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1. Upcoming Release of Mystery Romance Novel Loves' Conqueror on Net Galley






Loves' Conqueror is a long awaited book for my romance novel fans. For years I have been focusing on my children's books. which have been very successful. But my fans keep asking me when I am going to write another romance. Well, my dear fans, it has finally arrived. Loves' Conqueror will be released on May 1st, 2015. If you would like to read and review it in advance you can go onto Net Galley and request it at http://www.netgalley.com/catalog/show/id/62284
Please post reviews on Amazon. I'm excited to read what people think. about this new adventure with some amazing characters. I will also be posting some of those reviews on my website http://www.reneeahand.com  Thank you everyone for your support. It's greatly appreciated. Enjoy!



Description:

Miranda Mayne, the daughter of a notorious pirate, spent most of her life in the hustle and bustle of London society, though her true love was always the sea. Promising her father she will stay away from the life that killed her mother, Miranda accepts the marriage proposal of a man she thinks she can trust--only to discover that his true intentions are to secretly capture her father. Trapped between loyalty and deceit, Miranda's heart falls prey for her true match only to find that he is out of her reach. Will she lose everything she holds dear or can she save her father, find true love, and most of all...find herself before reality prevails?

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2. Friday Linky List - March 6, 2015

Because I'm in Edinburgh right now, I had to share this article from BuzzFeed (via Shelf Awareness): 15 Charming Edinburgh Bookshops You Must See Before You Die

From The Artery (via PW): Ed Emberley Won Kids Books' Highest Honor, Then He Taught Us All To Draw

From The Guardian (via PW): Why are so many adults reading YA and teen fiction?

From Salon (via PW): Down and dirty fairy tales: How this rediscovered stash of darker-than-Grimm stories destroys our Prince Charming Myths

SCBWI debuts the new Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (via PW)

From Writer's Digest: Why Every Writer Should Keep a Travel Journal

From BoingBoing: M.T. Anderson, sci-fi author, accidental prophet, and nice guy

From BuzzFeedBooks (via PW): The 19 Funniest Neil Gaiman Tweets Of All Time

From literaticat (Jennifer Represents...): Real Talk: $ix Figure Book Deal$

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3. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katrina Cope, Author of The Sanctum Series

https://www.goodreads.com/series/132184-the-sanctum-series



When you have a group of street kids rescued from the streets, how do you fill their starving stomachs — with a bowl of slop and a slice of bread? Maybe if you were a soup kitchen on a very limited budget, but Avando, a rich grandfather figure, rescued these kids and bad food is not an option.

These kids are not in for a free ride. In between spying, building high-tech equipment and operating surrogate robots, they are expected to learn basic survival and chores. He has them taught to grow their own food at his eco-friendly boarding school camouflaged in the mountains. This produce is then cooked up by the students under the watchful eyes of Ms. Helen, the cook for this mysterious place. They are taught to make many different dishes, from basic hamburgers to home-styled meals that border on restaurant quality. Regularly they have a choice from dishes like lasagne and salad, bacon and cheese quiche, chicken a la king and wok-tossed vegetables, just to mention a few.

These delicious meals are surrounded by snacks at morning and afternoon tea consisting of a variety of home cooked muffins, biscuits/cookies and fluffy cakes of all different flavours and types and definitely do not forget the tea and coffee.

The borders at The Sanctum boarding school do a lot better than their spy counterparts at the government-run genius school, Ernest State College. Spare a thought for Liam’s injured friends. How about chowing on a nice set of cutlery? Yes, that’s right, cutlery. I’m serious. Liam was going to serve his sick friends a nice platter of shiny silver cutlery. I know this is hard to believe, but the genius was so distracted he didn’t realize that he hadn’t served up any food. It was a good thing his sister Gemma was on the ball and took over to make sure his friends were well cared for. He is not completely useless, though. At least when they were well, he managed to select for them a variety of muffins, cookies and apple juice.

Which school would I recommend you visit for a meal? Well, it would definitely be The Sanctum. However, don’t turn your back on your food if Robert is around. It’s never safe, even if he has already eaten or if it has been dropped on the floor. In fact, in book three of The Sanctum Series, Taylor’s Plight, not even the grubs and trees were safe when he was in the bush hiding for a few hours away from real meals!


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



You can find Katrina here:




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4. Giveaway: City Love by Susane Colasanti (US Only)

Book’s Title: City Love

Author’s Name: Susane Colasanti

Release Date: April 21, 2015

 

About the Book

Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?

Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?

Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

Told from alternating points of view, the City Love trilogy captures the moments in each girl's life when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once . . . in a way it will never be again.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_susanelove.jpgAbout the Author

Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting
for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, Keep Holding On, All I Need, and Now
and Forever. Susane has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a
master’s degree from New York University. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007,
Susane was a high school science teacher for ten years. She lives in New York City.

You can connect with Susane at her website, susanecolasanti.com.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube

Add the book on Goodreads

 

Giveaway Details

One winner will get an ARC of City Love. US only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30-60 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question you'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: Which character from City Love must have a pouch that says “New York
Is My Boyfriend”? Find the answer on citylovetrilogy’s Instagram.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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5. How to organize my book

Question: I just started writing an idea that popped into my head. It's about a girl that finds her fiance cheating on her and gets her heart broken, now

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6. Rob Dunlavey talks about play and drawing

Rob Dunlavey from Scott Bakal on Vimeo.

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7. कार्टून … महिला दिवस

The post कार्टून … महिला दिवस appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. {Blog Tour} Giveaway & Review of SERAPHINA & SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman

Now Available in Paperback The New York Times bestseller and the hotly anticipated sequel  SERAPHINASeraphina #1by Rachel Hartman Age Range: 12 and up Hardcover: 512 pagesPublisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (July 10, 2012) Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding

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9. Query Question: intra-agency referral



Is it unreasonable to expect intra-agency referrals when one agent rejects a query or passes on a partial or full MS but thinks an associate may be interested? I believe that the rejecting agent would not be burdened with much extra time, and could possibly earn valuable extra credit points for a comfy (rumored) afterlife existence. 


