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1. The Truth About the Midlist

I think you're going to see a lot of blog posts based on the restructuring of Berkley/NAL. It's when something like this happens that I find myself with a whole slew of new ideas. Usually based on conversations we're having in the office or with clients.

One of these conversations involves the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist is defined as those books that fall in the middle of a publisher's list. They aren't the top sellers (not always bestsellers, but those books that sell the most) and they aren't at the bottom, those books with sales so low that they just aren't salvageable. You know, books that only sell 2,000 copies. Ever.

Midlist books are those books that are selling moderately well, have solid sales, but just aren't pushing to top selling status. They could be mysteries, romance, nonfiction, paperback, hardcover. They could be anything because it's not about the genre, but about sales.

One of the things the Berkley/NAL conversation has brought up is the death of the midlist. The same death I've been morning since my first day in publishing. I mean, I've been around long enough now that I think I can say that's a freakishly long mourning period.

Here's the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That's not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren't top selling numbers, but aren't at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.

When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn't mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I'm an eternal optimist?

Books that languish in the midlist, that are selling a little less with every new book (in a series for example) aren't making money for a publisher and aren't growing an author's career. And that is always the goal, whenever an agent takes on a new client, whenever a publisher buys a new book and whenever an author sits down to write the goal is, and should always be, to grow that author's career. Not to languish in any list.

--jhf

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2. It's a "White Page Day"

HELLOOOOOOOOOOO TEACHERS!!!!

Woohoo!!!! It's #TeachersWrite Time!

I'm your friendly Monday-Morning Warm-Up host and I'll be posting here every Monday Morning with a little writing encouragement and exercise to get you going for the week.

To start, let's think about why you're here. What are your goals? What do you want to say? Why is writing important to you? These are big questions, but I find the answers are what help me keep going on days when it's hard to sit and write.

Here's a favorite passage from Jacqueline Woodson's brilliant and beautiful book, Brown Girl Dreaming (from the poem "Composition Notebook"):

Nothing in the world is like this—
a bright white page with
pale blue lines. The smell of a newly sharpened pencil
the soft hush of it
moving finally
one day
into letters.

(Brown Girl Dreaming, page 155)

Guess what, friends? Today is your white page day!

Today, you get to open a new notebook, start on a new page, a new screen, a new scrap of paper, a new sticky note. Today, that wonderful blank page is waiting for your words to fill it up with a note, a memory, a phrase, a thought, a piece of love. Your truth. Your story.

How can you make that white page colorful? Meaningful? Special? What do you want to tell the world? How might the story inside you change a life if you share it?

My task for you today, on this White Page Day, is to find a blank page and make a list of what you know about your project, and the reasons this particular one is important to you. Just start listing each little piece, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Write everything you know so far. Everything you hope for. Everything you see when you close your eyes and think about this particular story.

As you make your list, watch how your words turn into a poem of promises to yourself. Then keep your list somewhere near, so that when your energized days start to wilt, you'll remember the spark that got you started.

Since I'm beginning something brand new this month, here's mine. I'd love it if you shared yours in the comments, too. Or, share them on your own blogs, or on facebook, or tumblr, or wherever you might be spending time these days. Or don't. You can also hold it close to your chest for now. This is your White Page Day. Celebrate it however you want. :-)

A Work In Progress

This is a story about a girl
Thirteen
It's not a lucky year
Next door, there are new neighbors
They are The Haves
She is a Have Not
From a Have Not family
It's summertime
Dry and hot
I think there's a pony she didn't ask for
And an angry pig to feed
And too many responsibilities
There will be dirt
And resentment
Jealousy
A bit of self-loathing
And blaming
Forgiveness
And longing
There's be a boy who can't see her
And a brother who sees too much
There will be loneliness
And there will be loss
But there will also be joy
This is my story
But I'll make it someone else's
I see the scenes like ghosts
They've been haunting me all my life
The images aren't vivid yet
Just pieces of memory and wishes from the past
Secrets and missed chances
Grudges
And misunderstandings
I feel them slowing down now
Waiting for me to reach out and pull them close
Own what's mine finally
Face fears and face facts
Turn them into story
Put it on the page

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3. Former Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott to Collaborate On a Book

BloomsburyTom Daschle, the former Senator of South Dakota (democrat), and Trent Lott, the former Senator of Mississippi (republican), have joined forces. The two politicians plan to collaborate on a book entitled Crisis Point: Why We Must—and How We Can—Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America.

