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1. MasterClass to Host the ‘Co-Author a Book With James Patterson’ Writing Competition

Patterson_square_cropsmallMasterClass, an internet educational platform, will host a contest for aspiring writers to collaborate with bestselling author James Patterson. This competition will only be open to students who enroll in Patterson’s MasterClass writing course.

Patterson gave this statement in the press release: “There are a lot of people who have the talent, but haven’t been shown the door to walk through. I’ve been surprised and impressed by the passion, devotion and talent of my students. They inspired me to want to help guide one of them through the publishing process. I’m looking forward to reading the submissions that are skillful, fast-paced and unpredictable.”

The submission deadline has been set for March 22 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Patterson will select the winning co-author on May 24. Contestants who are chosen as semifinalists and finalists will also receive a cash prize. Follow this link to learn more information and read up on all the rules.

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2. Harts Pass No. 286

Happy (almost) Valentine's Day!

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3. The final BATMAN v SUPERMAN trailer brings the bat-action

batman fightingWith just over a month to go, we get one more look at what's coming on 3/25

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4. THE CROW'S TALE by Naomi Howarth

The Crow's Tale by Naomi Howarth came out last year (2015) from Frances Lincoln Children's Books. That's a publisher in London.

The complete title of Howarth's book is The Crow's Tale: A Lenni Lenape Native American Legend. 

In her "About the story" note, Howarth writes:

The Rainbow Crow -- a Pennsylvania Lenni Lenape Indian legend--is the perfect example of a story that was first told to explain the mysteries of the natural world. When I came across this beautiful tale, my imagination was immediately soaring with Rainbow Crow across wide winter skies and landscapes. The tale has been passed down through generations of Lenni Lenape Indians, mostly orally, and I have tried to remain true to the narrative, although I have visualized the Creator as the Sun, as I wanted to make the Sun a character in his own right.

On her website page for the book, I see this:
Inspired by a Lenape Native American myth, this beautiful debut picture book shows how courage and kindness are what really matter.

Yes, courage and kindness matter, but so do other things. Clearly Howarth felt that she was doing a good thing with this story.

I have several questions.

What is the source Howarth used for this story? She doesn't tell us, which means we can't tell if her source is legitimate, or, if it is amongst the too-many-made-up stories attributed to Native peoples. Without that information, teachers are in a bind. Can they use this book to teach students about Lenni Lenape people and culture?

Is Howarth's story a Lenni Lenape one if she changed a key part of it? She tells us that she visualized Creator as the sun. Could she (or anyone) do that--say--with the Christian God and still call that story a Christian one? Maybe, but I think most people would say that doing so would be tampering with a religion in ways that border on sacrilege. How do the Lenni Lenape people visualize Creator? Did she talk with them, to see if she could depict Creator as the sun?

By "them" I mean--did Howarth talk with someone who has the authority to work with her on this project? Increasingly, tribal nations are working to protect their stories by setting up protocol's researchers and writers should use if they're going to do anything related to their people, history, culture, etc.

As we might predict, Howarth's book is well-received in some places. This morning I read that this story is on the shortlist for a 2016 Waterstones Children's Book Prize. If you're in the UK, or if you know people in the UK who are on the committee, please ask them these questions. You could ask Howarth, if you know her, or her editor (I don't know who that is). Asking questions is what leads to change.

Published in 2015, The Crow's Tale by Naomi Howarth is not recommended.

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5. #STBAblogtour16 DAY FOUR

A little catch-up today with the Shanghai Sukkah interviews, and two new Blog Tour stops: Everybody Says Shalom and Stones on a Grave.

Be sure to check out yesterday's interview on The Hired Girl, and get the rest of the blog tour schedule here.

Catching up from WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016
Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Kristi's Book Nook
Author & Illustrator Interviews  

Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb
Author Interview

Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading
Author Interview and Book review


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6. Author Interview: Martine Leavitt on Calvin

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

From Macmillan: "Martine Leavitt has written several award-winning novels for young adults, including My Book of Life by Angel (FSG, 2012), which garnered five starred reviews and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; Keturah and Lord Death (Boyds Mills, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Award; and Heck Superhero (Boyds Mills, 2014), a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She lives in Alberta, Canada."