Yes.
It's not reasonable to expect anything other than a reply to a query. Anything else is a bonus.  

Very rarely will I reply to a query with "Agent X here at FPLM might be a better fit." When I do, it's NOT a referral, it's a redirection. Agent X handles dinosaur porn, I do not. I have not read your pages of dinosuar porn, and even if I had, I have no way to judge their merit.

And what you think is not "extra much time" isn't. Inevitably there is a back and forth with Agent X so s/he can know how much I've read, and if there are any special circumstances ie it's my mom querying the dinosaur porn so X has to be polite etc.

And I'm not depending on earning afterlife points in my query queue. I earn those when I negotiate contracts.

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10. Pick of the Week for REFLECTION and This Week’s Topic

reflection

Happy Illustration Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Geraldine Sy, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of METROPOLIS. Thanks to everyone else for participating. We hope it was inspiring!

You can also see a gallery of all the other entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:

PATH

Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!

HAPPY ILLUSTRATING!

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11. Children's Book Review - Cindrella's Secret Slipper by Alinka Rutkowska



Written by: Alinka Rutkowska 
Illustrated by: Konrad Checinski
 Publisher: Capraro Press (February 6, 2015)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00S5AB1J6

 Alinka Rutkowska creates a splendid twist to the original Cinderella by going into the future of Cinderella. Cinderella’s Secret Slipper reunites Cinderella, her prince, fairy godmother, and a new character who adds modern day mischief to Cinderella’s latest dilemma. The quirky illustrations by Konrad Checinski will have the reader chuckling out loud throughout Cinderella’s Secret Slipper. A new classic has been born!

Learn more about Ms. Rutkowska’s career at…

READERS Go to http://alinkarutkowska.com and get one of her children's books for free!

AUTHORS: Go to http://alinkarutkowska.com/authors-home/ and get her ebook "200 Book Marketing Tips" for free!

Purchase links:
http://alinkarutkowska.com/css-buy/ 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5AB1J6

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cinderellas-secret-slipper/id958162112?ls=1&mt=11 

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/cinderella-s-secret-slipper 

Video Book (direct purchase from author): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=9U3UPYK4W6SYU

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

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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12. Navigating a Debut Year: Writing Life

                  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers The Name of the Rose The Crimson Petal and the White Crossing to Safety Sophie's World

I first ran this series five months after May B. hit the shelves. With Blue Birds releasing next week (!), it feels like the right time for me to revisit my Writer’s Manifesto — a list of things I’d like to focus on in my public, private, and writing life. 

This is not in any way meant to be preachy or condemning (please notice I’m directing all of this to myself). I have yet to figure everything out and am in many ways a pro at doing the exact opposite of what I know is best. Yet these are ideas I’ve circled back to again and again, things I know will ultimately benefit my career, my friendships, my writing and my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

In my writing life I will…
  • Write the stories that speak to me: I will continue to write what nourishes and interests me first and worry about the market second.
  • Seek guidance, support, and direction when needed: I will ask questions of my agent and editor when I’m unsure or need help. I will go to other writers in the same life phase or those older and wiser when I need assistance.

In my writing life I will not…
  • Lose my love for story, kids, or words: Once you’re published, art becomes commodity. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. I want my motivation and passion to remain firmly in the place it always has been. While there are no guarantees of success in writing this way, their is much joy, and this, in the end, is more important to me.
  • Compare one book against another: I choose not to be paralyzed by comparing my titles to previous books I’ve written. Each deserves to stand alone and has its own merit. The rest of the publishing world has the freedom to compare if they choose. For me to do so is unfair to new stories beginning to form.
  • Despair: If you know me well, you know panic is a part of my writing when I’m drafting something new. I fret that I don’t know how to write or have nothing new to say. But I can’t let that panic lead to despair. Reminding myself that things always start this way keeps things in perspective. Allowing myself to play with language and ideas is much more doable than telling myself I’m writing an entire book. Choosing to nurture rather than berate gives me permission to try.

It’s my hope that holding to what I’ve processed these last few months will keep me grounded, help me grasp the deep satisfaction writing brings, and hold at bay the things that only lead to disappointment.

What about you? What things do you want to uphold in your public, private, and writing lives?

The post Navigating a Debut Year: Writing Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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13. Agent Carter Actors Star in Speed Reading Video

Two actors from the Agent Carter TV series, Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, took on First Book’s speed reading challenge. In the video embedded above, Atwell and D’Arcy read aloud from Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad All Year. Altogether, they managed to read 73 words in only 10 seconds. Click here to find out how Mo Willems fared when he took on this task.

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14. A Penguin Named Patience, A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story – PPBF

Title: A Penguin Named Patience, A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story Written by: Suzanne Lewis Illustrated by: Lisa Anchin Published by: Sleeping Bear Press, 2015 Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, penguins, rescuing, patience Suitable for ages: 3-7 Opening: Patience knew something was terribly wrong. It was dark and steamy … Continue reading

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15.

charlottes-web

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16. March Adness Continues



Round 1, Day 6 

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. 


"BOOKS" BRACKET (Bottom Half)

Game 21: Doctor vs. Sheep







Game 22: Wishbone vs. China






Game 23: Lookback vs. Priest







Game 24: Vendor vs. Tall Books



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17. Life Out Here, on a Speck


Mauritius is really out there. There are times when I feel that reality more than other. When I'm flying the leg of the trip from Dubai and the map on the screen in front of my seat that shows the route to Mauritius basically shows the Indian Ocean and the flight is 7 hour long- and then you can see by the on board cameras that there is a bit of land appearing (after the 7 hours)- and you think, "Wow- they found it in all of that vast ocean- the speck". Another time the remoteness of our current location hits me is when I'm driving. The width of the island on the northern end is around 5 miles- the size of the entire island is 788 square miles- drive takes about 20 minutes. 

