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1. What I Wish You Knew About an Agent's Job

Recently I posted on Twitter that I had run out of blog ideas. Brilliant planning since I just restarted the blog. Well thankfully a few kind souls came to my aid with questions that they thought I might be able to answer. We'll see about that.


EmilieLorditch
@BookEndsJessica @BookEndsKim What is something that you wish people who submit to you knew about your job?
2/11/15, 10:55 AM



Thank you @EmilieLoritch for your question. This is something I hope I convey regularly on the blog when it might feel like I'm really just kvetching. Of course a couple of things came to mind, but the very first thing I thought of has more to do with writers and their expectations than it does with me and my job. At least I think that's what I'm about to write.

The first thing I want people to know about agents is that the least important thing we do is actually sell the book. I think there is, understandably, a lot of emphasis on that sale and while that's not wrong (because without the sale none of the other stuff, the more important stuff, would really happen) it's probably, in some ways, the easiest part of an agent's job.

What an agent actually spends the day doing is dealing with all that other stuff which really amounts to planning the author's career. I would say the most important thing you agent does for you is negotiate the contract and I don't mean the advance and royalties. I meant he nitty-gritty details of the contract that will allow, or not allow, you to do other things in the future. With contract negotiations comes an eye toward the author's career. What will this author want to be doing next year or two years down the road and how can I make sure this contract doesn't prohibit that?

I'm going to keep this simple rather than go into the myriad of other things an agent does, but what I will tell you this, which I know you've heard before, is that one of the things an agent rarely does while in the office is read. That means submissions or otherwise. Between phone calls, meetings and contracts there's very little time to put my feet up and whip out a good book.

--jhf




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2. Keys and bolts

I received a question whether I was going to write about the word key in the series on our habitat. I didn't have such an intention, but, since someone is interested in this matter, I’ll gladly change my plans and satisfy the curiosity of our friend.

The post Keys and bolts appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. PARALLELOGRAM Omnibus Edition Now Available!

Parallelogram Omnibus

For those of you who like to read your series in one big chunk, there’s now an omnibus ebook edition of the entire PARALLELOGRAM series–and it’s incredibly cheap for the moment. All four books for only $7.99! And more important, no waiting in between cliff hangers.

Enjoy!

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4. Zoology for Kids - a bookwrap




Unwrapping....Zoology



Zoology is the scientific study of the characteristics and classification of animals. It is one of the branches of biology, and therefore it is also referred to as animal biology. There are several sub-branches within this field, including ethology, zoography, and anthrozoology. Additionally, zoologists often specialize in the study of specific types of animals. For instance, an ornithologist studies birds, while a mammologist studies mammals. As zoology is a very interdisciplinary subject, there are a number of related fields, including taxonomy, paleontology, and evolutionary biology. 

Sub-Branches

Common sub-branches of zoology include zoography, ethology, paleozoology, and anthrozoology. Zoography is the description of animals and the environments in which they live. These descriptions are often extremely detailed, and may also include information about the animal's behavior or eating habits. A related subfield is ethology, which is the study of animal behavior. Ethologists tend to focus more on behavior characteristics rather than specific types of animals, and may study many different species. Common behaviors studied include imprinting, aggression, emotion, and communication.

Now that's a mouthful.  Let's break it down so that a child can understand the true meaning of the word.

Unwrapping today's todays non-fiction book suitable for ages 11-15. Enjoy....






Zoology For Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals by Josh Hestermann and Bethanie Hestermann


Introduction by...






The Kratt brothers are creators and hosts of Kratts' Creatures and Zoboomafoo. They've been creature adventuring ever since they were as big as a wombat, first in their backyard and now all over the world. The brothers started making wildlife films while in college when they went on camping trips around the world and filmed wildlife. They edited the films in their basement and brought them into schools to show kids. Now, they've made 50 episodes of Kratts' Creatures in Africa, Central America, Australia and all around the world.

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5. The IOM’s effort to dislodge chronic fatigue syndrome

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released their report regarding a new name (i.e., systemic exertion intolerance disease) and case definition for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). In brief, the IOM proposed that at least four symptoms needed to be present to be included in this new case definition [...]

The post The IOM’s effort to dislodge chronic fatigue syndrome appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Selection Is Privilege

AmyAmy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Coordinator at Skokie Public Library, where she 13089CT01.tifselects fiction for youth birth through teens and oversees programming aimed at children through grade 5. She is the chair of the ALSC Public Awareness Committee, and she manages LittleeLit.com and is a Joint Chief of the Storytime Underground. Amy has shared her library programs, book reviews, and musings on librarianship on her blog The Show Me Librarian since early 2012.

This post originally appeared on her blog The Show Me Librarian, and is cross-posted with her permission.

There is a conversation happening on the Storytime Underground Facebook Group right now. It’s been going on for a few days, actually, and it seems to have started innocuously enough: with a question about folks’ thoughts on the Youth Media Award winners, asked by a person who expressed “major shock” and disappointment (via frown-y face emoticons) about one of the Caldecott honors. As I said; innocuously enough.

Some folks who added to the thread brought up the perennial gripe that not all the recognized titles seem to have much kid appeal; other voices jumped in to clarify that kid appeal is not part of the criteria for any of the major YMAs awarded by ALSC and YALSA. I find this argument annoying the same way I do a mosquito bite, because it pops up every year around the same time and is irritating but will disappear in a week. After all, there are awards that take kid appeal into account.

But. Then something ugly and uncomfortable popped up. People started talking about certain books not appealing to kids or their entire communities for one reason: because said certain books have diverse protagonists.

Things people have said*:

  • “Sometimes I pass on even well reviewed books because I know they just won’t circulate. There aren’t any Greek gods in it! I also have a difficult time getting uh, diverse books to circulate in my community. When I started my job and weeded the picture books a huge number of non circulating titles had POC on the cover. ‘Brown Girl Dreaming?’ That’s a hard sell.”
  • “You can have my copy then. Because it won’t circulate where I am.”
  • “I just know it’s going to be a hard sell.”
  • “We have a copy, but I can count the number of black patrons my library has in two weeks on one hand. It is rural, middle class, white West Michigan. The only black author that circulates…at all…is Christopher Paul Curtis and that’s because some teachers require it. It’s not just the race of the characters either. If our young patrons want sports fiction they are going to choose Mike Lupica or Tim Green. The crossover has not circulated even one time since we got it. It’s not like Kwame can’t write. Acoustic Rooster checks out frequently.”

