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1. Elle Fanning Cast in All The Bright Places

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3. Query Don'ts: Putting a Stop to This Latest Query Trend

There's a new query trend out there, one that isn't helping authors at all, but is driving me crazy.

Here is how the query goes:

Dear Ms. Faust, After seeing on #MSWL that you've been looking for books set in Alaska I knew I had to query you. My book is called Alaskan Cool Guy. The book is about a guy who finds himself alone in the Alaskan Bush after a freak snowstorm downs his plane. Everyone dies. It's truly horrific. Now he must get out all by himself, with only a scissors and an old seat cover as a jacket. ****please note I made up this horrible blurb on purpose --jhf
I have included a brief synopsis and bio below. I hope you like it enough to ask for more. Many thanks,Jessica Author Brief Synopsis: When Frank Franklin's plane crashes in the Alaskan Bush in the middle of Winter, this self-described Whiz Kid finds himself in a situation he never imagined. Lost in a country few could survive with only the remnants of a broken plane for tools, Frank sets out to face what the wild throws at him. At first he's fighting only Mother Nature, but after finding the dead body of what looks like a hunter, Frank starts to wonder if the Grizzlies aren't the least of his concerns. Finally he makes it to safety, changed for the better.
Jessica Author has been writing since she was 12. It's been a dream of hers to be published. Born in Alaska, she has a strong desire to bring this beautiful country to life for readers.
Jessica FaustAddressPhone Email

Okay, here's the problem, besides the fact that your synopsis isn't very good, it's buried. Why would you include the blurb for your book after your letter? I'm already done reading. It's like sending a cover letter and saying, "P.S. Here are the skills that make me best suited for the job"

Query letters should look something like this:

Opening introductory paragraph
Author bio
That's it. Don't over complicate it.

I've done a ton of blog posts on how to write a proper query letter. Query Shark is an excellent source of information. Use them.


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4. Kishaz Reading Corner: The Kiss that Launched 1000 Gifs by Sheralyn Pratt

This is a repost of my review which originally published on July 21, 2015 on my Indie Author How-to Blog.

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

About the Book

Each weekday from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Grace and Ashton cohost Battle of the Sexes, a radio program arguing the he-said/she-said issues of the day. Their fiery debates often have listeners wondering if there’s more to their relationship than just talk, even though Grace has been dating Phillip, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Perfect, since long before she ever met Ashton Miller.

Yet when news comes that Battle of the Sexes is on the bubble for cancellation, Grace and Ashton need to step up their efforts to engage their audience to keep the show alive. When a charity organization approaches them and proposes that the two of them kiss for a fund raiser, Grace and Ash agree to kiss for a good cause. A kiss is just a kiss, right?

Or can one kiss really change everything?

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 5 stars

Here's why:

I have so many words I want to use to describe this book: amazing, hilarious, touching, captivating. And even then, these four don't do it justice.

Ashton and Grace are my new favorite main characters. The humor, the emotions, the banter, it was everything you'd like to see in a romantic story. Neither character overpowered or outdid the other. They truly complemented one another.

I ranted, cheered, cried, and did a happy dance as I devoured this book in one sitting. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a feel-good, funny and relationship centered story.

Would I recommend this book? Yes! Yes! Yes! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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5. Entrance Ramp

At sunrise I'm standing at the bottom of an entrance ramp leading down into a parking lot in Kingston, New York. It's not a place that tourists would ever go. 

Entrance Ramp, casein, 5 x 8 inches. 
Instead, ordinary people come here on their daily routines. At this hour it's mainly older guys arriving for fitness sessions at the YMCA and patients showing up for appointments at the nearby radiology lab.

Off in the hazy distance is a tangle of street lights, utility poles and cell towers. The sun is coming up hot. A few pools of cool air settle in the shadows around my ankles.
I limit my casein colors to three (plus white): raw umber, golden ochre, and cobalt blue. The underpainting of tinted Venetian red adds a contrasting hue. (By the way, using a contrasting colored underpainting is a legal way to sneak in an additional color in the "Outdoor Market Challenge.) 

Halfway into the block-in. The blue-yellow limited palette mixes with the red of the underpainting.

Covering the surface with grayish opaques is like putting out a fire. A few red embers still glow. 

