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1. MMGM Links (11/24/30)

Finally done with my fall travel (if I didn't come to your area--sorry! Here's hoping for next year! Or you could always talk to your teacher/librarian about setting up a Skype chat). And I will pretty much be eating breathing and sleeping deadlines for the next few weeks, so life shows no sign of calming. But I promise I will do my best to keep up with the MMGM links--and bear with my exhausted brain if there are sometimes mistakes.

Also, make sure you check back on Wednesday, for another awesome giveaway I have planned. But before that--the links!

- Michelle Mason has a middle grade round-up, including EVERBLAZE (eep! thank you!), BALANCE KEEPERS: THE FIRES OF CALDERON, and THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE. Click HERE for all the fun.
- The Bookworm blog is gushing about PRINCESS ACADEMY. Click HERE to see what they thought.
- Suzanne Warr has an interview with Steve Stewart, creator of GEN ONE: CHILDREN OF MARS. Click HERE for all the fun. 
Susan Olson is highlighting TIME HUNTERS: EGYPTIAN CURSE. Click HERE to see why she what she loves about it.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--a copy of POISONED APPLES: POEMS FOR YOU, MY PRETTY. Click HERE for details. 
- Greg Pattridge is betting on THE ROOKIE BOOKIE. Click HERE to read his review.  
- The BoB is raving about THE 13TH REALITY. Click HERE to read their feature.   
- Sally's Bookshelf is spreading some love for FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTIMATTER MOTOR. Click HERE to see why 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.    
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 



If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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2. The Honest Truth


Here's my two-word review of Dan Gemeinhart's 

THE HONEST TRUTH:


UM....WOW!!!!!!


What a story!

It's an adventure story..
a survivial story..
a cancer story..
a dog story..
a friend story..
a dang good story.

Read it.



Coming in January from Scholastic 

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3. Picture Book Monday with a review of Any Questions?


Many children's book authors and illustrators visit schools, and when they do the eager students often ask a lot of questions. One of the most commonly asked questions is some version of "Where do your stories come from?" In today's picture book this question is answered in a clever and often amusing way.

Any Questions?
Any Questions?Marie-Louise Gay
Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Groundwood, 2014, 978-1554983827
Marie-Louise Gay is a much loved author whose books have delighted children (and adults) for many years. When Marie-Louise goes to talk to children in schools and libraries, they do what all children do. They ask questions. A lot of questions. Often the children want to know about Marie-Louise and her life, and then there are the questions that pertain to her stories and how she creates them. One of those questions that is often asked is, “Where does a story start?”
   A story always starts with a blank page. If you stare at the page long enough, “anything can happen.” You might think that a blank piece of white paper cannot possibly inspire anything, but this is not true. For example, it can give birth to a scene that is full of a snowstorm. If you start with a piece of paper that is old looking and has a yellow tinge to it then you might end up telling a story about a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Blue paper can lead to an underwater adventure and green paper can be the backdrop for a story about a jungle.
   Sometimes stories don’t start with a color at all. Instead, “words or ideas” come “floating out of nowhere.” Bit by bit pieces of paper with words and thoughts written on them are collected and sorted, and then they are joined by “little scribbles and doodles,” which is when the kernel of a story starts to grow. Of course, sometimes an idea pops up on the page that simply does not work at all. When this happens an author has to search around for something that does work, which can take a little (or even a lot) of time to happen. These things cannot be rushed though, and eventually the right piece of story comes along and the author is off and running.
   In this wonderful picture book, Marie-Louise Gay explores the writing process, answering questions that children have asked her over the years. She shows us how a story is built, how it unfolds, and we see, right there on the pages, how she creates a magical story out of doddles, scraps of ideas, and tidbits of inspiration. The little children and animals characters who appear on the pages interact with the story, questioning, advising, and offering up ideas.
   This is a book that writers of all ages will love. It is funny, cleverly presented, and it gives writers encouragement and support.

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4. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “I’ll Be (blank),” replace the blank with a new word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “I’ll Be Back,” “I’ll Be Late for Dinner,” and “I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle.”

*****

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Get your poetry published!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer.

This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an I’ll Be Blank poem:

“I’ll Be a Poet”

and pull the stars from the sky
before turning them into elephants
stampeding through the suburbs

or perhaps I’ll fall asleep & dream
of a house on fire covered in lightning
bugs that all ascend together

on cue & silently lift up through
the clouds that just as silently part
to reveal the fireflies as the stars

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He grew up chasing fireflies and watching sunsets turn into the night sky.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

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5. Query Question: Novel two with memorable elements from novel one



I’m preparing to query my second novel, a mystery, which features the same main character as my first novel. I made clear in the queries for the first novel that it had series potential, but both novels stand alone. I sent out about 40 queries for the first novel, with 5 requests for fulls and 3 for partials.

I plan to query four of the agents who read the full and gave me some useful feedback. I know they will remember the first novel and I feel I have enough of a relationship with them to let them know the situation. What I’m not sure about is how to approach agents who rejected the first novel at the query stage, some of whom I would like to query again.

The main character has a distinctive name and a memorable background, and I want to make clear that this is neither a revision nor a sequel. If I ignore the first query, I’m afraid they will think they’ve already seen (and rejected) it. But if I explain that this is a different, better novel, they might think it’s stupid to expect them to be interested in a concept they already rejected. Do you have suggestions as to how I can address this?

And yeah, I know I should have written something completely unrelated, but this wouldn’t go away, and I just decided to write what I wanted to write. I’m glad I did.



You're operating under the assumption that agents who rejected that first novel at the query stage will remember it, and that's probably not accurate.