After reading the full thread and seeing this build-up of negative dialogue specifically around diverse award-winning titles in collections, I responded:

“I find it extremely problematic to suggest that a library doesn’t need a book–award-winner or not–that features a minority protagonist on the basis that there aren’t many readers of that minority who use the library. To me, that suggests both a bias on the part of selectors as well as a lack of trust in the readers we serve. We know verifiably that young readers do not only want to read about characters whose lives are like their own, and keeping them from even having the option to try a book about a person who is different from them is bordering dangerously on censorship. If a particular child does not want to read a particular book, so be it; but, especially in a public library, children should have that option.”

I am going to expand on that a bit.

First, and frankly, I find the position “because we don’t have X readers in my library, we don’t need X books” to be racist. This position implies that we as selectors view diverse books as inherently less-than. If we argue that only black youth will want to read about black youth, we are really saying that the experiences of black youth have no relevance or meaning to youth of any other race. We are saying that the experiences of the youth in the books we do buy have broader relevance and resonance. That is the very definition of otherizing and making a particular perspective, experience, or group less-than.

The position that “because we don’t have X readers in my library, we don’t need X books” also denotes a fundamental lack of respect for the children we are supposed to be serving. It suggests that we think our young readers cannot handle, relate to, or be expected to understand an experience that does not mirror their own. Not collecting—and collecting but not promoting—titles with diverse protagonists projects the selector’s own bias onto the reader instead of letting readers freely encounter stories and information.

Also, I feel very strongly that if the excellent diverse books in your collection do not circulate, you are not doing your job of getting great books into the hands of readers. As librarians, we can sell any great book to the right reader. We can find the aspects of a title that will appeal to the range of readers we serve. Diverse books have the exact same appeal factors as the whitewashed majority of children’s publishing. So we can be professionals and make our readers’ advisory about appeal factors, or we can continue to always take kids interested in sports reads to Matt Christopher or Tim Green instead of to Kwame Alexander. But if we do the latter, we are part of the problem. If we omit diverse titles from our RA even though those exact same appeal factors are there, we are perpetuating a racist status quo.

I want to take a moment to step outside of what I have to say on this topic and share what some other professionals have said*:

  • “Good collection development policies should emphasize a variety of things, but one of them should most definitely be diversity. The goal of a public library is not just to serve as a mirror for our community, but to serve as an open door to the world, which includes giving our communities opportunities to walk in the shoes of characters very different from them. This, to me, is part of our education goals, to help our patrons gain a broad perspective of the world. If books don’t circulate there are things we can do to help promote circulation, including book displays, book talks, sharing book trailers and more. Yes, budgets are tight every where, but we should absolutely make sure that we actively are working to build diverse collections because it is an important part of helping us fulfill our primary mission to our local communities. And the idea that not one single person in our local communities wants or needs to read books that highlight diversity concerns me because it suggests that we don’t have enough faith in our kids to learn, grow and step outside of their comfort zones.”
  • “I think it is a PRIMARY JOB of librarians, specifically youth services librarians, to promote and encourage diversity in our collections, budgets be damned. After all, I spend way too much of my money on crap like Barbie and Disney princesses … which circulate like *gangbusters*. But if I went on just that, I’d have a very shallow collection.”
  • “The point: if the only way you know how to sell a book is ‘it’s got brown people’ then you might’ve missed the point of the story.”
  • “If you want to champion diversity in a place where people are resistant, sell the story, not the character’s color or orientation.”
  • “And I absolutely hate that people use the excuse ‘well, they just don’t circulate in my library.’ That speaks the the librarian’s failings.”

When it comes down to it, a major aspect of this topic is selection/collection development, and the fact that selection is a privilege. If you select materials for your readers, you are privileged to get to influence not only what children read, but what they have access to in the first place. And when I read arguments against including diverse titles, or questions about why we have to talk about this topic, it puts into sharp focus for me the fact that we have to recognize our privilege as selectors, and, more than likely, as white selectors for diverse readers.
selection is privilege
If you find yourself thinking “I don’t need this title because we don’t really have many X readers here,” your privilege is showing. You have probably never had to open more than one or two books in a row in order to find a character who looks/speaks/lives like you do. That is privilege. And whether we intend it to or not, our privilege influences our thinking and our decisions. This is a problem because our decisions affect the capabilities of young readers to find books in which they can find themselves and in which they can meet new people.

Confronting our privilege is hard. It is uncomfortable. I am acutely aware that, because of my privilege as a white woman, I don’t have to write this post. No one would begrudge me for not speaking up on this topic publicly. In fact, it would probably be a lot easier, and I would seem a lot nicer, if I didn’t write this post.

But that course of action is no longer acceptable to me. I am no longer going to privately roll my eyes when professional colleagues make privileged statements about their exclusionary practices, or when reviewers ignore microaggressions in books for youth. I am going to say something, because ignoring it only lets it perpetuate. And when someone calls me out on something I say or causes me to think critically about my own practice, I am going to try really, really hard not to get defensive and to just listen and reflect and improve. It is hard. And I don’t need to do it.

Except that I do, because the ability of every child I serve to feel valuable and see themselves as a beautiful, complex individual is what hangs in the balance.

This is not about our comfort, or our personal convictions, or what we think we know definitively after doing this job a particular way for so many years.

It is about the children we serve. Every single one of them.

*Because these conversations have been happening in public forums (a public Facebook group and on Twitter), I feel that sharing direct quotations is not a breach of anyone’s privacy. I have made the decision to share these quotes without identifying the speakers, as my ultimate goal is constructive conversation about privilege in selection for youth libraries, not alienating or shaming members of the community.

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7. Kishaz Reading Corner: A Shiver of Light by Laurell K. Hamilton

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.


