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1. Don't Go

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline - 
Although I felt that this one started slower and made it more difficult to stay involved - it ended strong! I came away surprised and shocked - and it felt resolved....great read! Scottoline has the ability to keep you on your toes while you read and take you for a great ride. This is the story of Mike, an army doctor serving in Afghanistan, who comes home to find his wife, Chloe, dead. His life and baby daughter are almost too much for him to bear. He is on a mission to find out how his wife died and becomes even more entrenched in the mystery when his wife's best friend is killed. It is at this point that his sister and brother-in-law try to get full custody of his baby daughter, Emily which becomes a large court case. Mike has to come to terms with the loss of an arm and, seemingly, his entire life as he knows it as he deals with the challenges in his life.


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2. Naomi Rosenblatt

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3. BEA Reveals Authors & Books For Buzz Forums

Book Expo America has revealed the authors and books that will be featured on the Editors’ Buzz Forums at this year’s event.

Three separate committees which included booksellers, librarians and other industry professionals selected the titles. It took about two and a half months to come up with the titles.

We’ve got the entire list after the jump.

ADULT EDITORS’ BUZZ ‘15 BEA Adult Editors’ Buzz
Wednesday, May 27
4:15 pm – 5:30 pm
Room 1E12/1E13/1E14BEA Editors’ Buzz Adult Books – Author Stage
Thursday, May 28
10:00 am – 10:45 am
Downtown Stage

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Home is Burning by Dan Marshall
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: October 20, 2015

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Publisher: Scout Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2015

The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: October 27, 2015 YOUNG ADULT (YA) EDITORS’ BUZZ ‘15 BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz
Thursday, May 28
10:00 am – 10:50 am
Room 1E12/1E13BEA Young Adult Editors’ Buzz – Author Stage
Friday, May 29
10:00 am – 10:30 am
Uptown Stage

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 13, 2015

The Death And Life Of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At The Edge Of Empire by Daniel Kraus
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 25, 2015

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 5, 2016 MIDDLE GRADE EDITORS’ BUZZ ‘15 BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz
Friday, May 29
11:00 am – 11:50 am
Room 1E12/1E13BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz – Author Stage
Friday, May 29
1:00 am – 1:30 am
Uptown Stage

George by Alex Gino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: September 29, 2015

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 29, 2015

The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB by Adam Shaughnessy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 8, 2015

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 15, 2015

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4. New Nook App For Android

NOOK has unveiled a new Reading App for Android users, specifically designed with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK in mind.

The 4.0 edition of the app features a new designed home screen along with updated navigation that mass it easier to browse books. An update algorithm makes it easier to search for titles and helps facilitate discovery based on a reader’s prior searches and purchase.

To promote downloads, NOOK is giving away a free $5 credit to new customers that download the app and set up an account.

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5. Home is where the heart is...

Houses don't come in one shape or size. The mole lives underground, the seal lives in the ocean and the  deer and fox live in the meadow. 

These are illustrations from Pitter and Patter written by Martha Sullivan, published by Dawn Publishing and illustrated by me, Cathy Morrison. It's one of their new spring releases. 

Welcome Home and Happy Spring!

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6. The Red Paper: Canids

  The Red Paper: CANIDS
202 Pages
Profusely illustrated and with many rare photographs not seen since the 19th century
Price: £20.00
The Red Paper: Canids Up-dated 2011 edition includes section on sarcoptic mange in foxes and treatment plus a list of wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centres in the UK. 
By the 1700s the British fox was on the verge of extinction and about to follow the bear and wolf having been hunted for sport for centuries. The answer was to import thousands of foxes per year for sport. But foxes kept dying out so jackals were tried. Some were caught, some escaped. 
Even wolves and coyote were released for hunting. The summation of over 30 years research reveals the damnable lie of "pest control" hunting but also reveals the cruelty the animals were subject to and how private menageries as well as travelling shows helped provide the British and Irish countryside with some incredible events. 
The Girt Dog of Ennerdale is also dealt with in detail. 
With the debate on the reinstatement of fox-hunting getting hotter as we draw closer to the UK general election and the Conservative Party promise to bring it back do not be misinformed!  This book is the culmination of work begun in 1977 and draws on books published by fox hunting experts and giving an insight into their practices before it all really did go "underground". There are also -all fully referenced- accounts of the importing of foxes by the thousands into the UK specifically to "keep the sport alive".
But this was not written or intended as an anti-fox hunt book.  The data is presented as found.
There is also a look at the history of wolves in Europe and how their reputation for being ferocious predators came about -particularly in France during severe Winters in the 19th century.  
Coyotes, arctic foxes and jackals, amongst others, lived and bred in the UK and in some areas became so common that there were bounties for jackal heads.  Menageries escapees is the usual solution to "how they got here" but the main blame is, again, mainly with local fox hunt groups even a wolf was due to be released in Devon for a hunt until protest from local farmers and live-stock owners stopped it.  And Coyotes living in Epping Forest until the 1940s....

