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1. CBTV: ‘Journey of Two’ by Joshua Mulligan

Two best friends wake up and start the day.

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2. Cartoon Network to Launch New Imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group

CN logoCartoon Network will open its own imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group.

Here’s more from the press release: “The new ‘Cartoon Network Books’ imprint will publish fun and interactive formats such as Mad Libs ®, original fiction novels and chapter books, Activity and Doodle formats, non-fiction handbooks, gift sets, and kits. The 2015 launch will feature books based on the hit shows Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe, followed by Clarence, the upcoming We Bare Bears, and the return of The Powerpuff Girls in 2016.”

The two organizations have been partners in publishing books based on the Adventure TimeRegular Show, and The Amazing World of Gumball TV series since 2013. To date, more than half a million copies of those books have sold in the United States market. What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. WD Poetic Form Challenge: Terzanelle

It’s that time again: time for another poetic form challenge. And, as you may have guessed, we’ll focus on the terzanelle this time around. Click here to read the guidelines on writing the terzanelle.

Once you know the rules for the terzanelle, start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on October 6, 2014.
  • Poets can enter as many terzanelles as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better, but remember: I’m judging on quality, not quantity.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new terzanelle.
  • I will only consider terzanelles shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your user/screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!


Win $1,000 for Your Poetry!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25.

The early bird deadline is October 1 and costs $15 for the first poem, $10 for each additional poem. Enter as often as you’d like.

Important note: This is separate from the terzanelle challenge. The Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards is open to all forms, styles, subjects, etc. So enter your haiku, free verse, and so on.

Click here to learn more.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He loves reading poetry, writing poetry, and studying poetry–but he especially loves sharing poetry and is happy that Poetic Asides is a place that accommodates just that.

For the terzanelle, in particular, Robert appreciates its complex structure of rhymes and refrains that when done well make for a really enjoyable poem. He looks forward to reading through this batch.

Robert is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Find more poetic posts that rock here:

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4. The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter

During a recent weekend in New York City I had some time between brunch and a Broadway show. I was able to spend a leisurely few hours exploring The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter (curated by kidlit historian and frequent Horn Book contributor Leonard Marcus), an engaging exhibit at the New York Public Library.

The exhibit is a winding journey of children’s literature that follows its history from early readers such as Dick and Jane to the phenomenon of Harry Potter. As I wandered through the exhibit, the books on display led me down the memory lane of my childhood favorites. On one wall was Charlotte’s spider web, complete with her written words aptly describing Wilbur. An interactive component consisted of the author E.B. White reading aloud chapters from his classic novel, Charlotte’s Web. As I listened I was instantly transported back to my youth. Around the corner I found the original stuffed animals of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the Pooh looking very worn and loved in a glass case.

winnie the pooh characters The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

from left: the original Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Piglet, and Pooh stuffed animals

Each turn I took throughout the exhibit brought me to another special book that had been meaningful in my childhood. I next encountered my all-time favorite character, Mary Poppins. It is well known that P.L. Travers was very protective of her beloved Mary Poppins and was less than thrilled with Disney’s musical version. While the magical nanny in the book is somewhat more bitter than in the “spoonful of sugar” movie, Julie Andrews will always be my vision of the character. P.L Travers’ own parrot head umbrella is on display next to a Mary Poppins doll. The interactive exhibit also includes video of a musical number from the movie.

A theme found throughout the exhibit is how the history of children’s books parallels the evolution of thinking on child development. As you go through the exhibit you find the works of such children’s literature icons as Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, and Maurice Sendak.

great green room The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

the great green room of Goodnight, Moon

The books of these authors/illustrators speak to various aspects of children’s development. Society’s understanding of how children grow and learn is reflected in the stories created for them. “Behind every children’s book,” we read on the exhibit wall, “is a vision of childhood: a shared understanding of what growing up is all about.”

songs of innocence The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

illustrations from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence

The books in the exhibit reflect not only childhood, but also the times in which the books were written. One fascinating fact that I was not aware of: the book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was considered by some as political propaganda when it was published in 1936. I have always thought of it as a sweet story of a bull that didn’t want to fight — I had no knowledge of the controversy that originally surrounded it. Of particular interest to me was the section of the exhibit dedicated to censored books throughout the years, ranging from such popular titles as Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. The topic of censorship remains crucial as current books such as Harry Potter as well as perennial titles continue to be questioned and censored.

The exhibit, which closed on September 7th, offered a thoughtful tour of both children’s literature and societal conceptions of childhood.

share save 171 16 The ABC of It: Why Childrens Books Matter

The post The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Simple Pattern


A simple pattern today | I am trying to find a use for the loose rough way I draw. I want to add content. I feel more like a passenger in a car enjoying a ride that the driver of the car controlling the destination. I guess the hard part is deciding where to go in the first place.

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6. John Sandford: Bonus WD Interview Outtakes

Few journalists find the level of success that earns a Pulitzer Prize, and few authors can brag that every novel they’ve written has landed on The New York Times bestseller list. Even fewer writers can claim both—but John Sandford can.

Before he began a decades-long career at the top of the thriller charts, the writer born John Roswell Camp was a successful journalist. His career included stints at Southeast Missourian and the Miami Herald, a place on the Pulitzer shortlist in 1980, and the Distinguished Writing Award of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1985. In 1986, Camp was awarded a Pulitzer for Non-Deadline Feature Writing for his St. Paul Pioneer Press article series chronicling the life and work of a Minnesota farm family. Around that time, he tried his hand at long-form nonfiction with two books, one about the paintings of John Stuart Ingle and another about plastic surgery. “Neither,” he says, “will ever be a bestseller.”