Congratulations on the release of Calvin (FSG, 2015)! Could you tell us about the book?

Thank you, Cynthia! It is the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who has a schizophrenic episode in school. He can hear the voice of a tiger named Hobbes.

He decides that Bill Watterson could cure him of his mental illness if he would draw one more comic strip, Calvin healthy and without Hobbes. He gets it into his head that he can make Watterson draw this comic if he goes on a pilgrimage to show his true intent and devotion.

He decides to walk across Lake Erie in winter – a deadly thing to attempt.

Why did you write Calvin?

A single neuron in the back of my brain pulsed with sadness for many years, perhaps all my conscious life, because there is such a thing as mental illness. Then one day it touched me, a form of mental unwellness, and it touched my family. Now I was sorry for myself as well as those who suffered with worse than I. Self-pity, sadly, has always been a motivating factor in my life.

Anyway, that single neuron pulsed away even more persistently, hoping for something, the way we send radio waves into space hoping to contact life on other planets.

One day as I was rereading my Calvin and Hobbes collection, it occurred to a single neuron in the front of my brain that Calvin, in the wrong hands, could be thought of as a maladaptive daydreamer, or as schizophrenic. That neuron in the front of my brain made instant contact with the lonely neuron in the back of my brain, and it was like Adam touching the finger of God in the Sistine Chapel.

Okay, it wasn’t that grand, but you get the idea. A sort of electronic storm was fired up between the two neurons, and they went on like that in their little electronic way for a while. Not enough to make a book quite yet, but something was happening.

And then I read online about a man named Dave Voelker who walked across frozen Lake Erie (to a place near Cleveland, where Watterson was once reported to live – coincidence? I think not), and I suddenly had a story wishing to be told. And that is why I wrote Calvin.

This is your tenth book. Does it get easier?

You would think, wouldn’t you. But in fact, no. Every book is a new adventure is insecurity and inadequacy. Every book asks something of you that no other book has asked.

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7. Review: Cullen Bunn’s “Deadpool & the Mercs for Money” – Mo Money Indeed

Deadpool & the Mercs for MoneyBy: Nicholas Eskey During the month of January we saw: Deadpool: Massacre, True Believers: Deadpool, Deapool Origins, Deadpool the Musical!, Deadpool the Variants, Evil Deadpool, Deadpool & Cable: Split Second, Groovy Deadpool, The Meaty Deadpool, The Wedding of Deadpool, Detective Deadpool, Uncanny Deadpool, and even the very fan-anticipated Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover.  The entire month might well have […]

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8. How Marc Tyler Nobleman Rescued the Legacy of Batman Co-Creator Bill Finger

Detective_Comics_27For decades, Bob Kane was the only person credited for the creation of the Batman. However, as Nobleman argued at 92Y, Bill Finger was the man who did most of the work.

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Shared from Kathy Temean's newsletter. 

