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1. My 4000 Word Day: Prewriting


The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

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Last Friday, I wrote 4000 new words on my WIP novel. That’s a great day for me. But it was only possible because Thursday was a planning day.

When I work with students and teachers, I encourage lots of prewriting. My book, Writing for the Common Core, is essentially a book of prewriting activities. Here’s the thing: as professional writers, we know that our best writing comes with revision. That’s what students need to do, also: revise. However, that often devolves into merely copying a piece and cleaning up handwriting, especially in the lower grades. True revision, a re-envisioning of how to word something or the content to include/exclude, is hard to achieve in a 50-minute class.

Instead, I ask teachers to provide multiple prewriting activities. By giving students a rich and varied prewriting experience, they come to the first draft more likely to produce something worthwhile.

That’s what I did last Thursday, lots of prewriting.
BestNovelist


Setting. One important thing for me was to locate my story on the slopes of Mt. Rainier. I used Google Earth to track the roads where my characters would be traveling. Using the program’s tools, I measured distances as the crow flies and distances along roads, so I knew how long each drive (and potentially chase scene) would take. I switched to the aerial view to look at the landscape–mostly wooded with some open areas.

Sensory Details. Once I knew where this section of the story would happen, I concentrated on the sensory details. What would they see, hear, touch, taste and feel? What would the day’s weather be like? Rainy, snowy, sunny, windy? Along with that, I thought about the mood of the events. Would the characters be frantic, excited, hopeful, angry, or bored?

Scenes. I also took time to sketch out the structure of a couple scenes. Scenes need a beginning, middle, end; add in conflict and a pivot or turning point; stir with some great emotional development. By planning ahead, I knew the general outline of what would happen.

Flexibility. With all the planning, though, I approached the writing with flexibility and let the moment carry the story forward. I “mostly” knew what I would write, but it always surprises me how much it changes and develops as I write. It’s never exactly what I planned; it’s usually better.

I’m not really an outliner; but I don’t write by the seat of my pants either. Instead, I need this half-way place, where I do rich prewriting activities and halfway plan, and then see where it all takes me. HOW you say something is everything. It’s not just what the story is or how well you plot. For me, the important thing is how you say it. What word choices do you make and why? What sentence structures and why? What pacing and why? The true writing happens when I write. But I love the prewriting because it enables me to get 4000 words done in a single day. Well, really, that was two days work: one to prewrite and one to write. Either way you count it, that was a couple great chapters to put behind me.

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2. On My Nightstand

nightstand 2015

Yes, one book has been here quite some time. I’ll read it soon. Really!

What’s on yours?

 

The post On My Nightstand appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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3. APRIL UPDATE!

APRIL UPDATE! April is a fun month, the beginning of Mud Season here in central MA. I've got a few appearances and lots of theater happening this month, all of which I hope you enjoy if you get the chance to pop by. ANNIVERSARY My first book, DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS! was published 12 years ago on April 1st thanks to the efforts of my agent, Marcia Wernick, editor, Alessandra

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4. Henry Hodges Needs A Friend (Short)

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5. Venice International Literary Festival - Incroci di Civiltà 2015

James Ivory
(Venice, Italy) James Ivory was the inaugural guest at Crossroads of Civilization, Venice's International Literary Festival, which kicked off on March 25, 2015 at the Goldoni Theater. Ivory was a unique choice since he is, of course, a film director, responsible for such stellar films as A Room with a View, Howards End, and The Remains of the Day which he created with his long-time partner, the producer Ismail Merchant and the Booker Prize-winning author, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Just those three Merchant-Ivory films were nominated for 25 Academy Awards, and won six.

Watching a Merchant-Ivory film is like having a weighty work of literature transformed into something more digestible, and Ivory gave the credit for that to Ruth. According to Wikipedia, "Of this collaboration, Merchant once commented: 'It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory... I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!'"


James Ivory has such vibrant energy that I was stunned to discover he will be 87-years-old on June 7th. He is also a screenwriter; he would first write the screenplay and then give it to Ruth, who was a novelist as well as a screenwriter. Ivory said he never read  the classics he should have read when he was a teenager, and that he had to read Howards End by E.M. Forster three times because he "didn't get it." Ruth pressured him to make the film, insisting, "Let's climb that mountain."

The evening opened with a half-hour documentary called Venice: Theme and Variations that Ivory wrote, photographed, produced and directed in the winter of 1952-53 for the thesis for his masters degree in cinema at USC with money his father gave him. He had no crew; he was just one person with a camera shooting wherever he could in Venice, and didn't include Titian or Veronese because the paintings were "too big."

He said he always had wanted to make a feature in Venice. He had the idea to set the Aspern Papers by Henry James not in the 1880s but the 1950s, and to use the papers of Ezra Pound. He had already completed his first draft and sent it to Ruth when he fell down the stairs and broke both his legs. Then Ruth became ill. Unfortunately, the film never happened, but that is one movie I would have loved to see!


Incroci di Civiltà 2015 presented 29 authors from 21 different countries, making Venice the literary Crossroads of Civilization from March 25 to 28. Inviting international writers to share their singular perspectives of the world adds zesty ingredients to the rich stew that is Venice.

COUNTRIES

Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Colombia, Korea, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Jamaica, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Russia, United States, and Taiwan.