Anton Mueller, an executive editor at Bloomsbury, negotiated the terms of this deal. The publishing house has scheduled the release date for January 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “In their book, the senators argue that the health of our democracy is dependent not only on the free exchange of conflicting ideas, but on the imperative of compromise. Compromise is not, as many would have it today, an indication of weakness; rather, it requires superior leadership, vision, and courage. The senators also offer practical recommendations to address the many other factors that exacerbate partisanship.”

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4. brighton doodlers

Sometimes I get invited to events in Brighton and I hardly ever go, unless I make elaborate plans to stay the night, because it seems far away. But people in publishing who live in Brighton are ALWAYS making the trek up to London for evening events. I started imagining I was like one of those north Londoners who won't go to events in south London, which is just silly. I felt like a wimp. So I finally went, just for an evening.



Here's a doodle of the Dartmoor Pegasus over Brighton Pavilion. (My Seawigs and Cakes in Space co-author, Philip Reeve, created the original fat Pegasus, is from Brighton and often tells me stories about it.) First stop was Liz Pichon's house, where I got to have a peek in the writing shed where she creates the Tom Gates books! She apologised about it being messy but I said she hadn't seen my desk. Liz's books are leading the way for books for so-called 'middle grade' readers in the way they bring together text and lots and lots of drawings.



Tom Gates is right up there with Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants and if you haven't seen the books, definitely check them out. I suspect the success of Tom Gates is one of the reason our publisher was so interested in publishing my highly illustrated books with Philip. So Liz is a bit of a hero, really.




Here's Liz with her husband Mark, who's a sound engineer and does a lot of work with her on apps and things. It's great seeing such a fab creative partnership.



Next stop was Chris Riddell's house, where Liz had masks so we could dress up in Chris's 'The Doodler' Children's Laureate superhero costume.


Photo by Liz Pichon

He and his painter-printmaker wife, Jo Riddell, had a few people around to the garden for drinks to celebrate book number twelve in his Edge Chronicles series with writer Paul Stewart. (Also spot Adam Stower and Zoe Tucker.) Chris sometimes tells me he lives his social life vicariously through my blog, so hello, Chris, if you're reading this! I think being Laureate is going to mean Chris is much MUCH more social than me for the next two years.



Writer-illustrator Sue Hendra and I sneaked back in the woods behind his house to check out his studio. It was locked, but you can see another blog post I made about it here, when Chris gave me a tour.



After a lovely evening, the train ride back (full of sunburnt beachgoers) was a bit of a jolt. In fact, it was so totally undignified that it was rather hilarious. I coped by tweeting this photo:



So it CAN be done, Brighton in an evening. But I'm still tempted next time to pitch a tent on the beach.

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5. The continuing benefits (and costs) of the Giving Pledge

The recent news about charitable contributions in the United States has been encouraging. The Giving Pledge, sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Jr., recently announced that another group of billionaires committed to leave a majority of their wealth to charity. Among these new Giving Pledgers are Judith Faulkner, founder of Epic Systems; Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani Yogurt; and Brad Keywell, a co-founder of Groupon. Moreover, Giving USA reported that charitable donations in 2014 reached an all-time high of $358 billion.

The post The continuing benefits (and costs) of the Giving Pledge appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on The continuing benefits (and costs) of the Giving Pledge as of 7/6/2015 10:16:00 AM
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6. My week at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts

I had a beautiful drive through the Virginia mountains down into the Great Smokies to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where Arrowmont is located. It was really strange because you drive through these beautiful mountains and then all of a sudden, you end up on a main street that looks like they dropped the state fair on it. There are places to buy fudge and candy and play mini golf and ride go karts and a giant aquarium and a ski lift and every manner of attraction that you can think of. At first I thought I must be in the wrong place or have missed my turn even though my GPS kept telling me that I had arrived at my destination. On searching my surroundings when I looked to the left I found the sign for Arrowmont wedged between the sign for Cooters Go Karts and a sign for downtown parking. Just about 200 feet off of the road that seem to encapsulate Disneyland was the main office and all the buildings that make up Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.