Creating an Elevator Pitch – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall the Jersey Farm Scribe here on
Creating an Elevator Pitch
Whether you’re getting ready for a conference, prepping ideas for a Twitter party, or just want to put your best foot forward to anyone who asks about your book, having a quick, engaging and powerful elevator pitch is important.
First of all… what IS an elevator pitch anyway?
El-e-va-tor pitch
noun — informal
* A succinct and persuasive sales pitch
* A short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value
The idea here is that in the 20-30 seconds of an elevator ride, you could present your idea. Us humans are fickle creatures with VERY short attention spans. We make snap judgments, and unless we’re already intrigued, we’re likely to have already mentally moved on.
Job interviews. “Objectives” at the top of resumes. Sales positions. Convincing a spouse of what restaurant to go eat at. Convincing a boss about your new idea. Impressions are made quickly. Not that minds can never be changed later. But the fact remains…
The first 20 seconds is your BEST opportunity to make a good impression.
All right. So that’s the basic CONCEPT.
Uh, that’s it??? Hello? E-Z!!! I know my book. I know what makes my story special. Of COURSE I can describe it in 3-4 sentences!!! I wouldn’t even need to practice.
……here we go……
A young girl is caught in between…
Wait. No! It’s so much more than that. Let me start again.
When insomnia brings Tris to the brink of desperation…
Ugh, that sounds so cliché!
Conception is reality. Tris must prove her sanity and win the right to live out her dreams in more ways than one.
Yuck. That says ab-so-lutely NOTHING. Okay. So this is harder than it sounds.
Elevator Pitch Tips:
Don’t Over Pack the Pitch:
For me, the biggest tip I ever got for an elevator pitch is not to try to shove my entire story in there. This was a HUGE relief. If the plot line is too complex to explain in a few lines (or the tiny 140 characters we Twits get), don’t even try. Concentrate instead on the unique voice. Have the pitch portray the main character’s biggest flaw or most powerful victory. Highlight a powerful scene or even quote a climatic moment.
Feel Free to Ruin:
If pitching to an agent, there’s nothing wrong with giving away the end. They’re professionals. Trust the story, and be confident that the writing and development along the way will keep them engaged even if they know the twist end. (Obviously keep in mind different agents may feel differently about this. Always research agents for preferences)
OBSESS over Nouns:
Obsess over every word really, but look extra closely at those nouns. Could they be more powerful? More emotional? More visual? Even in our limited word count, can we do more showing and less telling?
Show Uniqueness in Specifics:
Agents hear a LOT of pitches. Being conceptual isn’t enough. We must express specific aspects of THIS book that make it different from the other 400 they may have received, over the past 48 hours. The idea may be excellent, creative and powerful. But from their perspective, they’ve likely heard it before. As humans, they’re naturally assessing it, lumping it in with other things similar. Specifics are your weapon here. Use details, voice, character, setting, etc, to make THIS particular story stand out from that crowd.
Say it out loud. A lot. Then say it some more. The manner in which it rolls off the tongue is important, as is confidence in delivery. Bonus: Once you have it down, you may be surprised at how frequently the opportunity is presented for you to use it.
Our manuscripts are complex. They cannot be put in a box. No 20 second opportunity can fully grasp the extent of their awesome. Don’t let that goal overpower you. Instead create intrigue, and answer the question of why they should want to hear or read more.
Your manuscripts are worth it.
Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!
Look for Erika’s articles every other Wednesday on Writing and Illustrating. Thank you Erika for another great post.
Talk tomorrow,

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10. Palmiotti and Conner Weigh in on the Cancellation of DC’s STARFIRE

GalleryComics_1920x1080_20150708_STARF_Cv2_5592cfefeeaab1.96600029"The series ending doesn’t mean you won’t see Starfire pop up in other places!"

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11. Happy Valentine’s Day from Cat and Liz’s Book Snuggery!

Here Comes Valentine Cat

By Deborah Underwood; pictures by Claudia Rueda


Can a cranky cat have a change of heart towards an assumed canine enemy on Valentine’s Day?

You bet this Cat can.

If you’ve enjoyed Deborah Underwood’s New York Times Bestseller listing of cat conversations with a seemingly not to be moved feline, as in Here Comes Easter Cat, Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat, and Here Comes Santa Cat, then you are in for a sweet treat on this day for love.

Or, at the very least, in Cat’s case, a day of like!

Who of us does not appreciate a valentine sent from the one we’ve loved, liked or befriended?

But, what if the inference is made by young Cat that a valentine sent to a less than friend, following a volley of a tossed bone and ball, headed over Cat’s fence, is well deserved?

Cat’s crossed arms, picket signs with a dog in full growl mode, plus virulent valentines sent in response to the canine, are all signs of no relent mode on Cat’s part or heart.

Why things have even taken the shocking turn of rocket draft designs and a subtle crafting by Cat, that speaks of sending the canine skyward!

BUT, what if the soft-voiced and subtle offstage querier asks pointed questions of Cat, allowing the thrown bone and ball to be seen and felt in a whole new light? Might the missiles instead be proffers of friendship?

I love the dialectic that occurs between a soft spoken off stage friend and Cat. It’s always permeated not with judgment of Cat’s feelings, but rather, a sort of “Do you think you’ve looked at all the possible responses here?”

And the author sometimes even agrees with Cat’s frustration with the yowling of the neighboring dog, as in:



       Wow. He is kind of loud, isn’t he?