WRITERS

Sergio Álvarez from Columbia
Mathieu Amalric from France
Ana Luísa Amaral from Portugal
Li Ang from Taiwan
Sascha Arango from Germany
Antonia Arslan from Italy/Armenia
Jerry Brotton from Great Britain
Roberto Costantini from Italy
Francesco Cataluccio from Italy
Patrick Deville from France
David Foenkinos from France
Stefan Hertmans from Belgium
James Ivory from the United States
Billy Kahora from Kenya
Hanif Kureishi from Great Britain
Lucio Mariani from Italy
Shara McCallum from Jamaica
Kim Min-jeong from Korea
Mahsa Mohebali from Iran
Mark Mustian from US/Armenia
Vladislav Otrošenko from Russia
Víctor Rodríguez Núñez from Cuba
Tatiana Salem Levy from Brazil
Morten Søndergaard from Denmark
Agata Tuszyńska from Poland
Ludmila Ulitskaya from Russia
Tommy Wieringa from Holland
Wu Ming 1 from Italy
Xu Zechen from China

Click to go to Incroci di Civiltà 2015

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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6. Generic Description

I’ve written before about generic words that don’t add much in the way of specific emotions. Now I’m on to generic descriptions that don’t add anything to scene. For example:

The teenagers congregated at the store, listening to music on their devices. They wore various outfits, featuring the most popular brands.

I’d imagine this is the type of sentence that would appear in a textbook for an alien about humans. They’d have a lot of knowledge about us, but because they’re outsiders, they’d speak more in generalities than specifics…getting close to an accurate depiction, but without any of the detail that makes the knowledge realistic or engrossing.

The issue with this type of generic description is that the reader will already have a vague imagine their minds. As soon as you say “shopping mall,” the reader paints a place-holder picture that’s very much like my example sentences.

Your job as a writer, then, is to take that vague image and embellish it with detail that’s specific to your world, your characters, and your story. The purpose of description is to take the generic and sharpen the image. So a reasonable replacement for the example would be:

They headed to the shoe store so Nikki could get another hot pink pair of kicks to match her screaming neon yellow yoga pants. Josh cranked his Shuffle. Whatever song came next would be better than the Taylor Swift blaring from the speakers.

Now, I’ve written about specific references in a manuscript (like the Taylor Swift line), but I decided to do that here just because I’m targeting vagueness. I hope that you can see how painting a more specific scene, with some emotional overtones, clarifies the scene more than simply inserting arbitrary-seeming narration.

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7. YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Nutrition

YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition. Daina Kalnins. 2008. Lobster Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

YUM is an informative nonfiction read for upper elementary and middle grade students. Its focus is on teaching young people the basics of nutrition, on how to be more aware of what they're putting in their bodies.  It is not a diet book, a how to lose weight book. If nothing else, the book will teach readers HOW to read food labels and basic definitions of key terms. 

In the first chapter, the focus is on macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  In the second chapter, the focus is on micronutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, and Sodium. In the third chapter, the focus is on how the body digests food. In the fourth chapter, the author provides sample menus and recipes for breakfast, lunch, supper, and morning and afternoon snacks. In the fifth chapter, the practical advice continues on how to make changes and establish good habits. This last chapter covers a little bit of everything: food safety (how long to keep food, how to tell if food has gone bad, etc), grocery shopping, eating out, etc.

The book is written for kids and with kids in mind. The advice is specifically for what growing, active children need to be eating to be healthy.

Nutrition books can become dated quickly, this one isn't as up-to-date as I'd like. But it still has some good, basic information.  One thing that makes it continue to be relevant is how reader-friendly it is.

My favorite chapter is probably the one on micronutrients. I loved learning what each nutrient does in the body, and which foods you should eat to get that nutrient.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. FSG Unveils Cover For New Jonathan Franzen Novel

Purity Cover

The cover for Jonathan Franzen’s forthcoming novel, entitled Purity, has been unveiled on the Farrar, Straus & Giroux blog. We’ve embedded the full image above—what do you think?

This jacket was created by famed book designer Rodrigo Corral. FSG has scheduled the publication date for September 1st. (via BuzzFeed)

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9. Writing about Mental Health, One Thing Stolen, and New Hope for Frontotemporal Dementia

Tomorrow evening I'll be down at Penn, at Kelly Writers House, participating in a 7-Up program that promises to be provocative. The theme is mental health and literature. The evening, a Junior Fellows Program, was knit together (so ably) by Hannah White. You can find more about the evening below, and of course you are welcome to come.

In trying to develop a presentation that fits within the given seven minute boundaries, I'm aware of all that I won't have time to say about the medical research and stories that have been released in the months after I finished writing One Thing Stolen, a novel that has a rare neurodegenerative condition—frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia—at its heart.

(Generally speaking, FTD is a category of conditions brought on by the "progressive degeneration of the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain." Some patients afflicted with the "language subtypes" of FTD erupt with new artistic capabilities—a sign, it is thought, of a brain attempting to compensate for those parts of the brain that are no longer working as they once were.)

I would like, then, to summarize four key stories here—stories that validate the hope that readers will find in the final pages of Nadia's story.

In writing One Thing Stolen, I grounded my hope in the work of (and email conversations with) Bruce Miller, MD, who directs the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and whose work on FTD "emphasizes both the behavioral and emotional deficits that characterize these patients, while simultaneously noting the visual creativity that can emerge in the setting of FTD."

But in my novel, Penn doctors are at work as well, and just days ago, on March 20, Penn Medicine researchers announced, and here I'm quoting from the press release, the discovery that " hypermethylation - the epigenetic ability to turn down or turn off a bad gene implicated in 10 to 30 percent of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) - serves as a protective barrier inhibiting the development of these diseases. Their work, published this month in Neurology, may suggest a neuroprotective target for drug discovery efforts."