The Aquarium across the street from Arrowmont
Gatlinburg is a strange mix of religion and roadside attractions
















Yes, we did...
One of the many boardwalk type attractions
















After getting registered and being assigned to my room I went to the cottage called "Teachers". The cottage was really cool and had a big screened in front porch and a common room with a refrigerator and couches which was really nice but the bizarre thing was that my bedroom was located behind a bathroom which was supposed to be for common use. The only problem was that if someone else was using the bathroom, you were locked in the bed room unless you wanted to use the door that went outside and walk all the way around the building to get into the common room or anywhere else that you wanted to go.
My tiny room accessed through a bathroom
The awesome porch
My first night there was pretty rough because the room was tiny and I was assigned a roommate and she snored all night and so I didn't sleep and was really exhausted for my first day of class. Fortunately, she asked to be moved and I had the room to myself and no one else used the bathroom so the rest of the week was fine as far as that one.







I was so excited for my class because my instructor was Jason Walker a sculptural ceramic artist from outside of Seattle, Washington. His work is exquisite with the quality of construction and finely painted detail that I can only dream of ever mastering. I wanted to take Jason's class because having been a painter for so long and now being in love with ceramics, my goal is to learn to paint better and better on my own ceramic work.
City Animal: Squirrel by  Jason Walker
A porcelain cup by Jason Walker

porcelain cup detail

Jason's class did not disappoint. He is a fine teacher and a really lovely person. He was very humble and encouraging to all of us students. He was very thorough in explaining his process and very patient with each of us as we try to master the skills from construction to painting. I didn't have such an easy time with the three-dimensional construction. Hand building has never really been a great love of mine and I was hoping that the class would turn me more in it's favor. I'm still not sure that I have the patience for it and the piece that I worked so hard on ended up collapsing.


 Clay can be a heart breaker and that's part of the learning process as well. Jason's class was about a creating a personal narrative and developing images and ceramic pieces that told a story, whatever your story happened to be. Everyone in the class seemed to have a good time with that premise, creating all kinds of dreamlike and whimsical figures. There were some in the class who were very prolific creating about six different pieces and then there was me, who ended up with my  one 3-D piece breaking and coming home with only one completely finished piece and one piece that didn't make it into the kiln. But that was okay because I didn't go there to come home with a lot of finished stuff.  I went to learn a process and that's what I spend my time on. 



I learned from Jason how to layer under glazes to give them more depth and to use shading and crosshatching much like I do with paint to create texture and form on my pieces. I'm very proud of the piece that I came home with and I look forward to applying what I learned to my new pieces. I'm not sure that I want to make sculptural pieces like Jason does. I'm going to try hand building again but I like throwing on the wheel the best. I want to make art pieces but I like making beautiful functional pieces as well. My work and process is always unfolding and new, so who knows where my new found skills will lead me...


    
Jason demonstrating construction 




My friend Michele aka "Cindy Lou" working on a wall piece 

Jason working on fish wall piece

My 3d work in progress

detail- trying to emulate Jason's brush work but I have a long way to go

My finished piece going into the kiln

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7. Theodore Weesner Has Died

Car Thief Cover (GalleyCat)Writer Theodore Weesner has died. He was 79 years old.

As an author, Weesner was best known for his debut novel The Car Thief. He followed-up this work with five other novels and one short story collection.

Here’s more from The New York Times: “He taught for years at the University of New Hampshire and later at Emerson College. His other books include Winning the City, a 1990 novel about a high school basketball player; a story collection, Children’s Hearts (1992); and a 2000 novel, Harbor Lights, about a lobster man facing death from cancer.”

