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Let’s try something a little new. I’m only human. I like to rant and rail about various children’s books being lamentably out-of-print as much as the next guy. But I also acknowledge that in the current publishing state in which we live it is simply not possible to keep all books in print.
That said, there really are a couple books out there that I think deserve another chance at life. Now I’ve done variations on this kind of post before. Last year I wrote the piece Baby, Remember My Name: Picture Book Gems of Years Past. In 2010 there was also Two Down! One to Go. But apparently I haven’t done a consistent series on books I’d love to see resuscitated. Why not start today?
Let’s be systematic about this, though. Can’t be asking for any old thing to be republished. And since I’ve already talked your ear off about the remarkable out-of-print Newbery Honor winning book The Winged Girl of Knossos (seriously, bring it back) let’s try something a bit more recent, eh whot?
Publisher: Blue Sky Press (an imprint of Scholastic)
When Was It Published?: 2009
Is It Out-of-Print?: Yup.
Why Should Someone Bring It Back?: Well, here’s the plot as I reviewed it back in the day:
“One day, while sitting in a plant in a pot, a caterpillar named Oscar makes the acquaintance of a high flying butterfly by the name of Bob. Bob’s on his way to Mexico, and he assures little Oscar that one day he’ll have a pair of wings too and can follow. Bob is intrigued by this notion, and even though the other caterpillars mock him, he teams up with a local bookworm Edna to learn about butterflies and Mexico. By the time he’s ready to go for a long sleep, Bob has learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases. But oh no! When he awakes, Bob discovers that he’s not a butterfly at all but a measly moth! Yet buoyed by Edna’s faith in him, Bob determines to go to Mexico anyway. And if you happen to travel to Mexico someday and see a moth sitting there, you might hear him say, “Mi nombre es Oscar!” loud and happy and proud. A section at the end provides English to Spanish translations as well as some useful facts about butterflies and moths.”
Now as far as I can ascertain, this is pretty much the ONLY picture book I’ve ever encountered that took the idea of butterflies flying South for the winter to Mexico and decided that the logical thing for any butterfly to do would be to learn the Spanish language. It’s a brilliant notion! Add in the art, which is reminiscent of 1930s Walt Disney cartoons (in a good way) with lots of straw boaters and ukuleles, and you’ve got yourself a lovely book.
Think about it. Spanish language words pepper the text. The book deals with the subject of handling your disappointment in a strong, smart manner. And you’ve got the metamorphosis aspect to boot.
The time has never been better to bring this puppy back in print. Go for it, Scholastic!
Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama is the newest book by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama is a superb addition to the genre of narrative non-fiction, and a welcome addition to books about the Civil Rights Movement. Beginning in January of 1962, Bass sets the scene, telling readers that
Welcome to our monthly Ask a Pub Pro feature where a publishing professional answers readers and writers' questions regarding the stories they love or their work in progress. This month, Stephanie Diaz, author of the Extraction series, joins us to answer questions on chapter breaks and unusual time periods.
We'd love to have you send in your questions for next month's column. Please send questions to AYAPLit AT gmail and put "Ask a Pub Pro Question" in the subject line. If your question is chosen, you'll get to include a link to your social media and a Tweet-sized blurb of your WIP.
Come on! Get those questions in!
Ask a Pub Pro with Stephanie Diaz
From Farida Mestek:
My question about the book concerns chapters. My YA fantasy novel is divided into four more or less equal parts, each having its individual title, but there are no chapter breaks within the parts. How important are chapters in this particular genre and for this audience? Should I attempt to introduce them within the book even though I can't decide where to end one chapter and to start the next one or can I leave it like that?
Chapters are helpful to readers because they allow for pauses in the book, places where the reader can take a breath or step away and easily come back. YA fantasies tend to be on the longer side, so not including chapters could make it hard for readers to get through the book. You don't necessarily need to have a new chapter every ten pages or even twenty, but I would recommend working some scene breaks into your novel, aside from the four parts. Look for the spots where scenes have a natural ending.