And there is more. The "Girt Dog of Ennerdale" has been identified by, amongst others, Cryptozoologists as a tiger or a Thylacine.  The actual TRUTH is revealed in this work by doing something others have not: going directly to the source!

With one veteran naturalist calling this work "explosive" can you resist buying a copy?

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7. Leonardo DiCaprio to Star in The Crowded Room Film Adaptation

Leonardo DiCaprioLeonardo DiCaprio will play Billy Milligan in The Crowded Room movie.

This film adaptation will be based on Daniel Keyes’ 1981 nonfiction title, The Minds of Billy Milligan. Milligan gained notoriety for being the first person to gain an acquittal by using multiple personality disorder as a defense.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “DiCaprio has been interested in playing him stretching back to 1997.” In addition to his acting role, The Wolf of Wall Street star (pictured, via) will also serve as a producer. Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg have come on board as the screenwriters. (via The Huffington Post)

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8. 2015 SCBWI Europolitan Con: Agent Marietta Zacker

By Elisabeth Norton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations 

Marietta Zacker is an agent at Nancy Galt Literary Agency.

Marietta has experienced children’s books from every angle – teaching, marketing, publishing and bookselling.

She thrives on working with authors who make readers feel their characters’ emotions and illustrators who add a different dimension to the story.

Some of the books she is championing in 2015 include The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt (Scholastic), Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton (Simon & Schuster), Just a Duck? by Carin Bramsen (Random House), The Struggles of Johnny Cannon by Isaiah Campbell (Simon & Schuster), Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin (Simon & Schuster), Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan (Hyperion).

Among other things, she is a proud Latina and the Agent Liaison for the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Marietta is active on Twitter under the name @AgentZacker

She is interviewed on Cynsations today by Elisabeth Norton for SCBWI Europolitan conference

At Europolitan, you'll be presenting "Finding Seeds of Gold" and you will present about how to determine if your work is ready to submit. From your point of view as an agent, are most of the submissions you receive "ready?" What would you say is the biggest difference between the submissions you see that are "ready" vs. those that are not?

I believe that most people truly believe that they are ready to submit when they do, but one of the questions I typically suggest writers and artists ask themselves is: “If someone were to offer to publish this text or illustration tomorrow, would I be proud of seeing it ‘as is’ on the pages of a book?”

Since essentially eradicating the need to print submissions in order to take to the post office, many send queries via e-mail to ‘test’ whether or not their work is good enough.

It’s true, the business is subjective and we have all passed on projects that went on to get published, but we read too many queries and can usually see, feel and read right through queries that, even if technically masterful, are missing the heart and the essence of the storytelling. And so we pass.

I highly recommend printing your work and holding it in your hands (whether it’s text or an illustration). It makes it more official, it’s tougher to convince yourself that it’s ready to go when it’s not, it also allows you to see the work in ways you never have before.

Hit PRINT first, review it, let it sit, review it again.

If you would be proud to see it published ‘as is’ the very next day, then go ahead and click SEND.

You'll also be leading a session about "How and Why Characters Bloom" with a discussion of "character-driven" projects. Does "character-driven" mean "not action packed?" Would you say that "character-driven" projects are "quiet" projects? Where do "character-driven" projects fit in to today's market landscape?

You’ll have to come to Amsterdam to get most of these answers.

In all seriousness, though, the key to remember is that there is no magic bullet. One description does not negate the other, nor should anyone feel that their work must be described in one singular way.

Ideally, there are multiple layers within each project and a variety of ways to describe any story. I firmly believe that the stories that resonate most with readers are ones that are as complex, as diverse and as multi-layered as the children and young adults who made the choice to keep the book open and continue to read and explore.

The theme of Europolitan 2015 is "Creativity in Bloom: Growing Beyond Boundaries," and we will be exploring the topic of diversity in children's literature. Some authors express reservations about writing diverse characters because they themselves are not a member of the same community or group that their character is. They fear backlash if, despite their best attempts at research and having proof-readers from the represented community, they get something "wrong."

Do you have any thoughts as an agent for writers who may be anxious about getting diversity "wrong" in their project? 

You have to be humble, you have to be willing to learn, you have to be empathetic. You wouldn’t want someone writing an account of your life without getting to know you very well first, understanding the depth of the life you’ve lived, attempting to walk in your shoes and comprehending how you felt during key moments.

The same applies when writing about someone or a group of people whose life or lives you have not lived.

It’s not about getting the facts right (or certainly, what you believe to be the facts). It’s about scratching deep beneath the surface and understanding the things that links us as beings on this planet – the feelings and emotions that make us each individuals, the way we are affected by being de facto members of any one group.

Understanding that this world is diverse and believing that this makes the world a better place is simply not enough to include characters whose experiences are different from yours.

Being willing to empathize with others is the first step.

 Again, we’ll talk more in Amsterdam.

Cynsational Notes

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

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

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

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9. Babies, BaBieS, BABIES!

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10. A Word on Submissions

I know not every agent works this way, not even in our office, but I want to put it out there that if I send you a helpful rejection I am alway happy to see the material again should you make dramatic changes based on my suggestions.

In fact, my guess would be that most agents would rather see a query again than hear later how the book sold, with another agent, because on the suggestions she made.

