive you are giving someone the opportunity to manage your career, your dream career, without the chance to interview the right person for the job. And that's a big mistake.

One more analogy. You're a business owner. You have a vision for your business and you need to bring on a partner to help make things happen. You find about 10 people you'd like to interview for the job, but one of them tells you she wants an exclusive interview, which means that you eliminate the other 9 people without even having the chance to talk to them.

Would you do it? Because I've just described exactly what an exclusive is.

Later this week I'll discuss how to handle an offer in more detail. As for Exclusives:

Just Don't Do It.


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15. Guest Post: Mary Amato on Behind the Scenes of the Art in Good Crooks

By Mary Amato
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

What if a brother and sister had parents who were raising them to be crooks? And what if the kids wanted to say goodbye to their life of crime and become…good?

Mom and Dad would be horrified if they found out! The kids would have to do their good deeds in secret!

As soon as I came up with this idea for a chapter book series, I couldn’t wait to get cracking. After much scheming and some critical feedback from my editor, I figured out the voice and overall structure and decided to call the series: The Good Crooks Books (Egmont). My editor loved it and wanted to nab an illustrator right away.

Lots of editors and publishers dislike author involvement in finding or choosing an illustrator. Since publishers are the ones paying for the book to be produced, they are definitely in the driver’s seat. In my case, I had a long-term relationship with my editor, and so she kindly asked if I wanted to give any suggestions for illustrators or for styles of illustration.

Copyright Ward Jenkins
As if on cue, I had just received the monthly magazine from my professional organization, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The cover was illustrated by a guy named Ward Jenkins. I was drawn to the art and impressed by what the artist had to say about his process in the profile.

I checked out Jenkins’s website. The multitude of characters in his viewable sketchbooks gave me the ability to spy on his range as well as spot characters that I could imagine sneaking onto the pages of The Good Crooks Books.

Quickly I emailed my editor: I think Ward Jenkins could pull off this job!

The editor and her team looked at Ward’s work (as well as other illustrators). They sent him my draft to read and asked him to draw a few quick sketches. Hired!

Copyright Ward Jenkins

While I put finishing touches on the manuscripts for the first two books in the series, Jenkins drew sketches for the covers and for the spot illustrations inside.

Just as I had to revise my writing, Jenkins had to revise his sketches, based on feedback from the publishing team—and from me, too. This is not common. Often, authors are not given the chance to see sketches for fear that they will be too picky. It’s kind of like the “too many cooks in the kitchen” rule. Authors can make the process difficult by being unrealistic or demanding.

Copyright Ward Jenkins

If given the chance to see art, I try to keep my comments focused on whether or not the images are accurate. Sometimes, an illustrator will forget an element or a fact in the text and then create an illustration that does not match what’s happening. For example, if the author says the kids are wearing hats and carrying flashlights and then the illustrator shows them bare-headed and bare-handed, the reader will sense, even on a subconscious level, that the picture isn’t true to the book. Big inaccuracies do happen, and they can be distracting to the reader.

Copyright Ward Jenkins

Thankfully, Ward did a great job and any little glitches we did find were corrected. I loved seeing his illustrations progress from sketches to final art. He captures such a range of facial expressions and body language. And, he has a fantastic sense of humor!

Now, both Ward and I have the great thrill of seeing Good Crooks stealing spots on the shelves of bookstores and libraries.

Cynsational Notes

Mary Amato is the author of fifteen books for children and young adults. Her latest: Good Crooks Book Three: Sniff a Skunk! (Egmont, 2015) is the third in The Good Crooks series.

Ward Jenkins is an illustrator and animator. 

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16. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

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17. Turn off the Electronics Day

How can I write a blog that will resonate with readers, getting them ruminating on a topic, and just maybe spur them on to take action? Answer. Maybe just a simple imperative request will do.

Please, turn off your child’s electronic devices, and your own, for a small window in time. Pretty please? I just purchased a copy of “Chase’s Calendar of Events.” Trumpeted on its site, “Since 1957, the world’s date book”, I must admit that it’s a great reference point to thumb through, with its compilation of holidays and observances enough to fill, well, a book.

Issued annually, I find it sometimes a great jumping off spot for a blog theme to trigger my memory for a slew of specially themed classic picture books or even new books that fit into a current category of celebratory days.

Ahem! I’d like to hereby propose for initiation, a new entry to be observed for Chase’s 2016 edition. It would be called “Turn off the Electronics Day”. Realistically, maybe a day is all we could hope for. Maybe even half a day? How about a night?

But gradually, for a determined, designated, short space of time to be agreed upon, just maybe families could tough it out and wean themselves away from their collection of electronic devices in favor of spending more family time – together.

How about a board game night? Card games? Why not charades that focus on fairy tale characters, favorite picture book titles or even famous people? Most kids are natural mimics.

I’d even vote for, dare I say it, meals together without devices at the table, three times a week, capped off, perhaps, with a Toll House cookie baking night.