Check out some YA fantasies to get an idea of what scene breaks should read like, if you're unsure. The Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo has some great examples.
I'm writing an historical in a very unusual time period and am not sure it will be marketable. Is there any way to sort of test the market to find out if agents/editors/readers would even consider this time and setting?
There isn't any way to test the market other than to query your work once it's finished and see what agents have to say. However, I would highly recommend finding critique partners to share your idea with and read your manuscript before you start shopping it, so you can get a sense of whether it will appeal to readers.
There are also some really wonderful agents and editors who occasionally have #AskAgent and #AskEditor Q&As on Twitter. Keep an eye on those hashtags, and you may be able to get an answer by running the time and setting of your book by someone in the industry.
About the Author:
Twenty-two-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her first novel, Extraction, while studying film at San Diego State University. She is also the author of Rebellion and the forthcoming Evolution. When she isn't lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fangirling over TV shows. Visit her website at www.stephaniediazbooks.com and follow her on twitter at @StephanieEDiaz.
The uprising has begun. It's been seven days since Clementine and Logan, along with their allies, retreated into hiding on the Surface. The rebels may have won one battle against Commander Charlie, but the fight is far from finished. He has vowed to find a way to win—no matter the cost. Do the rebels have what it takes to defeat him and put an end to this war?
As Clementine and Logan enter a desperate race against time to defeat Commander Charlie—and attempt to weaken his power within his own ranks--they find themselves in a terrifying endgame that pits them against a brutal enemy, and each other. With every step, Clementine draws closer to losing Logan...and losing control of herself.
Continuing with the mesmerizing saga that started with Extraction, Stephanie Diaz blends science fiction, epic romance, and heart-stopping adventure to create a world that no reader will soon forget.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, is set during the days before the American Revolution and is narrated by a thirteen-year-old slave girl. It is one of my favorite historical fiction novels and why I was so excited to read Capital Days: Michael Shiner's Journal and the Growth of Our Nation by multi-award winning author Tonya Bolden. For this book, Bolden, who was writing another book when
I loved Night Owls, so I was eager to dive into Grave Matters. While it didn’t quite have the punch that the first book did, I enjoyed revisiting with Val, Elly, Cavale, and the rest of the Night Owls gang. The characters are what makes this series stand out for me, and I had a blast getting to know them better. There aren’t any that I dislike, and I even like the not so nice Stregoi vampires, led by Ivanov and his second in command, Katya.
Elly gets most of the attention in Grave Matters. She’s working as a bodyguard for Ivanov, the head of the Boston vampires. She has a tenuous relationship with the vamps, and as one incident after another start piling up and none of them make any sense, she begins to wonder if she’s putting a little too much trust in her employer. After she exorcises a ghost from a neighbor’s house, things get really weird. There’s a necromancer in town, and he’s causing all kinds of trouble. There’s also a rival vampire coven threatening Ivanov’s turf, so Elly has a lot on her plate.
There’s a lot of vampire politics and jostling for power. There are also an increasing number of the necromancer’s newly risen dead getting in the way and mucking things up. The necromancer interferes with both Cavale and Chaz, making them both determined to uncover his identity. While Cavale is a bad ass and more than capable of defending himself, Chaz is faced with the uncomfortable truth that he’s the weakest link of the Night Owls gang. Lia and Sunny can probably take on an entire town and emerge victorious, shy Justin, still adapting to his new undead existence, can more than hold his own, and Elly puts Chaz’ fighting abilities to shame. Add in Val’s reluctance to put him in danger, and you have a guy wrestling with his sense of self-worth. Chaz decides to do something about his state of helplessness, and finally comes into his own during the climax of the story.
There’s lots of action, and Elly is the main participant in the fighting. Cavale is in stealth mode, trying to track down the necromancer. When Chaz unlocks the key to the necromancer’s runes, they all have the uneasy realization that an ancient Mesopotamian god of the dead might be involved in the strange and deadly goings on, both in Boston and their towns. I thought this was a great twist, because, really, how do you defeat a god, and a god of the dead at that?