Later on in the release, this quote from Corey McMillan, PhD, research assistant professor of Neurology in the Frontotemporal Degeneration Center in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania:  "We believe that this work provides additional data supporting the notion that C9orf72 methylation is neuroprotective and therefore opens up the exciting possibility of a new avenue for precision medicine treatments and targets for drug development in neurodegenerative disease,” says McMillan.

So all of that is number 1. Hope, again.

For number 2, I encourage you to read this deeply moving essay by Daniel Zalewski in the March 30 issue of The New Yorker. Titled "Life Lines," it traces the journey of a former New Yorker illustrator whose brain, attacked by a virus, now lives in the ever-present now, most of her hippocampus destroyed. Researchers are studying her ability to learn and form memories within this new neuronal environment. There is hope there. There is also the prospect of new science.

Finally, for numbers 3 and 4, I encourage you to return to two blog entries posted earlier in this year. The first reports on Judith Scott, a woman born profoundly deaf and with Down syndrome, whose artistic capabilities were unleashed late in life—that brain wanting art again. The second reports on the lawyer Patrick Fagerberg, who was struck in the head at a music concert and diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Here again the brain compensates and, in compensating, chooses art.

This—the compensating brain, the deep neuronal desire to make beauty out of chaos—is the theme of One Thing Stolen, a book that takes place both in Florence, Italy, and on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania (and features some Penn students as key characters.) Some of what I'll briefly touch on during our 7-Up tomorrow night.

Hope to see you there.

WRITING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

Junior Fellows Program

6:00 PM in the Arts Cafe

As this years recipient of the Kelly Writers House Junior Fellows Prize, Hannah White has undertaken a project to make the Writers House a space where we can talk about issues of mental health and illness from a writers perspective. In traditional "7-Up" style, seven different people (students, professors, community members) will each select and then write/speak about an important novel, short story, or poem dealing with issues of mental (in)stability. "Important" can mean anything here: personally important, culturally important, historically important, obscure but interesting, challenging to the traditional ideas of illness and wellness, etc. We hope that a wide range of perspectives and literary works will bring together seemingly disparate subsets of the wider community—and will also reveal plenty of interesting ideas about health, culture, relationships, and what is "normal."
  • Ryan Cambe
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Beth Kephart
  • One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
  • Devon O'Connor
  • "Round Here" by Counting Crows
  • Nick Moncy
  • Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
  • Julie Mullany
  • "Barbie Doll" by Marge Piercy
  • Emily Sheera Cutler
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Claudia Consolati
  • Melancholia, directed by Lars von Trier
  • Lance Wahlert
  • Narratives of suicide
  • Michelle Taransky
  • "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg

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10. Dschungelbuch

Heute zeige ich mal wieder eine Illustration von mir. Es ist das Cover eines bekannten Kinderklassikers. 


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11. My Thoughts: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

4 soft sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Eye-catching and romantic.  Love it!

Why I Wanted to Read This:  The synopsis was what it was all about.  How could two teens, whose parents died in a car wreck when they were having an affair, find their way to each other?  I was intrigued by this idea!
Here it is from GoodReads:
Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.
Romance?: Yep. On every page!

My Thoughts:
First of all, both of these characters are intriguing.  They are two teens who have had a traumatic thing happen to them (Juliette's mom and Abram's dad were having an affair which came out when they were killed in a car wreck) and their parents are no help at all.  Juliette's dad is barely functioning and Abram's mom is reliving her youth.   They are just doing the best they can.  But their best isn't not very good.  Juliette, for one, is super controlling and closed off.  She can't find her way to feeling anything.  Abram is obsessed with Juliette from the get go, but it hadn't reached a creepy level yet.  More like he wanted to be involved in her life because he had questions.  But he had given up on things that used to make him happy because they reminded him of his father (like tennis). 

This is a book where the main characters get together pretty early on, not romantically right away, but they forge a friendship early on.  And it's like two drowning people clinging to a life raft.  I am not sure how long their romance will last but its very clear they need each other.  They help each other heal and start to look forward.  They give each other purpose and that's what I loved.  Abram is so good for Juliette and she helps him too.  It;s a very sweet, nice little romance.

To Sum Up:  Adored this story and romance.  In my mind Juliette and Abram stay together for awhile and heal and grow and then separate when they are ready.  It might not be the best relationship for longevity.

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12. Review for Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Saturn Surprise by Oneeka Williams M.D.




Book Description

 February 18, 2015  6-12
The rings of Saturn go round and round,
Disappeared one day and could not be found.
To put them back, just take a chance,
And join me in the Saturn Dance!
Meet Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo-
9-year-old girl Super Surgeon on the Go.

Born with supernatural powers from electrical energy, she jets around the Universe fixing problems with her gifted hands. Dr. Dee Dee’s, and cousin Lukas’s, visit to the Island of Positivity Planetarium is interrupted when Gordon the Gullible Globe sounds the alarm that Saturn’s rings have disappeared. Dr. Dee Dee is skeptical but mobilizes her team of assistants and instruments for a mission to Saturn. Oh boy! Is she SURPRISED when she arrives at Saturn!



About the Author

Dr. Oneeka Williams grew up in the Caribbean with her mother, a science teacher, and her father, a journalist. Her love for the sciences and for writing developed at an early age, as did her desire to become a doctor. When she first entered the operating room while attending Harvard Medical School, it was love at first sight. Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo embodies all of these elements and encourages kids to live a life without limits. This is Dr. Williams third book. Dr. Dee Dee Dynamos Mission to Pluto and Dr. Dee Dee Dynamos Meteorite Mission were the first two. She is a practicing surgeon and lives in Massachusetts with husband, Charles and son, Mark.