When I receive a query that seems familiar, I look up the author's previous emails to me. (Yes, I keep ALL the queries and replies)


I look at the TITLE first.  If it's a different title from a writer,  I assume I have not seen the book, and read the query.  If it's the same title, I look at both queries to see if it's the same book. If it is, I mention that I've already responded to this project on such and such a date.  If it's NOT the same book (ie the query is substantially different) I read the query.


Here's what you need to remember first and foremost: we're all looking for work we can sell.  If the book sounds interesting NOW I don't care if you queried me 500 times before for the same title that DIDN'T.


So, the answer to your question is make sure the title is different, and write the query so it is clear this is a new project.







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6. CTN Portrait Sketchbook

At the CTN Animation Expo, I sketched quick portraits of Peter De Seve and Jake Parker.

Jake and I did a demo on stage. He drew a robotic dinosaur, while I drew him drawing.

...while Jeanette sketched me sketching Jake. 

Left hand is for the noodles. Right hand for the watercolor brush.

Fellow artists and animators don't mind being subjects.

Sebastian Kruger knew that he was surrounded by caricaturists, so he pulled his hat brim down a little lower.


It was a grand time with amazing artists! Just to name a few, above left to right: Armand Serrano, Mark Oftedal, Armand Baltazar, Pascal Campion, Robh Ruppel, and Sebastian Kruger.  

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7. GUs & Me - a review

Richards, Keith. 2014. Gus & Me: The Story of my Granddad and my First Guitar. Hachette Audio.

Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?

Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h's and "intrusive" r's) and unmistakable fondness for his topics - his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to 'old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.

I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don't believe it could surpass the audio book.  A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums.  Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle - not musical, but surprisingly sincere.  Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.

(Run time: about 7 minutes)

My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt.  Take a listen!



Visit the Nonfiction Monday Blog, "rounding up the best nonfiction for children and teens."

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8. Bookselling in ... Taiwan

       At CNN Johan Nylander reports on Nightclubs for literature ? Why book selling is booming in Taiwan, looking at the success of the Eslite book chain -- as, for example:

The Eslite store in central Taipei opens 24 hours and has more night owl visitors than most Western bookstores could dream of during their daytime hours.
       But, yes:
Eslite's success may seem counter-intuitive especially when it seems most late-night visitors treat it like a library, leaving empty handed after hours of free reading.

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9. My tweets

  • Mon, 02:05: Whenever I watch the #WalkingDead, my dog stares out the front window... like she's waiting... And then she moves to the back door and barks

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10. Very Short Poems



Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Candlewick Press, 2014

I don't know whether I love this collection more for the poetry or for the illustrations. Either way, it's a winner.

Beginning with Spring, each of the seasons is explored through eight or nine poems from a variety of both adult and children's poets.

Each poem is a snapshot, a glimpse, a moment. They are perfect for showing children the power of just a few words to describe or evoke or illuminate.

And did I mention that the illustrations are beyond lovely? They are classic Melissa Sweet. I wish I could frame every page.

This is a collection you will want, and a fabulous gift book. Share the love.

Check out Mary Ann's review at Great Kid Books.


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11. Think Positive, Talk Positive, Feel Positive


The word "positive" keeps popping up in my daily meditation and journaling and it's no wonder when I opened up to #61 in John Holland's book, 101 Ways to Jump-Start Your Intuition it read...

"Try to think positively today and repel any negative thoughts. Try not to judge yourself or others... which may be harder than you imagine. However, by doing so, you'll change your reality, because thoughts are made up of positive and negative energy, and this directly affects your life." 

There is more to this quote and I highly recommend you purchase Holland's pocket book. It's beyond worth it!



Cheers to positive thinking!

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

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. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite 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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12. Give Your Teddy Bear a Treat

I’ve been following the activities of Oxford’s Story Museum ever since Philip Pullman took me to see it a few years ago. Now I see that like many other museums they periodically offer weekend sleepovers, but theirs are unique in being for toys not people. Their latest teddy bear sleepover will be the weekend of December 6th. If you are in the vicinity (and I’m sadly not) and have an eager teddy bear (along with its human companion who will have to drop off and pick up, of course)  the details are here.

Here’s what happened during their last teddy bear sleep-over:


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13. My tweets

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14. Guest Post and Giveaway: Megan Frampton, Author of The Dukes Guide to Correct Behavior

Please welcome Megan Frampton to the virtual offices this morning!  Check out what she has to say about her latest release The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, and then enter the awesome giveaway!

Thank you to the Manga Maniac Café for inviting me to guest at their site today. I am a fan of both manga and cafes, although I am not certain about maniacs. I guess it depends on what type of maniac you are. I am maniacal about IPAs, peanut butter, and black sweaters, myself. Not to mention tall, dark-haired British men (see: Most of my heroes).

My new release, The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, pairs an incorrect duke with an improper governess. Both the hero and heroine have a lot to learn about their respective positions in life, and of course they make a muddle of it as they (spoiler!) fall in love with one another.

Marcus, the Duke of Rutherford, is particularly ill-equipped to be a duke, since he never expected to inherit such a lofty title, and has really only wasted time with trivial pursuits prior to this. But just as he’s inherited the title he also gets another responsibility—the care of a child he knew about, but hadn’t had to worry about before.

So Marcus has to hire a governess and take his place in society, which means dressing for the part. But unfortunately, Marcus is usually improperly dressed, which causes his valet some consternation.

Marcus’s valet, Miller, has a few complaints he would like to air here in this safe forum.

  1. The duke cannot seem to keep his cravat on. Each time after he’s met with his daughter’s governess his cravat is nowhere close to his neck.

  2. The duke does not care about whether or not he is appropriately garbed for a ball. He would be just as happy—perhaps moreso—if he could just wear trousers and a shirt.