If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy series to take for a spin, the Night Owls books are great. They have great characters, fun plot twists, and lots of tense moments. The character interactions are my favorite aspect of the series, and there are just enough personalities to get to know without being overwhelming. The books are also very fast paced; nobody gets to sit on their thumbs for long before they’re scrambling to put out a paranormal fire or save somebody from an unpleasant end. I can hardly wait for the third book in the series!
Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy’s thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life…
Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual…
Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army…
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby winner of the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. And, while this award is well deserved, Icefall is so much more than a mystery - it is a coming of age story and a story within a story as well, with memories coming together to create something greater than the mystery itself. In fact, Icefall reminds me of Shannon Hale's Newbery Honor winning Princess
Beastly Verse poems by various authors illustrations by JooHee Yoon Enchanted Lion Books, 2015 review copy provided by the publisher
Along with 9 lesser known (to me) or anonymous poets, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, Wiliam Blake, Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rossetti, D.H. Lawrence, and Walter de la Mare all have poems in this vibrantly illustrated collection of beastly verse.
JooHee Yoon used hand drawing and computer techniques and just three Pantone colors for the illustrations, and each page dances and vibrates with color and creativity. Every four or five pages there is a fun gatefold to open up that completes an illustration, or holds a surprise for the reader.
The spread for Eletelephony has a gatefold with a surprise. Before you open the gatefold, you see a living room scene with a telephone ringing. When you open the gatefold, the elephant has attempted to answer the telephone and is completely tangled in the cord!
Today, I have Adam Christopher talking about his favourite adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. This is because his Elementary tie in novel Ghost Line is published today. As a fan of Conan Doyle's novels, the BBC adaptation (to a point) and Elementary (nearly to infinity), I'm definitely looking forwards to reading this one.
Since A Study in Scarlet first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, there have been innumerable adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes canon—the first, a stage play, coming as soon as 1894. Holmes and Watson are easily two of the most famous literary creations in modern history, and nearly 130 years after their first appearance, there is no sign of their popularity declining. I don’t remember when I first read the original Conan-Doyle stories, but I must have been about seven or eight, and the Holmes canon has remained a part of my life ever since.
I have two favourite adaptations of the stories—they are nearly polar opposites, but I think that shows the strength and flexibility of both the characters and the stories.
For literary and historical accuracy, the Granada Television series starring Jeremy Brett as the great detective is, I think, the definitive adaptation. Running from 1984 to 1994, they managed to film all but eighteen of the original stories, and the 41 episodes stick more or less to the source material. Brett is a pitch-perfect Holmes—eccentric, terrifyingly intelligent, more than a little unpredictable (even dangerous). His Holmes is an aloof genius, a loner who sometimes views the rest of humanity with an intelligence that is cold and indifferent. Watson was played by two different actors over the decade—David Burke and Edward Hardwicke—both of whom likewise took the role perfectly.
What I love about the Jeremy Brett series is the attention to detail and the historical accuracy. The deerstalker? Banished! Holmes wears a top hat in the city (as any Victorian gentleman would). The superb location filming and high production values make the show a visual feast.
My other Holmes adaptation I adore—for completely different reasons—is Elementary. Here, Holmes is transported from 19th Century London to 21st Century New York. A recovering drug addict, he is aided by his former sober companion, Joan Watson.
What makes Elementary so good is that it doesn’t attempt to simply translate the original Conan-Doyle stories to a modern setting. The show dips in and out of the canon as required, borrowing plot elements and characters, but within the context of what is a highly original and offbeat detective show.
The other reason for Elementary’s success is the casting. Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes owes a lot to Jeremy Brett, and his performance is truly extraordinary: this Holmes, like Brett’s, is eccentric, unpredictable, and a little dangerous. He is The Other, a person completely unlike the rest of us, who we can only try to understand through the point of view of his companion, Watson. Lucy Liu’s take on Watson is perfectly balanced against Miller’s Holmes—she is calm and logical, a guiding force for Holmes’s rather more chaotic persona.