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8. Michael Turner's Motorsports Art


 

One of the great living gouache painters is Michael Turner of Britain, known for his motorsports and aviation artwork. 


He painted the official posters for the Grand Prix of Monaco, Sebring, LeMans, Nürburgring and other Grand Prix events.


Born in Harrow, Middlesex, in 1934, he was raised near London during World War II, where he learned to recognize aircraft and drew them in his schoolbooks. He woke to the thrill of auto racing in 1947 when he saw a post-war revival of the British Empire Trophy Race


One of my favorite paintings, no surprise, is his portrayal of Dan Gurney's 1967 F1 Victory with the All-American Racers Eagle in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps.


With gouache, he captures the ornate overlapping detail of the crowds and the far architecture, while conveying the motion blur in the foreground, as if the camera is tracking along with the action.


Michael Turner formed his own art print company called Studio 88. His son Graham is also a fine painter, specializing in medieval warfare.

Michael Turner on Wikipedia
Thanks, Robert H.

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9. Best Wishes

 

 

 

 

Best Wishes

आओ विश करें

नया साल शुरु होता नही कि सकंल्पो की बौछार शुरु हो जाती है. अच्छी बात है सकंल्प लेने कोई बुराई नही है पर कम से कम उसकी लाज तो रखनी चाहिए. हर बात को टालने के अभ्यस्त हम फिर टाल देते है कि कुछ समय और ठहर जाते हैं. कर लेगें, हम कौन सा भागे जा रहे हैं. सोच तो लिया है ना बस …

इन दिनो वैसे एक चिंता और भी हम लोगो मे पाई जाती है और वो है शुभकामनाएं देना. असल में, देने मे कोई परेशानी नही है पर देनी किस किसको हैं ये परेशानी का विषय बन जाता है उसका सबसे मुख्य कारण है हर साल हमारी जिंदगी मे नए लोगो का आवागमन होता रहता है या फिर जो लोग पिछ्ले साल बहुत काम आए इस साल इनकी महत्ता उतनी नही रही.  तो ज्यादा कंफ्यूजन से बचने के लिए मैने बिना समय गवाएं चार कैटेगिरी बना ली.

1 धक्के से
2 मजबूरी से
3 जरुरी से
4 दिल से

आप सभी इस बात से इत्तेफाक रखते होग़े कि कई बार कुछ शुभकामनाएं ना चाह्ते हुए धक्के से फोन करके हमे देनी पडती हैं. मसलन अपनी ससुराल मे या फिर अपने मकान मालिक को जो हमे फूटी आखँ ही नही सुहाता. समय की नजाकत को भापँ कर जीती मक्खी निगलनी ही पडती है.

अब बात मजबूरी की आती है.अब मेरी बात से आप इंकार कर ही नही सकते कि भले ही हमारी सम्पादक से जान पहचान हो ना हो पर उसे शुभकामनाएं भेजेगे जरुर.(भई, नही तो हमारा लेख कैसे छपेगा)ऐसे ही जिन से हमे हमारा काम निकलवाना है,पैमैंट निकलवानी है चाहे वो सरकारी नौकरी मे ही हो.चाहे वो कितने ही भाव ही क्यो ना खा रहा हो हमारा फोन ना उठा रहा हो पर हमे भी ढीठ बन कर लगातार उसे फोन मिलाते ही रहना है. जब तक वो फोन न उठा ले उसके बाद चाहे हमे कितना ही समय लगे उन्हे बताने मे कि हम कौन बोल रहे हैं. इसी का नाम मजबूरी है.
अब बारी आती है जरुरी से की. मेरे हिसाब से ये वाकई मे जरुरी है उन लोगो को शुभकामनाएं देने की जो जाने अंजाने सारे साल किसी ना किसी रुप मे हमारे काम आते हैं जैसे कि डाक्टर, गैस बुक करने वाले, बैंक मे काम करने वाले जो जाते ही हमारा सारा काम ना सिर्फ जल्दी निबटवा देते है बल्कि चाय भी पिलाते हैं. उधर गैस वाले तुरंत सप्लाई भेज देते हैं. वही अपने डाक्टर साहब भले ही फोन पर कितना ही व्यस्त क्यो ना हो वो हमे देखते ही फोन का चोंगा रख देते हैं. बच्चो की ट्यूशन सर या क्लास टीचर को भी बहुत जरुरी है शुभकामनाएं देना क्योकि सारे साल उन्होने ही तो ख्याल रखना है बच्चों को अच्छे अकं देने मे.