Still, it's good thing to change the scenery and everything else and live here for a bit (no idea how many years we will be here, but we're calling it home for now). It's good to have to find a new way to do everything- to make a brain that has gotten used to doing things in a certain way and going certain places and experiencing different things. One thing that I love here is talking to people- like this young woman I met named Jessica. Jessica has this total island attitude and out look and is so happy and light- there is a wonderful uncomplicatedness here. In the west we have so many more complications- and really, why? Well- maybe the transitional nature of where the west is right now- a lot of in-between-ness a lot of undefined things...but maybe it was never really any different ?




Okay- the picture portion of this post. Above is a gecko walking around outside at night on the illuminated surface of a frosted bathroom window. Forget TV, Fred and I spent an evening watching this little creature fill its belly with wiggling, moving bugs- they moved in its belly too! It had a feast with the light attracting the bugs. 



Here is my Fred. He's carefully placing the shells that our kid arranged on a restaurant table. I marvel that the guy- he is the one that got us all to come out here. A couple of year ago I had only heard of Mauritius as where the dodo bird met its fate when people showed up and messed up what millions of years of evolution took to create. Fred is one of these people who has these visions of what is possible and then he goes out and creates. I suppose that I do that too, but I do it on paper- or digitally these days- in the art/literature realm. The expression of out ideas and the distribution is different. My distribution is bigger, and my travel is usually within- his travel is farther (but I suppose I'm here too, huh...) but few people experience that direct idea (for now).



This is looking north on the northern end of the island- not far from where we live. The clouds always fascinate me- they move so quickly and it's always a show. Last night I was in the pool looking up at a moon lit composition of billowy clouds moving overhead. I'm so grateful to be having these experiences- and sharing them with my Pookie. 


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18. TURNING PAGES: OUT OF THE DRAGON'S MOUTH by JOYCE BURNS ZEISS

Narrative non-fiction is generally the only type of non-fiction we review here at Wonderland, 'cause we're all about the story. This novel isn't non-fiction, despite the jacket copy calling it an authentic immigrant story. Those writing historical... Read the rest of this post

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19. A Gouache by Jean Giraud

Christie's in Paris will be hosting an auction of comics and illustration on March 14.



One of the lots is a Jean Giraud cover for a 1970 Blueberry comic called the "Iron Horse," 36 X 49.2 cm (14.17 x 19.37 in.). Giraud's image of the American West evokes the work of Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell.

Giraud (1938-2012) is better known by the pseudonym Moebius, which he used for his science fiction work. He painted with equal virtuosity in almost every medium, including pen-and-ink, watercolor, colored inks, acrylic, and oil. 


This one is in gouache. The detail shows the variety of strokes and colors he uses to describe the complex forms of the train. He probably executed a careful underdrawing first, but he didn't hesitate to cover it up with opaque paint.

Gouache allows for a variety of handling, from fine delicate strokes, such as those of the grasses in the foreground, juicy blobs, such as on the horse, or brilliant opaque color, such as in the sky.

The upcoming Christie's auction will include a fine selection of bandes dessinées and illustration, including Uderzo, Bilal, Manara, Pratt, Schuiten, Juillard, and Guarnido. The selection was made by Galerie Daniel Maghen of Paris.

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20. Let’s Take an Adventure into the Great Bear Rainforest

Today we’re on a quest for the Spirit Bear with twins Gannon and Wyatt in the Great Bear Rainforest up in Alaska.

Great-Bear-Cover_web

Have you ever imagined traveling the world ? Not only have we imagined it, we’ve done it. Can you imagine how happy we were to discover this wonderful book series Travels with Gannon & Wyatt by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet about twin brothers Gannon and Wyatt who tour the world with their flight attendant mom and their international businessman father.

In Great Bear Rainforest we go in search of the mythical spirit bear. Surviving in the unforgiving wilderness of British Columbia Canada can prove more challenging than both Gannon and Wyatt could ever have imagined. When members of the expedition go missing, the brother bravely set out on a search and rescue mission. Soon the find themselves lost in a forest teeming with grizzly bears, wolves, and mysterious gunmen. Guided by a very wise and smart Native American teen, Gannon and Wyatt uncover a sinister plot and must risk everything to save those who are missing and restore balance to the Great Bear Rainforest.

This book is well written and gave us insights to a region of the world we don’t know at all. The storyline was exciting and captivating. I greatly appreciate the layout of the book as it lends well to young advanced readers such as 8 year-olds with a middle school reading level.

The story also deals with real life conservation issues being done to preserve bears, salmon and the whole region from oil pipelines going thru this pristine and vast wilderness.

Written in the tradition and style of historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt holds great moments of adventure as well as beautiful photographs, maps, and nuances to keep it interesting. Other books in the series are Egypt, Greenland, Iceland, Tanzania, Ireland, The American West and Botswana. Filled with fun and adventure we love this series and are so glad to have discovered it.

Something To Do

This adventure planted seeds of inspiration to discover more about the Great Bear Rainforest. Let’s go exploring and see what we can discover.

Great-Bear-Rainforest-photo-1-thumb-425x282

Where is the Great Bear Rainforest?

The Great Bear Rainforest is a remote region of temperate rain forest in Canada, on the British Columbia Coast between Vancouver Island and Southeast Alaska.The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest left in the world.

.great bear rainforest map

Great Bear Rainforest Wildlife

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to some very impressive wildlife both on land and in the sea.The area is home to species such as cougars, wolves, salmon, grizzly bears, and the Kermode (“spirit”) bear, a unique subspecies of the black bear, in which one in ten cubs displays a recessive white colored coat.

Kermode or The Spirit Bear

Spirit bears are rare black bears with white or creamy fur, brown eyes, dark nose pads, and nearly white claws. They are not polar bears or albinos. Less than a thousand exist.