But those are just my two favourites. We’re lucky, because such is the range of Sherlock Holmes adaptations that there is truly something for every type of fan.
Agreed with the last line- there's so many adaptations and spinoffs-canon era, modern era, mice, robots- of Sherlock, everyone can find something for them, Elementary: Ghost Line can be bought off Amazon here and found on Goodreads here. Adam Christopher can be found on his website.
I have the best kind of insomnia right now. I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep because I'm so busy thinking about this book project. Imagining the images, hearing the translations…
This weekend, I received the almost-final German translation of Moonflower and the Solstice Dance. It is absolutely beautiful. When I read it out loud to my kids, however, they looked a little horrified. For those who don't know, our kids are trilingual. They can speak and understand English, Turkish, and German. "Mummy, just give it to me, let me read it," our oldest son said. He read it beautifully! The melody and rhythm could have put me into a trance...
As some of you know, I have a 9-month-old baby at home. Who wakes me up multiple times at night. This morning, he woke me up at 5:45 a.m. and I never managed to get him back to sleep. He's a cheerful and sweet little guy, and a great reason to get up at 5:45. And this morning, I really didn't mind because my e-mail inbox contained some new sketches by the illustrator! It is so exciting to see my visions become reality. I can imagine, but I can't really draw or paint. Ok, I can draw and paint, but my drawings and paintings never come out as I want them to. I can see the final image I want, but I can't get there. Fortunately, Solongo has been able to read my mind, so to speak, and put into sketches the visions that I have. Right now, she's working on the cover, and it's magical to see it come to life.
Now this is a book on family history you don't find to often! Hannah Nordhaus has roots that go far back in New Mexico history and her great great grandparents owned one of the finer homes in Santa Fe. Now a hotel (and out of the family's hands), the hotel has been famously haunted for decades supposedly by Nordhaus's gg grandmother, Julia Schuster Staab who died in 1896. American Ghost is the story of how the author went looking for Julia, both her ghost and her truth.
German Jews who relocate to Santa Fe is a pretty interesting family history without much added to it, but Nordhaus finds out a lot more as she looks for the reasons why Julia left Germany. Because the Staab family was so prominent in New Mexico history, newspaper coverage is abundant and there are also letters, diary entries and some personal histories along with general records that Nordhaus is able to mine for information. She also goes in a different direction as well and tries to communicate with Julia's ghost.
At first, the "ghostbusting" chapters seemed odd to me, like the author was padding the narrative. But slowly she makes it clear that her attempts to reach out to the ghost, (and find out of there even is a ghost), are also a bit about finding herself or perhaps finding how she feels about her ancestors. These chapters also provide a bit humor which is welcome as Julia's life has some truly tragic downturns and, as expected, not all of the family left Germany so there is some enormous sadness found there.
I have read several books about finding your family but this is the first one where a family member is a famous ghost which is really fairly outrageous when you think about it. I will admit I am envious of Nordhaus however--she has so much family history to fall back on, such a solid place to start from and I have only the tiniest shreds in comparison. But that envy did not reduce my ability to enjoy American Ghost a lot or glean some tips from her search.
Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.
I’m thrilled to have Kristen Callihan drop by the virtual offices this morning to answer the following question:
You have been granted the use of a super power for one week. What power would you pick, and why?
You know, I went through all sorts of possibilities: invisibility, flying, mind reading. But then I got practical. I choose Mary Poppin’s ability to have a room clean itself just by singing. Heh.
What would you do with it?
Sing my ass off. Seriously, this would be heaven. No more crazy house mess when I’m on deadline (or any other time, honestly). I’d just write and sing. And maybe a little bird would perch on my window sill and join me in a sing along. Sweet.
Once two souls are joined . . .
When Adam’s soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone… Their hearts will beat together forever
No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn’t stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam’s kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken…
About Kristen Callihan
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
Eliza sat back on her heels, while Adam merely stared at her as though he had all the time in the world. “Fine,” she said. “Three weeks. I free you and you help me.” She gave him a warning look. “I’ll need your word that you will help me, that this” she waved her hand between them, “isn’t merely a way to trick me into freeing you.”