About the Book

Merry Gentry, ex–private detective and full-time princess, is now the mother of triplets, a rarity in the high ranks of faerie. And not everyone is happy about it, including Taranis, King of Light and Illusion. He’s using the human courts to sue for visitation rights, claiming that one of the babies is his. To save herself and her children, Merry will use the most dangerous powers in all of faerie: a god of death, a warrior known as the Darkness, the Killing Frost, and a king of nightmares. They are her lovers, and her dearest loves, and they will face down the might of the high courts of faerie—while trying to keep the war from spreading to innocent humans in Los Angeles, who are in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4 stars

Here's why:

This is the long awaited ninth book in the Merry Gentry series. For the fans of the series, you should give this a read. It feels like the way Hamilton used to write and I liked it.

We finally learn more about Meredith, her kings and her babies in the latest installment to this series. What I enjoyed the most was that the sex didn't drown the story. There was enough that it complimented the flow of the overall plot which was a breath of fresh air.

We also learned a little bit more about Meredith's mettle and what makes her tick.

Would I recommend this book? Yes.



DON'T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

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8. Flogometer for Jacob—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Wanted... If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.


Jacob sends the first chapter of The Freerunners. The remainder of the chapter is after the break.

Noah’s luck had finally run out. Normally, his charm, good looks and quick wit was enough to get him out of trouble. He definitely had an undeniable way with people, a sly con man making a living through the efforts of those around him. Which made it all the more interesting when he had the ‘accident’ with Willy Butler. Of course, no one else saw it as an accident. It certainly wasn’t easy for Noah to explain either, considering how difficult it is to grind a skateboard backwards along a 10-meter handrail.

And he never had any intention of tumbling off the end into a very upset Miss Castello. Whilst this in itself might not have been so bad, it unfortunately led to Miss Castello spilling her microwaved tomato soup all over the person she happened to be talking with. That, of course, is where our good lad Willy comes in. You know, your typical schoolyard big fella, 6 foot 6, dad owns the local gym kinda guy. Not someone you wanna mess with. Willy looked across at the culprit, his shirt stained like a bloody wound had sprouted from his chest, a dark gleam in his eye. Nope. Definitely not someone you wanna mess with.

“Come ‘ere, ya bloomin’ tosser,” Willy’s coarse vocabulary rumbled across the dead quiet courtyard. He made a desperate lunge for Noah, but he wasn’t quick enough to dodge the boot that collided with his front teeth. And that is where Cody Blackwood is introduced, Noah’s brother and best friend. Often mixed up with his bloodline, he too shared his brother’s blonde (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Jacob's first page?

Well, it seems that conflict is on the way, but there were craft issues that stopped me. There’s some sort of omniscient narrator who steps in to introduce characters, and there were clarity issues as well—see the notes for the boot and the teeth part. The narrator seems to go away in the rest of the chapter. I think whatever it is you are trying for with this narrator isn’t working as well as you’d like it to. I suggest you just deal with what’s happening. Notes:

Noah’s luck had finally run out. Normally, his charm, good looks and quick wit was were enough to get him out of trouble. He definitely had an undeniable way with people, a sly con man making a living through the efforts of those around him. Which made it all the more interesting when he had the ‘accident’ with Willy Butler. Of course, no one else saw it as an accident. It certainly wasn’t easy for Noah to explain either, considering how difficult it is to grind a skateboard backwards along a 10-meter handrail. I wouldn’t say “con man” as it leads to thinking of the character as a man, not a boy. Con artist would work. The logic of the last couple of sentences eludes me. If it is difficult to grind the skateboard, then it would be difficult to control, which would make what follows more likely to be an accident than not.

And he never had any intention of tumbling off the end into a very upset Miss Castello. Whilst this in itself might not have been so bad, it unfortunately led to Miss Castello spilling her microwaved tomato soup all over the person she happened to be talking with. That, of course, is where our good lad Willy comes in. You know, your typical schoolyard big fella, 6 foot 6, dad owns the local gym kinda guy. Not someone you wanna mess with. Willy looked across at the culprit, his shirt stained like a bloody wound had sprouted from his chest, a dark gleam in his eye. Nope. Definitely not someone you wanna mess with. I’m a little confused about who or what or where the narrator is. It seems to be an omniscient someone who knows what’s going on and would decide to say”that is where. . . our good lad Willy comes in.” This is not Noah or, as nearly as I can tell, anyone present at the scene.

“Come ‘ere, ya bloomin’ tosser,” Willy’s coarse vocabulary rumbled across the dead quiet courtyard. He made a desperate lunge for Noah, but he wasn’t quick enough to dodge the boot that collided with his front teeth. And that is where Cody Blackwood is introduced, Noah’s brother and best friend. Often mixed up with his bloodline, he too shared his brother’s blonde (snip) Some confusion here about the front teeth—the pronoun in “but he wasn’t quick enough” could refer to Noah, the last person named, or perhaps Will. Unclear. Even more unclear is where a boot colliding with teeth comes from. It’s that narrator again, who goes on to say “where Cody Blackwood is introduced.” Why not just show the action? I can’t see a reason to tell us that Cody is being introduced. And to whom? I guess the reader, since it seems clear from later narrative that Will would know the brother of Noah. This technique took this reader out of the story. Lastly, what does "often mixed up with his bloodline" mean in reference to a brother? Clarity issues.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Jacob

Continued

hair and tanned skin. Unfortunately, aside from an impressive talent for troublemaking, that’s about as far as the similarities went for Cody and Noah. Confident and daring, he was one of the coolest guys around, having an easygoing nature with a daredevil’s spirit. A natural athlete, Cody spent more time running from police then on any track race at school. That’s the way things went in Groveville. Known as the Slums by locals to the area, Groveville used to be the pinnacle of civilization, before the war that ruined a once glorious city. Now it was just a breeding place for thugs like the Butlers.

“Come get some you muppet!” Cody and Noah had to think fast. Looking across the schoolyard, students were already making way, looking forward to the chase that was sure to ensue. Stuff like this went down in school legend, and no one wanted to miss out. After knowingly looking at each other, the two brothers tore off to cheers from the crowd, Willy in wild pursuit. A teacher tried to stop the chase, but the wave of students had already swallowed them up.

