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1. A Naughty Elephant Learns the Value of Good Behavior

Rupert is acting very naughty at home and at school...but one day someone new comes to class who is even NAUGHTIER... has Rupert met his match? 

Written by Laura Brigger

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2. Added to the List: Simon & Schuster Edition

Over the past few weeks I have gotten quite a bounty of books in the mail.  Some I requested, some I entered contests to win, and some surprises.  Since I know I am not going to get them all read I decided I wanted to highlight them here and tell you what I think sounds great about each book.  Today are the books I have gotten from Simon & Schuster.  I was fortunate enough to get a box of upcoming summer releases and there are some really good ones in this box.  The best things about the books they sent is that there were a bunch that had escaped my notice that I know will be big hits in my library.

1.  Crown of Three by JD Rinehart.  I hadn't heard anything about this book until I opened this box.  It looks great and I think will be a big hit with my students.  The synopsis kind of reminded me of a few fantasy series that my kids like--Ranger's Apprentice and the False Prince.  I might loan this to one of my stronger readers over spring break and get his opinion.

2.  The Orphan Army (Nightsiders #1) by Jonathan Maberry.  If you know anything about me by reading this blog you know that I LOVED the ROT & RUIN series by Jonathan Maberry.  Not a single one of those books failed, he kept the series amped up all the way through (although the third one was pretty dark).  I am not sure about the sunopsis of this book but Mr. Maberry has earned my loyalty and I am excited to give this one a try.

3.  Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca.  YA romance.  Looks really good, maybe a little deeper than your typical YA romance.  Will probably rip right through this one.

4.  Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield.  It wasn't until right now, while writing this post that I realized this one was the third in a series.  The synopsis doesn't read like it is the third and I think it sounds really interesting.  I think I will give this one a try without reading the other two first.

5.  River Runs Deep by Jennifer Bradbury.  This sounds like such a good historical fiction book. 

6.  Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten.  This one sounds heartbreaking.  A broken friendship and a mystery.  I had already downloaded the egalley of this one because it sounded so amazing. 

7.  Shackled by Tom Leveen.  This is also one I hadn't heard of until I opened the box, but it's the one I ended up throwing in my bag for school today.  I doubt I will get it started but it sounds so creepy and suspensful.  Haven't read any Tom Leveen yet, but always heard good things!

8.  Attack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti.  Again one I hadn't heard of, but after flipping through it I went and added it to my order for next fall.  It is a combo super hero/graphic novel.  I think this is going to be really big with the middle grade set!

9.  Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway by Mac Brallier & Rachel Maguire.  Again one that went right on my order for next fall.  This is a graphic novel that will be loved by Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate readears!

10.  Dime by E. R. Frank.  Hadn't heard of this one at all, but wow, it sounds so heart breaking.  It's about teen prostitution and I have a feeling that it will be a story that grabs on from the beginning and won't let go.

11.  The Secret Cookie Club by Martha Freeman.  Sounds like a sweet, quick, fun read that might be perfect after I read Dime!

Thanks so much for the books Simon & Schuster.  I am grateful for you bringing several of these to my attention.  Will pass along reviews as I get them read!

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3. So you want to write a children's book?

As a publisher, I subscribe to a lot of book publishing and marketing newsletters. Yesterday, I received the following email from two of those newsletters:

Ever wanted to write a children’s book?
If so, publishing your work as an e-book on Amazon’s Kindle platform is a great way to go – and now is a great time to get started.
The children's e-book market is up 475% this year alone, which makes it one of the fastest-growing book categories on Amazon.
Plus, once you know a simple formula, children’s books are one of the easiest types of books to write.
To discover how to get started writing and publishing your own children’s e-books, join Steve Harrison for a free webinar this Wednesday, April 1. (link redacted)
Steve will be interviewing an author who wrote a silly little 26-page Kindle children’s book in less than seven days, which, more than two years later, still produces more than $1,000 in royalties each month!
The idea that anyone can write a children's book using a "simple formula" is offensive and misleading. Writing a good children's book is not easy, it's hard! It takes dedication, hard work and a willingness to educate yourself about children's writing.