“This business was your idea, woman,” he said with affront.
“Nevertheless, I’ll need your word.”
The demon’s nostrils flared with a sharp exhalation. “My word then.” Eliza did not look away from him, and he glared back in obvious exasperation. “What now?”
“I’m merely considering if I ought to trust your word,” she said.
A low growl rumbled in his chest as he bared his teeth. “I keep my word, whether I want to or not. My word is my bond. Honor, Miss May. Unlike you, I have it.”
“How dare you—”
“How dare you?” He craned forward, the muscles along his shoulders bunching. “Not so long ago you broke your promise of fealty. To me!”
“Oh, yes, how quick you are to remind me.” Eliza leaned close, grinding her teeth to keep in a shout. “You enjoy being quick, don’t you?”
His thick, dark brows furrowed. “What in the bloody blazes are you talking about?”
“You gave me all of ten seconds to make a choice.” Eliza’s fists ached from clenching them. “And what a choice. I was dead, my body sliced open, my blood on the ground. I would have done anything, anything,” she thumped her fist to her chest, “to get back my life.”
“So that makes it better?” he snapped back in outrage. “Desperation gives you leave to go back on your word?”
“No. That is not what I meant.”
“Then you agree that you bloody well have no honor—”
“You never explained what was involved. You never said I’d be chained to you, like some animal, for the rest of my days,” Eliza shouted. “I was told I would be a GIM. I was ready to serve you in that manner. You knew full well that’s what I believed. If anything, you swindled me!”
All at once, he sagged, though he still eyed her with resentment and distaste. Well, she had a healthy helping of those feelings for him too.
“Tick, tock, Eliza,” she mimicked. “You rushed me because you didn’t want me to think things over.”
When he broke eye contact, his hard jaw twitched.
“I’m correct, aren’t I?” Ire and a red rage surged up within her. “And you have the brass to sit on your high horse and talk of honor. Well let me tell you something, demon. There is little honor in forcing a person’s hand. Or using your power to coerce those weaker than you.”
A black scowl twisted the demon’s face as he glared at some distant point. “Fine. May I continue, or have you more complaints to heap upon my head?”
“Please do continue,” Eliza granted.
His golden gaze flicked back to her. “I want to kiss you.”
“No.” The word burst out of her with force. “Absolutely not.”
Unfazed, Adam shrugged. “Unless you have something to offer in exchange for your freedom, Mellan and Mab will, as you say, merely hunt us down, and you’ll be back to where you started.”
“Then I shall find out what he wants.” Eliza straightened her back. She could do that. She must. Like hell was she going to kiss this demon.
Adam simply gave her a slow, wicked half-smile. “Fortunately for you, lass, I already know what he wants. What they both want. More than controlling you. More than torturing me, even.”
“Then why in blazes haven’t you used it to secure your own freedom?” Eliza blurted out.
“I’m only alive because they cannot break me into revealing where this item might be.” The belligerence burning in his eyes was gone in a blink, replaced by a look of pure cunning. “However, I might be persuaded to help you use the knowledge. All I require is— ”
“Fine,” she snapped, irritation getting the best of her. “I’ll kiss you.”
Silence fell, and Adam stared at her with those eyes of his. Devil’s eyes. Eyes that made a woman forget herself. Heat rose up over her breasts and crawled along the back of her neck. Eliza grasped her skirts, her fingers twitching. She would kiss him. Kiss a man who had brought her nothing but irritation. Maybe she’d bite him to boot.
His chest, gleaming with sweat, rose and fell in a soft pattern. A bead of perspiration broke free from the top of his shoulder and ran down along the firm rise of his pectoral muscles, straight toward the dark nub of his nipple. All this time arguing with him, she’d forgotten his state of undress. Not so now. She’d have to press up against those hard muscles, touch his skin. Eliza wrenched her gaze back to his face, and his sinful lips curled in a knowing smile.