Now I can concentrate on the close value contrasts and the oppositions of warm and cool colors.

I'm glad I've got my night-painting Department of Art shirt on, because I'm standing a little ways into the road. 

As I paint, I wonder about strange stuff, like why poles are never vertical, and who chose those ball-shaped street lights, and what the sounds would have been like here 100 years ago. I think this sunken parking lot was once the basement of a bustling factory.

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6. Bee Dance - a review

9780805099195Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski(Henry Holt, 2015)

Suitable for sharing with a story time group, Bee Dance is presented as a conversational entreaty to bees,

Waggle faster, honeybee! Buzz louder! Your dance points the way to the prairie."
Bee Dance is lyrical nonfiction with large, bright, cut-paper illustrations.  An author's note contains additional facts and the author's source material.

  • You can watch an actual "waggle dance" below.

It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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7. Micro Reviews: Demons, Race Horses, Assassins and Majors

And here’s another catch up post of long overdue mini reviews.

The Shadow Ellysium by Django Wexler

B / B+

This short novella served its purpose as a teaser to generate interest in the Shadow Campaigns series. I loaded The Thousand Names on my Kindle – now I just need time to read it!


To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

B / B+

This inspirational romance caught my eye because of the horse on the cover.  Maggie is dismayed when her father arranges her marriage to Cullen, an Irish immigrant.  She’s reluctant to marry a complete stranger, and an Irishman at that.  She’s also fearful that he’ll object to her training her mare to run in an upcoming race. 

I enjoyed the development of the romance, as well as the details of daily life on a farm in post Civil War Tennessee.  The author doesn’t shy away from describing the prejudices and terrible treatment of the Irish and African Americans.  At first I had a hard time with Maggie because her thoughts and views mirrored those of her neighbors, but as she got to know Cullen and the farm hands working for them, she began to finally see them as individuals deserving respect.  And the horsey bits were entertaining. 



Hit! by Deliah S Dawson


This just did not work for me. I can’t help but think that a huge banking conglomerate would have a better solution for deadweight borrowers than having them assassinated, or forcing them to be assassins. Meh, I didn’t care for HIT.

Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle


Fun read with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe. Lady Arabella escapes the suffocating confines of her father’s estate to grab a small taste of freedom before she’s forced to marry a stodgy old bachelor. Her father is furious with her because a handsome stranger made a spectacle of her at a ball, and now he’s adamant that she marry before she’s completely ruined. She runs into the rakish Kingsley, the stranger from the ball, after he almost runs her down with his carriage. Arabella convinces him to accompany her on her day of freedom, arguing that he owes her three favors for his behavior at the ball. What follows is an enjoyable romp through London, as Arabella and Kingsley fall for each other during their unusual adventures. I really enjoyed this.

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8. Confused about the order of things

Question: I am 13, and I finished my manuscript, and I'm about to give it to my sister, who is an excellent writer, to edit. While she is doing that I

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9. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Michelle Zaffino, Author of The Love Quad


Cookies & Cocktails in The Love Quad, a teen novel by Michelle Zaffino
Released March 2015 by In the Stacks Publishing

In my teen novel The Love Quad, Emma's in college, so she's into cookies and cocktails. Which means - Sugar!

Emma actually bakes Nigella Lawson's salted peanut chocolate chip cookies in the book, partially because she needs to use baking as a distraction, and also because she wants to bring them to a guy named Spencer who she has a crush on. Here's the recipe:

Nigella Lawson’s Favorite Cookies

6 ounces unsalted butter
1 packed cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup salted peanuts
Melt butter, cool. Beat in brown and granulated sugar, then mix in vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and soda. Fold in chocolate chips and peanuts. Refrigerate cookie dough for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with a Silpat or other genius nonstick liner.
Shape the cookie dough into disks about 2.5 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Bake until golden brown around edges and cracked and chewy in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cool for three minutes on sheets then remove to wire racks. Makes 20 cookies. Enjoy!

Things with Spencer and Emma don't work out romantically, because Spencer turns out to be gay, but they end up best friends anyway. They start hanging out at the radio station where they both work, and at clubs where Emma deejays. One of their favorite bevs to imbibe is a Zipper cocktail.