A common misconception is that writing for children is easy, because the writing in children's books appears simple. But that simplicity is deceptive; it takes skill and experience to know how to write for children in a way that's appealing without talking down to them. Writing good children's books is harder than writing good adult books. That book your children beg you to read every night? It was probably the result of many rounds of edits trying to get exactly the right words and the right tone. Of course, good adult writers do the same thing, but they don't have to agonize over every word, every sentence the way children's writers do.

Simplicity is hard! Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most well-known and beloved children’s writers. The seemingly simple rhyming text of his stories has fooled many writers into thinking that it’s easy to write such books, but Geisel labored over each book, writing and rewriting, sometimes for a year or more.

Encouraging people to write a "silly little" children's book using a "simple formula" does no one a service, least of all the writers themselves. The marketing copy above leads people to believe that fame and riches are just around the corner and easy to achieve, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. There are thousands of new children's books published every year, probably even more than that when you count all the self-published books. Many of those will languish in obscurity, many others will sell a decent number of copies and sit solidly midlist, and very few will sell a large number of copies. I personally know many, many children's authors, both traditionally published and self-published, and very few are getting rich. (Actually, I don't think any of my author friends are rich. If you are, let's talk!)

If you want to write a children's book, great! I admire anyone who pours their heart, soul, time, and effort into writing a book. But don't do it in expectation of making money. Yes, you might get lucky like the author mentioned in the ad above, but that's the exception, not the rule, and unless you are very, very lucky you won't achieve that. There is no magic formula that guarantees success - believe me, if there were, the big publishers would be using it! If you're going to write for children, do it for love, not for money. For most authors I know, the letters they receive from children mean much more than the royalty check. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money from your writing, but if you go into it with that as your primary goal, there's a good chance that you're in for disappointment.

As a book blogger and Cybils Awards organizer/judge, I'm active in the children's book blogging community. Self-published books have developed a bad reputation in the community, and many bloggers now have review policies that exclude self- or indie published books. For years, I've advocated for indie publishing among my peers. Authors self-publish for many reasons, and self-publishing by itself is not an indicator of the level of quality. Self-publishing gives a voice to those who are disenfranchised by the traditional publishing industry. As one of the leaders of the Cybils Awards, I continually advocate to keep self-published books eligible and judged fairly and impartially. There are excellent self-published books, and a few have even been finalists or winners in the Cybils Awards.

But I sometimes feel that advocating for self-publishing is an uphill battle, when for every excellent book there are hundreds of others that are poorly done. People like Steve Harrison are making the situation worse by encouraging people to take the easy road, to produce more dreck that will further drag down the reputation of self-publishing. Not only that, but it misleads authors to believe that there is an easy road to success. There is no easy road that guarantees success! You might get lucky, but then, someone wins the Publishers Clearing House, too.

If you want to write a children's book, go for it! But rather than looking for easy formulas, take the time to learn what makes a good children's book. To start with, read a great many children's books. (If you have children, this isn't hard!) Read them critically, with an eye to what works well and what doesn't. (I've learned so much about children's books from nearly ten years of reviewing them for the blog, and nine years of being a Cybils judge). Read books about writing children's books. Take classes from reputable institutions or teachers. Join the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and your regional chapter of it. Attend writing conferences. Join or form a critique group. Check out any potential agents, publishers, promotional companies, contests, and more on the excellent Preditors and Editors.

One of my good friends, Anne Boles Levy, has her first book coming out in August, a YA fantasy published by independent publisher Sky Pony Press. For Anne, it's been at least a fifteen year journey: writing, editing, revising, and submitting the book. Anne works regularly with a critique group that includes multiple award-winning authors; I believe that the group has been working together since before any of them were published. During that fifteen years, in addition to writing Anne also invested a lot of time into things that helped her to be known in the children's book community: blogging, attending conferences, and even founding a children's book award. None of that guarantees any good reviews, of course, but it does mean that Anne has a better than average chance of getting bloggers to take a look at it. I haven't yet seen the book (although I can't wait!) but I assume that all the work she put into writing it has paid off in the form of an excellent book.