“You know,” he said casually, “I believe I shall pass for the moment. I’d rather it be when you aren’t wearing such a sour face. Kills a bloke’s ardor, you realize.”
Eliza blinked. And then his meaning hit her. “Why you…rutting…cheap, trickster…”
He laughed, a flash of even teeth. “Come now, Eliza, fret not.” He stopped then, that obnoxious smile growing and heating with promise. “I’ll take that kiss soon enough. ”
She rose to her feet in a rustle of skirts. “And I’ll be sure to bite that wicked tongue when you do!”
She marched out of the cell, slamming it behind her, as he began to laugh again. Bastard. She might just leave him here to rot after all. His laughing taunt echoed through the dark. “Now that I know tongues are involved, I’ll be sure to collect.”
Enter to win an autographed copy of Homer the Little Stray Cat (Little Balloon Press, 2014), by Pamela L. Laskin and illustrated by Kirsi Tuomanen Hill.
Giveaway begins February 27, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends March 26, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Today’s readalong discussion is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH! Are you ready to have your heart warmed by a valiant young mouse? To swoon over a dashing rat captain of the guard? (Yes, you read that correctly.) We all loved this month’s book, so let’s dive right in. As always, while we’re always hoping that our discussions will encourage new readers to pick up these books, we do discuss specific spoilers in each story. Wendy: I’m very fond of extraordinarily handsome rats. :D Layla: I first read this in junior high school (and still have my copy today, boo-yeah!). I remember avoiding Frisby for awhile because I was really into fantasy novels and thought the cover / title were unappealing. Boy howdy was I wrong. I loved this book as a kid and I still love it now; it has officially withstood the test of time for... Read more »
At £40,000 the biennial David Cohen Prize for Literature is one of the leading British author prizes (they're not that big on author-prizes in the UK, preferring to honor specific titles (with book prizes)), and they've announced that Tony Harrison is the winner of the 2015 prize; see also, for example, Jonathan McAloon's report in The Telegraph, 'Obscene' poet Tony Harrison wins David Cohen Prize for Literature 2015 -- focusing on his thirty-year-old poem, v. (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
As readers of this blog already know, PubCrawl is excited to help spread the word about Egmont USA’s spring 2015 list, a group which has banded together under the name Egmont’s Last List. It’s my pleasure to welcome Patrick Jennings as our guest here at PubCrawl today! (And we are giving away of one of Patrick’s books! More on that below…) I’m so thrilled to interview such a prolific writer of children’s books! Patrick’s website lists 25(!) titles. If you’d like to see all their beautiful covers, you can click here. Patrick’s latest is HISSY FITZ, which came out last month from Egmont. Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
Hissy Fitz lives with some two-legged creatures who are destined to serve him in every possible way and understand his every whim. Sadly, these creatures are sorely lacking in their skills. For one thing–they touch him when they want to touch him. Don’t they know that the two-legged are there for him to touch when he wants to–meaning when he wants food? Petting wakes him up! They speak to him–don’t they know the two-legged should be seen–so Hissy knows where to order food–and not heard?! It’s becoming intolerable. What is this irascible cat to do?
I understand that, although you generally write for middle graders, this book is for younger readers. What made you decide to move in that direction? My publisher wondered if I’d be interested in writing a chapter book. The book fairs and clubs had been asking for them. I told my editor about my insomniac cat idea and she liked it.
What changes in your writing process when you target a different age level? Do you write for a certain age, a reading level, or both?
I think the story dictates the reading level, the audience. When a story is right for a seven-year-old, the language often takes care of itself. In other words, if you want to engage with a kid, you should talk about something they care about, and in a voice and vocabulary that makes sense to them. That’s not talking down; that’s talking to.
Hissy Fitz is your first illustrated chapter book in in a long time (over ten years, correct?) How is an author matched to an illustrator? What is the process involved in creating an illustrated book? Other than providing the text, do you have any other input as to the illustrations?