In 1989, he wrote and published his first two novels—Rules of Prey and The Fool’s Run. Each would spawn a successful series: Prey, featuring his iconic Lucas Davenport character, a loner detective with a womanizing streak; and the Kidd series, which follows a computer genius who doesn’t mind taking sketchy hacking jobs—as long as the money is good. In 2007, he launched yet another wildly popular series, Virgil Flowers, about a rough-around-the-edges cop who only does “the hard stuff.” To date, Sandford has sold more than 10 million copies of nearly 40 bestselling crime thrillers. This year alone, Sandford released three titles: the 24th Davenport book, Field of Prey; the 8th Virgil Flowers installment, Deadline; and his first young adult thriller, Uncaged, the start of The Singular Menace series co-authored with his wife, fellow journalist-turned-author Michele Cook.

The full WD Interview with John Sandford appears in the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest. In these online exclusive outtakes, he talks about the series he never wrote, more about writing what you know, and the irritation of printed mistakes.

Have you ever had an idea that just didn’t pan out?
After I had established a career writing fiction, I once had an idea for a series of books that would be based on the idea that a guy—an ex-cop—was a golfer who won a tournament and was invited to the Master’s Tournament. At the Master’s Tournament, a guy gets killed and the people who run the show want to kind of hush things up and find out what’s going on, so they get [this ex-cop, amateur golfer] to do that. So then all these rich golfers find out that this guy can keep his mouth shut, is a good investigator, and so the next thing that happens is that there’s a big scandal involving a Chicago basketball team. And my idea was to have a whole series of sports books.

I never wrote that—another guy did, actually—but the reason I didn’t write that was that I had never covered sports. I didn’t know what the inside of a pro team locker room looks like. I don’t know what jocks act like. I don’t know that stuff, but I know that about cops and judges and courts and detectives and farmers and doctors and medical stuff.

So it’s all about writing what you know.
Yeah, and it’s the same problem young writers face, and that’s that they don’t have that store of images in their head yet. Which they will get, but it takes a while to get that. It’s just a problem that they’ve got to deal with and that’s the thing that journalism gave me. …

One of the benefits, by the way, of being a reporter is that you go to places like courts, and you hear people when they’re testifying. They’re using these great big long sentences, and you’re typing and writing and trying to get it down exact because you’ve got television cameras and you’ve got other people [reporting], too. If you write out a quote, and everyone else picks up that quote and they’re all different from yours, your editor is thinking, You’re an asshole. You’ve screwed this up. So you have to work very carefully to write down the quotes, and that teaches you how people talk and the kind of language they use and when they screw things up.

If a person didn’t want to be a journalist first, how might they go about getting that “store of images” for writing?
When I’ve been asked in the past what I would recommend if a kid’s in college—and no one would ever take this advice—I would tell him to join the army. If you join the army you learn about weapons, you learn about a great swath of society, you learn about all kinds of people doing different kinds of jobs. In the space of two or three years, you get this intense education and learn about a huge variety of things that are useful to writers. An alternative would be to become a social worker or a cop for a couple of years. Any of those things will expose you to the kind of images that you need just simply to write.

Do readers ever send you feedback that you just can’t ignore?
There’s been a little, irritating controversy on my website about my knowledge of guns. I actually have a pretty extensive knowledge of guns because I grew up in the countryside in Iowa and I first shot a gun when I was probably four or five years old. But I made an editing mistake in a novel— I said that a particular kind of gun had a safety, which it does not. It’s a Glock. It does not have a safety on it. And it’s widely used by cops. What happened in that situation was that I was trying to fix a mistake. I had a [scene] where a guy took a Berretta—which does have a safety—from a dead cop. Later, I realized that that cop wouldn’t be carrying a Beretta, he would be carrying a Glock because that was the issue weapon for the Minneapolis Police Department. What I did was I went back through the book and I changed all the Berettas to Glocks. What I didn’t realize was that … I had a guy make sure that the safety was off on the Beretta. And so when I just changed Beretta Beretta Beretta to Glock Glock Glock Glock, I didn’t change the sentence about the safety. So then a lot of people wrote in and said I was an idiot because Glocks don’t have safeties.

I also once made a mistake [in a book] because I went through Arizona in the summertime. And in the book, [my main character] is in Flagstaff, AZ, in the wintertime, and I mentioned that it was hot. Well, Flagstaff has a ski area and it snows like crazy there in the wintertime and it gets very cold. That’s a mistake that I made because I did the location research, but I didn’t do the weather research. And when I shifted time periods from when I was there to when the book was [set], I made a mistake. All of my books, not all them that I know of, but most of them have some kind of mistake that I find really irritating. Usually it’s something very small, but the local people who live in that area will tell me about it.

It’s not usually anger. It’s just, “You know, you didn’t get this quite right.” And I always realize it instantly when they tell me, because I know that they’re telling me the truth! I find it very annoying when I make mistakes. I mean it really, really bothers me.

You have several hobbies. What, aside from art and archaeology, interests you?
I’ve been studying songwriting. … In my music study, I was reading a quote by Metallica. They had a song called “Ride the Lightning,” and it turns out it’s a quote from a Stephen King book about a guy who was about to be sent to ‘ride the lightning’—because he was being sent to the electric chair. So [King] picks up that line from a guy who’s a killer, and then Metallica picks it up [from King] and then puts it in a song, which is completely different from the book. It’s interesting how people are sensitive to language and how it works.

If you enjoyed these outtakes with bestselling novelist Lisa Scottoline, be sure to check out the feature-length interview—full of valuable insights about pulling off plot twists, changing directions with your writing, and much more—in the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest.

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7. Review of Jack

depaola jack Review of JackJack
by Tomie dePaola; illus. by the author
Preschool Paulsen/Penguin 32 pp.
9/14     978-0-399-16154-4     $17.99     g

Farm boy Jack wants to make new friends and live in the city, which is exactly what he does in this minimally plotted book. On his way to ask the king for a house, Jack picks up a chick, a duck, a goose, a dog, etc., each one declaring its own interest in city digs, thus providing Jack with a community of ten new friends upon whom the king is happy to bestow a nice fixer-upper. While the lack of any conflict or obstacles means we aren’t that invested in Jack’s fate, young children will like the simple pattern of the story as well as the cumulating sound effects offered for each animal as it joins the merry band. DePaola dresses the journey in his most sumptuous colors, the carrot-topped hero and his ever-growing group of friends traversing a landscape of deep greens and grays and purple farmhouses to their new home, bright pink in the heart of the city. Storytime audiences will enjoy the trip as well as the sly cameo appearances by nursery-rhyme favorites such as Jack and Jill and Miss Muffet’s eight-legged friend.

share save 171 16 Review of Jack

The post Review of Jack appeared first on The Horn Book.