Here’s how to make a Zipper: 

Combine 1 shot of vodka and 
1 shot of Chambord raspberry liqueur 
over ice, then fill with 7up. 
If desired, add a lemon garnish.

Cheers!—Michelle Zaffino

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Michelle!

You can find Michelle here:

Buy The Love Quad and the prequel How Good It Can Be:

Apple iBookstore                Google Play                Barnes & Noble

Amazon Kindle               Smashwords

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10. New Books and New Reviews

We have had a busy year so far we have released 15 books and we have seven more on the way. We appreciate all the comments from editors, reporters and bloggers. I have shared a few favorites here, enjoy!


Achoo_187Feathered Quill Book Reviews
“This is a fun book that will teach young children about pollen and why we need it. Of course many children who are allergic to some forms of pollen might not find it useful, but they will adore Baby Bear. He sneezes here and there throughout this highly informative book, one that makes it easy for children to understand the pollination process. The artwork is fun, vibrant and the picture book format makes it easy for even the most reluctant reader to learn some very interesting facts.”


AnimalMouths_187NSTA Recommends
“Teachers and their young students will eat this book right up! It offers K-3 students a unique and exciting opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the many types of animal mouths in nature. It stands out among other books of its type because of the stunning photographs and interesting descriptive text that conveys content information about the structure and function of animals’ mouths.”


Fibonacci_187Outnumbered 3 to 1
“This book is absolutely fantastic at teaching the basics of Fibonacci’s sequence to younger kids. So well laid out and with the perfect illustrations to accompany it. My oldest has always had a thing for math and she thinks this book is “so cool I can’t believe I’m learning this.”


PrimateSchool_187Goodreads Review
“Readers will quickly realize just how intelligent primates are and how they can grow bored easily with nothing to do. The photographs from various zoos in the United States feature some primates such as the golden lion tamarin and the white-cheeked gibbon that I have not often seen featured in nature books before. There are many shots of the animals and the zoo keepers hard at work–or play, depending on one’s perspective.”


ThisLand_187ACS Readers Haven
Catherine Ciocchi has written in rhyming cadence a sweet and simple geography lesson. Kids won’t even realize that they have just had a lesson in geography. This is educational entertainment done well.


WandrngWoolly_187Literary Classics
“This is a lovely book which incorporates learning about the Woolly Mammoth while teaching an understanding of the importance of staying close to an adult for safety’s sake. Gabriel has skillfully blended fact and fiction in this book which young boys and girls are sure to connect with on many levels. This book is highly recommended for home and school libraries and for classroom reading.”

Read more reviews by visiting each book’s homepage, and check out our upcoming books ready for reviewing this fall!

AmphbnReptile_187 HungriestMouth_187 LuckyLitter_187 SoundsSavanna_187 SparrowTrees_187 TheyJustKnow_187 TortoiseHare_187


If you would like to review an Arbordale book for your blog or magazine please leave a note in the comments.

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11. Friday Linky List - July 31, 2015

From Shelf Awareness: Retired Busman's Holiday: Bookselling in Scotland

From Entrepreneur (via StumbleUpon): Don't Wish To Be Successful. Expect to Be.From my awesome agency (EMLA): Using Curiosity to Discover Your Destiny

A Folk Song a Day - you're welcome

From Terri Windling: Tunes for a Monday Morning: Ballad Lands

From The Bookseller: Nosy Crow launches illustrator salons

From SchoolVisitExperts.com: How Much Should I Charge? Three Rules of Thumb

From PW: Spring 2016 Children's Sneak Previews

From MTV news via 100 Scope Notes: Reading Rainbow Is Officially Heading for Netflix - it will be available in August!

From HuffPost: Boy Who Couldn't Afford Books Asks Mailman For Junk Mail To Read; Mailman Responds Spectacularly

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12. Cover Revealed for New Dale Talde Cookbook

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13. Death is not the end: The rise and rise of Pierre Bourdieu in US sociology

Pierre Bourdieu would have turned 85 on 1 August 2015. Thirteen years after his death, the French sociologist remains one of the leading social scientists in the world. His work has been translated into dozens of languages (Sapiro & Bustamante 2009), and he is one of the most cited social theorists worldwide, ahead of major thinkers like Jurgen Habermas, Anthony Giddens, or Irving Goffman (Santoro 2008).