Review:
Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's Saturn Surprise is a delightful story filled with great information about the planet Saturn. 
Dr. Dee Dee has supernatural powers which allows her to fly around in space and help the planets. In this story she helps Saturn fix it's rings because they have gone crazy. While reading the story children will learn about what a ring plane crossing is, as well about the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, Saturn's moons, and the names of Saturn's rings. There is a lot of alliteration in the story which will help readers remember the characters names. Readers will enjoy the nonfictional information included in the story. It is very informative and will help readers for reports and such. 
A few quibbles. At times the illustrations are confusing. When looking at the illustrations for ring plane crossings, the boxed pictures help the reader understand what is going. The other illustration is confusing to the reader since all the Saturn's virtually look the same. Dr. Dee Dee has supernatural powers but Kyle ad Lukas don't so technically they shouldn't leave Freeda, which is why she comes along on the ride, and yet those characters, at times, are outside in space. Kyle is also very negative and weighs down the story. Dr. Dee Dee sends positive messages to kids like don't give up, use your voice, be confident and assertive, yet here's a character who is whiny and negative. The last illustration on page 32 shows Dr. Dee Dee applauding, yet the story says that Saturn and the rings applauded. Given the fact that neither Saturn or it's rings have any hands in the illustration makes this part impossible, though they could shout with glee. These are small things but are none the less noticeable. Otherwise, the story is well developed with a great message for kids. Amazon says that this book is for 5-6 year olds but it is really meant for older children. Some of the vocabulary is for older children, younger won't get it. Though the author did add in a vocab section in the back of the book as well as a glossary of info talked about, questions and a resource guide.
Overall, this series is informative, well written with great educational story lines, and has great messages for kids who are 6-12 years of age.



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13. Your Dream Bookstore

I was reading about Jeff Kinney's new bookstore recently and it made me think I have to go there and then it made me think about all of the things I would want in my dream bookstore. Which, to be honest, aren't too far removed from what are going to be in Jeff Kinney's bookstore.

A coffee bar of course, but a real coffee place with lots of comfortable, I'm going to hang here all day seating.

A bar. Because I would love to have a glass of wine sometimes and, let's admit it, as the store owner drunk shoppers could really help the bottom line.

An active place for kids. I mean really cool, book related, fantasy, place to play and explore and learn.

A great big comfy place for events. Not just book signings, but full on events. Workshops for writers, workshop space for authors to teach people crafts, finances, cooking demonstrations, etc.

Knowledgeable and friendly staff. People who love books and want others to love them as much as they do.

Lots of recommendations and not just spaces bought by publishers, but lots of sections that really give readers ideas for new books to explore.

Shopper involvement. Recommendations from some of the most avid readers in the community, not just store staff.

I would love bookstores to become old fashioned community centers where readers come to buy books, to hang out, to meet with friends and to just be.

What about you? In a fantasy world where would you love to shop or, even better, what are some of your favorite bookstores?

--jhf

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14. Easter is on it’s way!

Betty Bunny Loves Easter

By Michael B. Kaplan; illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

 

The picture book reflects, in a certain sense, the culture and attitudes of the time in which it was written. Its art and narrative are born of an age that speaks to that generation of readers – and many times, thank goodness, beyond. You have only to look back on the Caldecott Award winners and Honor Books that began in 1938 to the present day to see proof of that reality.

If you have the time, it’s pretty interesting to see the evolution of childhood reflected in these charming books. And sometimes, it’s even a bit unsettling to see the culture of today reflected in, and through the eyes of a child in the current crop of picture books.

Enter Betty Bunny. There is no doubt that she is an independent, challenging handful who has a mind of her own. No problem there. It’s a good thing to be independent, curious and push the limits of the status quo – at times. Betty is all of those things. A bit on the high energy, overactive range of normal, Betty is consumed with whatever new experience comes her way, whether it be shopping, chocolate cake, playing soccer, admitting mistakes, or here, in her latest adventure, taking on the tradition of egg gathering at Easter – as a competition.

Betty may typify the average young person today who is on a learning curve when it comes to adjusting expectations with reality.

Betty is determined to BE the Easter Bunny when she grows up. Sweet.

Betty sees endless days of coloring eggs, consuming chocolate and carrying chock full baskets! She is gently reminded by her mom that the specialness of anything is BECAUSE it is not the everyday. No convincing this hare, via mom’s hint.

A determined Betty avers that “I always find the most eggs..” But this year, she is quick on the uptake as she notices the help she is receiving from her family members, nudging undiscovered eggs her way. Hey, Betty! You really are beginning to notice things and an awareness of the larger reality is important. You are growing up; as she instantly insists on solo egg gathering.

But there’s the rub. For Betty, left to her own devices comes up empty and declares in high dudgeon that “Easter is yucky.” “I hate Easter.” Whoa, Nellie er Betty!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Her parents come to the rescue, reminding Betty that they are proud of her independence in wanting to find her OWN eggs and therefore will mean so much more – even if it’s only a trio of eggs. Praise from parents is good – for really important things that mean something.

Okay. Did our bunny heroine really learn anything? Maybe. But what did she learn? When her mom finds her rifling through her purse toward the close of the book in order to find funds for a BIGGER basket next year, she is told that she has to ask permission first. So Betty, the feisty finagler, replies with a smirk, “If I ask, you’ll just give it to me. It means so much more if I find it myself.” Cute.

Turning the logic table on her mom, I am fairly itching to see the imaginary page AFTER this picture book denouement. Does Betty’s behavior have any consequences? And, what will she learn from this episode, if it does not? That, to me, is the bigger question.