Now, I'm not saying that everyone needs to invest fifteen years. That's a lot of time to wait to achieve your dreams. But I am saying that true success does not come overnight in most cases, and if you want to succeed, you need dedication, perseverance, hard work, and a willingness to learn.

Don’t give in to the siren call of get-rich-quick schemes. Instead, invest your time and money in learning the craft and trade of children’s writing and publishing.

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4. April Fools' Day

April has arrived! It’s time to tell jokes and play tricks on your friends and family. Here are some books to tickle your funny bone. 

Picture Books

Joke Books

Posted by Miss Meghan 

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5. Helping Herbie Hedgehog

hhh1Melissa Abramovitz has a charming new picture book from Guardian Angel Publishing. It’s called Helping Herbie Hedgehog.

About the Book
Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ’cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong He’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things.
 Suggested age range for readers: 2-7

Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (February 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1616336129
ISBN-13: 978-1616336127

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6. A Dispute May Erupt Between HarperCollins & Amazon

harpercollins200Rumors have been swirling that HarperCollins may enter into a dispute with Amazon.

Here’s more from BusinessInsider: “The contract presented to HarperCollins was the same contract recently signed by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan, our source says. If HarperCollins and Amazon don’t come to an agreement, no print or digital HarperCollins books will be available on Amazon once its current contract runs out ‘very soon,’ our source says.”

Last year, Hachette Book Group USA had to deal with a similar issue. The publisher was locked in battle with the internet retail giant due to disagreements over eBook pricing. Several authors spoke out about the situation including Trigger Warning author Neil Gaiman, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, and David & Goliath author Malcolm Gladwell. (via GeekWire.com)

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7. 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos

GantosSuttonPlease join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.


The post 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos appeared first on The Horn Book.

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8. Don't Forget Who Loves You by Hilary Grist

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9. Melissa Abramovitz Talks About Her New Book

book bites for kidsMelissa Abramovitz will be the guest on Book Bites for Kids on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at 2:30 Central time.

She will talk about her new book, Helping Herbie Hedgehog.

To listen to the live show, on Tuesday April 7th at 2:30 central time, just go online to www.bookbitesforkids.com.

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10. April Fool’s Day Books for Kids

No fooling. Here’s a list of fun books that will introduce young children to the concept of April Fool’s Day.

Order the e-book or audio versions and enjoy them today with your children – or your class.

April Foolishness

April Foolishness by Teresa Bateman

About the Book
It’s a spring morning on the farm. Grandpa is fixing breakfast for his visiting grandkids. Suddenly his grandson reports that the cows have got loose! He thinks Big Brown Bessie just stepped on a goose!

April Fool watch out at school

April Fool! Watch Out at School! by Diane de Groat

About the Book
It’s April Fools’ Day, and Gilbert is looking forward to playing tricks on his friends. Unfortunately he’s the one getting tricked by everyone else, including Mrs. Byrd! But the worst prankster is Lewis the bully. In the end Gilbert outwits Lewis with the best trick of all.

Diane deGroat’s delightful story and fun-filled illustrations will enchant readers of all ages, especially when they discover the surprises in many of the illustrations. The reader is getting April Fooled, too!

April Fool! A Harry and Emily Adventure

April Fool! A Harry & Emily Adventure by Karen Gray Ruelle

About the Book
Harry the cat, his little sister Emily, and their parents all play tricks on each other for April Fools’ Day.

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11. Job change!

Big change!

Today is my last day at Freelancers Union, on Monday I'm entering the world of finance and will be working for the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. Having worked now in publishing, tech, the nonprofit sector, and soon in finance, I'm leaving no stone in the economy unturned.

It's been a great year and a half at Freelancers Union, and looking forward to exciting things ahead.