The post Death is not the end: The rise and rise of Pierre Bourdieu in US sociology appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Ron Sleeps Alone - a bookwrap

  Sometimes it can be very scary for your child to learn to sleep alone.  The  night shadows,  the pitch-black darkness,  the unfamiliar noises and just lying there wide awake can cause anxiety and fear to your little one as he tries to cope with his aloneness in his own bed.  If you have a child you probably will be able to relate to today's featured book...


Authored by S. Adler and illustrated by Abira Das

Perfect for ages 3-7

Unwrapping some illustrations for you...

About the book...

This wonderful book is about a little boy named Ron who is frightened to sleep alone.  It is written in rhyme and the illustrations are amazing.  The colours and expressions of the characters deeply enrich the text.   Dad reads his little boy a bedtime story then tries to exit his room ...

"Good night Ron, " said Dad, "dream of good things,
Sleep well so you'll be rested for what a new day brings."

Every time Dad tries to leave the room Ron has another request.  He keeps asking his dad to bring him his teddy, his bunny rabbit, his broken train, his soccer ball, and even his red bicycle.  Dad is getting short tempered with Ron because he has had a long day and needs to rest himself.  

Are all his toys heaped in his bed the winning combination to get him to finally fall asleep and feel comforted?  

"There wasn't enough room on the pillow for his head,
Teddy Bear and Bunny took up most of the bed.
That big ball kept moving and rolling around,
The broken train was making a creaking sound."

Ron realizes this won't work, he is too crowded, so he calls on dear old Dad to save the day.  How does Dad make everything right and solve the problem so Ron can finally close his eyes and get a good night's sleep?  You will have to get the book and find out.  Dad becomes a super hero!

This is a perfect bedtime story and I am sure kids (and parents) will be able to relate, enabling everyone in the family to slumber on..... 

About the author...

Sigal Adler is an Israeli children's author with a refreshing, rhythmic writing style.  
The combination of catchy rhymes spiced with humor and an ethical message appeals to the hearts of children.

Originally published in Hebrew, Sigal's books quickly became 
best-sellers in Israel. She has recently begun translating her work into 
English so as to reach and delight a new audience.

We hope you have an enjoyable reading experience!

About the illustrator...

Been working as a children's book and comic artist for 3 years. I am fluent with a variety of styles in illustration with a sound knowledge of Photoshop. Aiming to set up my own Illustration house soon. :)

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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15. Pluto and Charon at last!

NASA’s New Horizons probe swept past Pluto and its moons at 17 km per second on 14 July. Even from the few close up images yet beamed back we can say that Pluto’s landscape is amazing. Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, is quite a sight too, and I’m glad that I delayed publication of my forthcoming Very Short Introduction to Moons so that I could include it.

The post Pluto and Charon at last! appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Why do we prefer eating sweet things?

Is the "sweet tooth" real? The answer may surprise you. Humans vary in their preference towards sweet things; some of us dislike them while others may as well be addicted. But for those of us who have a tendency towards sweetness, why do we like what we like? We are hardly limited by type; our preference spans across both food and drinks, including candy, desserts, fruits, sodas, and even alcoholic beverages.

The post Why do we prefer eating sweet things? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Start Where You Are — an illustrated journal by Meera Lee Patel

Meera Lee Patel (illustrator, innovator, gentle soul) entered my life through a quiet door, sending me glory in the midst of worry, kindness in the form of a small book, goodness in the form of a nest.

And then, this week, her newest creation—Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration. It's a book of quiet urgings. It yields room to reflect. It asks us to breathe, to clear our minds, and to move forward.

It gives us the words of others, and it gives us Meera herself, who, in her introduction, writes:
I spent a lot of my years longing for the past or waiting for the future to arrive, confused about where I was and where I wanted to go.... I welcomed distraction. I ventured down various paths for the sake of going somewhere, even though none of them took me close to where I wanted to go.
And then.

By simply going forward, Meera says, she wrote, and is still writing, the story of her life.

I don't know how your summer is going, but mine is somewhere between cataclysmic and silent. Or maybe both things at once. I don't know where you are in your life, but I stand at the bottom of a mountain looking up, bewildered and saddened and determined to push on.