Redirecting children’s behavior to better choices is part of the value learning curve of childhood.

The ending of this book put me in mind of a children’s TV host long gone, named Soupy Sales. On his January 1st 1965, Channel 5 morning children’s show, he jokingly told his young listeners to go into mom’s purse and dad’s wallet. “Take those little green pieces of paper with the pictures of men in beards, and mail them to me.” Many moms and dads were sleeping in from night before New Year’s Eve parties. Soupy asked the kids to send those “pieces of paper” to him. Result? Complaints flooded in, and some to the FCC about teaching kids to steal. And a 2-week suspension was the result. And when he returned, his popularity was bigger than ever!

Now, let me be very clear on this point, I am in no way suggesting this picture book is in any way akin to Soupy’s request, but its ending is not cute by half.

Young readers see themselves in picture books many times – the good and the not so good; and that’s great. Life is for children, after all, learning about the journey through their mistakes and successes.

But just perhaps, we may want to at least have our parent/child tete a tetes in picture books, end on a note that doesn’t allow the child to have the final say as to what THEY feel is acceptable behavior – when it’s not. Not in a picture book or in real life.

I love you, Betty; truly I do. And that is why we’re going to have a little chat, sweetie, about you and mom’s purse. I’ll talk and you listen – for a minute.

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15. Guest Post & Giveaway: Deborah Lytton on What's True to You

By Deborah Lytton
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

My new contemporary YA, Silence (Shadow Mountain, 2015), is a story about a fifteen year old girl who has an accident that changes her life forever. The only person she can relate to is a boy who has his own tragic past. Out of tragedy comes true love.

I spent years writing Silence, and the experience taught me several important lessons about being an author. It took me draft after draft (and many working titles) to find a way to tell the story. I think my agent has lost count of the number of drafts of Silence she read. I even set the manuscript aside and wrote novels in between. But I kept coming back because the characters stayed with me.

The lesson I learned from this is to tell the story in my heart. So now if a manuscript of mine isn’t working, I try approaching it from another direction, turning it sideways or upside down, telling it in reverse order or through a secondary character’s point of view. But no matter what, I know the key is to trust my inner voice.

Silence is my second published book, but not my second novel. I wrote several novels before my first book was published and several novels before Silence was published.

When each one of those other novels didn’t sell, I was really discouraged. I think anyone who has ever gone through the submission and rejection process can relate.

But I learned to turn the sting of rejection into a spark of inspiration through perspective. In focusing on writing rather than selling a manuscript, I recaptured writing simply for the love of writing.

When I wrote my first published book Jane In Bloom, I didn’t know if anyone would publish a book about a forgotten sister, but I needed to tell her story.

With Silence, I once again found myself writing a book I wasn’t sure anyone would publish. But I wrote it anyway. That focus helped me lose myself in the story and simply write.

Finally, writing Silence taught me to stay true to myself.

I had a vision of what kind of story I wanted to tell—a romance with clean content so my own daughters could read it. The characters would attend church, and they would volunteer to help others in need.

I knew there was a chance no one would want to publish a young adult book like this. But I also knew that I needed to be authentic and true to my vision. So I wrote the book the way I needed to write it. I didn’t hold back details because I thought someone might not like them.

Instead, I poured my whole self into the book. And my story did find a home after all, with Shadow Mountain.

So whatever you want to write, make sure it stays true to you. Don’t worry about editors and reviewers. Don’t hold back from storylines or characters because they might cause your book to be passed on by editors or because the book might be controversial when it is published. Just write the best book you can write because only you can write it.

I know that book will find a home.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy of Silence by Deborah Lytton (Shadow Mountain, 2015). Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America. From the promotional copy:

Stella is a vivacious teen with a deep yearning to become an accomplished Broadway musical star. Her dreams are shattered when a freak accident renders her deaf. 

Struggling mightily to communicate in a world of total silence, she meets Hayden who has such a pronounced stutter she can easily read his lips because he speaks so slowly. 

Communication leads to connection and an unexpected romance as they learn from each other and discover their own ways to overcome setbacks, find renewed purpose and recognize their true voice.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. Henry Hodges Needs a Friend - a bookwrap





Unwrapping some cute quotes for you...














Unwrapping...







From the author of "The Kid Who Changed the World" comes the book -


"Henry Hodges Needs a Friend"

Authored by - Andy Andrews
Illustrated by -  Colleen Madden
Ages - 4-8


Unwrapping the illustrations for you...








This book is written in rhyme and tells the story of a lonely little boy, named Henry, who lives in a very quiet town, at the very end of his street.  He has no one to play with as no friends live near him  and he doesn't like toys so he mopes around feeling isolated, sad and lost.  

"Henry wandered outside 
To his old tire swing,
Just to wonder what boredom
This new day would bring."

His parents decide to find the perfect companion for him...

"But his mother's eyes twinkled.
'Don't worry. Don't fret.
A friend's what you need,
So a friend's what you'll get."


After searching around everywhere they finally discover the perfect friend, a dog, that Henry dubs "Hap".  

"It's a nickname for Happy,
And that's just what you'll be.
You'll have a friend always
Now that you"re with me."

With the arrival of Hap into his life, heavyhearted Henry is changed forever.  He and his new companion run and play exploring their world  around them together and Henry is delighted with his new best friend . A shared life is a happy life.  

The illustrator is fantastic and her pictures are full of imagination and wit which I just love.  The message of book will resonate with any child who is feeling lonely and will encourage them not to give up because their new best friend could be just around the corner waiting for them just as Henry's was.  