अब बात आती है दिल से की. ये आवाज दिल से ही निकलती है.अब भला जो हमारे साथ दफ़्तर मे कंधा मिलाकर काम करे मोना, रोजी पिंक आदि उन्हे तो विश करना बनता ही है न और जो सोशल नेट वर्क की साईट पर हैं उन्हे तो और भी ज्यादा और जल्दी विश करना हमारा हक बनता है.कही वो नाराज ना हो जाए या हमसे पहले कोई दूसरा की ना बाजी मार ले जाएं. वही दूसरी तरफ बास की माता जी का स्थान है भले ही बास को विश करे ना करे पर इनकी माता श्री या पत्नी श्री को दिल से प्रणाम करने को मन करता है. भई, आप भले ही कुछ भी समझे पर नौकरी मे तरक्की की चाह तो आपको भी होगी. है ना. तो मै आपसे अलग थोडे ही ना हूँ.
तो कुल मिला कर बताने का तात्पर्य़ ये है कि हमे संकल्प लेने की बजाय फोन करने वालो की लिस्ट मे ज्यादा जोर देना चाहिए ताकि हमारा आने वाला समय सुखद और मगंलमय हो.
आप हमारे प्रिय पाठकगण हैं तो आपकी जगह दिल से वाले कालम मे ही है आप सभी को  ढेर सारी शुभकामनाएं.

ये लेख Best Wishes आओ विश करें   कैसा लगा जरुर बताईगा …  :)

The post Best Wishes appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Poppy's Best Paper - a bookwrap










Writing a story can be hard even for an adult.  Sitting down, focusing, choosing a subject then following it through, can be gruelling indeed.  The self-discipline, the imagination and creativity, and the perseverance to make it all happen can be quite a challenge.  Today's book, "Poppy's Best Paper" will have you nodding your head as an adorable little bunny learns some very valuable lessons about quality writing and important lessons in life...




Unwrapping...







Authored by Susan Eaddy

Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet

Ages 5-8



Let's unwrap some illustration for you...


























About the story...


     Poppy, an adorable and high-energy little bunny, dreams of becoming not only a good writer, but a very famous one.  Her teacher, Mrs. Rose assigns her class daily writing assignments for their homework.  She tells the children that she will choose the one she thinks is best to share with the whole class the next day.

     Poppy is stoked.  Here is her chance to shine, after all who could possibility write better than she?  She rushes home and hops to it.  But alas, Poppy is easily distracted by her world around her, is constantly taking breaks and is overconfident that her story will be the chosen one, even though she hasn't put her very best effort into writing it. She just assumes that because she wants to be a writer she will not have to work for the honour of becoming one. 

      After two days of her stories being rejected by Mrs. Rose, and her best friend Lavender's work being chosen, Poppy is frustrated and not a happy bunny with either her teacher or her best friend.  Why Lavender didn't even want to be a writer, she wanted to be a brain surgeon, how unfair is that?  

     Poppy has to re-think her writing strategies and comes to the conclusion that perhaps she is not working up to her potential and she needs to put way more effort into her writing skills.  Her final assignment "How to Get in Trouble" was her best yet, an autobiography...

""To Get in Trouble is very simple.  First, talk in class even after you are told to be quiet.  Then, be mean to someone who did better than you.  (Her best friend Lavender)  And try to copy that person's paper.  At home, call your bother Scraggle Tail.  Throw your notebook across the room. At Dinner, mush your food and spill your milk and say you don't care.  Stomp your feet and cry.  Last and worst of all, be rude to your very best friend and do not apologize.  This is my advice on How to Get in Trouble.  Follow these instructions and you can get in trouble, too.  The End. "

     Poppy repents of her wrongdoings in her paper earning her not only applause from her classmates, forgiveness from her best friend, but a big fat "A" for her hard work, which of course delight both and her parents and Poppy herself.  The illustrations are full of action, expression and detail...extremely well done.  They reminded me of the Richard Scarry books with so much action and busyness to absorb.  I highly recommend this book.