“Hey Mum,” there was Cody on the phone. “Yeah, nothing too major but you might wanna come down as soon as you can.” Cody hung up the phone and looked across at Noah. “She’s gonna be here ASAP,” he panted between breaths. ‘You are done mate!” they heard the catcalls from their fellow students. Noah glanced back; Andre’s was already hounding him down, his face contorted with pure rage. “I’m not sure ASAP is gonna be soon enough.”

Hurdling like madmen, Cody and Noah dashed across the school towards the carpark. This was not the first time they had been chased before, and so they leapt over ledges and across staircases with relative ease. Willy, however, was not nearly as smooth as Noah or Cody at traversing the busy school, resorting to a battering ram style method in order to keep pace with the two brothers. He gnashed his teeth like a lion in anticipation of an upcoming kill, hunting its prey with merciless abandon.

As they sped through the corridors, Noah realised they were soon running out of options. He knew this hallway was a dead end, and Willy seemed to know it to, increasing his pace to a level quite unexpected for a person of his height. The panic started to set in for Noah. He’d never been in so much trouble, not too mention the beating he’d have to endure from Willy and his cronies. Cody would always have his back, but even he wouldn’t be able to protect his brother from Willy’s gang. No one else would lift a finger of course, not even teachers. That’s the way things went in Groveville. Noah looked across at his brother, expecting to see a similar frown of concern. “It’s over mate,” Noah said, slowing down as he came to terms with the situation. It surprised him then, to see a crafty smile sprout from his face. Cody looked back at his brother, his smile ever increasing. And amidst all the chaos, the shouting and the abuse, he whispered “Look up.”

Noah’s jaw dropped. Any one could have been standing inside that window. A friendly teacher, a fireman, perhaps even a cop. Yet no other then his very own mother, Saline, stood above him, a rope snaked around her arms. He blinked a few times, trying to come to terms with this new reality. He should have expected it really, considering Cody had called her earlier. He just couldn’t believe that she had actually come through for them. Her dark hair was still up in a bun, her hands dirty from hours slaving away on the farm. It was unfortunate it had to be like that since Noah and Cody’s father had died in the war, and they had tried to convince her many times that school was not important and that they would quit to help her manage the land. She would have none of it, however, telling them they would be the first Blackwoods to get an education. “You wanna spend your life toiling away in the soil,” she often said to them, her hardened yet delicate hands caressing their heads. She looked worried as she gazed down from her vantage point, before throwing the rope out of window. At first Noah was a bit confused, but Cody took the hint and launched himself upwards, climbing it with extreme speed and precision. Noah turned around. Willy was only 20 metres away, parting students left right and centre. “Come on!” the shout came down from Cody, peering over the window, its open doors swaying to the tune of the breeze.

Not wasting any time, Noah hauled himself up the rope, which was made twice as hard due to his grazed hands from his earlier stack. He didn’t want to look weak however; there were still tonnes of people watching on, so he drove on through the pain, gritting his teeth as he pushed his muscles harder. With a final lunge for safety, he just managed to grab the windowsill, using the rope to balance himself whilst Saline’s strong arms wrapped around him. He could have stayed in her embrace forever, memories of his childhood flooding over him as he remembered back before the war, and all the rubbish that came with it, when his mother used to hold him like that. It didn’t last though, as he was heaved back to his senses when a foreign hand gripped ruthlessly around his foot. He stumbled, losing grip of the windowsill as Willy managed to get another hand bound around his ankles. Now only Saline’s dwindling reserves of strength kept him alive. A drop from there could be fatal, with roughly 6 metres separating him from the embrace of the merciless concrete floor. Noah looked up at his mother, her eyes swelling with tears. He wished he could say something to comfort her, as she had done so many times. Nothing came out though. All he could do was smile as he let go of her loving arms…

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9. Zoo Animals : About Zoologists

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10. Eksotisme Labuhan Bajo

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Labuan Bajo akan menjadi persinggahan pertama bagi siapapun yang berkunjung ke Flores.Tidak peduli apakah anda tiba dengan pesawat, atau dengan perahu sekalipun.
Menurut laporan pemerintah Kota,Labuan Bajo adalah kabupaten yang paling berkembang saat ini. Dalam 3 tahun terakhir Pelabuhan Bajo telah memiliki perkembangan dua kali lipat dan populasinya pun semakin bertambah. Hal ini karena pengunjung Internasional yang datang ke Labuan Bajo meningkat. Terlebih dengan adanya Taman Nasional Komodo.

eksotisme-labuhan-bajo

Hal ini tentu saja menjadi kabar yang sangat baik terutama bagi pemuda-pemuda yang ada di Flores. Itu artinya, mereka bisa mengelola tempat ini menjadi lapangan pekerjaan.
Labuhan Bajo seperti kota pelabuhan kebanyakan di dunia, hotel-hotel dan restoran tumbuh seperti jamur dimusim hujan dan berusaha mencari keuntungan. Selain itu, agen traveling menjadikan Labuan Bajo sebagai lahan basah mereka.
Dari Labuan Bajo anda bisa pergi ke mana pun yang anda inginkan, mulai dari Lombok, Sumbawa, atau anda juga bisa menuju ke Pulau Komodo dan berbagai tempat di Flores lainnya yang populer.
Penginapan yang ada di tempat ini serta restoran yang bertaraf internasional semuanya menyediakan kenyamanan untuk anda. Dan tentunya dengan harga yang lebih bersaing.
Di tempat ini pemandangan alam boleh dikatakan sangat dramatis karena menyajikan keindahan yang luar biasa. Disini, di Labuan Bajo anda bisa melakukan apapun yang anda inginkan mulai dari berwisata, berbelanja souvenir di jalan Yos Sudarso,atau mencari kain ikat lokal serta kain tenun songket dan berbagai kerajinan tangan khas flores lainnya.
Jika anda berkunjung ke pelabuhan bajo,sama seperti beberapa tempat di wilayah timur Indonesia,anda harus berbekal losion anti nyamuk dan obat malaria. Karena tempat ini memang masih memiliki banyak hutan yang di huni nyamuk malaria. Dan tidak lupa juga anda harus membawa topi, sun block, serta kacamata hitam karena cuaca di tempat ini sangat panas.
Pulau-pulau yang mengelilingi Labuan Bajo kebanyakan belum berpenghuni. Akan tetapi, pulau-pulau tersebut memiliki pemandangan yang luar biasa. Beberapa pantai di sekitar Labuan Bajo menawarkan keindahan dan pesonanya sendiri. Anda bisa melakukan beberapa kegiatan seperti menyelam dan senorkeling. Beberapa pulau terdekat seperti Pulau Kanawa atau Pulau Kukusan juga biasanya dijadikan sebagai spot diving.