Parents and young readers are in for a gentle primer here on the phrase “Never Assume” in the handling of what kids may take as the supposed motivation for actions they interpret as, well, less than friendly.

But then, on a bit of further reflection, bingo, it turns out to be quite another. And that goes for cat, canine or human behavior!

I love the listening ear of Cat’s confidante that serves alternately, and gently, as commiserator, sympathizer, yet also redirector of behaviors, as in:


                Gee, Cat. Do you think

                Dog was howling because



                 Aw, Cat!


                It’s not too late to be his friend!



Cat tries yet another neighborly Valentine, prompted by a sweet entreaty from dogdom. Cat’s valentine too, this time out, has less sass, and it reads:



               Roses are red

               Violets are blue

               Dogs are annoying





               except for you



Behavioral change is possible…in kids and cats. And with the ever cranky, but cute Cat to lead the way, Deborah Underwood and the spot on expressions for Cat, provided by Claudia Rueda, make the learning and laughing curve fun for young readers and parents.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Cat and Liz’s Book Snuggery!

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12. Los Angeles Library Event to Celebrate OED

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library are celebrating the Oxford English Dictionary throughout the month of March with an event called: Hollywood Is A Verb: Los Angeles Tackles the Oxford English Dictionary.

During the month, the libraries across the city will host public programs that encourage readers to rethink the dictionary. There will be more than 60 events and activities across the Los Angeles Public Library system. Events will include: poetry workshops, dictionary-themed improv, word game tournaments and art classes.

In addition there will be several author talks. For instance on March 3, National Book Award-winning author James Gleick and UCSD Professor of Cognitive Science Lera Boroditsky will discuss “how knowledge systems like the Oxford English Dictionary mirror or change the way the human brain functions.”


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13. Upcoming Workshops

I'll be participating as an instructor in three upcoming workshops this year. All are for experienced painters, taught by a top-flight group faculty. 

James Gurney painting a watercolor demo at SKB Foundation Workshop
The SKB Workshop happens September 18-27 in Dubois, Wyoming. It has lots of demos, lectures, outdoor painting and group meals. And many of the costs are subsidized by a benefactor, so it's one of the most reasonable workshops you can be part of. Here's the announcement and here's a page with more information. Besides me, the faculty features mostly wildlife artists and landscape painters, including John and Suzie Seerey-Lester, John Hulsey and Ann Trusty, Mort Solberg and many others.

Registration just opened yesterday, and it's nearly full already, so if you're interested, here's the link to the registration

I'll also be one of the presenters at the Portrait Society of America's annual Conference in Washington DC, this April 14-17. This gathering is one of the best for oil demos, lectures, and networking among the attendees and the 30-or-so leading instructors.

Here's the registration for the Portrait Conference

From June 30 to July 3, I'll be in Montreal for the Syn Studio Gathering of Masters. The program is intended for artists who work in the game and film categories, team-taught by people like Terryl Whitlatch and Raphael Lacoste, me, and several others, not all of whom have been announced. This is the one to attend if you're in the concept art field, or want to get into it. Here's the description:
Syn Studio’s Gathering of Masters is a small, laid back festival with lots of socializing and interaction between the invited guests and and participating artists. A mix of talks, workshops and fun activities, it is a gathering where artists share their knowledge, connect with each other and work together to develop and push the boundaries of their illustration, design and art direction skills. There will be 8-10 speakers and 100 tickets sold so it will be an intimate event where participants can have direct access to the speakers and be part of the conversation.
Register now if you're interested in any of these, and I look forward to seeing you.

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14. Our Open Call #NY16SCBWI Conference Illustrator Journals!

For the last few conferences, we've been asking a handful of illustrators to share a page from their conference journals/sketchbooks of something that inspired them during the conference. (You can see some recent entries here.)

The idea is that it gives illustrators a spotlight, and shares a multi-faceted visual take on all the craft, inspiration, business, community and opportunity of an SCBWI conference!

This time around, we're changing it up, opening it up, to ANY and EVERY illustrator attending #NY16SCBWI who wants to take part.

Just add a link to your image that you've posted somewhere online here in comments. It's that easy!

Remember to SIGN your artwork
(including your website so you can be contacted if someone falls in love with your illustration.)