About the author...







I was born in Lake City FL. USA. Being from a very small town I longed to see the wider world, and today I will travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. My husband is an art professor and I have been lucky to accompany him on his school trips to Italy for many summers. My work is partly inspired by the scores of relief sculptures I have seen in Italy. I love the altar reliefs of Nicola Pisano, the Brunelleschi Baptistry doors, the Della Robbia reliefs and statues, and the column carvings on various Romanesque churches. The simple naive figures of Romanesque and Byzantine art inspire me to simplify (very hard for me to do) and the early mosaics of Ravenna and other Byzantine churches throughout Italy absolutely mesmerize me.
I have always loved to draw, from the time my mother framed the rooster I drew in kindergarten. My Mom had always said that she thought being a creative person, a writer or an artist, was the best kind of life one could have. So truly, she took the small flame of talent that I had and blew on it while encouraging me to pursue what I loved, whether it was a money- maker or not. In school I was always the kid in the class who could draw, so I took art lessons and every art class I could fit into my school schedule.  My parents bought me art books, and for my 10th birthday bought me a drawing book filled with poetry and blank pages I could illustrate. I think that is when I decided that illustrating childrens’ books would be the best job in the world.



About the illustrator...









Rosalinde Bonnet loved to draw when she was little. She would often get into trouble in school because she doodled all over her notebooks during class. After high school she studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Since her graduation in 2004, she has written and/or illustrated numerous children's books, mainly published in France and England. She lives in Versailles, France.




Read on and read always!


It's a wrap.




Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com


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11. When it’s ok to have your head in the clouds: The Cloudspotter by Tom McLaughlin

cloudspotterI’m sometimes called the Bread-Bike-Book Woman by people who recognise me in the community but don’t know me by name; I go everywhere by bike and my basket is nearly always full of either baguettes and or books.

Shop assistants will ask what I’ve borrowed from the library, or let me know when the fresh bread is cheap at the end of the day. It’s a sobriquet I’m quite at ease with :)

Tom McLaughlin‘s The Cloudspotter is actually called Franklin, but because of his passion for watching the sky and imagining what he can see high above him, everyone calls him after his hobby.

To some, the Cloudspotter might appear isolated; Indeed, he doesn’t have many friends.

But what he does have is bags and bags of imagination. He can look at the sky and imagine stories galore in which he’s a hero, and adventurer or an explorer. Simply put, he’s very happy with his head in the clouds.

One day, however, Scruffy Dog arrives on the scene. The Cloudspotter doesn’t want to share his adventures and poor Scruffy is sent packing. But could it be that Scruffy wasn’t trying to take anything away from Franklin? Perhaps he was trying to offer him something? Something kind and full of heart, to make adventures and exploring, on earth or in the sky, even more enjoyable?

Tom McLaughlin’s quiet and thoughtful story is a lovely celebration of the power of imagination to provide comfort and joy, as well as solace. The Cloudspotter also acknowledges that it’s quite OK to be a bit different, to daydream. It shows how when friendship comes knocking it’s about doubling – rather than halving – fun and games through sharing.

TheCloudspotter_p6

The summery, soothing, pastel palette enhances the story’s gentle and charmingly whimsical feel. McLaughlin’s style makes Franklin feel like a cousin to Oliver Jeffers’ boy in How to Catch a Star.

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All in all a delightful book to encourage us all to be open to spotting more adventures in the world around us.

After sharing The Cloudspotter with my girls, I prepared somewhere comfortable to do a bit of our own cloud spotting…

clouds3

…we lounged around and saw lots of scenes like this…

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…then we went over to the paint station…

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…and started covering large sheets of paper with various shades of blue, mixing in PVA as we went. The large sheets of paper were strips of wallpaper lining. The PVA (glue) was mixed in so that we could start sticking “clouds” onto our skies as soon as the paper was covered:

clouds7

We used a mixture of cotton wool and toy stuffing for the clouds, exploring the different ways these materials stretch and becoming wispy.