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12. Review of Please Excuse This Poem

lauer_please excuse this poemPlease Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
High School   Viking   289 pp.
3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g

“Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning poets who likely do just that — an audience that won’t be disappointed with the volume’s one hundred poems, which meander through topics and styles and, for the most part, unabashedly ignore conventions of form. The best of these poets pack punches with raw handling of timely issues, such as Terrance Hayes with “Talk” (“…like a nigger is what my white friend, M, / asked me, the two of us alone and shirtless / in the locker room…M, where ever you are, / I’d just like to say I heard it, but let it go / because I was afraid to lose our friendship / or afraid we’d lose the game — which we did anyway”) and Patricia Lockwood with her uncomfortably humorous “Rape Joke,” one of the most powerful of the bunch (“Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke”). What will appeal to teens (and new adults) the most about this anthology, and what holds it all together, however loosely, is its gritty, unapologetic sensibility, and the feeling that many of these poems were perhaps, at one point, secrets. A lengthy “about the poets” section provides biographical details and answers to such prompts as “your idea of misery.”

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


The post Review of Please Excuse This Poem appeared first on The Horn Book.

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13. New Voice: Trina St. Jean on Blank

Read an excerpt.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Trina St. Jean is the first-time author of Blank (Orca, 2015). From the promotional copy:

All Jessica knows is what the Man and Woman in the hospital room tell her:

She’s fifteen.

Thanks to a bison bull in a rage one Very Bad Day on the family ranch, she was in a coma for weeks.

The Man and Woman are her parents.

The rest of her life is a long blank that her damaged mind refuses to fill in for her. The doctors say that brain injury is to blame for the explosive temper she can’t control. What scares her most is the coldness she feels towards though she’s supposed to care about, including the Girl staring back at her from the mirror.

When the doctors say they can’t do anything more for her, it’s time for her to go home and rebuild her shattered life. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t be the old Jessica that everyone misses so much. And the memories of who she used to be, and what exactly happened on that Very Bad Day, stay stubbornly hidden in the shadows of her mind. Everything she does ends in disaster: returning to school, trying to reconnect with friends, struggling to fit into a world where she no longer belongs.

Just when Jessica is losing hope that things will ever be normal, a new friend offers an alternative to staying in her old life. 

Jessica must confront the reality of what it means to truly leave the past behind.

Could you describe both your pre-and-post contract revision process? What did you learn along the way? How did you feel at each stage? What advice do you have for other writers on the subject of revision?

Before I describe the long (years!) process of revision I went through with my YA novel Blank, I should tell you a little about the approach I took when writing it.

One word sumps it up: random.

Really, really, as-random-as-you-can-get random.

Essentially, I wrote little snippets of scenes, in no particular order, whenever they came to me, with no thought to plot development or story arcs or any kind of structure.

A few years later, when I had hundreds of pages of these snapshots, I entered into an exhausting, extended wrestling match in which I tried to force those scenes into some kind of logical order.

During this wrestling match, which I often felt I was losing, I berated myself: why, why, why had I done this to myself? Once I had it in an order that made sense, I spent another stretch of years trying to make the prose tighter, develop characters more fully and tweak subplots.

I should mention, though, that there were many distractions during this process. Specifically, two cute little distractions with diapers and chubby cheeks.

Some strategies I used for revision had me feeling a bit like Russell Crowe’s character in the movie "A Beautiful Mind." One spring break from my day teaching job, I sent my daughters (now well out of diapers) to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s farm and I covered the living room wall in sticky notes representing scenes, playing around with the plot. I created giant mind maps using a wonderful free program, called MindNode, to visualize the connections between themes and characters and symbols. I’m also a huge fan of Scrivener, a writing software made for Macs with a nice cork board you can move scene cards around on.

Once I had the novel structure down, I hid myself away in my bedroom, door locked, and read the manuscript aloud and recorded myself. Then I hid away again and played it back, pausing and replaying and fixing more things. On the next round, I printed the manuscript off in a different font to trick my mind into seeing it with “fresh” eyes and read through it again, and then again.

All of these things eventually got me to the place where I felt Blank was the best I could make it.

As long and arduous as revision was, I learned a lot about writing, about structure, about polishing and cutting and getting to the heart of a character. And maybe the biggest lesson of all: For my next novel, I will avoid the random approach to novel writing, taking the time to think at least a little about the “big picture.” Hopefully this will shave a few years off the process.

Once the novel was accepted, I used my editor’s comments to do one overall revision, with some plot changes and enhancement to character motivation, then several revisions for smaller details like language choice and dealing with inconsistencies.