Ready? Set? Illustrate!

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15. Books from my Bookshelf - Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye

Potter Pinner Meadow is a recent addition to my bookshelf found at the Oxfam Bookshop in Shaftsbury, Dorset. I was lucky enough to buy this and a second book by the same author for just a few pounds. I've uncovered a few hidden gems from this charity shop so if you are ever in the area, it might be worth calling in.

  Gold Hill, Shaftsbury

Dating back to the Saxon era and boasting amazing views of the Blackmore Vale Shaftsbury itself is well worth a visit. Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town famous for its picturesque appearance. You may well recognise it as the setting for a film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, and advertisements for Morrisons and Hovis bread.

Filmed more than 40 years ago the Hovis advert is now one of the most famous scenes in British TV history.  Image: Mail Online

Anyway, I digress;

Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye with decorations by Margaret Tempest Published in 1937 by Collins, London.

Mollie Kaye also known as M. M. Kaye is best known for her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions. I’ve added some factual information about her and the illustrator Margaret Tempest at the end of this post.

Potter Pinner Meadow was a very select neighbourhood and only the VERY BEST people had their houses there. Aloysius Pricklewig J.P. lived in a roomy hollow under a bank. Mr. Pricklewig was a hedgehog. His bristles were always coming through his coats, so he continually had to darn them or to order new ones.

Mr. Pricklewig was by no means the only inhabitant of that very select neighbourhood.  The Whiskertips, a family of aristocratic field mice owned a smart apartment on the sunny side of the hawthorn hedge.  Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing, the speckled thrush occupied a cosy nest, while Timothy Tidmarsh the Dormouse lived in a small but cosy house among the roots of the big Elm tree. 

The fly in the ointment came in the guise of Farmer Wraggs and his dog Tatters. Farmer Wraggs had a sour face, a mouth that turned down at the corners and a fringe of sandy whiskers. He also had a habit of poking around among the tree roots and slashing at the hedges with his stout hickory stick while Tatters growled and barked.   

Whenever Farmer Wraggs came stumping up the meadow everyone locked their doors and pulled down the blinds. Even Mr. Pricklewig put out a Not - At - Home sign and closed the shutters when farmer Wraggs was about. However, there was one person who didn't mind at all because he was nearly always fast asleep in his bed. 

While Timothy Tidmarsh slept the rest of the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow attended an Indignation Meeting to complain about the state of affairs. Wonderful plans were discussed, and long speeches were made beginning with “Tatters Must Go” but all Timothy ever said was “SSSNOORE”. 

One fine spring evening Timothy woke from his afternoon nap put on his second best coat, and set off to buy his supper. When he arrived at the shop it was full of customers all complaining about Mr. Waggs. Not wishing to get involved Timothy decided to enjoy a little snooze. “That Dormouse has no public spirit said Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing. I was telling him only yesterday how dreadfully I have been disturbed by that farmer person and would you believe it all he said was I don’t see much of him myself!”

When Timothy woke up he was rather bored by all the talk of farmers and dogs, so taking up his basket he started off for home.  He was hardly more than half-way up the meadow when he heard sounds of barking. He stood still and listened.  The barking seemed to come from the direction of the big elm tree. Continuing with caution he was faced with a dreadful scene! For where there had been a cosy home for a dormouse, there was nothing but a broken mess of bits and pieces. Of Timothy's beautiful furniture and his comfortable four-poster bed there was not a trace.  

Timothy put his pocket hankie over his nose and wept most bitterly. The sounds of his woe were so loud that everyone in Potter Pinner Meadow came hurrying to see whatever was wrong. At first, they all said "I told you so" and "serve you right," but afterwards they were sorry.  That night Timothy slept on Mr. Pricklewig's sofa and the next morning all the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow, including Timothy attended another Indignation Meeting.

This time it was decided that Timothy should make his way to Black Bramble Wood and consult Old Madam Mole. It was already afternoon by the time Timothy came in sight of the wood the sky was cloudy and dark, and a cold wind was rustling through the grass. Black Bramble Wood looked damp and dark and dangerous. Timothy shivered in his shoes and wished he was snug in his comfortable bed, but when he remembered he no longer had a comfortable bed it made him so angry he got quite brave.