Legend of the Spirit Bear

“For many years, the Spirit Bear was considered a legend of the Gitg’at and Kitasoo Native Peoples. Their legends told of a time when the glaciers finally receded, and it was Raven who made everything green. Raven also decided to make one in ten black bears white, to remind him of the time when the world was white with snow and ice. Raven decided to set aside a special area of the world for these bears – now known as the Great Bear Rainforest. It was a remote paradise where the bears were to live in peace forever.” David Burrell

More facts about the Kermode Bear:

  • Average litter size is 2, although 1 to 3 cubs is possible. Newborn cubs weigh up to a pound.
  • Lifespan: 20 to 25 years in the wild.
  • Weight: about 250 to 300 pounds for males. Females weigh about 125 to 175 pounds. Length is approximately 5 to 6 feet.
  • The population of the Kermode bear is estimated to be under 1300.
  • Due to the remote and unspoiled territories that these bears live in, they are neither accustomed nor fearful of man.
  • The major threat to this species is loss of pristine habitat from ongoing logging operations. Global warming is a long term threat that alters their balanced ecosystem. Reduction of salmon supplies by man made activities (e.g.: over fishing, pollution, etc.) also threaten the Kermode spirit bear.

More about the Gitga’att Tribe

In Travels with Gannon and Wyatt Great Bear Rainforest, we are introduced to the Native American Gitga’tt Tribe. A teenage girl named Alu helps the boys on their long journey to find their parents.

History: The ancestors of the present Gitga’at people lived at their ancestral home Laxgal’tsap (Old Town) in Kitkiata Inlet, on the northwest side of the Douglas Channel.

Society: The Gitga’at are members of the Tsimshian cultural group which is a matrilineal society. Clans affiliation, crests, names, and resource gathering areas are inherited from the mother’s side of the family.

Resource Use: Each House Group had specific territories for harvesting resources. As well, they share communal gathering places such as salmon rivers at Lax Galtsap (Old Town) and seaweed sources near Kiel, the spring camp.
Language: The Gitga’at originally spoke Sguuks or Sguumxs (Southern Tsimshian), but adopted the more widely spoken Sm’algyax (Coast Tsimshian).
Governance: Gitga’at society is sophisticated and complex, with intricate rules and norms that guide social relations, governance and economic activity.

Let’s Learn A Little Gitga’tt

Gannon and Wyatt share a little Giga’tt in their book Great Bear Rainforest. Why don’t you give it a try ?

Here are some common phrases from Great Bear Rainforest.

How are you ? Nada will wall ?

I am Fine. Aam wila waalu.

What is your name? Nay di wan?

My name is… di away…

Where are you from ? Nadir di will waiting?

Thank you, sir/madam Tooyxsut nuun

I’m hungry Kwdiinu

I’m thirsty Luguungwaga’nu

I like Anoogi

I don’t like Akadi anoint/anoogu

I want Hasagu

I do not want Akadi hasagu

Where is….Ndaayut?

Let’s Meet Gannon & Wyatt

I’ve saved the best for last. Let’s actually meet Gannon & Wyatt in the Great Bear Rainforest. They share their actual adventures from their book in their own voices. Plus we get to meet singing whales, spirit bears, eagles and many more wonderful special moments. It’s really fun and the views are simply stunning.

Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed our adventure today.

If you are in the mood for another and inactive story, check out the enhanced digital eBook for kids, The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!

The Ultimate Guide To Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is a step by step roadmap to this magical world.   Just some of the fun includes:

  • A story filled with beautiful graphic illustrations including tantalizing Treasure Maps and vibrant tutorials.
  • Over 20 Crafts and activities that not only entertain, but educate.
  • You get to jump inside the book and enjoy creating the adventures yourself (Templates, maps, and more are included.)
  • Ever wonder where chocolate comes from? Or how gum is made?  Wonder no more. Now you get to make your own.
  • Conduct activities in the areas of crafting, cooking, and game-playing as well as exploring many facets of candy production.
  • The option to take Charlie’s journey over the course of several days or take shorter journeys if you wish.
  • The creation of a new ritual of reading time with your family and the opportunity to experience the reading of this imaginative tale as a group activity, not a solitary event.

Go HERE to learn more and grab your copy from iBooks!

The Ultimate Guide to Charlie

The post Let’s Take an Adventure into the Great Bear Rainforest appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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21. Luna's Red Hat - a bookwrap



Unwrapping...




Authored and illustrated by Emmi Smid

Great for ages 6+

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22. Shaking Up SLP - Creating the Zen


Change is in the air with SLP. More people are getting outside the box and re-examining the worn-out paradigms of how we engage kids in the summer. These posts look at aspects of SLP and ask us to think bigger, deeper and wider - and share experiences along the continuum for change. 

Our guest today is Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, a colleague at LPL who joined our team last August. Kelsey is a thoughtful, let's-work-on-this-together visionary who is active on the Friends of the CCBC board and in library work. Before she joined us here she worked in a library in a small community (pop. 5000) in WI. In this post she shares thoughts about the path to change in your SLP based on a workshop she did for librarians in our system.

What comes to your mind when you think about SLP? Yes, it’s fun and exciting, but it’s also a busy time of year, and sometimes stressful – for you, for other library staff, and sometimes even for patrons. While SLP maybe never be a smooth, stress-free zone, we can do a lot to make it easier on ourselves and everyone around us.

Let’s start by considering what we’re really trying to achieve - what YOU are really trying to achieve at your library. Promoting reading during the summer, of course. But what do you aspire to when it comes to your own SLP? Spreading the word about the importance of early literacy, and getting parents with babies to participate? Showing middle-grade readers that books can be funny and interesting? Just getting more people in the door? Being thoughtful about what YOU want to do with YOUR SLP will give you purpose, common staff goals, and direction. The Harwood Institute, currently partnering with ALA on the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, has a great worksheeton thinking about aspirations. Though the worksheet has a broader community focus, it can easily be adjusted to focus on SLP.