I remember the moment on my final go through, while gazing out at the water on vacation on a houseboat, when it hit me that people were actually going to read this thing I had been obsessing over all these years (or hopefully, at least).

Photo of Trina by Eileen Abad
Panic set in. I think I could have gone on editing forever, but luckily, I had a deadline to put a stop to my fanaticism.

How did I feel during the stages of revision?

There were times when I was extremely frustrated, especially when nailing down the plot. I am an indecisive person – I can change my mind several times just picking yogurt at the grocery store – so the limitless number of choices when writing can be overwhelming.

I went for long, brooding walks. I talked to myself. I scribbled endless notes on scraps of paper, and talked through ideas with my husband and my daughters.

During other parts of editing, I felt more exhilarated, especially when polishing the language. There were fewer decisions to make, but it was easy to see the immediate result of changes.

Overall, the journey of novel revision was challenging beyond anything I could have imagined but also extremely rewarding and satisfying. I survived the wrestling match, and developed some muscles and better techniques that should help me now that I am back in the ring working on book number two.

I've recently created a new home office space for myself, with folding screens that I am using as giant bulletin boards for my mind maps and sticky notes.

Trina's writing space
As a contemporary fiction writer, how did you deal with the pervasiveness of rapidly changing technologies? Did you worry about dating your manuscript? Did you worry about it seeming inauthentic if you didn't address these factors? Why or why not?

When I started Blank, there was no such thing as texting. Cell phones were around, of course, but they were more of a tool for working adults rather than a teen must-have/extension of self, and social media was only just beginning to pop up.

Jessie, the main character, struggles desperately to put together the puzzle of who she was before a brain injury and memory loss. In my first draft, she studied photo albums, read her old journal and checked her email from time to time in search of clues of her past.

During revision process, I knew I had to add texting and social media and all the other ways a teenager now would go about tracing her past and reconnecting with her life. Including the technology ended up bringing some fun and meaningful elements to the story, too, which was a nice surprise.

Without the changes, for example, I wouldn’t have created The Hedgegod, a wise creature Jessie follows on Twitter who dispels quills and inspiring quotes. He's based on my daughters' real pet hedgehog, Velcro, who we all think is pretty wise himself.

In the very near future, I know facebook might be passé (some argue it already is) and teens will be onto something completely different. Having it play a key role in Blank may date the novel, but it’s so prevalent it couldn’t be ignored.

Even further down the road, when my grandchildren read Blank, it’ll seem completely old-fashioned. Texting? What’s that? By then, teens might have implanted devices that allow them to share even a smell or thought with others.

Cynsational Notes

Like Trina St. Jean on Facebook, and follow @thehedgedog on Twitter. 

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14. 30 Days, 30 Stories - Writers Beware

The first of our annual 30 Days, 30 Stories comes from Marion Steiger. It is a humorous account of a different kind of writer’s block.