Meera's book whispers, Push on. Push on. It's as lovely as she is. It's now available from Perigee (Penguin Random House). It's another Meera gift.

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18. Crowdwatch: Steve Hamaker’s PLOX Volume One

  Well, since it’s Friday let’s go all out with the Kickstarter newsw. Her’s a newsish one from Steve Hamaker, a collection of his graphic novel PLOX Volume One which he’s been serializing online. The story follows three online gamers and their experiences: Kim; the guild leader at the end of her rope, Chad; the […]

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19. WHEN I GET ANGRY: An Original Poem

Many years ago, I wrote a mask poem about a grizzly bear—which I have posted at Wild Rose Reader on more than one occasion. Here it is:


I’m grizzly bear. I’m fierce and fat…

And dangerous. Remember that!

My teeth are sharp as sabers.

My curvy claws can cut like saws,

And when I prowl the woods I growl

And frighten all my neighbors.

I rule the land. This forest’s mine!

I ain’t NOBODY’S valentine!

Don’t think that you can be my friend…

My dinner?



The End

Earlier this year, I used Grizzly Bear as a springboard for writing a poem told in the voice of a child who is having a tantrum:  


When Iget angry, I’ma bear…

A grizzly bear

With coarse brown hair

And curvy claws that cut like saws…

And teeth that tear.

You best beware!

When Iget angry,

I clench my paws

And snap my jaws.

I prowl and growl

Around my room

And fuss and fume

And stomp the floor

And slam my door…


I’m not angry anymore.


Here are two picture books on the subject of of children dealing with their anger:


 The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Keri Recommends this week.

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20. On the Spotlight: The Aqua Lie, by L.L. Hunter

Title: The Aqua Lie
Series: The Aqua Saga book 2
Author: L.L. Hunter
Genre: YA Dystopian
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba of Mae I Design and Photography
Release Date: July 31st
Ever since being told he had to work for General Maddox in order to see Pym, Rush has had more than enough time to contemplate how to get out of this deal.
When he is invited to play a high stakes poker game with the General and his father, he is a little suspicious of the General’s motives.

When he discovers just what he is playing for, it has Rush seeing red.
The prize: Pym’s heart.
But if he loses, he will have to watch his friend Troy take Pym to the annual General’s Masquerade Ball while he sits on the sidelines.
And the hardest part of it all – trying to keep his secret from Pym.

In the much anticipated sequel to The Aqua Secret,
Will Rush be able to keep up the facade, or will it all be unraveled by midnight?

Purchase The Aqua Lie

Purchase The Aqua Secret

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Eden Chronicles. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.”

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21. My tweets

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22. work-in-progress by Linda T Snider-Ward, Louisiana artist

detail of a larger watercolor work-in-progress. I find that I have to let my work "rest" while I work on another piece. I'm pretty excited about this one, but I want it to "rest" a bit until I return to it.  More of my artwork can be seen on my website and my Etsy shop

If you're a watercolorist or just someone who likes dappling in watercolor, and you would like to join this site and share your work, send me a link to your blog or website in a comment, and I'll add you to the site.

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23. Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation works best when the adrenaline kicks in

While my familiarity with the television series is admittedly meager, the consistently Tom Cruise-led Mission: Impossible film entries have played like minor American efforts at aping the formula that made James Bond a success. Generally, they lack the iconic imagery of 007’s finest efforts, while never really being able to hit the same critical appeal […]

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24. Poetry Friday: An Irish Wild-Flower by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

She felt, I think, but as a wild-flower can,
Through her bright fluttering rags, the dark, the cold.
Some farthest star, remembering what man
Forgets, had warmed her little head with gold.

Above her, hollow-eyed, long blind to tears,
Leaf-cloaked, a skeleton of stone arose...
O castle-shadow of a thousand years,
Where you have fallen - is this the thing that grows?

- An Irish Wild-Flower by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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25. Does homeownership strengthen or loosen the marriage knot?

Picture a snapshot of the American Dream. Chances are, this calls to mind a house and a family. Perhaps the most enduring institutions in American society, homeownership and marriage have shaped the economic fortunes of families in the United States since the country’s origin. So what is the relationship between the two?

The post Does homeownership strengthen or loosen the marriage knot? appeared first on OUPblog.

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