Another important step is to simplify. Do we really need so many sheets and rules and procedures when it comes to participation? Do we really need so many prizes and incentives to get kids to read? Or can we come up with ways to keep SLP fun and fresh and literacy-focused without jumping through so many hoops? Last summer, at my previous library, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make SLP work better for patrons and more sustainable for ourselves. We simplified procedures, reduced unnecessary elements, and cut way back on incentives. The results were that kids continued their  enthusiastic participation, parents were happy to have less plastic junk, and staff had a much easier time registering participants, explaining the program, and answering questions. Streamlining made everyone happy. Making things less complicated doesn’t mean we’re taking it easy or letting our patrons down. It means we’re being realistic about what we can accomplish, and being thoughtful about sustainable practices.


Finally, let’s talk about prizes. Lots of libraries use them, and that’s okay. There is no prize-shaming here. But are there better ways for us to use incentives when it comes to SLP? I’ve recently noticed several libraries changing the way they incentivize SLP, with fantastic results. Some are thinking about ways they can incorporate altruism, with the “prize” being a Friends-funded donation to a community organization of the child’s choice. Some are giving away books as an incentive. Some are doing away with prizes altogether, focusing on recognition and activity. This past summer in La Crosse, kids could add a sticker to help cover a paper robot on the wall. Research shows that extrinsic motivation, which is the drive to do something because of an external reward, is far less effective than intrinsic motivation, which drives us to do something because we love it. Prizes tap into extrinsic motivation, and while that’s not bad, I believe we can find more effective ways to get kids engaged in literacy. Ways that remind them reading is a fantastic experience in itself.

How about you? What have you been thinking about summer reading/library program? Join our conversation in the comments, on your blog or as a guest post writer (send guest posts to me lochwouters at gmail dot com). For additional thoughtful posts, stop by the Summer Reading Revolution Pinterest board or read other posts in this series

Shaking Up SLP - Facing Down Fear
Shaking Up SLP - Questions
Shaking Up SLP - Research-iness
Shaking Up SLP - Workshop Power

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23. Flogometer for Linzmarie—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Wanted... If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.


Linzmarie sends the first chapter of Command the Ocean. The remainder of the chapter is after the break.

The sun was blinding off the Patapsco River where Corey Esham Scarborough worked in the oyster beds. She tucked her shoulder-length coffee brown hair back into her cap. It was growing out from where she had cut it completely off to sell and now she felt it stuck out in weird places. With winter coming, she was glad it had now fallen past her shoulders.

“Girl!” the foreman called out. “Girl,” is what they always called her despite having stolen men’s clothing from a between buildings clothing line back in New York State during her first winter on the mainland.  Many more days out in the hot sun and they’d be calling her “woman” for all the wrinkles and spots the sun gave her. It’s what came from working in the wretched bays of the Chesapeake from lantern light to lantern light. “Girl, go in the Eleanor Nesbitt and help with the tonging.” Corey gave her bag over to another worker and left the shallow bed where she had been collecting oyster shells by hand. She hoped in the tonging boat without a hand up from anyone. The men treated her differently than they did ladies on the street but Corey was glad for it. She preferred it best when they left her alone to do her work.

The Eleanor Nesbitt was a log canoe rigged with handtongs for collecting the oysters. Corey would lower the basket into the water and rake it along the ground to pick up the oysters. Hand over hand, she’d pull up the heavy basket full of water and oysters until she could swing the basket aboard. It was unwieldy to do in the best of weather let alone a storm picking up as it (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Linzmarie's first page?

There’s some interesting stuff here, but the narrative isn’t, to me, ready for prime time yet. There’s a fair amount of backstory and exposition that slows the story. More than that, what’s happening here? A girl is working. There’s no jeopardy in sight, nor a notion of what the story is about. There’s a later mention of working in stormy weather, but it’s not stormy on the first page. I suggest you consider reading the chapter out loud. It may help you see where things become confusing and/or drags due to information being loaded in. Keep at it, though, it sounds like a gritty and tough world. A few notes:

The sun was blinding off the Patapsco River where Corey Esham Scarborough worked in the oyster beds. She tucked her shoulder-length coffee brown hair back into her cap. It was growing out from where she had cut it completely off to sell and now she felt it stuck out in weird places. With winter coming, she was glad it had now fallen past her shoulders. I wouldn’t clutter up the narrative with all of her names. Corey is fine. POV slip—she wouldn’t be thinking of her hair as “shoulder-length coffee brown”—she would just tuck her hair back in to her cap. Since the hair is now past her shoulders, the information dump about having cut it off isn’t helpful. Having sold it is interesting, but I’d find a later place to include that, if necessary.

“Girl!” the foreman called out. “Girl,” is what they always called her despite having stolen men’s clothing from a between buildings clothing line back in New York State during her first winter on the mainland. Many more days out in the hot sun and they’d be calling her “woman” for all the wrinkles and spots the sun gave her. It’s what came from working in the wretched bays of the Chesapeake from lantern light to lantern light. “Girl, go in the Eleanor Nesbitt and help with the tonging.” Corey gave her bag over to another worker and left the shallow bed where she had been collecting oyster shells by hand. She hoped hopped in the tonging boat without a hand up from anyone. The men treated her differently than they did ladies on the street but Corey was glad for it. She preferred it best when they left her alone to do her work. I don’t understand what having stolen men’s clothing some time ago has to do with her being called “girl.”