Get your head in the right place before you have surgery on your hand. Prepare for your dermatologist to tell you not to use your computer after he removes a Squamous cell carcinoma planted on top of your right hand. Yes. Right hand. Of course I’m right handed. Four to seven days minimum without writing is killing me. It hurts worse than the incision site.
Another warning. Don’t wear jeans with a zipper and metal button. I unbuttoned and unzipped after a short struggle and made it to the toilet in time. (You get to figure out the bathroom stuff on your own.) What I couldn’t do was re-zip and button up. Sloppy pull-on sweat pants worked after I balanced on the edge of the tub and inched them up one leg at a time. Warm socks came after the pants, big toe first, then more pulling and pushing, all wrong handed. 
 Don’t wear a tight pull-over T-shirt for surgery. You’ll be begging for help when your head gets stuck in the neck hole and you’re tired and a touch weak in the knees. My only suggestion for bras—wear one and have someone waiting to unhook it. Same for putting it back on. Either forget it or plan to be hooked and unhooked. 
TV, even previously recorded shows, and reading and free time are huge disappointments when they’re all you’re allowed to do. Left-handed writing is unreadable. Texting worked a touch better after I remembered my stylus, but still slower than a snail. I gave up. 
Ever opened a can of Diet Coke or bottle of water with one hand? Even with the right hand? Forget it. About eating—forget that, too, after the numbing goes away. It hurts to lift a fork or spoon. Knife? Ha. No glass of wine before and after surgery. It makes for more blood. 
If I have a third surgery, I may show up totally sleep deprived. Oh, arrange your pillows before bedtime to keep your hand elevated. And avoid rolling over if you want to keep the covers from capturing your arms and legs. Untangling wakes you and anyone sleeping beside you. Maybe sleep alone and keep the peace.
Expect to wear out your left index finger when you sneak out the laptop, which writers must do, and type with your wrong hand. Also, don’t expect your computer to read your needs. It’s smart, but refuses to text. Plan to put in your own apostrophes and capital letters and clicking the space-bar twice won’t automatically add a period. 
Here are my serious suggestions. Well, mostly serious. Don’t grow up in Florida. Don’t move to Utah to ski in the snow and on the water. Don’t hike the mountains; the altitude puts you closer to the sun. Never forget the sunblock, which we never had when I sunbathed on Jacksonville Beach.
And if you ignore these warnings, never forget to visit your favorite dermatologist regularly. Thank you Dr. Hinckley for taking great care freezing, cutting, and stitching my skin problems without scolding me once for ruining my skin.
Also, thank you to my understanding husband for never fussing about my whining and complaints and helping me with all but one problem. You figure that out.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the thin, flat squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin.

We still have plenty of days open. Email me at bruceluck@ymail.com if you would like to contribute a story.

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15. “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” Goes From Screen to Page

Paige McKenzie’s \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" YouTube series has more than 130 million views, her @hauntedsunshine page has 10.7k followers, and her book just pubbed. She’s 20.

Alexandra Alter in the New York Times described how McKenzie, a business partner at 16 with film producer Nick Hagen and her actress/voice-over artist mother, Mercedes Rose, launched the mockumentary web series almost five years ago. In about a year, the \"Haunting\" videos had more than five million views.

Shot, starring, and edited by McKenzie, the story features teenager Sunshine Griffiths, who captures on film the ghost that haunts her home and then struggles to save her mother from being possessed by dark forces. Weinstein Books has brought \"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl\" brand to print in a YA novel series, slated to include three books so far, with screen rights optioned, as well.

Here’s the book trailer posted yesterday by McKenzie and Weinstein:

Alter describes how literary agent Mollie Glick spotted a piece on McKenzie in Seventeen magazine. She introduced McKenzie to YA writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel, who drafted a few chapters and an outline. A book deal quickly followed, and McKenzie is quick to credit Sheinmel:

\"I can’t do this by myself, are you crazy?\" Ms. McKenzie said. \"I’ve never written a book. I don’t know how to do that.\"

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16. A to Z Challenge - A is for Alice


No, not Alice in Wonderland, although I am using the challenge this year to mention characters, themes, in my children's books, rather than use other authors'  books as I've done previously.

So A is for Alice in my children's fantasy Thin Time, the first in a series of children's books that will be followed by the second in the Task Bearer series called Fymm. 

Here you will meet a snake-dragon, a squirrel who can't be trusted, three witches who knit frog skins into garments, a dangerous quest that must succeed if the world is to survive, and a five hundred year old dog with a very bad temper.

Why Alice, because many girls at my book signings ask, 'Why do you always have a boy for hero? Why not a girl?' So here she is, armed only with a gargoyles shield and a stone to fight the evil Snake-Dragon.

ps. I included her brother for boy readers! 

pps. My Easter Newsletter includes a very cheap offer - my eBook version of Thin Time. If you would like to sign up for my monthly newsletter, please let me know, it would be great to see you join in. You can contact me as always at http://caroleannecarr.co.uk

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17. Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over - a bookwrap (CD included)

Welcome to Storywraps.  Hope your day ahead is wonderful and a book is in your hand to enjoy sometime today.  I am unwrapping another beautiful Book/CD combo from: 

"The Secret Mountain"

" It is a Montreal- based publisher of beautifully produced children's books and music from around the world, in French and English.  Several of their titles, including Songs from the Baobab, A Duck in New York City, and Listen to the Birds, have won international acclaim and Parents' Choice Gold Awards."