Old Madam Mole rocked backwards and forwards in her rocking chair and began to think.  “Fetch me the little green bottle from the cupboard” she said.  “The next time you see Farmer Wraggs, empty the contents over him.  Be careful not to miss and remember the effect only lasts for one day.” 

Back at Potter Pinner Meadow, Timothy and his friends were busy building him a new home when a young rabbit came dashing down the meadow crying “He’s coming!” quick as a flash Mrs. Brownwing circled high above Farmer Wraggs and sprinkled the magic potion over him.  At once, he began to shrink and grow smaller and smaller until eventually he turned into a frog!  Tatters began barking at his former master. “Down, Tatters, down!” cried Farmer Wraggs but “croak, croak, croak” meant nothing to Tatters who kept on barking. The poor farmer became so frightened he jumped high into the air and landed in a bed of nettles.

As soon as Tatters went away the animals began to lecture Farmer Wraggs on his disgraceful behaviour. He was made to spend the day mending Timothy Tidmarsh’s broken china. He was also forced to darn Mr. Pricklewig’s coats and iron his waistcoats.  It didn’t take long for Farmer Wraggs to promise to mend his ways, and that was exactly what he did.  


M.M. Kaye, (born Aug. 21, 1908, Simla, India—died Jan. 29, 2004, Lavenham, Suffolk, Eng.), British writer and illustrator who captured life in India and Afghanistan during the Raj in her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British civil servant working in India, Kaye spent her early childhood there. She was sent to boarding school in England at age 10. After graduating from art school in England, she found work as an illustrator and soon began to write. She married a British army officer in 1945. Before achieving worldwide success with The Far Pavilions she wrote a number of children’s books (as Mollie Kaye), several detective and historical novels and three volumes of autobiography. [Encyclopaedia Britannica.]

M. M. Kaye dedication from Potter Pinner Meadow.

Margaret Mary Tempest, (May 15, 1892, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng. – died 1982, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng.),  British writer and illustrator attended Ipswich Art School and later moved to London to study at the Westminster School of art from which she graduated in the summer of 1914. She went on to the Royal Drawing School but was already planning the formation of a society of women illustrators with twenty other talented girls from the School of Art. Between 1919 and 1939 they put on annual exhibitions and ran a successful business, selling their work and producing commercial material including Christmas cards. She began illustrating Little Grey Rabbit books in 1929 and continued to do so into the 1960s, by which time 34 titles had appeared. [I’ve included images of all the Little Grey Rabbit books in three previous posts – here, here and here] Margaret also wrote and illustrated children's books of her own, with characters called Curley Cobbler and Pinkie Mouse. She illustrated books by M. M. Kaye, Rosalind Vallance, Elizabeth Laird, and many other authors. She also found time to design postcards for the Medici Galleries. Between the wars she lived in London during the week, and apart from her illustration work she taught drawing to the children of most of the aristocratic houses in London. In 1939 Margaret returned to the Ipswich area and  married her cousin, Sir Grimwood Mears, a former Chief of Justice in Allahabad, in 1951. Sir Grimwood died in 1963 at the age of 93. Margaret died in 1982 aged 90 and by then she had become afflicted with Parkinson's Disease and could no longer draw. [The Ipswich Society.]

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16. Giveaway: Nothando's Journey by Jill Manly (US Only)

Nothando's Journey by Jill Manly Release Date: February 2016   About the Book Nothando’s Journey is a journey in self-discovery told through the eyes of a young girl named Nothando. The book tells of the Reed Festival, an important celebration in Nothando’s country of Swaziland in Southern Africa. Nothando and her brother...

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17. New look and new update

Welcome everyone I just want to let you know that my blog will be getting a new look. It will continue on it's mission to share the best reviewed books both self published and traditional published. Right now I am not working with any publishing company. My first new post will be about the SCBWI winter conference which starts Tommorrow. Look for the blog to be more interactive with videos, author interviews and much more. I will try to keep it updated more regularly. Please continue to give me your support. We are back. Thanks everyone   

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18. Simon & Schuster Launches a Young Adult Fiction Website Called Riveted

Riveted Logo (GalleyCat)Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has launched a new young adult literature-themed website called Riveted. The creatives behind this venture plan to feature lists, articles, quizzes, videos, giveaways, news pieces, and behind-the-scenes information.