  3. The duke’s hair seldom needs any kind of styling. I would not admit this to His Grace, but it looks best just after he’s run his hand through it, which he does when he is thinking about something.

  4. The duke is far too tall to fit into most men’s clothing. This requires his wardrobe to be specially ordered, which would be fine if His Grace actually cared about he was wearing. He does not.

  5. Have I mentioned his cravats? Because they are to be found scattered about the house, often with jam on them, and never on His Grace’s throat.

 

The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior
Dukes Behaving Badly # 1

By: Megan Frampton

Releasing November 25th, 2014

Avon

Blurb

All of London knows the Duke of Rutherford has position and wealth. They also whisper that he’s dissolute, devilish, and determinedly unwed. So why, everyone is asking, has he hired a governess?

When Miss Lily Russell crosses the threshold of the Duke of Rutherford’s stylish townhouse, she knows she has come face to face with sensual danger. For this is no doting papa. Rather, his behavior is scandalous, and his reputation rightly earned. And his pursuit of her is nearly irresistible—but resist she must for the sake of her pupil.

As for the duke himself, it was bad enough when his unknown child landed on his doorstep. Now Lily, with her unassuming beauty, has aroused his most wicked fantasies—and, shockingly, his desire to change his wanton ways. He’s determined to become worthy of her, and so he asks for her help in correcting his behavior.

But Lily has a secret, one that, if it becomes known, could change everything . . .

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/the-dukes-guide-to-correct-behavior.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20957414-the-duke-s-guide-to-correct-behavior?ac=1

Buy Links : Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dukes-Guide-Correct-Behavior-Behaving-ebook/dp/B00IRCZCRY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1409072698&sr=1-1&keywords=duke%27s+guide+to+correct+behavior

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dukes-guide-to-correct-behavior-megan-frampton/1120020579

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dukes-guide-to-correct-behavior/id833988081

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-duke-s-guide-to-correct-behavior

Author Info

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://meganframpton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meganframptonbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meganf
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/686916.Megan_Frampton?from_search=true

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Megan Frampton, Author of The Dukes Guide to Correct Behavior appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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15. Excited about holidays?



This is me as a four-year-old in Los Angeles, California*

Thanksgiving is only a few days away here in the U.S. plus, as I'm writing this, my Dad is in the hospital. So I won't be visiting blogs today. My apologies.

And I may take a few weeks off from blogging after that to get ready for Christmas. Yeah, I know, I should have done that in August when the stores began stocking holiday wrapping and lights and candy. Grrr. Doesn't it seem that all of the holidays, whatever you celebrate, get rolled into one giant commercial? They skip right over Thanksgiving because it's not commercial enough. But it's one of my favorite holidays.

And despite my Dad being very ill, I have a lot to be thankful for right now. Here are just three reasons:

1) My older son has been cancer-free for five years. This is a huge relief for all of us.

2) I finally finished the rough draft of my fourth novel. Yay! Only took me a year.

3) Excited to announce that two of my short fiction pieces will appear in the print version of Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014, available for purchase starting December 1.

Hope your holidays are sweet and I wish you the best for 2015.



*I live in Pennsylvania, but we visited my grandparents for Christmas that year and I was thrilled to receive this Disney Sleeping Beauty doll. It must have been my favorite movie that year.

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16. Thoughts on the Debut Author/Illustrator

BrownGirlDreaming 198x300 Thoughts on the Debut Author/IllustratorLast week Jackie Woodson won The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  It was a win so deserved that I had difficulty processing it.  Under normal circumstances National Book Awards for children’s books come out of left field and are so blooming unpredictable that they almost always serve my perpetual amusement.  The fact that a deserving book (one might call it “the” deserving book of the year) won was enormously satisfying.  Of course, Ms. Woodson’s not exactly the new kid on the block.  She’s been writing for decades, her style growing sharper, her focus more concentrated.  When she wins awards it’s often for personal stories (her family story Show Way was the last picture book to win a Newbery Honor, for example).  Now Brown Girl Dreaming is poised to do the rare double win of National Book Award and Newbery Award, a move that hasn’t happened since Holes back in 1999.

It feels right that a familiar author who has honed her craft should accrue more and more awards as time goes on.  It seems logical.  Yet once in a while a wrench is thrown in the works and a debut author will pop onto the scene and win scores of awards.  It’s not a bad thing.  It just sometimes happens that such authors and illustrators get more immediate attention as a result than their longstanding hardworking fellows.

On a recent(ish) episode of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour the topic was debuts.  The show discussed musical debuts, acting debuts, and authorial ones as well.  At one point I think it was Glen Weldon who pointed out that if you look at a typical high schooler’s summer reading list, it’s just debut title after debut title.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye, Invisible Man, Catch-22, The Bell Jar, White Teeth, The Kite Runner, and on and on it goes.

Naturally, after thinking about this I wondered if this equated on the children’s side of things.  So I took a gander at those old Top 100 Picture Books and Top 100 Children’s Novels polls I did of yore to see if the debuts were the majority of the titles there.  Here are the top 20 in each category (correct me if I’m wrong about any of these):

Picture Books:

#1 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963) – No
#2 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1979) – No
#3 Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2003) – Yes
#4 Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947) – No
#5 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962) – No
#6 Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941) – No
#7 Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (2004) – No
#8 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972) – No
#9 Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (1999) – No
#10 The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Mike Smollin (1971) – Yes (?)
#11 Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (1996) – No
#12 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (1960) – No
#13 Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (1982) – No
#14 Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (1947) – No
#15 Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel (1970) – No
#16 Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (1955) – Yes (in that it was the first he wrote and illustrated himself, I believe)
#17 The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson (1936) – No
#18 A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2010) – Yes
#19 The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (1902) – Yes
#20 Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean (2010) – Yes