Unwrapping some quotes...

Unwrapping today's featured Book/CD...

Created by Hilary Grist

Ages: Birth - 5

Duration of CD:  51 minutes 

also available in enhanced Ebook for iPad 


Hilary Grist wrote the story, created the clay characters and performs her original songs.  Her music is both soothing and restful, music that the whole family can tap into and enjoy.  

"Her smooth rhythmic text and stunning artwork cast in a soft light between sleep and waking, make a perfect summertime treat, wafting listeners into a reposeful musical world reminiscent of Norah Jones and Feist."

Ira and Isabelle, a brother and sister, live in a tiny red house beside the sea.  One night they decide to get on a boat and sail to a faraway land where they want to escape the sounds of the busy city.  They encounter a gentle, soft-spoken robin, that convinces them that dreams truly can become a reality.  The CD impacts minds and hearts with nine heartwarming dream songs culminating in a beautiful rendition of Johanne Brahm's classic "Cradle Song."  

The CD playlist is:

*Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over  (Narration)
*Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over
*Fall in my Loving Arms
*Swallow Me up
*Float Away
*Le Petit Oiseau
*Say Goodnight
*City of Green and Blue
*I'll Be There 
*Cradle Song

Duration time: 51 minutes

The only word I can think of to describe this Book/CD is beautiful.  I highly recommend it and know it would make a perfect gift for a newborn baby or to have in your own family collection.

Unwrapping Hilary...

Written by Andrew King (Editor, Canadian Musician) 
With her latest release, Come & Go, enchanting Vancouver chanteuse Hilary Grist has composed the soundtrack for the feature film that is your life. Whether it’s a tandem bicycle ride along the boardwalk on a sunny day or an evening nestled in blankets on the porch swing with some tea and Tolstoy, there’s a song for any scene.
The record is Grist’s second full-length offering, joining a handful of EPs in the prolific performer/songwriter’s back catalog, and picks up right where 2010’s Imaginings left off. Her signature brand of firefly folk dipped in dreamy, jazzy art pop envelopes her dulcet, often delicate vocal delivery. The result is a beautiful blend of styles that borrows from acts like Feist, Norah Jones, and Neko Case without being derivative of any single one.
Born in Quesnel, BC and bred in Maple Ridge, Grist was composing music at the piano in pre-school. Later years of piano lessons and singing with the high school choir propelled her to Vancouver, where she studied jazz at the world-renowned Capilano University while deepening her pool of musical influences and honing her songwriting skills.
Grist’s songs can evoke emotion with ease, and their cinematic conductivity translates as well to the big and small screens as it does to her listeners’ real-life narratives. Her music has enhanced dramatic and romantic sequences in a vast number of television programs, including Grimm (NBC), Being Human (NBC/Syfy), Arctic Air (CBC), Continuum(Showcase) and Degrassi (MuchMusic). She’s also a perennial favourite of taste-making campus stations across the continent, is featured regularly on the CBC, and has been heralded by critics like Alan Cross and CBC’s Lana Gay and countless press outlets, including The Province and Vancouver Sun.
What’s more, the accolades extend beyond music and into other media. Her quirky creative flare with visual art and video has garnered admiration from fans and followers across the globe. From hand-drawn and chalkboard-animated music videos to cardboard cityscapes, colourful e-cards, and beyond, Grist’s output isn’t limited to cleverly crafted pop songs. Already, Grist has a nomination for ‘Video of the Year’ at this year’s WCMAs (Western Canada Music Awards). She even has a children’s book with an accompanying soundtrack in the works.

 Find out more about her at:  hilarygrist.com

Read on and read always!
It's a wrap.

Contact me at Storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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18. Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone (US & CAN)

Book’s Title:  Compulsion        

Author’s Name: Martina Boone
Release Date: 10/28/14


About the Book

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Martina-Final--6-sm.jpgAbout the Author

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She’s the author of SIBA Book Award nominated Compulsion, book one in the romantic Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall ’14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published in October 2015.