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8. Instagram of the Week – September 22

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we explore “theme of the day” posts, contests, and good old #libraryshelfies.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

[<a href="http://storify.com/mdarling/instagram-of-the-week" target="_blank">View the story "Instagram of the Week - September 22" on Storify</a>]


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9. Poetry Monday: Trees

A nice poem to start off your week! Today, we’ve chosen a poem from our new fall title, Lend a Hand: Poems About Givingto share with you:


I doubt

many people

will pay much attention

to a few scrawny saplings

on this harsh city street.

But if any of these people

are here years from now,

enjoying the shade

in the heat of the summer

or the dazzle of color

on the branches in fall,

maybe they’ll remember

what this street once looked like

and go to a place

in need of some trees,

and plant a few saplings

like I’m doing today.

Lend a Hand

If you’re interested in planting trees in your area, check out some of these great organizations:

TreePeople (Based in Los Angeles)

Million Trees NYC (Based in New York City)

The Nature Conservancy – Plant a Billion Trees (National)

Filed under: New Releases Tagged: books, lend a hand, planting trees, poetry, poetry Monday, trees

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10. Gouache

Having fun with Gouache for the first time in a bit.

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11. Ottawa Winners: ‘Hipopotamy,’ ‘Seth’s Dominion’ Win Top Prizes

Veteran Polish filmmaker Piotr Dumala won the short film grand prize for "Hipopotamy" at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which wrapped up its 2014 edition yesterday.

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12. Current Scratch: Join Us, NANOWRIMO, Awards, Texas Book Festival, Opportunities, & for Pure Enjoyment

Howdy, folks! Hope you're all busying yourself like squirrels this fall, gathering hearty ideas for projects, current & future. Did you wrap a project up this summer? Does it sizzle with perfection? If so, be brave and submit it! *Check out two new opportunities for submissions below*


Our next Schmooze: Sell Your Books! Sage Advice from Molly Blaisdell and others. Join the discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m. in the College Station Barnes & Noble. A brief summary of news from the SCBWI Summer Conference will follow. Those who have time will go out to lunch as well. Come early for a gentle critique starting at 9:30 a.m. Bring 5 copies of 5 double-spaced pages to share.


Illustrator event! Join SCBWI-BV, as we attend a free lecture featuring James Gurney, author of the Dinotopia series. This is sponsored by The Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) at Texas A&M University. A treat for your inner artist. We will meet on Thursday, October 23 at 5 p.m. for a bite to eat (details to come) and then head over to at 7 p.m. to Geren Auditorium at the College of Architecture on the A&M campus for the lecture. Email me if you are interested! (molly@mollyblaisdell.com)

"James Gurney is the artist and author best known for his illustrated book series Dinotopia. He specializes in painting realistic images of scenes that can’t be photographed, from dinosaurs to ancient civilizations." (jamesgurney.com) 

Pick up the Pace!—A Workshop with Agent Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at A& M United Methodist Church, College Station, TX
Story pacing can make the difference between a “nice try” rejection and a publishable manuscript. Whether you’re working on page turns in a 500-word picture book or end-of-chapter cliff-hangers in a 50,000-word novel, Jodell Sadler has tips and tools to help pick up the pace. Join SCBWI Brazos Valley for a day-long workshop focused on pacing and strong writing skills.* Registration fees are $125 for SCBWI members and $150 for non-members. Whether paying by check or credit card, please register through the event website.

In addition to the workshop, attendees may submit pages/portfolios for critique. Only eight slots are available with Ms. Sadler, and the face-to-face meetings will be scheduled in the morning on Sunday, Nov. 9. A fee of $45 is due at registration, and submissions** will be due (postmarked by) Oct. 15.


Teen & Middle Grade Authors event. Larry J. Ringer Library in College Station: On Saturday, November 8, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., and Sunday, November 9, 2-4 p.m., Teen & Middle Grade Authors: Teen and tween aspiring authors and adult authors who write for teen and middle grade audiences, talk about your books and about other teen and middle grade fiction, book signings allowed. Contact Kendra at kperkins@bryantx.gov or (979) 764-3416. More info about this event here. *If you would like to be a featured author and have books signed at this event, please contact Kendra Perkins at the email address above.


SCBWI Austin Chapter: Fall Workshop-Research for Fiction, Non-fiction and Historical Writers.Date/Time: 9/13/ 2014, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Location: Laura's Library, 9411 Bee Cave Rd., Austin, TX
More info here.

Non-Fiction for New Folks Retreat (NF4NF) -- For fiction writers wanting to try nonfiction writing, nonfiction writers who are new to the genre, and experienced NF writers in need of encouragement, instruction, and inspiration. (not an SCBWI event but may be of interest to our members)Date/Time 10/9 -10/12

Location: Hill Country University Center, Fredricksburg, TX
More info here.


Do you have an idea brewing? A character or two who refuse to let you rest at night? No worries, here's a challenge just for you. National Novel Writing Month comes in November! Check out the site for details.

Check out the 2014 Longlist for National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Coming to Austin on Oct. 25 & 26. 2014's List of Authors.

Highlights' new fiction contest is just around the corner! This year's theme is Mystery Stories!

Submission Guidelines for APPLESEEDS magazine, ages 6-9.

Literary Agent Lana Popovic is currently building client list.

And another one! Literary Agent Genevieve Nine.

Here's a great Writer Unboxed blog post about why (benefits & strategies) authors need to write a series.

A Ted talk with award-winning children's author Mac Barnett Why a Good Book is a Secret Door.