So even if I fail to ask you send the book to me again, the door tends to be open. Because I hate to lose out on something I liked enough to give advise on.


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11. Eating Your Homework is as Easy as Pi!

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Humdrum or delicious? When students eat their homework, the classroom suddenly turns from tedious to oh-so-tasty. Get ready to serve up some yummy new fun—while discovering and learning about math and science.

Psst, did you remember that Pi Day is March 14? It’s time to divvy up some Variable Pizza Pi. Look up the recipe for this constant crowd-pleaser in Eat Your Math Homework, and get set for variable excitement—quite a lot . . . or mega.

Never mind the constants (the crust and the sauce), here’s your chance to add your own variables: toppings such as pepperoni, green pepper, or pineapple chunks. And we’re not done yet! Measure the circumference and determine the diameter of the pizza. This will help you pinpoint pi, that amazingly endless decimal number that starts 3.1415926 . . . (pi = circumference divided by diameter)

What about in the classroom? How about switching things up a bit with this yummy classroom adaptation? Share circle shaped cookies (Yes, the cookie itself and the icing are the constants). Have students decorate each cookie with variables such as chocolate chips, raisins, or colored marshmallows. Figure out the circumference and diameter of one cookie (Hint: To measure the circumference, use a piece of string. Place the string around the rim of the cookie. Cut or mark the string to match the size of the cookie’s circumference. Straighten this measured string and find its length using a ruler).

When students find the circumference divided by the diameter, it’s easy as pie to calculate pi. Was the answer close to 3.14? Why wasn’t it exact? What else can you find out about pi?

And now here’s another tasty tidbit. Let’s face it, all science lessons are not created equal. Neither are rocks. In fact, there are three basic categories of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. Heat and pressure cause metamorphic rocks to morph, or change form. Igneous rocks form from cooled liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface. And sedimentary, well, think of a lasagna—when layers of sediment press against each other, the layers meld together.

Speaking of lasagna, check out the recipe for Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna from Eat Your Science Homework . . . Yum!

. . . Or whip up some classroom friendly Sedimentary Sandwiches instead. Use 3 or 4 layers of bread (or crackers) and your favorite sandwich fixings to build a rock solid masterpiece. Bite in—and don’t worry about chipping a tooth!

For more on how to turn your classroom into a banquet of learning, please check out Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your Math Homework from Charlesbridge Publishing.

Your constant math and science pals, 

Ann and Leeza

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12. “Great resource for writing compelling stories”

Mastering front 100WshadowA new review from Amazon for my new Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling:

5 stars A Must Read

"Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling" is the only writing book -- and I own quite a few -- that I've highlighted. Concepts that I've struggled to understand make more sense, and my writing strengths are further improved. The section on "weak, wasted, and wrong words" is one of the many sections to reread when writing/rewriting a novel, short story, or any prose.

"This is now my go-to book when I'm writing or rewriting a story.

"Story/plot has always been something I struggled with, as far as understanding how to construct a good one. This book has been a big "aha" for me and was, within the first handful of pages, improving my storytelling.

"Definitely a must read for writers of all experience levels."

Signed paperbacks are available on my website (discounted price, free shipping), both Kindle and the paperback are available on Amazon.com.

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13. BOBBEE BEE: From the 4 Corners of the World: The Legacy of Dean Smith


"There is not one single thing I could ever tell you about Dean Smith that would do that man justice.” -John Thompson

NORTH CAROLINA-(BASN)-I am going to upset some people with this article.

But, I have to keep it real.
Therefore, for those die-hard Carolina fans, I am not a devil-worshipper, which means, I am not a Duke Blue Devils fan.

With that said, first and foremost, I would like to give my condolences to the Smith family during their time of loss and grief, along with all of the athletes, who Dean Smith coached in the past, as well as his extended Carolina Blue family.

deansxTruly, without argument, Coach Smith has had a great impact on college basketball and the way the game is played.

However, despite Smith’s unlimited wisdom and wins, which in his legendary career, totaled 879, along with 13 ACC Championships, he did not, I repeat, did not create the “four corners.”
Sorry Tar Heel fans…

But, I won’t allow this lie to linger on even in death, especially during Black History Month.

Why? Because, as the Adolph Hitler stated, ‘If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.’

So, therefore, let me nip this in the bud, now…before another generation of ballers, are misled by the mainstream media, like NBC’s News anchor Brian Williams did this week, with his claims of being forced down by snipers, while flying in a helicopter in Iraq?
dean4Honestly, point blank period,  the real inventor of the “four corners” offense was Dr.John McLendon, who coached at North Carolina College (North Carolina Central) in Durham from 1941 to 1952.

Yes, despite, what ESPN is reporting, Coach McLendon pioneered basketball’s full court game, using such strategies as the full court press, the full court zone (now known as the zone press), the open center of­fense whose variants include the “four corners,” the rotating pivot, and the double-pivot, according to www.nccueaglepride.com.