Unwrapping the author...





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17. Entertainment Round-Up: Fear The Walking Dead, West and Ward return to Batman ’66, Arya Stark is coming to Doctor Who

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Greetings all! I come to you from Austin, Texas today, writing this in a dimly lit Hyatt hotel room. Let’s run down a few fun things that broke over the past 24 hours in the Entertainment world.

– Last night’s finale for The Walking Dead was surely another ratings smash, and will likely notch up another victory on par with Season 4’s 15.7 million viewer finale, Wrestlemania or no Wrestlemania. Those watching also got a taste of the upcoming spin-off series, (the unfortunately titled) Fear The Walking Dead, as AMC debuted a 15 second tease for the Los Angeles-based prequel:

The first season of the new series is set for six episodes, debuting this Summer, and there is already a second season commitment in place. Get ready for year-round zombie-based drama.

Adam West and Burt Ward, while on a panel at Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, spilled the beans about a new project celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the 1966 Batman television series: an animated film! According to the pair, they’ll be reprising their iconic roles of Batman and Robin for (what is presumed to be a) direct to home media release in 2016.

Consequence of Sound got the footage of this surprising, yet very welcome announcement.

Did I ever tell you folks what a big fan I am of Jeff Parker‘s work on Batman ’66 and Batman: The Brave and the Bold?

– Lastly, hang onto your hats folks! We’ve got two fandoms converging this year, as the BBC has announced that Maisie Williams aka Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, will be appearing on Doctor Who this season/series.

In an announcement on the BBC website, showrunner Steven Moffat stated:

We’re thrilled to have Maisie Williams joining us on Doctor Who. It’s not possible to say too much about who or what she’s playing, but she is going to challenge the Doctor in very unexpected ways. This time he might just be out of his depth, and we know Maisie is going to give him exactly the right sort of hell.

Additionally, the same press release also detailed two more series episodes: “The Girl Who Died” written by new fan favorite Jamie Mathieson and Moffat and “The Woman Who Lived” by Catherine Tregenna (the first female writer of the Moffat era). Whether Williams will appear in those two episodes is not made clear based on this initial announcement.

 

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18. Vergil in Russia: milestones of identity

In 1979, one of the most prominent Russian classical scholars of the later part of the twentienth century, Mikhail Gasparov, stated: "Vergil did not have much luck in Russia: they neither knew nor loved him." Gasparov mostly blamed this lack of interest on the absence of canonical Russian translations of Vergil, especially when it came to the Aeneid.

The post Vergil in Russia: milestones of identity appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. What to do with all that Art

 One of the aspects of doing art festivals that I  used to enjoy is the interaction that I had with customers in my booth. People would come in and smile and admire my paintings and try to visualize where they would put one of my works in their home. Unfortunatley, I didn't always get the sale, because one of the barriers to purchase was the customer's issue with where they would hang it.  

How to hang art Salon Style

I often suggested hanging salon style like I do in my own home, which creates a kind of artwork in itself with a collection of paintings. Another suggestion that I had was to swap the artwork out, relegating some paintings to a closet or different room for a period of time, thus creating a personal rotating art show. 

Framing ideas


A percieved lack of space is no reason to stop buying art. We all  walk around in the same body all of our  lives but we don't stop buying clothes to put on it. (I know, different animal, but you get the point :0) 

Salon Style painting display in my own home
It's the same for your walls. There are lots of ways to dress and rearrange them to keep them attractive and interesting to yourself and all who enter your home.  

I display my own work and other artists that I collect in my living room salon.



Do you own a lot of artwork? How about pottery? Do you have fun or intersting ways that you diplay yours? Please share!





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20. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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21. Emerald City news round-up: 10 new titles from Dark Horse, Mouse Guard and more

VALIANT-ORIGINS_web-series_logo.jpg

• Valiant announced VALIANT ORIGINS a web series spotlighting the origins of Valiant’s biggest heroes. 10 episodes will be released bi-weekly Valiant’s official YouTube channel.  Heroes in the spotlight include Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Ninjak, Livewire, Quantum and Woody, Divinity and more.

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• In July Valiant is releasing the BOOK OF DEATH. Teaser art by Robert Gill.

• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman is now exclusive with IDW with many new projects to be announced. “Kevin is one of my oldest friends in comics and it makes me extremely happy that he’s going to be part of the IDW team, said IDW CEO and Publisher, Ted Adams. “Kevin’s contribution to pop culture can’t be overstated and everyone at IDW is looking forward to helping him bring his new ideas into the world.”

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• Archaia is release an Art of Mouse Guard book in July:

THE ART OF MOUSE GUARD 2005-2015

Author: David Petersen

Artists: David Petersen, Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai, Bill Willingham, Various

Cover: David Petersen

Format: 12″ x 12″, 368 pages, color and B&W, hardcover

On sale: July 2015

Celebrate the first 10 years of a comics classic from the very first sketch. For the first time since the series debut, David Petersen’s process for creating the world of Mouse Guard and bringing it to life in stunning illustration is documented in exquisite detail. With never-before-seen sketches; 100 pages of full-color, oversized artwork; and commentary from colleagues, collaborators, and Petersen himself, readers and fans get an unprecedented look behind the pages at how their favorite characters and adventures were born.

mousegourd2 mouseguard3 mouseguard4 mouseguard5

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• Boom is releasing Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wars, a miniseries by Jen Wang (In Real Life) and Britt Wilson, also in July.

Cake is a Card Wars champ who can’t be beat, and Fionna…is really tired of getting beaten! They set off in search of a challenger who can really test Cake’s mettle. When they stumble across some gamer slugs, they think they’ve hit the jackpot, but these guys have never heard of Cake and refuse to even play with her!