When a book is submitted without illustrations, the art director looks for an artist. They have many illustrators’ portfolios on file. I work on the book with my editor while the artist is found. Usually the text is nearly finished before the illustrating begins. For Bat and Rat, a picture book, I ended up retooling my text, cutting out what was rendered visually by the amazing Matthew Cordell. I did a little tweaking for Hissy after Michael Allen Austin’s hilarious pictures came in. There were textless spreads in Bat and Rat, so, some notes were needed, but, in general, one tries to leave artistic decisions to artists.
I also understand that this is your first cat book! Yet you’ve had pet cats for 20 years? What took you so long to write a book about a cat?
I never had a story to tell. I’ve considered that this is due to cats not really doing much of anything. Mostly they just sit around the house. Dogs go out and play with their owners, protect their owners, rescue people, hang with their friends. Cats nap on average eighteen hours a day. It was when I struck upon the idea of an insomniac cat that I finally had a cat story.
Hissy Fitz is such a unique character – his voice really sucked me in. I know it’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of an idea, but can you say where the character of Hissy Fitz came from? What made you decide to tell this particular cat’s story? Those twenty years with cats were spent wondering what they thought about, especially what they thought of humans. In recent years, I’ve led a young writing group at my house, and have watched the writers interact with my cats. I tried sharing with the kids all I’d learned about how to approach a cat, touch a cat, and treat a cat, but it didn’t make much of an impression. I suppose their treatment of my cats shaped my idea of how Hissy would view kids, as well as other humans.
I know you do a lot of school and library visits with children. What’s your favorite thing about meeting young readers?
Their enthusiasm. They love to read, and they get very excited when they meet an author of a book they’ve read. They have tons of very good questions. They’re often also interested in writing stories. The whole day is filled with excitement. I’m thoroughly exhausted afterward. It’s the best.
Any last words of advice for aspiring writers, particularly those hoping to write for children?
Spend as much time as you can with kids. Volunteer to read at the library, or in classrooms. Read to nieces and nephews, grandchildren, whomever. Talk to kids about the books they love. Listen carefully. Feel their enthusiasm.
Thank you so much, Patrick! Also, I want to offer congratulations on the news that Lerner Publishinghas acquired all of Egmont USA’s frontlist and backlist titles. We look forward to reading many more of your stories!
To celebrate the publication of HISSY FITZ, we’re giving away a copy of this wonderful book! Leave a comment below and use the Rafflecopter form to enter!
About the author:
Patrick Jennings’s books for young readers have received honors from Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, Smithsonian Magazine, the PEN Center USA, the Woman’s National Book Association, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. The Seattle Public Library awarded his book, Guinea Dog, the Washington State Book Award of 2011. His book, Faith and the Electric Dogs, is currently being adapted for the screen. His new book, Hissy Fitz, will be published in January 2015. He currently writes full time in his home in Port Townsend, Washington.
We all know that social media marketing is a must for at least five reasons:
1. Increased visibility
2. Increased traffic and rankings
3. Building authority
4. Making connections
5. Finding potential clients / customers (leads)
The biggies in the social network channels are Facebook and Twitter, with Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn following behind.
But, should this be the case?
Anyhoozle, the weirdest and random dreams have been plaguing my subconscious. Like one time I dreamed of storm clouds that went roaring by, sort of like those old Disney movies where it films the clouds in fast-forward, and seconds later a veritable tidal wave flooded the landscape. This happened twice. It felt quite portentous.
Another time, the dream started IN prison, one of those old antique prisons, and the nice little prisoner very cleverly found a way out of the prison, picking up a random hairy stranger on the way, and at the end of the dream the nice little prisoner gets hurt and the hairy stranger (who apparently magically sheds his extreme hairiness) has to protect him.
Anyway, I mention dreams because I had one where nightmares and bad dreams are different from each other, in that bad dreams are essentially that - BAD dreams - and nightmares are the conscience that can steer a bad dream back to good dreams.
I mention THAT because I feel like an oft forgotten necessity for writers is to always keep a notebook by their beds. You never know when an idea will attack you while you sleep. You have to be ready for it, ready to pounce.