The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.

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13. Matt Mullins' credits on S.H.I.E.L.D (link)

Matt Mullins, martial artist, actor, and stuntman--and more, has been working on S.H.I.E.L.D.  Check him out on his filmography webpage: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1280538/?nmdp=1&ref_=nm_ql_5#filmography

(Thanks, Mina)

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14. Professional Speed Writing

In this Q&A, Rochelle Melander, author of Write-a-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) (Writer’s Digest Books), discusses how she’s written five books at a marathon pace.


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15. YALSA Board Fellow Program

My term as YALSA Board Fellow began on the last day of ALA conference 2014 when I, among others, was officially welcomed on the board. It was a hot and humid day in Las Vegas, yet a happy one filled with conference goers walking briskly to their desired programs/meetings, going back to their hotel with stacks of books, or preparing to head back home.

Since then, I’ve met with my board assigned mentor to brainstorm project ideas and get feedback on board ethics, as well as actively participated in board duties that include:

  • Meeting with the committee chairs to which I am a board liaison to discuss their roles and provide initial support towards managing their committees
  • Participating in discussion around the member recruitment standing committee
  • Attending a couple of board related conference calls and meetings
  • Sending personalized welcome greetings to new YALSA members
  • Brainstorming and beginning my diversity related YALSA project

No doubt it all seems like quite a bit of work in just two months. But my experience has already been so great and fulfilling wrapped with lots of support from Executive Director, Beth and the board members.

In addition to grasping new skills and strengthening others, considering YALSA new report Future of Library Services for and with Teens, I’ve been able to contribute my knowledge and time to YALSA’s great mission to “expand and strengthen library services for teens, aged 12-18.” I am glad to be a part of this team that make a difference in the lives of teens everywhere via impactful decisions that give YA services professionals the tools and resources to help teens access college information, access to technology, written resources, recreational activities, safe library environments, among other things.

I am so grateful to have been selected as the Board Fellow this year and plan to continue to use my time to advocate for teens through YALSA.

The new application period is underway and closes on December 1st. Here’s a link to the application http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsa_fellows_program, and I’m very happy to answer any questions you may have about YALSA or the Board Fellow program. Feel free to email me at nicolamcdonaldwriter@gmail.com and follow @YALSA and me @nicolalmcdonald on Twitter for the latest YALSA updates.

I hope you’ll consider applying for this great opportunity!

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16. Behind “BoJack Horseman” With Its Creator and Supervising Director

"BoJack Horseman" creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and director Mike Hollingsworth speak with Cartoon Brew about the making of the show, its dark but sincere tone, and the lighter side of bestiality.

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17. Face-Lift 1223

Guess the Plot

The Spirit Swindler

1. Hey! Hey you! Cubicle meat sack. That soul thing? You're not using it, right? So I'll give you a million bucks now, and another million later. Come on. What have you got to lose?

2. A unicorn promises the late Brobro a new life in a new body. Naturally he jumps at the opportunity, but be careful what you wish for: his new body turns out to be Adolph Hitler's! And the SWAT team is at the door!

3. It was a classic tale of fame and fortune. He had it, but it could also be yours – for a price. All you need do is take care of the Nigerian Prince. But be careful what you wish for – because he's . . . The Spirit Swindler.

4. The ghost of Al Capone returns to 1960s Chicago and wreaks havoc on the city's hippy counterculture. Ultimately prohibited from committing any worldly sin, Capone is consumed by a hatred of Bohemianism bordering on the fanatical. Only Shaggy and Scooby can stop his nefarious plans to exorcise the desire for pleasure from the human spirit.

5. Jake has realized that spirits are not souls. No one in Hell wants to buy any, and Jesus just chuckles at Jake's ambition. But why do so many useless specters keep appearing at Jake's door? Is Jake a Specter Whisperer or an unpublished writer with a too-big imagination?

6. When little Bobby Bacardi came over from the old country, one step ahead of the prohibitionists, he thought he might have at last found a refuge. But that was in 1919, and things went down the hatch quickly. When a drunk-with-power Sammy Seagram catches up with him, Bobby knows he's in for the bar fight of his life. Wearing a mask, and working mostly in the dimly lit back rooms of speakeasies, Bobby becomes the vigilante known as… The Spirit Swindler.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor,

Brobro was tired of being dead. The service was bad, the rent was too high, and the frequency of teenage girls trying to summon him at sleepovers was just exhausting. When a unicorn named Swagfast promised him new life in another body, how could he refuse? [No reason that paragraph can't be in present tense.]

Now Brobro's alive, exactly where he died. Everything's just as he remembered [remembers] it, right down to the time on the clock. The only difference is his wife's terrified expression. Oh, and the fact that his "new" body is Adolf Hitler's. 

It doesn't take long for the SWAT team to arrive. [Why are they arriving?] Brobro's alone against the law, and his narrow escape just means they'll crack down harder. His retreat leads him into the NYC sewers, where he finds a fellow misfit named Jazzhands. The winged clown claims to have been a beautiful pegasus, before Swagfast cheated her out of her body.

Together they decide to search a world that hates them to find Swagfast and the lives that he stole from them. [Swagfast didn't steal Brobro's life; Brobro was already dead when they met.]

THE SPIRIT SWINDLER is a 128,000 word historical romance. [Really? Whether the romance is between Brobro and his wife or Hitler and the winged clown (or Brobro and Hitler, in which case it would be a Brobromance), you need to have something about the romance in the query. And if it's historical romance, reveal the historical period in which it's set. Even now that I know the romance is the main focus of the book, I'm inclined to think romantic comedy or paranormal romance or farcical fantasy.] If you are interested, please email me at ___________. Thank you for your time and consideration.



The tone is good, assuming it fits the book.