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11. Free Writing Lessons: "Shakespeare Uncovered" on PBS

I've recently finished watching the second season of Shakespeare Uncovered, a series of documentaries exploring some of Shakespeare's plays, largely from the perspective of the people who have played the parts. I'm now going back and watching the first season again. It's not just because I love Shakespeare. It's not even because the series is beautifully done.

It's because this series is one of the greatest teaching tools about how to write that I've come across in some time.

Understand, please, that I am usually not a visual person. I learn better by reading than by watching films. I don't even particular enjoy movies or TV that much. But Shakespeare Uncovered is an exception. By starting from an actor's perspective--a person who has lived a character and the story in a personal, intimate way--we get a personal, intimate look into Shakespeare's story-telling skills.

I think this is valuable, even if you don't enjoy Shakespeare. Even if he does not appeal to you personally, due to the nature of his stories or the age or language, you will benefit from this series, as a writer.

Each episode explores the nature of stories, the development of characters, in a uniquely inspiring and moving way. We explore the internal workings of characters as diverse as Macbeth and Bottom the Weaver, learning what makes them tick, and how a master writer uses their characters to tell a story that reveals something about each of us.

As one of the men who has played Macbeth, Antony Sher, says in the first episode of the first season, "Shakespeare's great gift as a writer is that he never holds people at arm's length. He never says, 'Look at this person. Isn't he disgraceful, or isn't he ridiculous?' Shakespeare always says, 'It's me. It's you. It's us.' He always does that. It is his great gift."

This is precisely what we need to do to draw an audience into our stories. And it's why, as somebody who attempts to tell stories, I find Shakespeare so inspiring.

Whether you are a Shakespeare fan or not, this series will help you learn how to do this. It shows how to develop characters and put them into settings that amplifies their personal issues.It shows how to use those characters to develop a plot that really means something and reveals something about the way we all tick. It shows how to use current cultural elements to amplify a story. It shows how to use the rhythm of language to create emotion, and how to magnify that emotion with action and movement.

If you have Comcast, season two is currently on On Demand. Maybe it's available from other providers as well. Check it out, and see if it is as great a writing lesson for you as it has been for me.

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12. Review: Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola

 

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, by Claire A. Nivola

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai
by Claire A. Nivola
(Frances Foster Books; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

 
Winner … Continue reading ...

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13. Navigating a Debut Year: Private Life

cover profiles

I first ran this series five months after May B. hit the shelves. With Blue Birds releasing next week (!), it feels like the right time for me to revisit my Writer’s Manifesto — a list of things I’d like to focus on in my public, private, and writing life. 

This is not in any way meant to be preachy or condemning (please notice I’m directing all of this to myself). I have yet to figure everything out and am in many ways a pro at doing the exact opposite of what I know is best. Yet these are ideas I’ve circled back to again and again, things I know will ultimately benefit my career, my friendships, my writing and my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

In my private life I will…
  • Err on the side of love: I got this beautiful quote from author Irene Latham, who first heard it from her mama. It’s a good way to think about the world in general and is especially important in our small community. Assume the best of others, their intentions, their actions. It will make you happier and kinder, too.
  • Let go of what I can’t control: This is pretty much everything from how my work is received by professional reviewers, bloggers, readers, and friends to sales, publicity, and marketing efforts outside my hands. I can do what I can, and that is all. It isn’t right or fair to try to own things that aren’t mine and never will be.
  • Be real with other authors in a safe, closed community: I’ve talked a lot about the Class of 2k12 and The Apocalypsies around here. Though both function as promotional groups for debut authors, they are first and foremost a place I can go for support. The debut year is full of new experiences only other debuts can truly appreciate and understand. Knowing I can go to these stellar people with anything has helped bolster and encourage me.
In my private life I won’t…
  • Hold my colleagues to unspoken expectations: This one is easy to do without even realizing it — trusting a colleague will read my book as I have read hers, assuming someone else will talk up my titles as I have for him, believing another should comment on my blog as much as I do on hers and on and on. Insisting others are beholden to me because of what I’ve done for them is a sure formula for heartache, especially when those friends have no idea of my expectations. Maybe they haven’t read my book yet but still plan to. Maybe they have, and out of an attempt to be courteous haven’t mentioned it because it wasn’t their thing. Maybe they’re not interested in it at all. Ultimately, it’s none of my business and becomes another opportunity to err on the side of love.
  • Compare or begrudge the successes, sales, or careers of others: About six months ago, there were a number of posts in the blogosphere about envy and contentment. There was tremendous response from readers confessing similar feelings. The drive to compare is such a gut-level thing it’s sometimes hard to avoid. Some people are able to use comparison as a sort of motivation for their own work. Not so with me. Comparison leads to frustration and feelings of inadequacy…or feelings of superiority, neither of which benefits me. My friends’ successes don’t somehow negatively reflect on my own efforts. There is room for all of us. Just because my career will unfold differently from someone else’s doesn’t make it wrong and doesn’t give me the right to be bitter with others’ success.

The post Navigating a Debut Year: Private Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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14. Character Files: PRINCE SARGENT

NAME: Prince Sargent the SimplePrince Sargent

HOME: The Northwest Kingdom

BACKGROUND: Prince Sargent the Simple is not the most sophisticated of the Seven Lovelorn Princes, however he does love to explore and find new things — usually in his nose or belly button. Back home, he enjoys wrestling alligators and letting the gators win. Every now and then you might find a pearl of simple wisdom uttered from his lips, however you’ll need to wait for a pretty long time.