I suggest that all of you non-believers, who adorn Carolina Blue to watch the film “Black Magic,” which is a remarkable four-hour documentary directed by Dan Klores and produced by Earl Monroe, Libby Geist and David Zieff, which oddly enough aired on ESPN.

dean3And, even though, I respect Smith  for being the first coach to desire to integrate ACC Basketball, by recruiting Charlie Scott in 1966, when the University of Chapel Hill was as racist as any other southern school in the south, in order to collect a lot of wins and establish UNC as an economic and athletic powerhouse.

I, however, feel terrible that with Scott becoming the first African-American scholarship player at North Carolina, recruited by Dean Smith, that other top-notched Black athletes followed his lead, which literally destroyed Historical Black Colleges and Universities leverage to recruit them.

The Legendary Coach Clarence “BigHouse” Gaines’s, who coached basketball at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) from 1946 to 1993, where he compiled up 828 wins, eight CIAA titles, and one Division II NCAA Championship 1967, which made the Rams the first basketball program from a historically Black college or university to capture an NCAA national championship, wife Clara Gaines, seemed to have agreed with me when she said,“In the end we just all wish that integration hadn’t taken place. Because it did change things.”

Yes, with Black athletes like Scott going to UNC, with the help of Smith, college basketball did change, whether for the better or the worse, depending on your vintage point.

Honestly, in my opinion, it was a freshman from Laney High School in Wilmington, N.C. named Michael Jordan, who made Smith a household name in 1982.
This, however, is debatable, like which came first, the chicken or the egg, on whether Dean Smith made Michael Jordan, or Michael Jordan made Dean Smith.

“He was more than a coach,” Jordan said in a statement. “He was my mentor, my teacher, my second father.”

dennisxDespite coaching NBA Hall-of-Fame players like Michael Jordan, Bob McAdoo, James Worthy, and Billy Cunningham, Smith was only able to mustard up two NCAA Titles, which, in my opinion, were by default.

I am not hating.

I know, a win is a win.

But, let’s remember, the 1982, UNC Championship victory came at the hand of Georgetown point guard Fred Brown, who blindly tossed the ball to James Worthy in the closing seconds.

dennis8Plus, let’s not forget, UNC’s 1993 NCAA title win against Michigan, when FAB-5′s Chris Webber made his infamous timeout-with no timeouts.

My point is, if it wasn’t for these two odd plays, Smith would have gone title-less, despite all of his alleged basketball brilliance.

Therefore, maybe the headline that read, “Smith was a better man than coach..,”  is true after all.
I am just saying…..

Rest in Peace Coach Smith.

May your spirit live on, in the Dean Dome, in North Carolina, and  around the “four corners of the world,” thanks to Dr..John McLendon.

Eric D. Graham, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, where he earned a B.A. in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio and Television and a minor in History, with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is currently the Managing Editor of BASN, where his thought-provoking articles appear on a daily basis. To contact him e-mail at lbiass34@yahoo.com

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14. In His Cups - Collected Tales from Gimbley

Phil Elliott
Black & white
A5 (Digest)184 Page
Price: £7.95
In His Cups is a complete collection of Phil Elliott’s comic strip, Tales from Gimbley featuring the eponymous everyman, Dave Gimbley. Gimbley recounts tales from his youth including his one-night stand with the Mona Lisa; a fight to the death with a sumo wrestler; deconstructing a de stijl chair; being an integral member of a Performance Art piece; meeting the Holy Man and many other surreal, humorous and often poignant adventures. 
 Eek.  I told someone that I reviewed this book back around Christmas.  I did.  It was quite a longish review.  Person gets back to me:"I can't find it -are you sure?"  Well, of course I was sure because I had to make a couple corrections and post the link to my Yahoo groups....I've searched.  It is gone.  As are a couple other reviews.  I love Blogger at times!
 Elliott, of course, drew the excellent Second City for Harrier Comics back in the 1980s.
I cannot remember what I wrote, of course, I'm lucky if I remember to change my pants.  This book collects over 30 years worth of strip-work and it's interesting to see the change in styles and mediums Elliott used.  

Believe me, you want to try to track down and buy the publications featuring the strip -give up.  Go look for the Golden Fleece.  That or buy this book which is easier and will give you a fun read!

Support Independent talent.

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15. Advice to Academy Award Winners: Trust Your Art

The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

Try Book 1 for Free

As I watched the Academy Awards last week, I was struck by how little the winners trusted their works of art. The ceremony was peppered with political statements for one cause or another. (Don’t misread: I have sympathies for these causes, but not for taking over the ceremony to smash us over the head with the cause.) There were pleas for women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, and disability rights. Really? Their work of art, the film that was being recognized, had already said what needed to be said in poignant, touching, and life-changing ways. Why didn’t they trust their art?

In the 1970s, children’s book publishers put out a lot of “problem novels,” which addressed social issues. The backlash against them was huge and still has echoes today in how easily some manuscripts are rejected. Since then, though, we’ve learned how to include our passions in our stories in ways that shine as art. We don’t stick it in our reader’s faces.