 

• And Dark Horse is releasing TEN new series!

BARB WIRE

Barb Wire #1

Chris Warner (W)

Patrick Olliffe (A)

On Sale in July

Nail-hard tough and drop-dead gorgeous, Barb Wire is the baddest bounty hunter on the mean streets of Steel Harbor, where gangsters can lift bulldozers and leap rusting factories in a single bound. The hunting is stupid good and the bounties are hella big—if Barb lives long enough to collect!

KING TIGER

King Tiger #1

Randy Stradley (W)

Doug Wheatley (A)

On Sale in August

Blood, death, and fire—the darkest kind of magic. A monstrous secret from King Tiger’s past has found the mystic warrior, but can Tiger’s skills and sorcery triumph against an unthinkable supernatural obscenity linked to his own destiny? If the Tiger falls, the Dragon will rise!

NEGATIVE SPACE

Negative Space #1

Ryan K Lindsay (W)

Owen Gieni (A)

On Sale in July

When one man’s writer’s block gets in the way of his suicide note, he goes for a walk to clear his head and soon uncovers a century-old conspiracy dedicated to creating and mining the worst lows of human desperation. A corporation has manipulated his life purely so they can farm his suicide note as a sadness artifact that will be packed and shipped to ancient underwater creatures who feed off our strongest and most base emotions. Our hero partners with a cult intent on exposing the corporation, and only a suicide mission can solve the whole mess.

TOMORROWS

The Tomorrows #1

Curt Pires (W)

Jason Copland (A)

On Sale in July

A bold new speculative-fiction comic from the mind of writer Curt Pires, each issue illustrated by a different brilliant artist!

The future: art is illegal. Everything everyone ever posted online has been weaponized against them. The reign of the Corporation is quickly becoming as absolute as it is brutal—unless the Tomorrows can stop it.

They told you the counterculture was dead. They were wrong. Welcome to the new reality.

DEATH HEAD

Death Head #1

Zack Keller, Nick Keller (W)

Joanna Estep (A)

On Sale in July

When Niles and Justine Burton go camping to get a break from their stressful lives, they expect to find peace . . . not an abandoned village hiding an ancient evil. In a turn of events ripped straight from a horror movie, a brutal killer wearing a plague doctor’s mask begins hunting Niles, Justine, and their two kids. Who is the Plague Doctor? What does he want? And how will the family survive?

ZODIAC STARFORCE

Zodiac Starforce #1

Kevin Panetta (W)

Paulina Ganucheau (A)

On Sale in August

They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters—not your typical afterschool activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself—and the world—from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions!

From Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors), this super-fun and heartfelt story of growing up and friendship—with plenty of magical-girl fighting action—delivers the most exciting new ensemble cast in comics!

ADAM3

Adam.3 #1

Scott Kolins (W/A)

On Sale in August

Award-winning writer and artist Scott Kolins (Past Aways, The Flash, The Avengers, Solomon Grundy) premieres Adam.3.

On a futuristic island paradise populated by talking animals and monitored by orbiting control satellites, the peaceful lives of Adam and his wife Skye are troubled by growing tension between Adam and his previous son, Beo. The situation goes from bad to worse when an alien invader infects the animals—turning them into aliens themselves. When Beo is captured, Adam must battle his transformed animal friends to save his son—and their island home!

POWER CUBED

Power Cubed #1

Aaron Lopresti (W/A)

On Sale in September

On his eighteenth birthday, Kenny’s inventor father gives him a phenomenal piece of matter-reinterpreting technology, attracting the attention of a bumbling Nazi scientist and an elite government agent. Aaron Lopresti delivers a comical coming-of-age tale in a fantastic sci-fi universe!

STEAM MAN

The Steam Man #1

Mark Miller (W)

Joe R. Lansdale (W)

Piotr Kowalski (A)

On Sale in October

The Old West (but not as we know it): Giant robots that run on steam power are created to take down invading Martians and armies of killer albino apes in an all-out brawl. The Steam Man, a giant metal man operated by a team of monster hunters, seems to have the town protected and the West under control, until a crazed and powerful vampire comes to town to bring forth the apocalypse.

CHIMICHANGA

Chimichanga: Sorrow of the World’s Worst Face #1

Eric Powell (W)

Stephanie Buscema (A)

On Sale in late 2015

Wrinkle’s Traveling Circus’s most adorable bearded girl and her savory-named beast are back, and there is a new act in store! Come one, come all to the Sorrow of the World’s Worst Face! But beware: those who look behind the curtain are in for an awful treat, and it’s not just his face we’re talkin’ about!

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22. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 3-30-15

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

Since February, I've been reading up a storm! Earlier this month I gathered with the rest of my colleagues on the Maine Student Book Award Committee to create the Maine Student Book Award List for 2015-2016! This meeting, where we take a serious look at over a hundred books that made our "short" list, is the most thrilling meeting of the year! Eight librarians and four teachers discuss and laugh and agree and disagree on what we think are the best books for readers in grades 4-8. There is certainly a range of opinions to this end, which is what makes the list so diverse and special. And of course, it's for the kids! 
Want to check out the list? 

Books I've Recently Read:

Night Sky Dragons by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Patrick Benson
Candlewick Press, 2014
Traditional Literature
Unpaged
Recommended for grades 2+

Set in a han* on the Silk Road, young Yazul is at odds with his industrious father, who thinks Yazul should spend less time playing with his grandfather and more time being useful. But when bandits threaten the safety of the han, it is Yazul and his grandfather that save the han.
Gorgeous illustrations!