Not clear if Brobro has possessed the body of the real Adolph Hitler or just has a body that looks like Hitler's. As there were no SWAT teams when Hitler was alive, I assume the latter, but as dead people can be given new lives, perhaps it's the former. Perhaps Hitler, too, got tired of being dead and Swagfast gave him a new life, except he was being as big an asshole in his new life as he was in his old one so Swagfast let Brobro have the body, figuring he couldn't be any worse in it than Hitler. Then again, Swagfast is apparently the villain, so he'd probably be happy if Brobro were worse than Hitler. New title suggestion: The Man Who Was Worse Than Hitler.

I always thought Pegasus was one specific creature, rather than a species or race. Or that if there were lots of them, that Pegasus was the name of one winged horse and the other winged horses had their own names. 

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18. How to Plot Your Way to the Best-Seller List

best-selling-author-wpWorking on a book? If your ambitions run beyond merely getting your manuscript published to making it a best-seller, you’ll need to start planning before you’ve written your first word. And we’re not talking about planning out your plot. To climb onto the best-seller list you’ll need to be a one-stop shop of writer, marketer and promoter.

Keep in mind however, that what you’ll be selling is not your book, but yourself. It’s your success in getting people to follow you, rather than your title, that is the key to sales:

This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but aggressively pushing your current title in lieu of promoting your personal brand as an author — is an ill-conceived plan that can actually stunt book sales. Literary mega-stars like Stephen King and John Grisham have a built-in fan base that buys every book they release, almost automatically. And that, says [author Tim Grahl], should be the goal of every writer — particularly those who have aspirations to write in multiple genres or cover various topics.

For more advice, including how to build your base, read: 6 Steps to Becoming a Best-Selling Author.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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19. Attending a Conference

There are many advantages to going to conferences with a writing friend. 


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20. The utter delight found in "Where My Wellies Take Me..."

Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:

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21. Write a Book in a Month: More Writers Share Their Experiences & Advice

Sometimes it’s a lone writer who’s been putting off a story idea for too long, and decides it’s now or never. Sometimes it’s a pair or a group determined to find out what they can achieve by sharing self-imposed deadlines and strong pots of coffee. Sometimes it’s peer pressure or curiosity about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org), that challenge that rallies ever-increasing numbers of writers around the globe every November to band together in pursuit of a 50,000-word “win.”

Book-in-a-month challenges take all forms, fueled by all stripes of writers with all manner of motivations—make the most of that time alone in a borrowed cabin, hunker down for the winter, stop procrastinating, have something ready to pitch at that conference, prove to yourself you can do it, prove to someone else you can do it, get a fresh start—and in this hyperconnected age of 24-hour fingertip resources and networks, of tiny portable keyboards and glow-in-the-dark screens, they’re more popular than ever.

What do writers really glean from these write-a-thons? What have those who’ve set out to achieve the seemingly impossible learned, good or bad, and what advice would they share with others thinking of setting out with that same single-minded focus? We asked the WD writing community, and responses came in waves—with refreshing honesty, admitted mistakes, tales of redemption, palpable pride, self-deprecating humor and, above all, contagious enthusiasm.

In the November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest, we published an array of the best tips and strategies—one for every day of the month—along with a roundup of resources offering more help along the way. Here, in this bonus online-exclusive companion, we’re delighted to share even more valuable first-hand experiences and lessons learned from the dedicated writers in our readership. Because who knows? It’s so crazy, it just might work.

By Heather Gibson, Hartville, Ohio

I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2012 from my friend who runs the writing group at the library. The name prompted several raised eyebrows and quizzical looks. We were considerably more agreeable toward it after she explained it to us. I mulled it over awhile before deciding it was the perfect forum to get my book out of my head and onto the page. Besides, I’m more than a little competitive so the challenge was welcome rather than daunting.

Unfortunately, I found out about NaNoWriMo right before the contest began. There wasn’t time to outline my book or research various topics in the story. I started writing cold, struggling to create my characters, setting, etc. I barely made it to chapter three before I abandoned the first portion of my book.

Determined not to give up, or “lose,” I picked up with the story where I was sure about what I wanted to write. The pages flowed freely as my story grew. In short, I completed the 50,000-word challenge, and then some, required by NaNoWriMo. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing that felt. Then I realized two horrible things.

First, I did not have a complete novel. Second, I had to edit this mess. Deep breaths were taken and I pressed on. If I can give one small piece of advice, do not quit just because NaNoWriMo is over. December, with all its hectic holiday madness, is the worst time to work on a novel. Do it anyway. I promise this is the point where you will appreciate what you have accomplished. Besides, the balm of January is just around the corner.

Everyone knows how boring January can be once the holidays are over. Use this valuable opportunity to write and/or edit your work. This is also a good time to do research should your novel require it. I found several facts in my writing needed to be clarified and portrayed with more accuracy than I had originally done.

I also took time to decide if I wanted to outline my novel or stay with a more organic approach. At first, I felt as if I was forcing my writing into an outline. I resisted in favor of exploring rabbit trails that led to what I believed was good, old-fashioned storytelling. I also thoroughly developed my characters during this time.

With everything going so well, it was the perfect time to hit another snag. I had absolutely no idea how I wanted my novel to end. I also began to lose interest. My writing habits were hit or miss and the quality of my book suffered. Thank God NaNoWriMo was just around the corner again.

Every NaNoWriMo submission is supposed to be a new novel of at least 50,000 words. I decided that year to instead use it as an editing tool to reignite interest in my own book. It worked. I turned in a 73,000-word combination of well-edited old writing as well as several new chapters.

Since my second experience with NaNoWriMo, I’m continuing to research the best way to convey my story. An outline would be helpful to keep the plot on track, tighten up the structure of my book. I believe this can be done without surrendering the natural flow.

I’m also happy to say that in the months following NaNoWriMo, I actually finished my book. I set it aside for a while before editing one more time. My novel is currently in the hands of four beta readers whose opinions, criticisms and critiques I anxiously await. This year’s NaNoWriMo effort will undoubtedly be another 30-day editing session.

In the meantime, I’m back on the internet researching what comes next. Believe me when I say it looks scarier than blank pages awaiting your 50,000 words. Good thing I’m still too competitive to give up!

by Ty Unglebower, Knoxville, Md.