Why not start reading a great chapter book with the kids and take turns reading and performing the voices. They’ll develop great imaginations by picturing the scenes and characters you are reading. Just ask them to describe WHAT you read. It builds sustained attention span so necessary for beginning readers; and it also encourages paying attention to detail and vocabulary. Maybe have a dictionary handy for looking up unfamiliar words.

Try to end the reading segments at a especially exciting moment with a “Well, that’s all we have time for tonight” and see their reaction. You just might be tempting them into clamoring for the commencement of a new family tradition.

And my favorite might be everybody gathered together around a campfire, in the fashion of a foursome family I know, sharing stories at the end of their week – with s’mores to make it all the sweeter.

Kids love to have family traditions punctuated by the phrase, “we always.” That phrase I used so often growing up, lends a certain unique “we-ness” to family gatherings newly begun, or time honored. So, why not start the tradition now!

“Turn Off the Electronics Day” doesn’t need to appear in Chase’s book for it to gain ground. So why wait for the 2016 edition to see if it made the cut? All it needs is a commitment by someone for a family tradition to begin.

Inaugurate your own “Turn Off the Electronics Day!”

Better yet, just hide the power cords!

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18. Announcing the Winner of Lee Strobel's Book!

Congratulations, Diane Estrella! Your name was drawn from the honest hat. Let me know where I should mail Lee Strobel's Case for Grace for Kids book. I hope you enjoy the book.

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19. Controversial topics

Question: In this novel I'm writing many of the subjects and characters deal with harsh and rather controversial topics. I don't know, an example is a

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20. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

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21. Unsure on what to do

Hi! So I wanted to make a story (not exactly novel long, but maybe 10-15 chapters). However, I'm having quite a debate with myself. Details aren't exactly

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22. Instagram of the Week - April 27

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Showing off those new books and media!

Spring is in the air and new books and media items are popping up on our shelves. Now, how do we help our teens pick them and take them home? It's interesting to see the variation in library posts that spread the word about new materials. Some post photos as soon as those delivery boxes are unpacked or as the books are nearly finished with processing. Others share a photo of all of the books in the new section or highlight one title with a brief summary or review. Participating in weekly columns such as #bookfacefriday and #fridayreads or April's spine poetry contests can be another way to spotlight new titles in the collection. In addition to drumming up interest for new materials, these posts provide a great opportunity to remind our patrons that items can be placed on hold.

How do you show off your new materials? Have you found an approach that generates the most interest? Share with us in the comments section below!

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23. Upcoming Appearances (May & June)

Updated often, so check back from time-to-time why don’t you?

  • Saturday, May 2, 2015:  Hudson Children’s Book Festival  (Hudson, NY) from 10am – 3pm. Appearing with dozens of picture book, middle grade and young adult authors in one of the Hudson Valley’s loveliest towns.
  • Friday, May 8, 2015: Horace Mann School (New York, NY). The students of Horace Mann were kind enough to pick The Riverman as their Mock-Newbery winner this year! So I’m stopping by for the day to thank them. Closed to the public.
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015: Unity Prep School (Brooklyn, NY). I’ll be visiting the students of Unity Prep, thanks to Word Bookstore. Closed to the public.
  • Saturday, May 30, 2015: Kids Author Carnival at Jefferson Market Library (New York, NY), time TBD. Join me and over 30 middle grade authors for fun and games and books. I’ll be playing Charades!
  • Saturday, June 6, 2015: Thousand Islands Book Festival at Cape Vincent Elementary School (Cape Vincent, NY) from 9:30am – 3:30pm. With Kate Messner, James Preller, Vivian Vande Velde, and Rachel Guido DeVries.

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24. The Writer’s Page: In the Time of Daily Magic

eager_halfmagic_coverI have come to believe that the books that influence us most are the ones we read at the impressionable ages of eight to twelve, the time when readers are most open to imagination and possibilities. It’s 
the time, too, when our worldview is being formed, not only by experience but also by our readings. Who you become as a reader deeply affects who you become as a person and, for some, as a writer. My first introduction to literary magic was through the work of Edward Eager, which I was lucky enough to find when my life was falling apart in the real world as my parents divorced. I stumbled upon Half Magic stored on a dusty shelf at the Malverne Public Library one summer day when I still had all the time in the world. Was I looking for a way out of the sorrow that surrounded me? Absolutely. But I was looking for more. I was looking for instructions on how to live one’s life, something that was especially unclear to me at the time. Back then, no one recommended books to a child-reader, at least not to me, and finding a book that spoke to you all on your own, turning those first few pages and entering into another world, was pure magic.