PRINCELY POWER: He possesses the ability to enjoy the simple things in life, but that’s mainly because those are the only things he understands.


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15. 3 Comics Legends to Serve as Educators For a MOOC

EdX Smithsonian InstitutionStan Lee, Michael Uslan, and David Uslan have established great careers within the comics and entertainment industry. Soon, they will also take on the role of educators.

EdX, a nonprofit education organization, will present three newly-formed massive open online courses (MOOCs) developed by the Smithsonian Institution. The “Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture” class will feature instruction from the three comics legends.

Lee gave this statement in the press release: “It’s a great honor being invited to share my views on the evolution of superheroes and the genre’s overall impact across all generations of people. Throughout my career, characters have evolved so much – from drawings on a page to other-worldly special effects only animation could produce, to live-action and so much more. I can’t wait to dive into these discussions thanks to Smithsonian and edX.” (via The Hollywood Reporter)

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16. George R.R. Martin Gives Away a First-Edition Hobbit

georgerrmartinGame of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has given away a rare, first-edition, copy of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This particular volume contains illustrations created by Tolkien himself.

The donation was made to Texas A&M University. According to the school’s blog post, the book will be displayed at the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives for a few weeks.

During his visit, Martin explained that “there’s no doubt his effect upon me was profound and I take a strange pleasure in seeing him included in a library like this, to be a 5 millionth book with Cervantes and Walt Whitman. It represents an acceptance of fantasy into the canon of world literature which I think is long overdue, frankly.” Do you agree with Martin’s opinion? (via Chron.com)

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17. Insecure Writer's Support Group Monthly Post - #IWSG



It's time to celebrate, it's already March 4th and you know what that means... Spring is on it's way! Yippee! 


To celebrate even further, it's the first Wednesday of the month and it's #IWSG day!! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG will be Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence!


For my post this month, I'm not chatting about my writing insecurities, I'm chatting about a cause near and dear to my heart...


Numerous studies from both government and the private sector provide clear evidence that early reading skills are an investment in a child's future. Early reading skill development dramatically affects the quality of life for children as they grow into adulthood. Sadly, a recent article by Carole Dickerson on the Journal Standard website quoted a local social worker who stated that many of the parents in the homes she visits do not own a single children's book.  

This is quite shocking to me and in response, I am announcing a children's book drive within my county to support the Rockland County Department of Social Services. I encourage other authors of children's books to do the same or if you have gentle used children's books to please donate to the book drive.

I invite those interested in donating to contact me directly at donna@donnamcdine.com.

In my opinion, "the bare essence of learning to read opens up the world of exploration to a child. Across the curriculum it is imperative children grow in their reading capability so success in their classes can be had. Without the fundamentals it is very difficult to progress successfully."

"I believe in ‘paying it forward.' That one book donation may be all it takes to make a difference in a child’s life. By encouraging the love of reading in our young muses their look of wonder as they bubble with excitement on their next reading journey swells my heart."

I urge you to join me in my quest to ignite curiosity in children through reading by donating to the Rockland County Department of Social Services book drive.

A big shout out goes to... Beverly Stowe McClureMelissa AbramovitzPenelope Anne ColeEmma GloverSharon Stanley, Terri Martin, Denise Stanley and Barbara Keahon for their generous donations! Thanks ladies...we are off to a terrific start! 

Deadline for donations April 30, 2015. 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you!

P.S. I will comment back to visitors and visit with fellow #IWSG members once I return from work today! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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18. The Book Review Club - Like Water on Stone

Like Water on Stone
Dana Walrath
YA

I had the great pleasure of knowing Dana while I was a student at Vermont College. She is a woman of many talents and a thought-provoking speaker. Her novel, Like Water on Stone, was a labor of love that started, I think, while she was at Vermont College and continued on after she'd completed the program. I cheered when I heard it had been acquired, not simply because a fellow VCFA'er had placed a story but because this book brings a rich form of diversity to not only kidlit but literature overall.

Basic Premise: It's 1914. Shahen dreams of moving to New York where part of his family has already immigrated. His father, initially, stands in his son's way. He loves their life in Armenia. And then the Ottoman empire, in decline, goes to war. Religion suddenly matters, and not in a good way. Much of Shahen's family, Christians, including his parents and older brothers, are murdered by troops. Shahen and two of his sisters flee across the mountains to safety and, eventually, a new life in America.

The story was inspired by Walrath's own family story of immigration. 

There are a variety of interesting elements to take away from this piece. The most hard-hitting is that this is a story of genocide. How does a kidlit writer tackle such hard stuff and not overwhelm her reader? Walrath chose to write her story in verse, her reasoning being, the material is so graphic, so emotionally full, by painting with thinner strokes, it is possible to share and yet not overwhelm a younger audience. Not once did I ever feel words were missing, nor did I feel as if I couldn't keep reading. It's a masterful use of a writer's tool. In so doing, Walrath exposes her audience to the concept that genocide is, very unfortunately, a recurring theme in human history, and opens the story of for debate by leaving the reader wondering: why? Why do we as humans tend toward annihilation of others? It's a contemporary topic.

Further, the novel is told from alternating POVs. It was truly fascinating to both read and see POV change by changing poetic structure. It's yet another tool to add to the toolbox.

For other great reads, you don't even need to get out your galoshes, just spring over to Barrie Summy's website. Happy reading!

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19. Query Question: so why exactly do you want me to shut up?

In a recent post, you offered as an aside that a writer whose platform involved speaking out on the issues of the day might not be a good fit for you. Can you expand on why a polemicist or controversialist, however well known, might not be right for you, and why such a platform might be counterproductive in the realm of fiction writing. 


I make my living selling books to publishers and then helping authors have successful careers. By and large this means selling Many Many copies of this  book, then the next book, and so on. Rinse, remainder, repeat.


An author who is busy writing blog posts on why Felix Buttonweezer is a scamp are 1. alienating all Felix Buttonweezer fans; and 2. getting known as a Felix-basher, not novel writer.