I "impulse bought" one at Barnes and Noble the last time I was down there, and it is incredibly soothing and freeing. You just use a little water and the water "paints" on the canvas. It's non-permanent, and you wouldn't believe how fun it is to just draw knowing nothing will be permanent. I love it. I want a big one. I bought the mini, which fits in my purse, but I want the big one now.
I received a few requests for my full manuscript about six months ago. One agent told me that she liked the story, but one specific part at the end seemed a bit unrealistic to the situation. I thanked her for her time, said I was sorry it couldn't work out, and went off to go weep in my keyboard. A couple of days went by, and I started to think about what she said a little more. I realized that the issue she had with the ending could have been fixed with a few added sentences of explanation, or something of the like. It really think I could have made it work. I kicked myself for not realizing it sooner, and even though I've moved on from that novel (it never worked out), I still keep thinking about it.
So my question to you is:
Would it have been out of line to email the agent back with my suggested fixes? Or is a rejection on a full manuscript considered the end of the line?
I tried to convince myself that if the agent thought the manuscript would work with a few changes she would have said something, but I can't help wondering just the same.
It's the end of the line. Absent the phrase "revise and resend" or "fix this and send it back" or "if you fix this, I'll take another look" the agent has said No, thanks. In other words, absent a specific request to get in touch after revisions, don't.
Often I can point to one or two things that will help a manuscript improve and I try to give that info to writers when I'm passing on their work. The piece of information you're missing here though is this: that's not the only reason the ms is not right for me. There are a lot of good manuscripts out there that aren't right for me. A pass from me (or any agent) doesn't mean anything except it's not right for them.
Expand your query search. It's really easy to focus on the agent who wrote back, but you need to look for other agents because the right one won't know about you till you query her. Add a Comment
*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name. *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.
This week's book beginnings comes from MIST OF MIDNIGHT by Sandra Byrd.
"Dusk had begun to smother daylight as we walked down the cool street, peering at the numbers above the doorways, one after the other, skirts gathered in hand to keep them from grazing the occasional piles of wet mud and steamy horse muck."
It isn't bad. Nothing earth shattering yet. :) Set in London.
This book is one I finished last week and used as my book beginnings. Wanted to share again this week.
WHISPER HOLLOW by Chris Cander.
"Myrthen's mother and father had carried more hopes than means with them when they crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of January 1910. Rachel Engel was just sixteen when she left her home and family in Saxony, Germany, brave and willing and fiercely in love with Otto Bergmann, but nonetheless glancing over her shoulder all the way to the southern short of the river Elbe, the gateway to the world."
WHISPER HOLLOW was VERY good. Historical fiction and women's fiction combined with strong female characters.
My review won't be posted until March 26. I hope you stop back.
Sore throats are an inevitable part of childhood, no matter where in the world one lives. However for those children living in poor, under-resourced and marginalised societies of the world, this could mean a childhood either cut short by crippling heart failure or the need for open-heart surgery.
Opening: "The forest was growing cold. Mama said that soon it would be time to sleep, but all Maurice could think about was his first spring."
Brief Synopsis: Mama bear says it's time to sleep, but all Maurice can think about is spring. So when Mama goes to sleep, Maurice sets out to find it. He has never seen spring, however, so he's not really sure where to look or even what he's looking for!
Why I Like This Book: Every child on earth understands impatience - how hard waiting is, and how much more fun to take action! Maurice is not deterred in the slightest by the fact that he doesn't actually know what spring is. He just looks until he knows he's found it. And he can tell he's found it because it's the most magical thing he's ever seen! Just wait until you see what it is (and no, I'm not telling! :)) The book is illustrated with dioramas and cut-paper collages and is just gorgeous - a feast for the eyes of kids and grown-ups alike. A perfect choice for those of us currently longing for spring :)
Following on from yesterday's Sanna Annukka posts I thought it would be great to finish the week with some Marimekko for our regular Friday eye candy feature. The line up starts with a design called Merivuokko by Kustaa Saksi which is new for SS2015. This large scale underwater landscape was inspired by a coral reef and is complimented by another print - Meriheina.