Eager, who was a lyricist and dramatist, is a dry, witty, adult sort of writer who fell into children’s books accidentally (isn’t that how all good magic stories begin?) when he discovered E. Nesbit’s work while searching for books to share with his son, Fritz. His droll, self-effacing essay “Daily Magic,” published in The Horn Book Magazine in October 1958, celebrated both E. Nesbit and Eager’s own delight in finding magic. He wrote for children through his own adult sensibility in the time 
of real-life Mad Men, cocktails and trains home to Connecticut, but he was an adult who remembered what children loved most. At the same time, he never spoke down to his readers, something I very much appreciated and had previously found only in fairy tales. Eager predicted the flowering of magical realism, suggesting that the core of a good magic book was the dailiness of its magic: “So that after you finish reading…you feel it could happen to you, any day now, round any corner.” It’s the very ordinariness of both setting and characters that makes the magic all the more believable. It’s a lesson learned from fairy tales, wherein an ordinary girl can sleep for a hundred years and a perfectly normal brother and sister discover a witch’s house in the woods and beat her at her own game. The best magic, after all, is always woven into the facts of our everyday lives.

Eager insisted that his own books could not have existed without E. Nesbit’s influence. He thought of himself as a more accessible and lesser author, and referred to himself as “second-rate E. Nesbit.” But for American readers his magical worlds may be more relatable than Nesbit’s magical books, which can seem old-fashioned and stuffy to modern children. Eager’s books maintain a timelessness that allows current child readers to be as enchanted as I was when I discovered his books in the sixties. Because Eager is a lover of puns and jokes, his books are both entertaining and adventurous. But behind the fun there is more: the sense that an adult is telling important facts about issues of family loyalty and love, and of course Eager always includes a lesson concerning the love of reading and books. Behind the adventure there is the wise reminder that, even while growing up, it’s still possible to see the world as a place of enchantment and to not lose what we had as children: the power of imagination.

Eager’s theory of magic is that it can and will thwart you whenever possible. For children, well aware that the adult world often thwarts childhood itself, the contrary rules of magic come as no surprise. At last, someone is telling the truth: the world around us often doesn’t make sense, and we have to do our best to figure it out. Magic is playful and unreliable, and that’s half the fun of it, especially when it’s doled out in halves or discovered in a lake on a summer vacation. The participants have to figure out the rules as they go along, as they would a puzzle or a game with rules that may shift and change. They make mistakes — some amusing, some dangerous — and in many instances they have to tame the magic and take control of it lest it take control of them. Is this not the deepest fear and wish of every child? That he or she will manage to take charge of a world that is chaotic and unfathomable? As every child reader knows, especially those with unhappy childhoods, the first exit out of the dreariness and difficulties of one’s real life is through reading. All books make for a good escape route, although novels are always preferable, and, as one of the characters in Edward Eager’s bookish and wonderful Seven-Day Magic asserts, “the best kind of book…is a magic book.”

* * *

Eager’s magic series totaled only seven in number due to his untimely death at the age of fifty-three. Still, seven is the most magical of numbers, just enough books to last through a summer. One of the best summers I remember with my own son was the summer of Edward Eager, a glorious time when we read all of the books in the series aloud, often in a hammock, beside a pond that some people said was enchanted. Half Magic begins the series, with a troublemaking talisman found on the sidewalk that grants only half wishes, including a cat that can half-talk in a hilarious half-language. O, unpredictable magic, wise enough to make certain that the adults in the picture remain unaware of its powers! Children can see what adults cannot, in life and in Eager’s book. The novels that follow — Knight’s Castle, Magic by the Lake, The Time Garden, Magic or Not?, and The Well-Wishers — lead up to the final book, the brilliant Seven-Day Magic, which gets to the heart of Eager’s enchantments. Here, a library book that can be checked out only for seven days creates literary enchantment. When I read it I couldn’t help but think: how does Mr. Edward Eager know this is what happened to me in my library, on my summer vacation, when I first discovered Half Magic on the shelf? And then I understood what the best novels do: they know how you feel before you do.

hoffman_practical magicMy own work for children has been influenced by Eager and his creation of what I call suburban magic, and my aptly titled Practical Magic is a book for adults who can still remember what magic was all about. No enchanted woods, no brothers who turn into swans, no vine-covered cottages, but rather small towns where nothing unusual ever happens — until one day, it suddenly does. The suburbs would seem the least likely place in the world to find magic, and yet such places turn out to be rife with enchantment. Here every bit of enchantment matters, and each firefly counts. My own magical books for children occur in small towns and suburbs, often in the summer, often involving the characters who most need magic in their lives: the lonely, the unloved, the secret-keeper, the fearful, the outsider that most of us were at some point in childhood.

Here is the best thing about magic: you never know if it’s real or imagined. But as Eager suggested, “The next best thing to having it actually happen to you is to read about it…” As a child I found solace in books in a way I couldn’t in the real world. I understood, in some deep, immutable way, that even the powerless have power through imagination. That is the gift of magic and of Edward Eager’s books. All you have to do is walk out the door on a July afternoon and turn the corner, and magic will be waiting for you. All you have to do is read.

From the May/June 2015 special issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Transformations.


The post The Writer’s Page: In the Time of Daily Magic appeared first on The Horn Book.

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25. How to name character and place, so that reader feel connected.

Question: I am an Indian, and Indian names and places appear sometimes alien to people in other countries. I want to write horror fiction inspired by witchcraft,

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