I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying do it in moderation. A blog that's all Felix, all the time isn't a blog that general readers are going to follow, or check in with to find out there's a new book coming.

What many writers realize only after the book is published is the author persona is an entity that may not be a clone of the writer.

May I use myself as an example here? I've been known to rant about certain political things once or twice. Most often it's in response to a query.

Sometimes I really bring out the big guns and start quoting Scripture.

Most of my blog readers are willing to let me do this because I don't do it often, and I'm generally not going to delete their comments if they disagree with me.

This blog is known for dispensing information, advice and rants to writers. That's my goal. The other blog posts are just cause I get riled up sometimes as we all do.


When  you're planning your social media, ask yourself what your goal is. Is it to make friends who will buy your book and support your career?  Is it to convert people to your political agenda, or show them the error of their ways in thinking differently than you do?

Those are mutually exclusive goals, and if you don't know it, I do. 



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today's blog post brought to you by The Tao and The Bard by Phillip dePoy.

The Tao Te Ching or Book of the Way of Virtue is a touchstone of Eastern philosophy and mysticism. It has been called the wisest book ever written, and its author, Lao Tzu, is known as the Great Archivist.

Shakespeare, the Bard, was the West’s greatest writer and even invented human nature, according to some.

The Tao and the Bard is the delightful conversation between these two unlikely spokesmen, who take part in a free exchange of views in its pages.







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20. USPS Reveals Maya Angelou Forever Stamp

USPS has released a preview of the upcoming Maya Angelou forever stamp.

The stamp features a  hyper-realistic painting of Angelou by the Atlanta-based artist Ross Rossin. The original painting is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery through Nov. 1. The stamp also features a quote from the author:  \"A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.\"

The stamp will be issued at a dedication ceremony on Tuesday April 7th. In the meantime, you can preorder the stamps here.

 

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21. Review: Invaded

Welcome, fellow l’annabes. My name is Layla, and I will be your guide to the planet L’eihr (and the innermost workings of Cara Sweeney’s mind). To prepare for this journey, I want you to remember the following: Cara, our heroine, is fiery and passionate. You know this because she has red hair. Also, she is a woman. Aelyx, our hero, is logical and doesn’t totally get human emotions 100%. You know this because he is a man. (And an alien from a planet where they like … bred out human emotion because it is a weakness, do you hear me? A weakness! Don’t worry, they’re trying to fix it.) The L’eihr don’t believe in: feelings, compassion, humans not sucking. In this universe, it is totally realistic for one teenager to give up her life on Earth and decide to “build a life together” with her alien boyfriend on his alien... Read more »

The post Review: Invaded appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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22. BilBOlbul Newsletter 4 marzo 2015


NEWSLETTER 4/03/2015
  

I DISEGNI DE "IL BATTELLO BRILLO"
CON ATTO DAL VIVO DI STEFANO RICCI
E BEMYDELAY
Sabato 7 marzo alle ore 19:30 presso Squadro stamperia galleria d’arte verranno battuti all’asta la serie di disegni originali realizzata a 4 mani da Stefano Ricci e Manuele Fior. Le opere nascono dalla live-performance "Il battello brillo" in occasione dell’ultima edizione di BilBOlbul.

L’asta sarà accompagnata da un aperitivo con musica selezionata da Brace e sarà seguita da un atto dal vivo di Stefano Ricci e BeMyDelay.

In questa occasione saranno premiati i vincitori del challenge organizzato in collaborazione con Instagramers Bologna, che si sono aggiudicati Klebstoff #8, catalogo di BilBOlbul, ideato in collaborazione con lo sticker magazine tedesco Klebstoff.
Segui tutti i dettagli dell’asta su facebook
FATHERLAND
MOSTRA DI STEVEN GUARNACCIA
Steven Guarnaccia, uno dei più importanti illustratori contemporanei, in occasione dI Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2015 trasforma la sede di Hamelin nella propria casa. Un viaggio sul filo delle memorie famigliari attraverso il disegno ma soprattutto attraverso l’installazione di una collezione di oggetti trovati e reinterpretati dalla mano dell’artista.
La mostra sarà inaugurata alla presenza dell’autore il 1 aprile 2015 alle ore 19.30.

In collaborazione con Transbook Children’s Literature on the Move, Gruppo Hera, Parsons The New School for Design, Comune di Bologna - Quartiere San Vitale, Corraini.

Orari mostra: dal lunedì al venerdì 10.00-13.00/15.00-18.30 | Chiuso sabato e domenica
BilBOlbul Festival internazionale di fumetto fa parte della
Rete dei Festival del Contemporaneo di Bologna
Live Arts Week: 21 > 26 aprile 2015 - liveartsweek.it :: Future Film Festival: 5 > 10 maggio 2015 - futurefilmfestival.org :: Angelica- Festival Internazionale di musica: 2 > 31 maggio 2015 - aaa-angelica.com :: Biografilm: 5 > 15 giugno 2015 - biografilm.it :: Gender Bender: 31 ottobre > 8 novembre 2015 - www.genderbender.it :: BilBOlBul: 19 > 22 novembre 2015 - bilbolbul.net

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23. Read Aloud!

Today, more than a million people in at least 80 countries around the world celebrate World Read Aloud Day. This annual event “calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.” How will you take part?


My cousin Mary Jo  and her sweet dog Molly volunteer in the Paws for Tales program at the Weyers-Hilliard library in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Kids who are looking for good listeners can come in and read a book to Molly or one of the other “friendly, trained four-legged friends.” What fun—and what good practice!

Reading aloud is good practice for writers, too. Before you consider a poem or story complete, give it the read-aloud test. Read it yourself. Read it to a child or a pet. Ask someone to read it to you. Does it flow well? Does the rhythm fit the message? Listen to the sounds of the words. Do they match the tone of the manuscript? Be alert for any stumbles.

Note any issues on your manuscript as you listen. Focus on those spots in your next revision. Repeat as necessary. Have fun!

JoAnn Early Macken

P.S. I’m also celebrating March 4th (one of my favorite holidays) on my blog. Stop in and see why!