            The Eleanor Nesbitt was a log canoe rigged with handtongs for collecting the oysters. Corey would lower the basket into the water and rake it along the ground to pick up the oysters. Hand over hand, she’d pull up the heavy basket full of water and oysters until she could swing the basket aboard. It was unwieldy to do in the best of weather let alone a storm picking up as it (snip) Rather than tell us about the tongs, basket, etc., just show her using them, which is what she has just been told to do.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Linzmarie

 

Continued

was threatening to do. Working in the tonging boat during a storm was a surefire way to get seriously injured or even die. But Corey needed the money and tongers made more than she would in the shallow beds. Being a woman helped her keep her balance the boat but hindered her leverage to swing up the baskets. She worked with a partner using her skill set and their strength if they didn’t find working with a woman to be objectionable. There weren’t many of them willing to go out in a stormy weather. She knew most of the men who worked in oysters, including the foremen thought her expendable. If anything she made demonstration of their shortcomings and there were those who resented her for it.

It was fall now with autumn speckling the trees with an amber hue. There was a crispness in the air and a frigidness to the deeper parts of the water. She had worked the summer as she always had these past four years, in the cannery canning fruit. That type of work was all women, some of them wives of the men in the beds, others immigrants or just poor gals looking for an honest wage. Corey’s Elizabethan Outer Banks accent went largely unnoticed in the diaspora of Eastern Europeans who worked alongside her, most who could barely speak English.  It was only white women on Cove Street. The canneries of eastern Maryland, like all other places, were segregated. All the colored women worked down at Crisfield except for one Leocadia Jackson who worked as a man in secret alongside Corey in the oyster beds in the winter. Corey had caught her one day reliving herself and swore not to tell. A white woman is one thing, a Negro however light skinned another, but a Negro woman was held little higher than a dog in Baltimore.

Corey worked on the Eleanor Nesbitt until the boat was completely full. The storm had come up quick and even she felt nearly sick with the swaying back and forth. One man had been pitched overboard. With Corey’s quick thinking they had managed to find him in the heaving waves by her continuing to point at him until they could throw a rope out. No one else could spot him until they followed her finger.  They seemed to be the only boat still out there. Usually Leocadia would brave the storms to work as well.  

When they finally pulled the boat into the pier, cold and sodden from the rain, they noticed a crowd had gathered. On the wooden planks lay the blue-lipped figure of Leocadia Jackson stripped down to her knees, pert, dark nipples standing at attention Her leg was turn up underneath her in an unnatural way. They said her foot had gotten caught in the tonging rope and drug her overboard in the storm. She had come up under the boat and hit her head. She drowned before they could get her up again. Her large black eyes stared off into some foreign distance, pupils large and rounded, never to focus again.

Corey felt the vomit come up into her throat. A pair of cruel stuck a stick up Leocadia and sodomized her dead body until the foreman saw them and made them stop. He sent word to a Negro preacher to collect her. He came glancing down at the stick protruding from her. Without a word, he covered her, laid her in the back of a cart and took her over to the Negro cemetery to be buried. Corey wanted to call after him, tell him Leocadia’s real name but she stayed still and mute knowing it best not to draw attention to herself. She left when it was time, glad to have the harbor at her back as she walked in the rain toward home.

Corey stayed home the day after that and the next, the revulsion and sadness rising to her throat anytime she thought of leaving.  Finally, she dropped off her daughter with a woman downstairs she had met canning fruit during the summer and ventured down to the docks to find work. She arrived on Cove Street passing the gusting smell of steamed oysters emanating from one of the hundred oyster packing houses in the city and saw the foreman on the dock where Leocadia’s body had lay. Corey stepped gingerly onto the planks subtly skirting the exact area she had seen her friend sodomized.

“There’s no need for you, girl,” said the foreman.

“What do you mean?” Corey asked.

“It’s not good to have women mixing with the men keeps their mind of their work.”

“I’ve been working for them for a year. You know I can pick a bed faster than anyone you’ve got working.”

“That may be so but I’ve got no place for you girl.”

“But...I’ll do anything. I’ll work in the shallow beds, tong or go out in the skipjacks for dredging.”

“I’ll tell you we don’t need you now get on. I’m trying to protect you.  It’s for your own good,” the man shoved Corey away. She tried all the other boats and beds in Baltimore harbor, day after day but they would all have none of her. Begrudgingly she went down to one of the packinghouses and asked to put on the line steaming oyster and slicing them free of their shells. She worked for 16 hours and only received a fourth of what she would have made in the beds. She and her daughter would starve at this rate. “Put her in the workhouse,” they said, the women at the cannery, all of whom had children in the various mills around Baltimore. “Make her earn her keep.” Whitney was four and tiny fingers were useful. Corey wouldn’t hear of it.

That night she listened to her daughter breathe, imagining her with the cotton cough that came from unventilated workrooms and tried to think what was best to do. She needled her fingers together. There was a thought, she had, that kept swimming around inside of her for the past year and a half that now pounded frightfully inside her the more dire their situation became. “Go home to Anson.” She was still in love with her husband she had left almost four years ago.  It hurt to think about it. The regret and longing she felt was a pain that made her knees go.

Whitney was her husband’s child. Corey was pregnant when she left Ocracoke Island, a tiny dot of sand off the coast of North Carolina frequented by fishermen and sailors along with their families.  She had thought mistakenly that it was the stress of travel that made her bleeding stop until she went into labor one morning when working in the frigid water of New York harbor. She had been brought into the cannery and gave birth in the foreman’s kitchen. The foreman’s wife, a midwife, had suggested the name “Whitney” meaning white island. That would have been the time to turn back, go back home, that time away she could have explained. Some hatching frock bit of madness drove her to do it. But Corey hadn’t gone back. She had stayed and fought for their livelihood, whether it was pride or stupidity that kept her going.  Her and her tiny baby had survived together. It was the coldest winter Corey had ever experienced but they had made it through on Corey’s savings and what she earned their first year on the mainland.

Now the money she had brought with her from Ocracoke was long gone. All she had was what she made working every day. There was no safety net only a sharp free fall. A glass bottle slammed outside against a brick wall. Corey peeked out the window hiding behind the threadbare curtains that failed to keep the cold out of the single-paned iced glass. Nothing though she knew the broken amber light from the streetlamps might be concealing something.