I had never “lost” Nanowrimo. That is to say, by the contest’s own definition, (reaching at least 50,000 words by the end of November), I had never failed to win it. I don’t do it every year, but each time I try, I make it. Little certificate and everything. Arrogant as it may sound, I’ve realized that with discipline and persistence I can in theory always compose 50,000 words of coherent fiction in 30 days.

But for years it was incomplete fiction. I’d never finished the entire first draft within the one-month limit of Nanowrimo, or within any other month-long span for that matter. In 2013, as summer dwindled into fall, I decided to undertake what I called “Nanowrimo Plus.” In other words, I wouldn’t declare victory in December unless I’d completed the first draft of the entire story arc within November.

Usually I’m a plotter. I draw up outlines and brief character sketches before starting most of my longer fiction projects. But for Nano I do more pantsing. That works fine for the 50,000-word milestone, but makes finishing an entire novel in 30 days much trickier for someone like me. So I knew I wanted to go with a tight, plot-heavy genre for my experiment, lest I get seized by my literary tendencies or get pulled into sub-plot hell. That’s why I went with the mystery genre—more specifically, the cozy mystery.

A cozy mystery allowed me to keep the action in one central location. It also meant less meticulous research, (as opposed to a hard-boiled procedural, for instance.) Also, by keeping the character count to fewer than 10, I gave myself the chance to play to my strengths in my limited time: character and dialogue.

The tight requirements of a cozy mystery worked in conjunction with the Nano time constraints to act as sort of an enclosed waterslide during that month; I could slip and slide around only so much before being redirected, almost against my will, back into the inevitable flow of things. Flying off too far into another direction was simply not an option if I wanted to attain the goal.

Oh, I could feel the pull of elaboration or extraneous description tugging at my progress as I rounded some of those tight corners. But the tick-tocking of the clock all throughout November compelled me to always move forward, down that slide, pushed by that running water. Plot, plot, plot.

Every page I wrote had to set up some specific fact that would relate to the ultimate solving of the crime, or at least provide temporary misdirection. Even as I did that, I had a tone to set and characters to bring to life and settings to describe. It forced me to tighten my writing.

That isn’t how I work, normally. But I found that during the experience, plot developments presented themselves just a short time before I needed them. I knew point B came after point A in the timeline, but had no clue what was in between the two points until I sat down to write. That came as a surprise to me, but a pleasant one. I wouldn’t want to write that way most of the time, but for my Nanowrimo Plus experience, being pushed along that waterslide was as effective as it was nerve-wracking so far as tightness of writing is concerned.

By the 30th, I’d done it; I’d written my first ever mystery, not to mention my first ever fully formed first draft, all within 30 days. It’s coherent, fast-paced and, for a first draft, better than I expected it to be. I don’t know if I’ll do anything further with it, but it exists, fully formed written totally within 30 days, just as I had wanted.

I wouldn’t want to write like that most of the time; I like my character studies and literary elaborations as I write. The kind of novel I normally write benefits from such things. But they have no doubt also benefited from the lessons I learned on that waterslide in November of 2013.

by Lisa Doyle, Aurora, Ill.

I’m proud to say that I am a two-time NaNoWriMo Winner! I succeeded on both attempts, in 2008 and 2012. The motivations and outcomes for the novel writing process were different, and have led to some pretty life-changing results.

I’d always wanted to write a novel, and it was one of those things I thought I’d “get around to” one of these years. Then, in the final days of October 2008, I happened to read a blurb in Self magazine about NaNoWriMo. I was intrigued, went to the website, and learned of a local NaNoWriMo group workshop that very night in my town. I left the meeting completely jazzed, wrote my basic outline and downloaded YWriter, and a few days later, I was off and writing.

I had the goal of writing about 1,800 words every night, and for the most part, I achieved it (I took the night off for the presidential election, and one night I was sick). And, on November 30, I finished the story with an excess of 51,000 words, tears streaming down my face, not sure if I’d ever felt so proud before.

Life got busier (I had a baby in 2010) and I wasn’t ready to attempt NaNoWriMo again yet. But in the fall of 2012, I had an idea for a novel that I just couldn’t shake. I again outlined and set a plan of action, and once again completed the 50,000-word goal by deadline.

My book continued to nag at me, though. I knew I had something unique, something marketable, and it wasn’t really complete. In January, a friend alerted me to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, so I checked it out. The deadline was two weeks away, so I got back to work, adding another 25,000 words to the novel, and sent it in on time.

I made it through to the second round (yay!), but not the third (womp womp). I took the judges’ comments seriously and tweaked the novel further. I briefly had the book up on Amazon to share with family and friends, and received more helpful feedback. Then, I finally worked up the nerve to query agents. Not much time passed before I found my agent, who loved the premise, and wanted to work with me on a significant rewrite. Over the next several months, I shaped the novel into a much-improved story—one that I owe in large part to my agent’s expert coaching. It’s now on submission, and all appendages are crossed that it will find a home.

I am truly grateful that NaNoWriMo exists. I’m a very deadline-driven person, and I don’t think I actually would have worked the writing into my schedule without the timeframe, the goals and the structure it provides. I think anyone with a story in them should give it a shot. It could be the greatest favor you ever do for yourself.

by C.L. (Cyndi) Pauwels, Yellow Springs, Ohio

For someone who’s never written a full-length manuscript before, trying to write a book in a month is daunting, to say the least. I completed my first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2005, and the euphoria of typing “The End” shortly before midnight on Nov. 30 was indescribable. That draft—and yes, that’s all NaNo participants should seek to produce is a draft, no matter how many overly eager authors start querying (or hit “publish”) on Dec. 1—served as the basis for my thesis manuscript for a Master of Arts in creative writing, which I completed in 2010. NaNoWriMo showed me that I could, in fact, complete a book-length manuscript, something I had not been able to do up to that point. It gave me the confidence to complete my education and to take my writing seriously.