Bringing a Cause to Life

Morality. If you’re passionate about a cause, though, what should you do? First set up a moral dilemma around the cause because that will allow you to explore multiple perspectives. Moral dilemmas force characters to make a choice, which allows your readers to feel the weight of the issues and either agree or disagree with the character’s choices. You almost have to include someone making wrong choices–usually as the villain.

S&B COVER3-CS.inddEmotions. For example, in my book, Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale, Saucy runs away from an alcoholic step-mother. She must decide whether to live with an aunt or go home to live with her father and the step-mother. It’s a moral choice, but also an emotional choice, complicated by the question of where will her little brother go.

Sometimes you have to help yourself before you can help someone else, but if you mark your trail, you can always find your way home. That’s what the spunky main character of Darcy Pattison’s Saucy and Bubba learns in this modern day Hansel and Gretel tale. Saucy is a real character dealing with real stuff—hard stuff that doesn’t have easy answers, not in real life and not in fairy tales, either. This is a really compelling and ultimately hopeful story. Highly recommended.
— Debby Dahl Edwardson, National Book Award finalist
and author of My Name is Not Easy

Plurality. We live in a pluralistic culture; that is, many different cultures co-exist peacefully, and our work should respect that variety of cultures. Your ideas must compete in the marketplace of ideas and as time passes, certain ideas will gain popularity and others will fade. Yes, there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong; I believe in some absolutes (Thou shalt not kill!). But some things DO depend. As you write, recognize the variety of ideas possible and work to include characters who bring those ideas to enrich the story you are telling.

Trust your art. In the end, I choose to trust my art. Growing up, I had an alcoholic step-father; today, about 11 million children live with a caregiver who is an alcoholic. I could rant; instead, let me tell you a story. Read a sample chapter or listen to the audio of Chapter 1 of Saucy and Bubba.

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16. Shark and Lobster - a diary sketch book of character development work

One of my first books was Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure - a tale of Shark, who is afraid of Tigers, and his best friend Lobster.
It was very hard to write - I had already written one draft years before when I was still in school, and now I had to learn how to rewrite and edit and make a picture book story of it.
One thing I did then, which I've kept up since, is make a diary for my characters to see what they got up to and who they actually were.
I did find out a lot about Shark and Lobster this way, almost none of it made it into the book, but that's not the point of character development work.

I thought it would be nice to stick it on my blog so that you can see how I work (or how I worked when I was starting out in 2001 - I've gone lest wistful over the years, but my approach is still very similar).
Here you go!

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17. A Magic Show on paper & screen

This was fun to see the comparison between the computer screen outcome and the printed page outcome. It really is like magic that the two technologies are almost identical - even allowing for the different lighting conditions.

Lucky for me it's the innate charm of the concept and design along with the talent of drawing that makes the difference in any image... so that a robot can't do it.

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18. HBO Seeks Submissions For Writing Fellowships

HBO logoHBO seeks candidates for the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship.

Beginning on March 4th, “emerging writers from diverse backgrounds” can upload a resume, a writing sample, a completed release form, and an essay (500 words or less) “explaining how his/her background has influenced his/her storytelling.” Throughout the months of May and June, applicants will be chosen to take part in a series of interviews. Eight writers will earn a spot in this program.

According to IndieWire, those who are selected will take part in a week of master classes at the company’s Santa Monica campus. These fellows will study story development, pitching ideas, securing an agent, and networking. From there, “each participant will then enter into an 8-month writing phase where he/she will be paired with an HBO development executive and guided through the script development process. At the conclusion of the program, HBO will hold a reception and staged reading for industry professionals where the writers will be introduced to the entertainment industry.” Follow this link to learn more about the rules and details.

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19. KidLit Author Events March 3-10


There is so much going on this week, with visits from NYT Bestselling authors, two authors visiting from Austin and a debut for Houston YA author, Becky Wallace. Congratulations, Becky! Thanks to Blue Willow Bookshop for hosting so many of these great events!

Please remember to check the bookstore’s website for the most accurate information.

March 5, Thursday, 5:00 PM ISLAND OF SHIPWRECKS
Blue Willow Bookshop
Lisa McMann

Lisa McMann will discuss and sign her novel ISLAND OF SHIPWRECKS, the newest book in THE UNWANTEDS series. In book five of the series, Alex and his friends from Artime are stranded on a newly discovered island after barely surviving a storm that destroys their ship. And it turns out they’re not alone…

Back in Quill, Aaron’s power base grows as he aligns himself with an unlikely ally. Together, the two enact a drastic, risky plan to finally conquer Artime—a plan that could ultimately leave everyone in both Artime and Quill in far more danger than Aaron realizes.

March 5, Thursday, 7:00 PMUnchanged by Jessica Brody
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jessica Brody, YA Author

Popular YA Author Jessica Brody will discuss and sign her novel UNCHANGED, the final book in the UNREMEMBERED series. After returning to the Diotech compound and undergoing an experimental new memory alteration, Seraphina is now a loyal, obedient servant to Dr. Alixter and the powerful company that created her. Happy and in love with Kaelen, another scientifically-enhanced human designed to be her perfect match, Sera’s history with a boy named Zen is just a distant memory from a rebellious past she longs to forget. But as Sera and Kaelen embark on a nationwide tour to promote Diotech’s new product line—a collection of controversial genetic modifications available to the public—Sera’s mind starts to rebel. She can’t stop the memories of Zen from creeping back in. As more secrets are revealed, more enemies are uncovered, and the reality of a Diotech-controlled world grows closer every day, Sera will have to choose where her true loyalties lie, but it’s a choice that may cost her everything she’s ever loved.