She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to the discovery and celebration of young adult literature and encouraging literacy through YA series.

From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, a lopsided cat, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

Learn More: Website | YA Series Insiders | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest



Writers seem to fall into two categories when it comes to music and writing. Some can listen to songs that inspire them as they write, but for me, hearing someone else's words interferes with getting my own words on the page. I do listen to music before I write to help set a mood or help me process an idea.

I've put all the 24 songs that remind me of different aspects of  COMPULSION into a YouTube playlist, which is embedded at the bottom of this post, but you can also listen to a few of the important ones below.

The first song, “Truly Brave,” is the mashup between Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Sara Bareilles' “Brave” was released to raise awareness (and donations) for pediatric cancer long after I finished COMPULSION, but for me, it has become an anthem for Barrie and for every girl or person who needs to find her voice, her confidence, her strength--her brave. Even today, girls are too often dismissed or marginalized.

Having been sheltered all her life, Barrie starts off the book both determined to have a voice and scared that if she follows her heart and instincts, other people will love her less. It takes courage to believe your opinion and your voice counts. You’re not always going to be right, but you always deserve to be heard.

Sam Smith’s cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” is perfect for Barrie’s relationship with Eight Beaufort (Charles Beaufort, VIII). Since her mother’s death, Barrie’s gift is starting to expand a bit beyond her usual compulsion to find lost things. The gift draws Barrie to Eight, but she doesn’t understand why. At the same time, Eight’s gift for knowing what people want makes it easy for him to connect with her. She can't help wondering how much of that is a true connection and how much is a manipulation?

There are references to Carolina “beach music” throughout COMPULSION. It’s music that Barrie knows because her mother ran off with the bad boy across the river and spent her whole life regretting that choice and listening to the songs that reminded her of what she'd left behind.

Since at the turn of the 18th century, thirty to fifty percent of the slaves forced to work the lowcountry rice plantations of the Carolinas were Native American, the folk magic, healing knowledge, and mystical traditional practiced by the descendants of the plantation slaves is a blend of African, West Indian, Native American, and European beliefs. This is touched on lightly in COMPULSION and explored more deeply in the next two books, and I've been lucky to have an archeologist and professor of anthropology work with me on the research involved.

One of the songs I listened to most often as I was writing COMPULSION was the rastafarian version of “By the Rivers of Babylon,” sung by The Melodians, which is a beautiful song about exile and despair based on Psalm 137.

The Fire Carrier and the yunwi, the little people, are both from Cherokee mythology, so one of the songs I listened to as I tried to construct Barrie’s mystical connection to the land and to Watson’s Landing was the beautiful Cherokee “Morning Song.”

Songs like “You Raise Me Up,” and Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are” remind me of the way Barrie and Eight make each other “more,” which explains the friendship and growing potential between them.

And the gorgeous Cherokee version of “Amazing Grace” is for Mark. Because.

Finally, Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" reminds me of the Fire Carrier, who has his own journey in the series, but the song that speaks to me most for the Fire Carrier is an old Irish one, "Mo Ghile Mear," sung by Sting and the Chieftains. That's a bit of a spoiler for the series, but I couldn't resist including it.

You can listen to all 24 songs in the playlist here:


Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a $25 iTunes Gift Card and a “I have a compulsion for reading” tote bag. US & Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30-60 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question tyou'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What is the Watson gift? (Find the answer here)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19. Hilary Grist - Tomorrow Is A Chance To Start Over

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20. Meet Children’s Author Melissa Abramovitz

melissaMelissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer for nearly 30 years and specializes in writing nonfiction magazine articles and books for all age groups. She is the author of hundreds of magazine articles, more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers, numerous poems and short stories, several children’s picture books, and a book for writers titled, A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines.

Melissa also does freelance manuscript editing. She is a graduate of the University of California San Diego and the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of SCBWI, Children’s Book Insider, and The Working Writer’s Club.

Visit her website at www.melissaabramovitz.com

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21. Brahms- Cradle Song

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22. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

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24. 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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25. Rabbit Rabbit: April

Gray skies are gonna clear up...


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