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24. 2015 SCBWI Europolitan Con: Agent Brooks Sherman

By Elisabeth Norton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations 

Brooks Sherman is an agent with The Bent Agency.

He represents picture books, fiction for young adult and middle-grade-readers, select literary and commercial adult fiction, and nonfiction in the areas of humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction.

He was interviewed by Elisabeth Norton for the SCBWI Europolitan Conference.

You'll be presenting in Amsterdam about using social media effectively. This is a topic most creators wrestle with at some point in their career.

ON SOCIAL MEDIA...

Does a writer have to be on social media these days?

No. It could be argued that it is more essential for nonfiction writers than for those who write fiction, as nonfiction usually requires author platform.

Here’s the thing: Social media can be useful to a writer, if they are good at it. If you are uncomfortable communicating via social media, it will show, and it will actually have a negative effect. So, if you absolutely loathe using Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, don’t do it!

That said, if you do want to learn how to use it, it can be an invaluable tool for following industry news and trends, as well as networking with other writers and industry professionals.

Do you think the target reader age influences whether a writer needs to be on social media? Is it more important for a writer of young adult fiction to be on social media than say, someone who illustrates picture books?

Again, I don’t think anyone needs to be on social media. I will say that the young adult reading and publishing communities are quite active on social media, so it’s certainly worth considering if you write in that area.

Also, I found my first picture book client, Sam Garton, on Twitter; he had created a Twitter profile for his character Otter that included a link to his website.

Once I clicked onto his site and saw his wonderful humor and amazing artwork, I decided to reach out to him to see if he was working on any picture books.

So if you are an illustrator, keep in mind that social media can be a great way to advertise your artwork and online portfolio.

What's your advice to the writer who has no social media presence at the moment?

I would encourage every writer to at least explore a few social media platforms, to see if any of them hold appeal. Twitter is a different experience from Facebook, as are Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Try them out before you decide you don’t want to use them.

Before I got into publishing, I thought Twitter was a useless, narcissistic tool. Since I’ve become an agent, I’ve found it incredibly useful for keeping up with world news, publishing news, promoting my clients’ work, and building my own professional reputation.

Is there such a thing as too much social media presence?

I think so. While I think it’s great if writers and publishing professionals are active on social media, if you are too active, it can become exhausting for those who are following you, and you might turn people off.

Also, keep in mind that social media should be a tool, not a goal; if you are using it nonstop every day, when are you going to find the time for your real work? (Or your family, friends, and health?)

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see by writers/illustrators using social media?

The biggest mistake I see people make on social media is forgetting that everything they do is public.

Again, social media is a tool; don’t use it when your emotions are running high, or say, after you’ve had a few glasses of wine. Social media is an excellent way to build a public persona, but it is not you — it is the you that you want to share publicly.

Also, no need to overshare: you don’t need to share every single thought that pops into your head!

ON GRIPPING OPENINGS...

Can you give a couple of examples of what you think are gripping openings, and tell us why they work?



Certainly. Here is the opening line from my client Emma Trevayne’s middle-grade fantasy Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times:

“There are doorways, and there are doorways.” 

Right away, this sentence establishes atmosphere and style. There is a classic feel to this narration, and it compels you to keep reading.



There is also the opening line from my client Heidi Schulz’s middle-grade adventure Hook’s Revenge:

“There have always been pirates. Why, even as far back as Eve, on the day she was considering whether or not to eat that apple, a pirate was most certainly planning to sail in and take it from her.” 

Again, atmosphere and style are immediately apparent. There is some wonderfully wry humor here, and really, who doesn’t love reading about pirates?



The opening lines from my client Becky Albertalli’s young adult contemporary novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:

"It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed.” 

Here is an example of the story starting right away — as a reader, I definitely want to know what’s happening, because my interest has been piqued with the word “blackmailed.”

Who is blackmailing our narrator, and why?

In the submissions you see, what percentage would you say grab you with their openings?

I receive somewhere between 50 to 100 queries (with opening pages) during an average week. Of these, I would say perhaps 10 percent of these intrigue me enough to request the full manuscript.

Do any of those stories with gripping openings lose you later?

Learn more!
Unfortunately, this does happen.

Sometimes it is simply a case of my loving the story’s premise but not connecting with the way the story is told.

Other times, it feels like the writer has worked very hard on the opening pages, but not as much on the rest of the manuscript.

While it is important for you to have a gripping opening, don’t forget to give the same attention to the rest of your story! Make sure your story is as tight and strong as possible before you query agents and editors; you want to put your best foot forward.

Thank you, Brooks. See you in Amsterdam.

Cynsational Notes


Learn more!
Elisabeth Norton was first published at age 16 when she had no idea what an “unsolicited submission” was. Seeing her byline on the subsequently published magazine article ignited her desire for a career as an author.

Once she realized she wanted to write for children, she joined SCBWI and now serves as Regional Advisor for the Swiss region.

Originally from Alaska, she now lives in Switzerland between the Alps and the Jura and writes for middle graders.

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25. Disruptive Coloration



Male leopard in South Africa, Wikipedia photo by Lukas Kaffer 
Disruptive coloration is a type of camouflage that makes an animal disappear against its surroundings. It appears in nature on both predators and prey to interfere with their perception of each other.



It can not only disguise a subject against its background, but also against others of its own kind, making the boundaries of the form hard to see. The effect would be especially powerful when these zebras are running off in all directions.

Abbott Thayer with Richard Meryman, Peacock in the Woods, 1907.
Early in the twentieth century, a group of artists and scientists developed an interest in this topic, including Abbott Thayer, a student of Jean-Léon Gérôme. His book called Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom contributed to the use of camouflage in World War I.

Doing a painting like this goes against our artistic instincts to separate forms from the background, yet the effect presents a powerful appeal to the viewer.
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) The Hermit (Il solitario)1908
Other painters took up the idea around the same time, including John Singer Sargent. In his painting "The Hermit," he posed an old man in the foothills of the Alps and lit him with sun-dappled light, which nearly loses him in the the background. 

In the left center of the picture are two well-hidden gazelles. The animals were based on a stuffed gazelle that Sargent brought with him as a prop on his alpine travels. 
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