KREMLIN KERFUFFLEMarch 6, Friday, 4:00 PM; March 7, Saturday, 10:00 AM; March 8, Sunday, 10:00 AM
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
George Arnold, Children’s Author

George Arnold’s seventh installment in the CIA Cats Adventure series, KREMLIN KERFUFFLE: KOSHKI OF THE CIA, finds our heroes Buzzer Louis, Cincinnati the dancing pig, Dusty Louise, and the kitten twins—Luigi and Luisa in the process of tracking down the smuggler panda Ar-Chee and learning to speak considerable Russian. This book is illustrated by Jason Eckhardt. Russian translator is Oksana Stotska-Day.

March 7, Saturday, 2:00 PMTHE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace
Blue Willow Bookshop
Becky Wallace, YA Author

Becky Wallace will discuss and sign her debut novel THE STORY SPINNER, the first book in THE KEEPER’S CHRONICLES series for young adults. In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. Expelled from her Performers troupe after her father’s death, Johanna Von Arlo is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure. The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

March 10, Tuesday, 5:00 PM COLONIAL MADNESS by Jo Whittmore
Blue Willow Bookshop
2 MG Authors: Blast from the Past Tour

It’s the Blast from the Past tour! Middle Grade authors Jo Whittemore, COLONIAL MADNESS, and Cory Putnam Oakes, DINOSAUR BOY, will meet and greet customers.

In COLONIAL MADNESS, Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it’s awesome. Not many girls have a mom who’d take them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world’s biggest sundae. But sometimes Tori wishes her mom would act a little more her age. Thanks to her mom’s poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in a bizarre contest put on by an eccentric relative: Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family’s colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period. Tori thinks it’s the perfect answer to their debt problems, but she and her mom aren’t the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor—and it doesn’t help that Mom doesn’t seem to be taking the contest seriously. Do they stand a chance?

Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman OakesIn DINOSAUR BOY, it isn’t a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus. Despite the Principal’s Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka “Gigantor” and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved-until he discovers a secret about the principal that’s more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate…and it’s up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue the day.



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20. Folger Shakespeare Library Selects Sites For First Folio Traveling Tour

shakespeareHave you ever seen one of William Shakespeare’s First Folios? To honor the 400th anniversary of The Bard’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library will launch a traveling tour of these precious books.

A First Folio will be loaned out for displays in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Click here to view the full list of sites that will host this exhibit.

Here’s more from The Washington Post: “The express purpose of this program is to reach an audience beyond scholars — or billionaire collectors like Paul Allen, who bought a First Folio in 2001 for more than $6 million…Already two years in the making, the 2016 exhibit is a complex collaboration with the American Library Association and Cincinnati Museum Center, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

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21. Artist :: Kate Forrester

Post by JeanineKateForrester_IF_01



I fell completely in love with the gorgeous work of illustrator and hand-lettering artist Kate Forrester as soon as I stumbled upon it. Her striking and versatile style has earned her an extensive list of international clients and diverse projects, including book jackets, packaging, greeting cards, advertisements, billboards, and much more. Kate combines dynamic hand-lettering with lovely illustrations to create flowing, organic images and often explores new & exciting mediums including wood, chocolates, tattoos, laser-cut paper illustrations—and even wedding cake!

Kate is based in the UK and her impressive list of clients includes Tiffany NYC, Victoria’s Secret, Random House, Penguin Books, Crate and Barrel, The Guardian, Little Brown, Walker Books, Moonstruck Chocolates and many more.

See more of Kate’s work here: Portfolio | Blog


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22. Stephen King Story Hits The New Yorker

Author Stephen King has released a new short story in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

The story is called “A Death”. Here is an excerpt:

Jim Trusdale had a shack on the west side of his father’s gone-to-seed ranch, and that was where he was when Sheriff Barclay and half a dozen deputized townsmen found him, sitting in the one chair by the cold stove, wearing a dirty barn coat and reading an old issue of the Black Hills Pioneer by lantern light. Looking at it, anyway.

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23. From Zine to Picture Book: Greg PizzoliDiscusses the Making of Tricky Vic

Author-illustrator Greg Pizzoli visits 7-Imp this morning to talk about his entertaining new picture book from Viking, Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, on shelves next week — and a book, as you’ll read below, that started its life as a zine. It tells the story of the sly and brilliant con artist Robert Miller, who later became Count Victor Lustig and who is known, as the title tells you, as the “Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower.” It’s a fascinating story with a smart closing Author’s Note from Pizzoli. (“Stay sharp” are his final words to readers.) And he created the art using pencil, ink, rubber stamps, halftone photographs, silkscreen, Zipatone, and Photoshop. Many of the photos in the book come from a Paris trip he took years ago, but then again, you can read a lot more about this below.