Children’s Novels

#1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952) – Yes
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962) – No
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997) – Yes
#4 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993) – No
#5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950) – Yes (for kids anyway)
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998) – No
#7 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) – Yes (sorta – this was the weird case where her first two novels were published in the same year and BOTH received Newberys of one sort or another)
#8 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) – Yes (?)
#9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) – No
#10 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977) – No
#11 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009) – No
#12 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999) – No
#13 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1997) – Yes (if a previously published short story doesn’t count)
#14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938) – Yes (for kids, though I’m not sure when he did that Santa Claus letters book)
#15 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911) – No
#16 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (1975) – No
#17 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964) – Yes
#18 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964) – No
#19 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932) – Yes
#20 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000) – Yes

I was admittedly surprised by how many “Yes”es there were here.  To my mind stunning debuts happen from time to time but are relatively rare.  This seemed to hold true for the picture books, but on the novel side of things the classics are continually peppered with debut works.

Then there’s the difference between an authorial debut and that of an illustrator.  I wasn’t able to tell if Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was Ray Cruz’s debut or if he’d been working in the field for years.  What about Mike Smollin and The Monster at the End of This Book?

Booklist Thoughts on the Debut Author/IllustratorThen there comes the question of how debut authors and illustrators are celebrated.  Recently the periodical Booklist revealed an issue called “Spotlight on First Novels“.  The cover showed primarily adult and YA titles, though there was an inclusion of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Inside the regular feature “The Carte Blanche” by Michael Cart concentrated on what could potentially have won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award if it had originated in 1967.  The Morris award, for folks who might not be familiar with it, “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.”  Cart’s list is good and worth reading, though it include the baffling inclusion of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (a book that never could have won since it’s so clearly a children’s title).  Children’s books too often get the short end of the stick when folks discuss debuts.  For example, later in the issue a list of the “Top 10 First Novels for Youth for 2014″ mentions only the entirely worthy (and rather charming) The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham as the sole children’s inclusion.

Here then is a listing of some of my favorite children’s book debuts of 2014.  I’m sure I’m getting folks here wrong when I say they haven’t published before, so if you see a mistaken entry do be so good as to let me know and I’ll amend accordingly.

Picture Books

  • Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, ill. Laura James – For Laura James.  I believe Ms. Senior has written several books before.
  • Anna & Solomon by Elaine Snyder, ill. Harry Bliss – Elaine’s debut, that is.
  • Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton
  • Sparky! by Jenny Offill, ill. Chris Appelhans – He’s contributed to the Flight series, but I hardly think that counts.  Jenny is a known entity and not a debut.

Middle Grade Fiction

  • Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine & Vinson Compestine – Vinson anyway.  His mother has certainly written many of her own books over the years.

Graphic Novels

Non-Fiction

  • Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy (she did the illustrations for books like The Expeditioners but this is her formal writing debut)
  • Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus; ill. Evan Turk – For Turk, naturally, though you could probably count Arun as well.

Then there’s the question of what you count as a debut when a picture book author writes their first middle grade or a YA author writes an easy book series.  I leave that to the publishers.

Is there any debut author or artist with whom you were particularly taken this year?

 

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17. Yet One More Thanks-Giving Thanku!


Finally it’s my turn to join my fellow TeachingAuthors in sharing Three Things for Which I Am Grateful and my 2014 Thanku.
(And oh, how I delight in how we've kept alive this original poetic form - a Haiku that expresses thanks.)

When folks ask me how I am, I often borrow the three-word response of former Ambassador Walter Annenberg, philanthropist and founder of the School of Communication I attended - i.e. “hopeful and grateful.”

Each day I awake

-         grateful I’m here, alive and well,

-         grateful I’m loved by treasured family and friends,

-         especially grateful for the chance to love them back.

I also offer thanks for the joy my life’s work brings me and the non-stop opportunities the Universe delivers which I gladly pay forward. 

As for that second adjective “hopeful,” like all Cubs fans, I always believe “Next year’s The Year!”  (And this time it really could be!)

You can share your Thanku’s by commenting on any of our TeachingAuthors blog posts through November 28.

You can also send them via email to teachingauthors@gmail.com, with “Thanks-Giving” as the subject, and even post them on your own blog, sharing the link with us via a comment or email. Carmela will list the links in a later post.

And don’t forget our Book Giveaway of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market!

And now for my Thanku to my soon-to-be-five bi-lingual (Brazilian Portuguese and English) lindo grandson who, though Rio-born, lives in my heart para sempre*.

 
Obrigado to my Grandson Gabe
My Carioca
who snuggles up to tell me,
“I love you, Vovo!”

 
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow TeachingAuthors and our TeachingAuthors readers!

Esther Hershenhorn

P.S.

*beautiful
**forever
***Thank You
****a native of Brazil
*****endearing Portuguese name for Grandmother

 

 

 

 

 

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18. Joseph Smith and polygamous marriage

A number of historians of Mormon history have tried to explain the rationale and motivation behind Joseph Smith’s teachings about “plural marriage.” Although it’s not unreasonable to assume a sexual motivation, Smith’s primary motivation may have been his expansive theology–a theology, in this specific case, that his wife would not accept.

After establishing his new church in 1830 and while continuing to study the Bible, Smith’s far-reaching religious vision to restore “all things” from previous ages made him open to reinstating Old Testament polygamy, explains historian Richard Van Wagoner. Perhaps the timing was right: Americans had won the Revolutionary War and were open to “the surprising and unusual in religious life, according to historian Merina Smith, and in the early 1840s, a core group of Joseph Smith’s believers accepted his developing “exaltation narrative” that included “new family forms.” Joseph Smith biographer Richard Bushman explains that Joseph Smith began to imagine “ecclesiastical and family kingdoms that would persist into eternity.” University of Richmond professor Terryl Givens explains that Smith sought to establish a “timeless and borderless web of human relationships” among his followers, just as the great appeal of first-generation Christianity in the ancient world was “the feeling of entering into an extended family community.” For Joseph Smith, marriage “sealings” joined people, and he was even sealed to some married men and women.