All of a sudden their doorknob started furiously rattling. Corey raced across the small room and threw her weight against the fragile door. She realized, kicking herself, that the oyster shucking knife she had taken home from the cannery was under the pillow. The drunks who lived in her building would check her doorknob from time to time to see if this was the night the woman had forgotten the lock.

Eventually whoever it was gave up the fight and shuffled off.  There was another person that came up later, lighter steps, almost as if they walked on their toes. He seemed to hesitate at her door. Corey braced herself against the cool, wooden door but they moved on, the footfalls disappearing into the din. She fell asleep beside the door, wondering if the light of foot fellow would come back and woke in the early morning light. Rubbing her eyes with one hand, she set the other hand beside her. When she did she felt crumpled paper. A note had been slid under the door. “Girl,” it started in curvy, slated writing. “Girl, the oysters are running out in the Chesapeake.” Corey knew that much was true. It was the quiet truth that was rippling the tides from New York to Norfolk. The beds were overharvested. There was talk that distributors were taking oysters from further south and selling them in the north to unsuspecting meat markets as Chesapeake Oysters.

“They won’t let you back into the beds in Maryland,” the note continued. That was true as well. “Come with me to the south. Meet me at the Sailor’s Arms at 10 o’clock this morning.” Corey stared at the loopy handwriting. The Sailor’s Arms was on the edge of the river in an area only frequented mainly by river laborers. There would be some oystermen there, not many but some enough that two more oystermen would not be curious sights enough to raise suspicion. She tried to think whom she had heard mention the Sailor’s Arms in the tonguing boat but couldn’t come up with anyone.

Corey pushed herself up, walking across the cold, creaking, hard floor to the even harder bed where her daughter lay sleeping.  The mattress felt cold to the touch. She tucked the blanket in tighter around her daughter and curled up around her. Was life about living or simply enduring, she wondered as she looked at her daughter’s innocent features. She had prayed for some answer to her plight perhaps this could be it, this mysterious note. She knew she couldn’t keep them here like this. One or both of them would die if she tried.

It was 10 o’clock on the dot that Corey arrived at Sailors Arms her stolen hat pulled low over her face as she heard a church bell chiming in the distance. She hung out near the bar for the better part of an hour with no approach from anyone save a drunken handsy man. She had just gotten up to leave when she heard someone call out, “Girl,” in a quiet, scratchy voice. Corey turned. It was the Frenchman. She had worked with him only once on the tonging log canoe but he usually went out with the dredgers in the skipjack for the larger hauls.

It seemed odd he had been in her tenement building, left her the note. As she sat at his table and listened to what he said and what he didn’t say, Corey began to understand him further. When he said to go south for the oysters he meant the ones they were selling northward as Chesapeake ones. When he said that she could make more than she had made working in Baltimore, he meant that they would steal them.

She didn’t know if he knew what she was ashamed to admit. She had robbed oyster beds before. Not like he was talking about still enough to get her hung or at least a hand chopped off. Whitney had fallen sick and it was the only way she would be able to pay a doctor. She had gone out into the beds further north where no one knew her and collected oysters in the dead of night with naught but a thief’s lantern with the sides smudged out to guide her. It had been easy, too easy. The beds were regularly watched.  But the guard was easily swayed by perfume. And the hookers knew it and took advantage. One of the hookers had helped babysit Whitney when she was only a baby and would have done anything to help. But oysters were more plentiful then and the demand lower. Now there were less oysters and the industry had risen to four million dollars a year in the Chesapeake alone. That was money worth killing for.

Since it had been so easy, she had robbed the bed again. And again another time still when she had difficulty making rent. She had only stopped when the harbor police caught an oyster pirate and hung him in the city square for all to see. Wretches had scrambled over his corpse when they finally brought him down to get a piece of his noose from around his neck. A piece of rope from a hanging was supposed to ward against their own hanging, the knot of the noose being the luckiest part. Corey tied the frayed rope around her wrist and promised herself that day she would never rob another bed. It felt rough and scratchy around her skin as the Frenchman talk as though it was reminding her where it had come from.

 “North Carolina,” he said.

Corey looked up at the name of her home state.

“They’ve been trying to get a cannon to fight the oyster pirates but no one will give it to them on account of their bad credit from the war. But Virginia’s going to agree to give them one.”

“How do you know?” Corey asked.

“Those oysters are claimed for Chesapeake now. They don’t want them going elsewhere. They won’t let you back into the beds with what happened to that Negro woman. They don’t want to work with women. You don’t make enough in the cannery having no husband. No one makes enough to live there. They just keep you going until you can’t take it anymore. Your child will end up in the workhouse. And what for her then, her little fingers cut off from the cotton machine or worse her apron or dress gets caught and then she’s pulled inside and chopped to bits. No one cares about poor children dying save their parents.”

“Did you know I was from North Carolina?”

“I might have asked Leocadia before she died. She was going to be my first choice, now that she’s gone; I thought you’d welcome someone paying for you to get home.” He subtly slid money enough for two train fares across the table.

“I haven’t agreed to do anything,” Corey said.

“Keep the money then. It’s likely the most money you’ll ever have again in your life.”

He left her there at the table.  Corey slid the money into her lap and subtly tucked it into her pocket, her eyes on the other patrons and who might have seen their transaction. It was no used getting robbed before she knew what she was going to do with the money. After finishing her drink, careful to slurp it down like a man.  She walked home to the sound of bells ringing again in the background.  This time they seemed to signal something else. This time they seemed to signal goodbye to the Chesapeake Bay. Is life about living or just enduring, she asked herself again.

Her feet turned against her own accord and she found herself at the train station. Before she could think about it further she bought two train tickets for Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Stepping away from the ticket desk she undid the frayed rope on her wrist and let it fall to the cobblestones. There was no trinket one could buy or steal to ward against death by cannon.

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24. Revision (part two of three)

Last month I posted about revision, starting with a few macro items. I’m here to talk about that even more.