Greg has a couple more books coming out this year, but he may actually visit again at a later date to discuss those. Right now, it’s a Tricky Vic kind of morning. Let’s get to it. Grab your coffee and get ready to get conned. I thank him for visiting.

Oh, and by the way: Greg mentions Mac Barnett below, which makes me think of his new book, co-written with Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell and which also happens to be about conning (and practical jokes and all-things-mischief). It’s called The Terrible Two, and it was released in January by Amulet Books. It is very funny. It’s selling well and was recently optioned for a film adaptation, as Travis Jonker noted here. So, you’ve probably heard of it already. If not, I highly recommend it. No joking.

Now, I welcome Greg …

* * *

Greg: Okay. So, Tricky Vic.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower is a nonfiction picture book about the life of one of the world’s greatest con artists [Robert Miller/”Count Victor Lustig”]. His most infamous trick, of course, was selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal, but he also conned Al Capone, escaped from prison by literally tying bedsheets together and climbing out a window, and repeatedly sold “money-printing boxes,” which in reality did nothing at all.

Tricky Vic started back in 2009 when I was in graduate school, studying Book Arts and Printmaking. I had heard the major points of Miller/Lustig’s life and had the idea to make a comic or a zine out of it — but never did. Then I graduated and sort of forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years of working hard at illustration, getting my first book deal (for The Watermelon Seed) and, one day, getting lunch with Mac Barnett. Actually, we went to The Rosenbach Museum and Library here in Philadelphia, which at the time housed the Sendak collection, where we saw Sendak’s pencil sketches for a proposed edition of The Lord of the Rings, among other things.

But after that, we got lunch. And we were talking about nonfiction picture books and why they often seem to fall flat. Mac was at the time working on President Taft is Stuck in the Bath, and I told him my con-artist idea from back in grad school. He told me I had to make it. I said, “I guess I could make a zine.” And he said “MAKE A ZINE!”

A few months later, I made a zine. Here it is:

Greg: “The original zine was about 4×6 inches and 16 pages.”

The University of the Arts, where I went to grad school and where I occasionally teach, has a couple of offset presses. And once a year the Printmaking department offers a class called Book Production, where you make a book in an edition of at least 100 copies. So, the first half of the class you are making book dummies (which some people seem to call “mock-ups,” but which I will always call dummies), and you talk out ideas during critiques and try out different formats. And the second part of the semester you are printing and assembling the books. I had taken this class previously as a student, and my department head was the instructor. She graciously allowed me to audit the course so I could explore Tricky Vic.

Making plates in the offset shop

I was going to illustrate the book in a more “usual for me” kind of way, but the limitations of only being able to print five layers of ink (two colors on one side of the paper and three on the other)—plus having basically three weeks to put the whole thing together, not to mention the approaching deadline of Not Very Scary—forced me to simplify everything. I approached each spread or illustration like it was an editorial assignment and came up with stuff that looked pretty different than my usual kidlit work.

Here are some examples:

Greg: “Stay weird, kids …”
(Click to enlarge)

So, then I put a couple dozen of the zines together (they were all hand-sewn by me) and made little rubber stamps for the envelopes and sent them to kids’ book people I know — and one to my agent Steve. I sold a few on Etsy, too, I think.

Finished two-color print

Assembling zines by hand

Zines were sent out in small envelopes with rubber stamp elements

I really enjoyed making it, but I had no thought that it could be a “real” picture book. It just seemed too weird, too dark, too much about-a-criminal-who-scammed-people-out-of-their-life-savings to work for kids’ books, ya know?

“Zut alors!”

Well, like I said, I sent it to my agent Steve, and he just has an amazing vision for this kind of thing. And before I really even realized what was happening, I had a two-book deal with Viking.

Then came researching, re-writing, more researching, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, and nine months or so later, I had the story at a point where I could start thinking again about pictures.

Incognito Pizzoli

Part of my research process involved going to Paris, and since I had just proposed to my (now) wife, we left for Paris the next day. We stayed in the suburbs with some family friends, who live in a 17th-century converted farmhouse. They live a nice life.

Outside the Gerome household
(Click to enlarge)

Where’s Greg? Outside the Hôtel de Crillon,
which appears in
Tricky Vic
(Click to enlarge)

We went all over Paris doing all the things two newly-engaged people do, especially when one of them is working on a picture book about a guy who sold the Eiffel Tower. I took a ton of photos, and a lot of Paris is in the book — in subtle ways sometimes. For example, this is part of the floor of the Eiffel Tower platform:


It’s also the photo I used to make all of the halftones throughout the book. The gritty texture, this stuff:


Halftone texture made from Parisian textures


Also, this photo. This is the floor of The Louvre.



That shape is used throughout the book. And I don’t expect that anyone would recognize it or—in the case of the halftone grit—even have a chance of knowing, but to me it adds layers to everything. It makes it all more about my experience there, and it feels more (again, to me) like it has more depth than if I hadn’t included those elements.