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Image credit: “St. George Utah Temple, From South” by Michael Whiffen. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Although there’s evidence that Joseph Smith seemed most interested in creating an interconnected web of believers that could be exalted together, Bushman says Smith  “never wrote his personal feelings about plural marriage” and, according to historian John G. Turner, “whether [he] was motivated by religious obedience or pursued sexual dalliances clothed with divine sanction cannot be fully resolved through historical analysis.” We don’t know to what extent Joseph Smith pursued sexual relations with his wives, and according to Bushman, although “nothing indicates that sexual relations were left out of plural marriage, not until many years later did anyone claim Joseph Smith’s paternity, and evidence for the tiny handful of supposed children is tenuous.” But his wife Emma’s negative reaction to his additional marriages may indicate that she, at least, felt his ideas, if not his actions, went too far.

In the early 1840s as Smith secretly began marrying additional wives and encouraging his closest confidantes to do the same, of course he feared “wrecking his marriage,” as Bushman explains it. During this time, according to Emma Smith’s biographers Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Smith repeatedly tried to explain “plural marriage” to his wife Emma, sometimes taking her alone on long buggy rides to talk to her about it. In May 1843 after much convincing, Emma finally gave her consent to a polygamous marriage and participated in her husband’s marriage to two sisters, giving her “free and full consent.”

joseph smith 3196204188_4cd0b83793_o
Image credit: “Joseph and Emma” by Edgar Zuniga Jr. CC BY-ND-2.0 via Flickr.

Not long afterwards, however, according to Bushman, “Emma began to talk as firmly and urgently to Joseph about abandoning plural marriage as he had formerly talked to her about accepting it.” In the spring of 1843, “the recovery of his domestic life” became “almost impossible.”  As Bushman explains, “They were in impossible positions: Joseph caught between his revelation and his wife, Emma between a practice she detested and belief in her husband.” Evidently fearing the legal and financial ramifications of many wives, Emma requested half ownership of a steam boat and “sixty city lots,” and Joseph evidently agreed “to add no more” wives. If he did, he told friend and secretary William Clayton, Emma “would divorce him.” Under these conditions, Joseph and Emma reconciled. Tragically, in 1844, he was murdered by an angry mob, and Emma deeply mourned his death.

Starting in 1852 in Utah, polygamous marriage was openly encouraged by Smith’s successor Brigham Young, and about 25 to 30% of Mormon men, women, and children lived in polygamous families. In 1876, Smith’s revelation on “celestial marriage”–marriage which endures after death and which could include “plural marriage”–was canonized in a Mormon book of revelations called Doctrine and Covenants. In 1890, Mormons officially gave up polygamy but not the larger belief in celestial marriage. Today Mormon marriages still encompass the essence of Smith’s original theology–celestial, or eternal, marriage–as monogamous couples continue the practice of sacred marriage “sealings” to each other and to their ancestors, fulfilling Smith’s desire to vertically, horizontally, and everlastingly connect Latter-day Saints.

Featured image: Image taken from page 277 of ‘Life in Utah‘ by British Library (1870). Public domain via Flickr.

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19. PiBoIdMo Day 24: Agents Love Picture Books

I asked the kidlit agents participating in PiBoIdMo as your “grand prizes” to tell us why they love picture books. Their answers are sure to inspire!


Heather Alexander, Pippin Properties
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Picture books are easy to love because they are tiny little windows that offer beautiful glimpses out into the whole, wide, wonderful world, and into hearts like and unlike our own.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
stephenfraser
I do love picture books! There is nothing more satisfying that to find a picture book manuscript which has been carefully crafted to share a story with the youngest readers.  The Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste Renoir said that painting is “making love visible” and I can’t help thinking that is why some picture books are so endearing and everlasting. They make the love we feel for our children, our grandchildren, and the children within us very visible. It is a true craft which needs to be learned and practiced. And I honor those who learn this craft and honor children.

 

Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency
Kirsten Hall
Picture books pretty much have me wrapped around their finger. I’m obsessed by the story-telling opportunities offered by this highly-visual genre! Picture books (as a format) seem simple at first blush, but they are often in fact quite layered and even poetic, displaying an elegant interplay between text and art. Best of all, picture books are accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be able to read in order to love them. They can be savored for what they offer visually, and when read aloud, until a reader has command over the written word. Simply, what format is better than the first one that takes children by the hand and turns them into book-lovers?

 

Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency
susanhawk
The best part of picture books, for me, is way words and illustration marry together to create a sum greater than its parts.  I love the way art builds meaning in the story, and how the simplest of texts can be full of emotion and heart.  I remember so well the picture books that I poured over as a child — mystified and delighted to be invited into the world of reading and books.  For me, it’s an honor to represent picture books!

 

 

Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

trishagentI love picture books because they celebrate a time in our life we all look back on so fondly. I love being a part of helping to create them because we’re creating books for kids who will look back on them for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
erinmurphy
I became a reader because of picture books, and I became an agent because of picture books. They are one of the richest and most influential forms of literature. So much feeling, so many laughs, in so few pages, meant to be read over and over again!

 

 

 

 

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
joanagent
I love picture books because they speak to the quintessential child in each of us. They reach across the gaps of age and culture and language and bring us under their spell. A perfectly-crafted picture book is a full-senses experience that can last a lifetime.