Some of the writers who have signed on to contribute content includes Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, and Scott Westerfeld. To launch this website, the Riveted team will host a community “binge reading” of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.

Here’s more from the press release: “Leading up to the March release of the next installment of the Shadowhunters Chronicles, Lady Midnight, members from the editorial board will host live video chats every Friday to discuss the week’s #TMIBingeRead. In addition, the site will feature original content such as DIY videos on how to get the perfect book character-inspired hair, “word of the week” videos, and exclusive serialized bonus stories.” Click here to watch a video to learn more about the binge reading event.

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19. The Underwoods Face Off in the New House of Cards Trailer

Netflix has unveiled a new promotional piece for the forthcoming season of House of Cards. The video embedded above offers glimpses of the wicked Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) and his estranged wife Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright).

Entertainment Weekly reports that “the upcoming season will feature the Underwoods pursuing separate paths to power, and the 60-second trailer offers a peak at the Machiavellian schemes, sexually charged rendezvous, and violent outbursts along the way. It also glimpses new cast members including Ellen Burstyn, Joel Kinnaman, and Neve Campbell.”

USA Today reports that the thirteen new episodes of season four will be posted online on March 4. Click on these links to watch the first teaser, the second teaser, and the third teaser. (via Gizmodo)

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20. Final Trailer Unveiled For Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Warner Bros. Pictures has unleashed the final official trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The video embedded above and below offers glimpses of the battle between Henry Cavill as Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent) and Ben Affleck as Batman (a.k.a. Bruce Wayne).

Other members of the cast include Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The theatrical release date for this film adaptation has been scheduled for March 25.

Click on these links to watch a few teasersthe first trailer, and the second trailer. Who’s your favorite super hero from the comic book world?

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21. Book Launch: Been There, Done That


Have you ever walked through the woods and wanted so badly to see animals only to be disappointed that none were around? That is the premise of Jen Funk Weber’s new children’s book Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs.  

In the book, Cole is visiting his friend Helena and he really wants to see wild animals. They take a hike and Helena shows Cole signs that animals are around even they are not standing in front of him.

This book shows that there is more to spotting signs of wildlife than seeing paw prints across the hood of your car or the imprint of little bird feet in the sand. In fact, tracks are a very little part of spotting signs of wildlife.

Author Jen Funk Weber has a lot of practice tracking animals. Although the animals in Been There, Done That are residents of the Pacific northwest and up through Alaska, Jen has tracked animals around the world. Read this wonderful account of leopard tracking in Africa!

jenfunkweberTo celebrate the launch of Jen’s new book we asked her a few questions about writing and tracking animal signs.

What was your incentive to write this particular book?

Having worked as a natural history guide in Alaska, I know that people want to see exciting things when they take the time and make the e ort to get out in nature, but that’s not the way nature works. Flowers and wild animals don’t perform on command. In fact, most wild animals prefer to avoid humans.

But things are happening all the time in nature, and there are clues all around that can help us “see” what’s happening, even if we don’t actually witness it. It’s fun looking for these clues and trying to figure out what happened. It’s like snooping on neighbors, except the animals don’t seem to mind. If we spend enough time out there, we might get lucky and see some of those really exciting, once-in-a- lifetime events.

beenthere_pic2And, of course, hiking, searching for animal signs, and watching wildlife are some of my favorite things to do, but you guessed that, right?

When are you most creative?

Around 4 a.m. No, really. I love getting up in the wee hours to write. Picture this: It’s zero degrees outside, snowy, and dark. But it’s warm enough inside—at least it is at my desk, two feet from the heater. e sky is full of stars and maybe northern lights. It won’t get light for hours. I turn on colored lights that rim the ceiling and light fragrant candles on the windowsills. I make a pot of jasmine tea. I sit. It’s quiet and still. I imagine. I write.

Okay, it’s not always that way, but sometimes it is.