The Louvre floor shape in action
(Click to enlarge)


The original zine had a huge influence on the look of the final book, and lots of the ideas from the zine came through unscathed to the final. I’m really happy about that in one sense, but I definitely think the final book is a great improvement, largely due to my editors, art director, and friends who helped me along the way. It’s much more considered, but I hope not fussy. I had more time to work on it — the zine took three weeks, and the book took six months. At this point, the zine feels like a sketch for the book that came later. Pictures probably work better than my ramblings. Here are some side-by-side comparisons:

(Click each to enlarge)

One of the things I did for this book’s final art is incorporate rubber stamps. I love rubber stamps. At some point I want to illustrate a whole book with custom-made rubber stamps — but I’m taking it one step at a time.

For Tricky Vic, I drew police cars, limousines, etc. and had a company I’ve been using for years, Simon’s Stamps, make wooden handle rubber stamps for me. It’s a nice way to have something that’s reproducible and quick, but—whereas copying it digitally would be maybe a little lazy and maybe look too slick—this adds some grit that I like.

(Click each to enlarge)

Something else: On another trip—for another book I hope we talk about next year—I went to London and, at the Museum of London, found this report card from 1906. Like a criminal, I lifted the basic layout and the tone of the language for Miller’s school report card, which in the book shows that he got an “F” in Conduct but an “Excellent” in Theatre. I made those grades up.

Report card from The Museum of London
(Click to enlarge)

Greg: “Ken Wright, one of my editors, and Jim Hoover,
my art director, snuck into the report card.”

Again, I don’t necessarily expect that everyone will notice these things, but I think some kids will, and I bet we would get along. My dream for this book—besides, ya know, ten million copies sold—is that some kid who maybe is dreading yet another book report on a goody-goody President “who never told a lie” can pick up Tricky Vic and write a biography of the man who conned Al Capone. I’d love to see that.

Greg: “Thanks for the good advice, Mac.”
(Click to enlarge)

Another thing that might be of interest is the case cover. Like all of my books I’ve written so far, the case cover is different than the jacket. The jacket is obviously pretty close to the zine — just (I think) more sophisticated.

Zine v. Picture Book
(Click to enlarge)

The case cover, though, was a blank slate, and as publishers seem to generally let me do whatever I want on the case covers, I decided to recreate the envelope that I used when I sent out the original zines. It shows up in the book, too. I figure when the pristine uncoated paper stock of the jacket gets ripped to shreds, there will be the case cover — with this mysterious envelope that reads “OPEN IN PRIVATE.”

Case cover — front and back

And, probably to the annoyance of librarians everywhere, I hid something under the back flap. Miller/Lustig is credited as writing the “Ten Commandments for Con-Artists.” And sneaking them under the back flap seemed the best solution to make sure that they weren’t spotted by concerned parents — and weren’t missed by discerning kids.

“Peel …”
(Click to enlarge)

“… slowly …”
(Click to enlarge)

“… and see.”
(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)


Also, you should know: Yes, that is my thumbprint.


(Click to enlarge)


* * * * * * *


TRICKY VIC. Copyright © 2015 by Greg Pizzoli. Published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Greg Pizzoli.

5 Comments on From Zine to Picture Book: Greg PizzoliDiscusses the Making of Tricky Vic, last added: 3/3/2015
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24. Review of The Walls Around Us

suma_walls around usstar2 The Walls Around Us
by Nova Ren Suma
High School   Algonquin   321 pp.
3/15   978-1-61620-372-6   $17.95   g
e-book ed. 978-1-61620-486-0   $17.95

Orianna Speerling — the so-called “Bloody Ballerina” — is just fifteen when she is convicted of murdering two rival dancers. A month after her sentence begins, all forty-two girls interned at the Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center are dead — victims of an unexplained mass killing. Ori’s story is gradually revealed through the eyes of two unreliable narrators. Violet is Ori’s affluent best friend, a fellow dancer who knows more about Ori’s crime than she’ll ever admit — especially if the truth might jeopardize her future at Juilliard. Amber is an inmate at Aurora Hills who pushes the library cart from cell to cell — quietly waiting out a long sentence and keeping secrets of her own, such as having visions of girls she’s never met. In lyrical, authoritative prose, Suma weaves the disparate lives of these three girls into a single, spellbinding narrative that explores guilt, privilege, and complicity with fearless acuity. Amber’s voice is particularly affecting — she narrates from an eerily omniscient first-person plural perspective that speaks powerfully to the dehumanizing realities of teen imprisonment. The twisting, ghostly tale of Ori’s life, death, and redemption is unsettling and entirely engrossing.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


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25. March Adness Continues

Round 1, Day 3 

Vote for your faves in the comments. 
Votes will be secretly compiled
Once we're down to 32 ads, we'll start round 2.
Voting remains open on all games
until the entire round is posted.

Click on ads to enlarge them.


Game 9: Baby EE vs. Fire

Game 10: Chefs vs. Look of Love

Game 11: ePod vs. Eau de Toilet

Game 12:  Ink vs. Spew Shield

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