 

 

 

Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency
rachel_orr
I love the breadth of story and emotion—from clever and comical, to poetic and pondering—that can be found within the framework of a 32-page picture book.  I love the right prose, the visual subplots, the rhythm and rhyme and repetition (and repetition, and repetition).  But, most of all, I love them because they’re short.

 

 

 

Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

kathleenrushallI love working with picture books because they remind me that the earliest literature we read in life can be some of the most memorable (and the most fun!).

 

 

 

 

Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
joannavolpe
I love picture books because they’re fun to read aloud, and they’re meant to be read with someone else.They can’t not be shared! Even now, I don’t have kids, but when I read a good picturebook, my husband gets to be the audience. He’s very understanding. :-)

 

 

 

 


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20. Giveaways of ANOMALY and ICE WAR plus New YALit releases 11/24-11/30

We have a couple of great giveaways for you this week. We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! What plans do you have or the holiday? Hopefully they include some reading time!

~The Ladies of AYAP
Martina, Alyssa, Lisa, Susan, Shelly, Jocelyn, Becca, and Jan


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


* * * *


Anomaly
by Tonya Kuper
Signed Paperback Giveaway
Entangled: Teen
Released 11/25/2014

Reality is only an illusion.
Except for those who can control it…


Worst. Birthday. Ever.

My first boyfriend dumped me—happy birthday, Josie!—my dad is who knows where, I have some weird virus that makes me want to hurl, and now my ex is licking another girl’s tonsils. Oh, and I’m officially the same age as my brother was when he died. Yeah, today is about as fun-filled as the swamps of Dagobah. But then weird things start happening…

Like I make something materialize just by thinking about it.

When hottily-hot badass Reid Wentworth shows up on a motorcycle, everything changes. Like, everything. Who I am. My family. What really happened to my brother. Existence. I am Oculi, and I have the ability to change reality with my thoughts. Now Reid, in all his hotness, is charged with guiding and protecting me as I begin learning how to bend reality. And he’s the only thing standing between me and the secret organization that wants me dead…


Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Anomaly?

I love the fact that ANOMALY is a science fiction story taking place in present day. I still had to think about some enormous scientific theories for world building, but I got to create that world within what readers know - our everyday lives. The characters are like any high schooler today, yet they are thrust into this crazy, secret life that only a fraction of the human population knows about. It was fun merging our contemporary world, using pop culture and scifi references, with an entirely new world. Meshing the two worlds makes the science fiction element all the more fun, and even a little eerie because it is based on a quantum physics theory.

Purchase Anomaly at Amazon
Purchase Anomaly at IndieBound
View Anomaly on Goodreads

* * * *


Ice War
by Brian Falkner
Personalized Hardcover Giveaway
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 11/25/2014

A sci-fi military thriller perfect for kids who love Halo and Call of Duty!

February 2033. Things are not good. Recon Team Angel has been shut down, and if the alien forces manage to cross the frozen Bering Strait from Russia into Alaska, then humanity has lost the war. So far the aliens seem to be marshaling their resources, preparing for their invasion. But something isn’t right—at the control center, two Navy Seal teams have vanished without a trace. Did they lose their way on the ice? Or is something terrible happening? Recon Team Angel is secretly reinstated and authorized to investigate. What will they find in the frozen tundra? This could be their most chilling mission yet.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Ice War?

Ice War takes the characters that have been slowly developing over two previous books and fleshes them out much more without sacrificing excitement and action. I loved getting more into their souls.


Purchase Ice War at Amazon
Purchase Ice War at IndieBound
View Ice War on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS



Mystery Box Winner -
Tammy VanScoy


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


* * * *


On the Edge
by Allison van Diepen
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 11/25/2014

From Allison van Diepen, author of Snitch and Street Pharm, comes a sexy, dangerous novel about a teen who witnesses a murder and gets caught up in the seedy world of Miami’s gangs.

Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.

But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?

On the Edge is a compelling story about fighting for what’s right and figuring out where you belong. The novel showcases a gritty, realistic voice and earth–shattering romance that will intrigue readers of Simone Elkeles and Paul Griffin and captivate fans of Allison van Diepen's other novels.

Purchase On the Edge at Amazon
Purchase On the Edge at IndieBound
View On the Edge on Goodreads


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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21. What If? Review Haiku

The perfect gift for
your favorite nerd. Plus,
the robot apocalypse.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. HMH, 2014, 320 pages.

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22. The Google Panda Algorithm, Your Website, and Duplicate Content

Although Google’s newest algorithm update had to do with Penguin (website links), Panda is something you should also be paying attention to. Panda was developed to make sure sites produce high-quality content aimed to benefit the reader with new or fresh information. ‘Poor’ (fluff or no-value) quality content will cause a drop in search ranking for the site. This ‘poor’ quality content

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23. Top 10 Turkey-Dumping Day breakup songs

The last Thursday of November freshmen are returning home to reunite with their high school sweethearts. Except not all are as sweet as they once were. Your old flame may show up with a new admirer or give you trouble because you didn’t spend enough time on Skype on Saturday nights while away at college. Be prepared: pack an arsenal of tunes that catch the sad and sometimes mixed feelings you may have after Turkey-Dumping Day. For your convenience, a list of the 10 great breakup songs for a post-Turkey recovery:

10. Pink’s “Blow me (One Last Kiss)”
One of the more lighthearted tracks to make the list, Pink’s lead single from her sixth studio album The Truth About Love (2012) nonetheless gets the message across: After too much fighting, tears, and sweaty palms, the time comes when turkey is not the only thing you have finally had enough of.

9. Passenger’s “Let Her Go”
Passenger’s second single from the album All the Little Lights (2012) made the list not only because of the soul-wrenching, melodic tune but also because of its spot-on content. Looking into the heart of a dumper, the lyrics forcefully delineate the paradox of love: you don’t really know whether or how much you love someone, until he or she is gone.