2. Start building on your foundation.

With the macro, we talked about the foundations of the story. Or of a house, in our analogy. (Which is going to get pretty wonky, since I’ve never built a house. You’ll just have to roll with it.) So we’ve got the character and motivation, the worldbuilding, and the major conflicts, goals, and stakes.

For me, everything is interconnected. Characters and their choices drive the plot, the world affects how they behave — that sort of thing. So while I’m talking about everything separately, it’s important to remember that adjusting one aspect of the story will likely impact several others.

And what kind of things am I looking at on this level?

a) Characters and their motivations.

I know we did this one in the last post, but since the characters are the driving force of my stories, I check this in every step until there’s no question that my characters are behaving as they should. I take a closer look at individual scenes to make sure the character development is natural and progressing at a reasonable pace. Or regression, as the case may be. I also go through to make sure that they’re never the same person they were at the start of the scene or chapter.

What’s that mean? I mean the characters need to be active. They need to make decisions. Their situation need to change, even if it’s subtly. They can learn something that changes the way they view a problem. They can take action and be faced with the consequences — either good or bad. Action can be taken upon them, and they’ll be forced to react. Or it can be as subtle as an interaction with another character, and maybe the way they view that character is a little different now.

And that needs to happen in every scene.

b) Plot and conflict.

Speaking of scenes, let’s make sure they’re all useful. A long time ago, I was on the receiving end of some advice. Every scene needs to do two things: plot, character development, worldbuilding, or theme, and one of those things always needs to be plot. If plot is not happening, it either needs to be shoved into that scene, or that scene needs to be removed from the story. Every scene has to earn its place, after all.

Furthermore, does the plot make sense? If at any time there’s an easy solution that my characters aren’t taking, it needs to be really clear why. Someone’s breaking into their house, but they’re not calling the police — WHY? Maybe the characters are hiding a dead body in the basement and it would be a shame for the police to find it. Or whatever. But it needs to make sense why they don’t take the obvious actions.

In general, people will look for the simplest solution possible. Plots that could be solved within a few pages, if only the characters took the natural action, don’t make for good books. It’s not believable.

That said, simple, natural solutions can cause further problems. Going back to the stranger breaking into the house with the people who call the cops (because they don’t have a body in the basement after all), what if the cops come and make things worse? What if they’re on the robber’s side? Or the intruder leaves and the police don’t believe that someone broke into the house? What do the characters do from there? We have all kinds of opportunities to make things worse for the characters and find a plot that both makes sense and will fill an entire book.

c) Balance and movement.

Sometimes, I find my drafts have too many discovery scenes in a row. Or too many action scenes in a row. Or whatever. Too much of one thing at a time gets boring. (Yes, even if it’s action.) When you ride a roller coaster, it’s the steady drag upward that makes the steep drop even more thrilling. And if all you did was roll down the hill . . . even that would get boring. Stories need motion. Up and down. Side to side. They need change.

I like to go through my manuscripts to make sure I don’t have too many talky scenes in a row — or if I have several, make sure they all mean different things to the character, or are about different plots. They need to build tension.

Same for action scenes. (Which doesn’t have to mean sword fights, necessarily. They can be sword fights, of course, but they can also be car chases, kissing scenes, or characters putting their plans in motion.) Constant action, without highs and lows and change is pretty boring. A ten-page sword fight is only interesting if the reader cares about the outcome, and the situation changes rapidly. Maybe people are coming to watch. Maybe there’s money riding on the outcome. Then, an airplane is on a collision course with the fighters. And a meteor! And then someone’s delivering a baby! And more things that escalate the tension.

You get the idea. Things change. There’s movement. And there aren’t a lot of back to back talky scenes, or back to back action scenes without some kind of relief.

d) Structure: Beginning, middle, and end.

For this, I can mostly link to other blog posts about beginnings, middles, and ends. But this is another thing I take a look at when I’m revising. Do I have a solid beginning? A solid middle? A solid end? Have I resolved everything that needs to be resolved?


And that’s all I have room for this time. More next month!

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25. Free First Five Pages Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

The First Five Pages March Workshop will open for entries at noon, EST,  tomorrow! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Patricia Dunn as our guest author mentor, and Kimberly Brower as our guest agent mentor.  So get those pages ready – click here to get the rules!


March Guest Mentor - Patricia Dunn

Patricia Dunn has appeared in Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, the Village Voice, the Nation, LA Weekly, and others. With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also teaches, this Bronx-raised rebel and former resident of Cairo settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog.  Patricia loves visiting class rooms – for more information about virtual visits, click here 

A fresh and authentic coming-of-age story set during the early days of the Arab Spring.
All Mariam wanted was a vacation. What she got was a revolution...
It’s tough fitting in, especially when you have super-traditional Muslim parents and are the only Egyptian at your high school. So when Mariam and her best friend and fellow outcast, Deanna, get arrested after an ill-fated night of partying, she knows that she is in big trouble.
Convinced they need more discipline, their parents pack Mariam and Deanna off to Cairo to stay with Mariam’s grandmother, her sittu. But Mariam’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam used to believe.

 When a girl named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest against their president, Mariam and Deanna find themselves in the middle of a revolution, running from teargas, dodging danger in the streets of Cairo, and falling in love for the first time. As Mariam struggles to reconcile her rich Egyptian heritage with her American identity, she finds that revolution is everywhere, including within herself.  

You can order here: 




We are thrilled to announce that Kimberly Brower, of the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency, will be our guest agent for March! Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. Reading has always been her passion, even while pursuing her business degree at California State University, Northridge and law degree at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. By joining the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency in 2014, she has been able to merge her legal background with her love of books. Although she loves all things romance, she is also searching for books that are different and will surprise her, with empathetic characters and compelling stories. Kimberly is interested in both commercial and literary fiction, with an emphasis in women’s fiction, contemporary romance, mysteries/thrillers, new adult and young adult, as well as certain areas of non-fiction, including business, diet and fitness.

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