As for what sparks my creativity; that would be new ideas and experiences. It can be something as small as a headline or a fascinating fact, or it can be a trip to someplace new, or it can be thinking about something in a new way, i.e., a new perspective. Every new thought or experience gets processed into past thoughts and experiences, and this synthesis triggers the creative process.

For instance, while converting feet to meters, I wondered why the US has never really converted to the metric system. When I was a kid, we were told we needed to switch because the whole country would soon switch.

beenthere_pic1I began to wonder why time has never been converted to the metric system, even where the metric system is used. Instead of 24 hours in a day, we could have 10 or 100 some-other-unit-of- measure.

Now I’m motivated to do some research about metrics. An old idea—converting to the metric system—leads to creative thinking when applied in a new way—to time.

Read our full interview with Jen on the Been There, Done That homepage!

Also enter to win our Goodreads giveaway that opens on February 15th!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Been There, Done That by Jen Weber

Been There, Done That

by Jen Weber

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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22. Taraji P. Henson Lands Role in the Hidden Figures Movie

Taraji P. Henson (GalleyCat)Taraji P. Henson will play the mathematician Katherine Johnson in the Hidden Figures movie. In the past, the actress (pictured,via) was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film adaptation of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

According to Variety, the story for this film adaptation comes from Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. HarperCollins will publish this nonfiction book on Sept. 6.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Ted Melfi will direct the film about a group of black women who provided NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. Fox is planning to release the film Jan. 13, 2017, to coincide with the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.” (via Bustle)

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23. Puddle Jumpers - a bookwrap

Let's go......our rain dance awaits!  What fun to skip and splash  together as the rain covers our face with tiny droplets of encouragement.  Put on your galoshes, grab your umbrella and slicker and play with me.  Lets let our imaginations dictate our play and let's boogie in the rain.....wanna? 


Authored by Anne Margaret Lewis

Illustrated by Nancy Cote

Ages 3-6

Unwrapping some very sweet illustrations...

Unwrapping my review...

Written in rhyme this celebration of a rainy day will have you looking for your rain gear ready to get wet and party!  

A little boy and his mother head out on a showery day and he receives specific instructions from mom: "No! No jumping puddles! / You must keep clean today!" Unable to control himself his imagination kicks in and propels him into a joyous romp that entails a huge puddle strategically positioned ... right under his nose.   The puddle whispers:  "Jump, Puddle Jumper, Jump."  Now who could resist that right?  Would you jump? Here I go.............

With a huge grin of ecstasy the little guy disregards his mother's advice and takes off on a wet n' wild adventure frolicking with a frog, a crocodile, a penguin, a toucan and more.  Action words pour forth : leap, dance, swing, scurry and jump, just to name a few that lend a perfect opportunity for the engaged little reader to get up and do the same.  The author has included a variety of creatures that swim, fly and waddle along.  The best part?  I loved the twist at the end when the little boy looks up and who does he do a rain dance with?  Surprise!!!  Mom can I have this dance?  

The illustrations are big, colourful and playful.  The expressions of the little boy are so endearing and friendly.  The whole vibe of the book is pure bliss and it gives the reader permission to go out on a rainy day and experience that "Singing-in-the-Rain", floating on cloud nine good feeling.   I highly recommend it. 

About the author...

Anne Margaret Lewis is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than ten children’s books. She enjoys working with fun fictional characters and carefully weaving important lessons into her stories. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives with her husband and four children in Traverse City, Michigan.

About the illustrator...

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24. Mary Ann Naples Joins the Disney Book Group as VP and Publisher

Disney Publishing Logo (GalleyCat)Mary Ann Naples has been hired as a vice president and publisher at the Disney Book Group. Her start date has been scheduled for Mar. 14.

Prior to this development, Naples was a senior vice president and publisher at Rodale Books and Rodale Wellness. In her new role, she will serve as a representative to a variety of different members of the industry, work with authors, and oversee business strategy moves for the group.

Naples gave this statement in the press release: “I am thrilled to join the Disney Book Group with its spectacular track record of success, its world-class brands, franchises, authors and illustrators, and its amazing team. Disney has always been at the forefront of innovation and creativity, and I can’t wait to build on the great work already done in the book group.”

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25. WHAT LIGHT Cover Reveal

Release date:
October 11, 2016

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