8. Christina Perri’s “Human”
The lead single from Perri’s second studio album Head or Heart (2014), this pop power ballad features almost no drumsticks (pun intended). Instead it showcases the American singer’s ethereal voice. And the lyrics hit the nail on the head: Being happier and hotter without your ex may be the best way to get even. But don’t worry if you fail spectacularly, ’cause you’re only a little human.

7. Hilary Duff’s “Stranger”
Tapping into the style and sound of Middle-eastern belly-dance music, Hilary Duff’s single, recorded for her fourth studio album Dignity (2007), is a bouncy yet husky song about suddenly seeing an unkind stranger in the torso of your beloved. After listening to this tune, put on the dumper’s apron before slicing the turkey.

6. Jaymes Young’s “Parachute”
Despite its blunt language, Seattle-born singer Jaymes Young’s fragile ballad made the list because of its lyrics about being lied to and instantly knowing that it’s time to take the “l” out of “lover.”

5. Taylor Swift’s “I knew you were trouble”
Taylor Swift’s bass-heavy dubstep drop, recorded for her fourth studio album Red (2012), is aptly warning us about the trouble-makers–those types that make you fall in love only to leave you behind.

4. Sam Smith’s “Stay with me”
Although it’s not quite a turkey-dumping song but rather a desperate-for-love ballad, this gospel-inspired hit from British songwriter Sam Smith’s debut studio album In the Lonely Hour (2014) still made the list. Critics deemed it overly sentimental, but “brutally honest” is evidently a better description.

3. David Guetta’s “Titanium”
French DJ and music producer David Guetta is hard to pass over when it comes to ferocious breakup songs. This 2012 hit from his album Nothing But the Beat gives you relationship hardship and a shot of resilience to help take the pain out of Turkey-Dumping Day.

2. Fefe Dobson’s “Stuttering”
“Dobson can sing,” say the critic. Yes, indeed. The tune and the debated music video leave you stuttering and wondering: Can the green-eyed monster make you that crazy? Yes, it can, not least when the cheater isn’t your man.

1. David Guetta’s “She Wolf”
Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” gets an honorary mention for its heartening lyrics but it’s David Guetta who takes the first place with another ballad, featuring vocals from Australian recording artist Sia. Reflecting on the most poignant of breakups, this impassioned chorus on the feeling of being replaced takes us inside the mind of someone who is “falling to pieces.”

Headline image credit: Broken Heart Grunge by Nicolas Raymond. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr 

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24. Freelancing for Free?

There it lies in my inbox, another tantalising proposition for illustrators. Carefully written, brimming with enthusiasm and creative aspirations, how this wonderful project will be seen by all kinds of important people.... it all looks very exciting.  So I scroll down for the important details: what's the brief? When is the deadline? And, crucially, what is the fee? But oh, how strange, there's no mention of fees. And then comes the fateful line, usually in small print right in the last paragraph...

"Although there is no fee for participation this will be a great opportunity for exposure"

Well, as has often been repeated, people can die from exposure. And yet nowadays we constantly hear in the creative industry of projects and "opportunities" for artists and other creatives that offer no pay at all, but are, bizarrely, nevertheless supposed to be good for us. Now, feeding myself and my daughter and maintaining a roof over our heads is good for us, it keeps us alive, that's for sure. But working for free? Erm, no! 

It used to be the case that low fees were undermining the business of illustration, that is bad enough in itself. But now we hear tales of no fees at all! Generally these so-called opportunities fit into one of two types:


The "Good for Exposure" Project

The client needs creative work, but say they don't have the budget for a fee.  Instead they attempt to persuade artists by saying it will be great "exposure" for your work, or a great addition to your portfolio. They might tempt you with "this one is free but it will lead on to other work" (probably also free!). They might add "all our other contributors are doing it for free". Often they don't have funds because the business model is fundamentally flawed. Nomatter how well the illustration is packaged there is no respect for the illustrator and the project has not budgeted for creative content, only for production. So the printer gets paid, the distributor gets paid, and maybe the publisher gets paid. But not the malleable contributors.

Sometimes the projects are worded as if they are charities, artists are thanked for "donating their services" - well that's great for philanthropy, sometimes I do offer my work for free to a worthy cause I believe in, a registered charity that will benefit people or environments in crisis. That's my decision, because I want to support the charity. But a commercial enterprise is not a charity. You're selling a product or service? You pay the printer? Then you pay me!

Good for your portfolio? No it's not, because if it's free, the chances are it's an unprofessional job that will mean nothing to a respectable art director. If you want to improve your portfolio work on your own projects!

The client (especially self-publishers) might suggest a profit-sharing agreement "If the project is successful the contributors will be paid royalties". If you're a writer considering this, don't! - this is dragging your contributors into your gamble. Speculation means risk - only offering payment if the project/product sells is obliging people you employ to take on your risk. Freelance illustrators are not in a position to gamble on other people's ideas.

It's not only published material, the same principle applies to speaker engagements - if you're asked to speak at an event you should be paid, unless it's a group you yourself is involved with and want to freely volunteer for.  


The Speculative Pitch

The other type of "free" work is when major clients ask illustrators for spec work to compete for a job. Juried competitions for illustrators have been around for a long time - freely submitted works are selected by a jury for an important exhibition or a notable prize, the winners get the prize, those rejected - well, better luck next time. I don't go in for this kind of thing, but I can understand the appeal for others if the prize/award/exhibition is big enough to warrant pursuing. However in recent years this practice has been twisted into use by companies for nothing more substantial than an illustration commission. The word is put out, artists are commissioned or invited to pitch by creating a sample piece of free artwork, the client just picks the one they like, the rest go hungry.