My 2006 NaNo effort built on the central theme of a short story I published in 1990. After many, many revisions and rewrites, that 50,000-word draft became my police procedural Forty & Out. I started querying it to agents in 2011, and after 39 rejections, that debut novel was released by Deadly Writes Publishing on Sept. 1, 2014. 

‪NaNoWriMo has been good to me and for me—in motivation, in confidence-building, in adding to my support group of fellow writers. Now that I’ve learned the habit of daily writing and regularly produce a decent word count on my own, I may not return to the event. But I’ll continue spreading NaNo joy as I encourage new writers to join the fun.

LEARNING TO EXERCISE DEMONS (misspelling intended)
by Rev. Dr. David McDonald, Jackson, Mich.

Since 2008, I have written in excess of 2 million words: 56 books, 13 position papers and hundreds of explanatory diagrams that translate historical theology into the language of ordinary, everyday people. I started the Teaching Atlas Project to benefit the congregants at my church (westwinds.org), but over the years, the project grew. I used my writing to raise money for local charities, highlight notable people within our community, and dabble in speculative theology—even fictionalizing missionary work in Atlantis.

I have written three books this year, including The Handbook for Hellfighters (a training manual for ministry) and The Church Survival Guide (a resource for people confused by Christianity). Last week, in 118 hours, after seven years of research and three weeks of preparation, I wrote The Garden City Epistles—a 56,487 word devotional on human becoming.

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all:

Passion will get you started, but discipline will see you through. Theology is fascinating, but it’s a lot of work to explain, develop and substantiate. The only way to succeed is to set a schedule, write like mad and never stop, even if you despair. Get your first draft finished before you pay attention to your feelings, since—in the early stages—most of your feelings will steer you off a cliff like a GPS for lemmings.

We require the same disciplined perseverance to begin, also. The first words will rarely be your best, and the fear of bad writing often keeps writers from the initial click on the keys. But writing is a like jumping into a cold lake: You squirm less once you’re all in.

In my case, I know I’m in trouble once the ideas begin to gush from my mind and onto the screen. I don’t try and interrupt the flow, but I know the next 24 hours will likely involve head-shaking, smirking and self-recrimination. Easy means effortless, and good writing is never easy, just as good abs do not result from doughnuts and naps in the afternoon. You may be able to relate, knowing the more the writing flows in the first draft, the more you’ll have to trim it back during revisions.

Revisions are not only essential for clarity and concision, but for argumentation. That which interests us is only interesting to the audience if there’s a payoff. Most people don’t spend their afternoons reading 4th-century African theology. In order for any writing to gain traction, both the reader and the writer have to answer the all-important question, “So what?” The book, after all, is for the audience. In my case, I’m not writing to exorcise demons, but to share about how you, too, can get your demons looking great in a bikini by summer. Your reasons for writing, though probably not like mine, should be obvious and transparent to the reader.

Your work is not the best work on any topic, but it is yours. I knowI’ll never be on a shelf with Meister Eckhart, Athanasius, or Jacques Ellul, but my mission isn’t to compete with the greats. I translate great theology for everyday use. The translation is mine—my voice, my take, my slant—and it’s the only thing I have to offer. In your own writing, be less concerned with greatness and more concerned with faithfulness—to your beliefs and idiosyncrasies—in order to give yourself to your readers.

Finally, I realized not only has publishing changed, but reading has, too. We need shorter chapters, earlier payoffs and more memorable axioms to keep people turning the page. Every story is comprised of smaller tales; every tome is a hundred pamphlets; every dissertation is a dozen arguments working together to make one point. When we forget this, people put down our work and are either dismissive or angry that they wasted 10 bucks.

That’s right—10 bucks. Our therapist-employing, dotage-initiating, profanity-inventing work of desperate passion isn’t worth nine cents an hour. And how do I know this? Because, as my friends are fond of saying, “There isn’t another pastor on the planet that puts out like you do,” and this is the first time you’re seeing my name.

I’ve learned buckets of truth over the last six years, growing so tired of recounting inadequacies to my minister that I became one. I consider it essential training for the future, as I’m only beginning my career as a writer. You may not be ready to dive in like I did, but I still hope you benefit from hearing my confession.

To read the full feature “Plan Your Own Write-a-Thon: 30 Tips, Resources & Strategies for Writing a Book in 30 Days,” plus other articles to help you complete a book in a month, check out the full November/December 2014 Writer’s Digest now.

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22. Poetry Blogger’s Collection Becomes a Bestseller

chaser of the lightTyler Knott Gregson’s new poetry anthology has become a bestseller. The collection, entitled Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series, has appeared on the hardcover nonfiction lists at The Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal.

Gregson regularly posts pieces for the “Daily Haiku on Love” series and the “Typewriter Series” on his blog. The book features poems exclusively from the ”Typewriter Series.” Since launching his blog , Gregson has amassed 259,000 followers on Tumblr, 184,000 followers on Instagram, and 31,000 followers on Twitter.

Here’s more from The Wall Street Journal: “According to the publisher, there are 50,000 copies in print, with more in the works. Soon, the book will be sold at the women’s clothing chain, Anthropologie. The author’s social-media audience—heavily skewed toward young women—was important for Perigee, which last published a book of poetry four decades ago.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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23. Getting Uncomfortable With Your Personal Professional Development Plan

When I went to library school a few decades ago, we learned that in order to provide high-quality library service to youth it was imperative to read library professional literature and attend library related local, regional, state, and national conferences. Today, I’d say, that while it’s possible to provide good library services to teens by focusing one’s personal professional development on the library world, to provide great service to a wide-variety of teens from a wide-variety of demographics it’s imperative to move outside of the library silo. This idea is summed up really well in a recent Twitter exchange.

The conversation took place after @mlhartman attended a TedXEd event (#TEDxBvilleED) and was able to participate in presentations and conversations that included a variety of people involved in the education world (I highly recommend reading the #TEDxBvilleED stream of Tweets as they are quite educational and inspiring.)