*a han was a place of safety on the Silk Road

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Action/adventure/survival
279 pages
Recommended for grades 6+

I loved this survival story, even though I typically despise reading stories set in winter settings-I'm in Maine, winter can feel never-ending...
What to expect:
-Strong female protagonist
-Dog sledding
-Loss of a parent

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata
Atheneum, 2015
Realistic Fiction
228 pages
Recommended for grades 4-8

This book burrowed deeply inside my heart. Jaden is a young boy from Romania, adopted by American parents when he was four. Jaden had plenty of time to grown without a bonded family, and the effects are lasting. When Jaden's parents are ready to adopt another child, Jaden has a mix of emotions that he can't put a finger on.
The family travels to Kazakhstan to adopt a baby. But "their" baby was given to another couple. The new baby they are urged to bond with seems vacant and not quite well. Jaden doesn't want to bond with the new baby, but he does befriend a four-year-old boy with some developmental disabilities. Does Jaden see himself in this young boy? Whether he does or not, Jaden bonds with the boy and begs for his parents to adopt this boy instead.
As a mother, this book hurt at times. I wonder how kids will experience it.

I'm Currently Reading: 


Thanks for stopping by!


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23. #VeryRealisticYA


The Powers That Be have pronounced Realistic YA (a la John Green or Rainbow Rowell) to be the Next Big Thing in teen lit. This past weekend, @aboredauthor started a hashtag topic on Twitter, which turned into a sensation. 
What if we all wrote Very Realistic YA? 
 

The rest is history. I was totally smitten (spent precious copy-editing minutes snickering at the computer.) If you’re on Twitter, check out #VeryRealisticYA . Here are my attempts:

·      Orphan farm boy hatches dragon's egg; dragon eats farm boy and sets fire to farm. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Girl discovers parents have hidden their past lives in a secretive organization. Turns out they were scientologists. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Small town boy stays in small town, marries small town girl. Gets job at the plant. #VeryRealisticYA
·      High school boy stops heart medication, becomes incredibly strong and muscular. Med was interfering with his steroids. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Girl tries to hide strange markings on her skin. Mother spots them and grounds her for getting tattoos. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Two teens with cancer meet, and decide they spend MORE than enough time thinking about cancer. They avoid each other. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Two misfits meet and find out that they have absolutely nothing in common. They never speak again. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Teens are trapped in giant maze and cannot find their way out. They give up and play video games. #VeryRealisticYA
·      Girl finds mysterious jeweled dagger in a lockbox under the bed. Sells it on eBay and takes friends to Belize. #VeryRealisticYA

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24. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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25. Guest Post - Amazing stories from Jan Williams

I can’t help it. I cannot stop telling stories either telling them aloud or writing them down because I was born in a magic place full of stories. These included Cantre Gwelod , a city  beneath the waves; Ceridwen, the witch, who threw the baby Taliesin into the ocean in a leather bag, and a white lady who emerges from caves in the cliffs. This place is Borth, a tiny seaside village on the west coast of Wales.
The village of Borth

 It was a lovely place to grow in because it had the most beautiful beach with a splendid prehistoric submerged forest, which even now is becoming increasing visible as more and more storms arrive. The village stretches out in a long line along the beach and behind it lays a great stretch of bogland, which because of the danger of sinking into peat, is always treated with respect. The old hag who lived there on the bog was said to afflict all who met her  with a shaking sickness. Then at the far end of the beach was a cliff pocked with holes which could become caves where mysterious creatures lived. Out at sea there where porpoises and maybe the odd mermaid gambolled  and best of all there are the most glorious sunsets.
The cliffs where the white lady lives
I was a sickly shy child, who missed a lot of school when I was very young. My mother was such a good storyteller that I was slow to read for myself and then when I did learn to read, I read everything I could lay my hands on including those great favourites  of the 1950’s - Enid Blyton’s adventure stories, any illustrated books of fairy tales and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ , just the sort of books we call Vintage now and of which March books have such a fine selection.

 My battle with shyness meant that I was determined when I was an adult to help children overcome this problem. When I became a teacher, I began to teach more and more Drama.  I spent 4 years in Moncton, Canada where we used Drama to try to deal with the difficulties of the French – English hostilities in the town.

Secretly I was feeling the urge to become a performer myself and was delighted to discover the art of traditional oral storytelling from Taffy Thomas and so for several years I wandered around Essex telling stories in schools and historic buildings.  By this time I was living in Brightlingsea, Essex, which still has fine sailing boats Then to my delight, I was asked by History Press  to put all these stories  in a book called ‘Essex Folk Tales’ and I discovered more tales of smugglers, ghosts, battles and witches and surprising six dragons!

           It was hard work but I was always encouraged in my labours by Mrs Puskin, my cat has always sits by my side while I type.  She even sometimes tries to press the keyboard to help! So to please her, my latest book has been “An Amazing Storytelling Cat”. 

The Amazing storytelling cat

Now this cat is called Kiyoko and he is a Japanese bob tail cat with one green eye and one blue eye who tells enchanting tales to his five lost cats. What a collection the stories are as they include is a ghost story from China, a Halloween tale from America, a humorous tale of the mouse who fell in a beer barrel, an Egyptian cat goddess and a queenly white cat from Ireland ! 
The lost cats who listen to Kiyoko

To find them, just look me up on Amazon or go to my web site   www.Janwilltell.co.uk

Jan in Essex
Thank you so much Jan, I'm sure readers of this blog will enjoy your lovely post, Barbara.

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