A friend recently shared this fun animation that spells it out very clearly.

I've even seen some some competitions that require artists to pay submission fees, with nothing more substantial to offer the winner than a poster commission. Not only is this an appauling way to treat artists, it's an invitation for unscrupulous clients to use whatever they want from the rejected artwork as well as the chosen piece.

Supporting Start-ups


But what's that you say? Having to pay contributors prevents cash-strapped entrepeneurs starting worthy projects? Ground-breaking, start-up initiatives with great ideas will have to sell out to find the funds? Well there are innumerable ways that new projects can raise money, ranging from applying for Arts Council grants to staging benefit fund-raising events, from selective sponsorship to distribution deals. All things that should be established before commissioning writers and illustrators. Attaining backing is not a simple task, no one is saying it's easy, but many of these start-up enterprises don't pursue funding, it's so much easier to just say "no fee" and push the pain down the chain onto their contributors.

Collectives and collaborations are another possibility - in a collective everyone shares the risk (and the profit if it's a success), the contributors control the project, it's a group share. Like writers collaborating with illustrators, submitting their manuscripts as joint authors to publishers it's your project, not a client's. Neither of these are the same as asking artists to work for free on a commercial concern they don't own.

I once ran a music fanzine back in my post-art college days. The first issue cost very little to produce, was badly printed and was entirely created and distributed by me, but it sold out with a small profit, which enabled issue 2 to be better printed and have a bigger print run. That too sold out, which funded more improvements in issue 3... and so it grew. Gradually it evolved into a fine little journal, in the end there were other contributors, all paid a moderate but acceptable fee for their contribution. I'm not saying every project should work this way, but it goes to show how new ventures can get going, grow and maintain their integrity, without "selling out". The trouble is a lot of these non-payers are not interested in looking after their contributors, they regard them as the weakest, most flexible part of the production chain. Or due to the parameters of the job they are unwilling/unable to put time and effort into growing something from a small acorn to majestic oak.

These kind of unethical proposals have always been around, in the past they were in the realm of unscrupulous outfits and beginners, but nowadays the "unpaid gig" is creeping into every aspect of mainstream creative media and the arts, from small entrepeneurs to the biggest publications and corporations. These practices are becoming more and more prevalent from companies who should know better. And of course they do know the score, but they also know that for all the professional artists who walk away there will be a bunch of young illustrators desperate for work, any work, who leap at the chance to get into print. Paid or unpaid.

No, no, no, no NO! I will not work for free, and I will not stand by and see fellow illustrators taken advantage of. "This opportunity may not be right for every artist" says one no-payer. Believe me, it is not right for any artist, it's not something we can ignore, free work is undermining the industry, not only for those who undertake such work, but for every freelancer. Free work is sapping the life out of the creative business, it's not an opportunity, it's an abuse, and it must be stopped!

So I'm taking a pledge. From now on every time I hear about or receive one of these bad practice "opportunities" I'll warn all the artists I know, I'll post on Twitter and wherever necessary. I won't just let it pass.

Some further reading

There is a lot of material on the web from artists and other creatives standing against no-fee assignments, here are a few good articles:
Emmeline Pidgen article against working for free
Lauren Panepinto post on the differences between Spec Work, Working for Exposure, and Competitions
The Business of Illustration on Working for Free, including a link to Harlan Ellison's much shared but timelessly hilarious rant Pay the Writer.


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25. Fruits of your Labors…

Sharing the Good things in Life with my BFF
The upcoming American Thanksgiving paves the way for the holiday season, and because many of my author friends live in the USA, I feel I’m celebrating being thankful right along with them. Thanksgiving (both in Canada and America) not only gives us time to be with family and friends, but to think about what we’re truly grateful for. It’s also a time for us to reflect on the past year, and take stock in what we have reaped and accomplished thus far. As some of you know, I moved from cottage country to the warmer southern climate of Ontario this summer, and have never looked back. So in keeping with the spirit of giving thanks, I’d like to share one of my experiences since moving down here that I’ll always be grateful for…

Living in wine country has its benefits. So when my BFF came down for a visit this past September, it was a no-brainer on where to take her. Setting a course for a couple of wineries, getting lost for about 15 minutes, then finally getting back on track, we made it to the first winery, and we were not disappointed.

To be honest, I’ve never been to a wine tasting. Usually they’re free if you purchase a bottle. We both tried a few—my BFF preferring red, and I going to the light side, our palette’s danced and tonsils rocked to the taste of each wine sampled. My house warming gift consisted of a rather nice chardonnay. Salute!

Next, we asked for directions to the next winery (far be it for us to put our faith in an out-dated GPS). We found it easily, and met up with a whole lot of bikers on their Ride for MS. What a fun group! We met kindred spirits and wine lovers in two participants named Sharon and Mike, and did a selfie with them! Fun times! Of course more wine was sampled and bought before we cashed in our chips and headed back home.

This whole experience has taught me something. It takes a lot of time to grow, nurture, and prepare grapes before the wine making process begins and after the wine is bottled. It’s a huge industry that relies on many people. So how would you compare making wine to writing a book? It comes down to this: some wines take years to be released into the world, while others maybe months. Authors can crank out words like stomping on grapes until they’re satisfied with the tone and flavor. Other authors take their time, allowing their words to ferment for a while, let breathe, until they too are ready to uncork their properties. However you write, and whatever you write, you can be sure of one thing: everyone’s tastes are different, and there’s bound to be an audience just for you.


What or who are you grateful for this time of the season? Your health? Your family? Your job? Red or white? Fiction or non-fiction? For me, it’s our new home, living closer to family, and knowing in my heart that it was time for a change. Oh, yeah, and white, definitely white. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

And a Good Time was had by All!

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