If you think about it, getting out of the library silo for professional development is really another way of learning about the community. If you are only hearing from the librarian perspective what is going on in your community, then you aren’t really engaging with the people that you need to serve. It’s the same thing with continuous learning and professional development. If you only talk with people just like you, then you aren’t learning what you need to know in order to serve those that have different ideas than you and your library friends and colleagues do.

It’s possible that part of the reason lots of librarians focus on library related professional development is that there is a comfort factor in reading library literature and going to library conferences. It’s a world that you (and I) know pretty well. It’s a world where you speak the same language as those presenting and writing. But, that’s actually why it’s important to move beyond and start seeking out opportunities that force you out of your learning comfort zone. And, I’d even suggest, that when you are uncomfortable learning entirely new things, ideas will be born that otherwise would never have surfaced.

Now, I’m not saying that you should give up library related professional development entirely, and you might actually want to start in your uncomfortable journey learning about library-related topics that you might think you don’t need to know about, or aren’t interested in. For example, if you tend to focus on YA literature enroll in a YALSA webinar on teens and tech. Or, if you have a very tech focused approach to teen services, register for the YALSA YA Lit Symposium or participate in a YALSA webinar that it YA lit focused.

Beyond that, seek out opportunities to connect digitally and face-to-face with those outside of your library community. Find a TedX event or take a class at a maker space in your area. Follow people and organizations on Twitter that have nothing to do with what you tend to focus on in your library services to teens. Read about educational trends that go beyond Common Core. Try a conference that is not sponsored by a library organization.

There are a lot of opportunities to learn about the best ways to serve teens in 2014 and beyond. Be creative and think outside of the library professional development box. By doing that you’ll expand your opportunities to provide great services to teens and their families in your community.

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24. Blueberry Oatmeal Cobbler

Gluten Free Blueberry Cobbler

Hello readers! I’m sorry to have been M.I.A. I’ve been writing and sewing and all that good stuff, and hopefully I can share more about that soon.

In the meantime, here’s a dessert I made recently that was a big hit.

I like to go to pick-your-own farms, especially for apples, but since we couldn’t find a functioning apple farm, we went blueberry picking while in Western North Carolina over Labor Day. It was the end of the season—-slim pickin’s for sure—but still, the berries were delicious. We found the berry patch tucked in the hills. It had just rained, but the sun had come out, and though wet, it was such a gorgeous little spot.

I had planned to make a gluten-free blueberry pie from this book, but I ran out of energy for crust-making and just made the filling along with a half recipe of baked oatmeal. I then combined the two, and voila—blueberry cobbler sans gluten.

It had almost more of a pudding/ cake-like texture that was really lovely. The filling has the most surprising and wonderful secret ingredient: grated Granny Smith apple. Filling recipe here. At the time I actually didn’t have the tapioca, and it worked fine without it.

Baked oatmeal recipe here. I used gluten-free oats, halved the recipe, added some extra liquid, and did not soak overnight since I was in a hurry. When it was cooked, I roughly layered the still-warm filling with the baked oatmeal and baked (350, maybe?) until bubbly—not that long, maybe 10 minutes, tops.

Have you been reading anything good lately? I’ve been on such a memoir and nonfiction kick that I’m a bit worn out from it and have just started a novel called The Lonely Polygamist. So far, it’s hilarious.

On TV, loving the BBC’s Foyle’s War (WWII murder mystery) via netflix, and Borgen on DVD. Borgen is a Danish political drama featuring a female prime minister. Very smart and engaging, though it’s impossible to multitask while watching (due to subtitles and fast pacing).

Found a new podcast for writers: Narrative Breakdown with Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein. Really good, meaty stuff. Also found a mention of my easy reader, Slowpoke, in Books that Teach Kids How to Write by Marianne Saccardi. The author uses Slowpoke as an example showing kids how to slow down and notice the details they need to enrich their writing. Fun, eh? I’m honored.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a couple of quilts, but they’re slow-going. Nothing exciting to report. What’s new with you?

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25. Making Math Fun

Getting kids excited about math can be a challenge.   Because there are expected to be more than eight million STEM jobs in the United States by 2018, math skills are becoming more and more important for today’s student. If today’s student lacks math skills, three million of tomorrow’s jobs may go unfilled.

MathStart is an award-winning series filled with visual representations of math concepts through light-hearted, kid-inspired stories.  Vetted by a team of math teachers, MathStart makes math skills for kids ages three to seven interesting by showing young characters using math in everyday experiences.  Plus, each book comes with teaching tools and activity suggestions for educators.

To inspire kids to enjoy math and to meet the challenge of creating a strong workforce for the future, First Book teamed up with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) to bring this collection of books to the First Book Marketplace.

The First Book Marketplace now carries two books from each level of the series:

Jack the Builder ThumbJack the Builder (Age 3+):  Jack uses his imagination and all shapes and colors of his blocks to create different creatures and objects teaching kids beginning number operations and counting.


Just Enough Carrots ThumbJust Enough Carrots (Age 3+): Join young rabbit at the supermarket to compare what items each character is buying and learn about addition, subtraction, “more,” “fewer” and “the same.”


Elevator Magic ThumbElevator Magic (Age 6+) :  Brian rides the elevator at his mother’s work and discovers new things on each floor.  Along the way kids learn the number line and subtraction.



Tally O'Malley ThumbTally O’Malley (Age 6+):  On a family vacation the O’Malleys start a tallying competition to pass the time, teaching kids how to keep track of numbers as they count.


Lemonade for Sale ThumbLemonade for Sale (Age 7+):  The member’s of Elm Street Kids’ club decide to sell lemonade to raise money to fix their clubhouse, tracking their business on a bar graph.  Kids learn gathering data, charting and comparing results.


Shark Swimathon ThumbShark Swim-A-Thon (Age 7+):  This fun story about a team of sharks swimming laps to raise funds for camp helps reinforce the skill of two-digit subtraction.


Do you work with kids in need?  Sign Up with First Book today to gain access to this great math series.

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