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Whilst our sky scenes dried, it turned out that cleaning up after painting was almost as much fun as creating our art!

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A few hours later, our skies were ready to go above beds, enabling hours of relaxing cloud spotting. Here’s what the kids can now see as they lie with their heads on their pillows:

clouds_ceiling

What can you see in our clouds?

Music to spot clouds by could include:

  • Blue Clouds by Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower
  • Baby Cloud by Caspar Babypants
  • Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

  • Other activities which could be great fun to try out alongside reading The Cloudspotter include:

  • Making hot air balloons! I’d like to try these ideas over on Project Kid.
  • Creating atmospheric (geddit?) cloud mood lighting – this project from DIY for Teens looks fun.
  • Having edible sky and clouds for dessert. YUM YUM.
  • Reading my review of another of Tom McLaughlin’s books – The Story Machine.
  • Do you have a nickname like Franklin or me?

    Wishing you and yours many happy hours of cloud spotting, creating stories with all the amazing characters you imagine!

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    If you’d like to receive all my posts from this blog please sign up by inputting your email address in the box below:

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    12. KAMIK'S FIRST SLED by Matilda Sulurayok and Qin Leng

    Two years ago I read--and recommended--Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Storya delightful story about a puppy named Kamik and his owner, a young Inuit boy named Jake. In it, Jake is trying to train Kamik, but--Kamik is a pup--and Jake is frustrated with the pup's antics. Jake's grandfather is in the story, too, and tells him about sled dogs, imparting Inuit knowledge as he does.

    Today, I'm happy to recommend another story about Kamik and Jake. The author of Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story is Donald Uluadluak. This time around, the writer is Matilda Sulurayok. Like Uluadluak, Sulurayok is an Inuit elder.



    As the story opens, the first snow of the season has fallen. Jake thinks that, perhaps, he can start training Kamik to be a sled dog, but Kamik just wants to play with the other dogs. Of course, Jake is not liking that at all! Anaanatsiaq (it means grandmother) sees all this going down. She reminisces about her childhood, telling Jake how her dad taught her to train sled dog pups--by playing with them:




    In her storytelling of those memories, Anaanatsiaq is teaching Jake. Then she fastens a small bundle on Kamik and suggests Jake take Kamik out, away from the other dogs, for a picnic. They set off walking.

    After awhile, Jake opens the picnic bundle. Inside, he finds things to eat, but he also finds a sealskin and a harness.

    Playtime training, then, is off and running!

    Things get tense, though, when Kamik takes off after a rabbit in the midst of a darkening sky, and Jake realizes he hasn't taught him the command to stop. The rabbit, as you can see, gets away.

    Jake is scared, but in the end, Kamik gets him home, where he learns a bit more about sled dogs and their sense of smell.

    Through Kamik, Jake, and his grandparents, kids learn about Inuit life, and they learn some Inuit words, too. A strength of both these books is the engaging, yet matter-of-fact, manner in which elders pass knowledge down to kids. Nothing exotic, and nothing romanticized, either.

    I highly recommend Kamik's First Sled, published in 2015 by Inhabit Media.

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    13. Unexpected Joy

    DSC_0663

    If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.
    ―Mary Oliver

    The post Unexpected Joy appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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    14. Poppy's Best Paper

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    15. GUEST POST: Eleanor Herman on ‘Fantasy Is Real’

    Hi readers! If you’re paying attention to awesome books this year, you’ll notice a lot of the runaway successes are fantasy novels. And like anyone who’s worked in the business of book publishing, I was recently wondering WHY fantasy is so hot these days as opposed to three years ago when we were all about dystopian, or five years ago when it was all about the paranormal hotties. I wonder if it’s less about ONE book being a trendsetter, like how The Hunger Games created such a high demand for more dystopian novels, especially since writers in these respective genres were clearly in the middle of writing/publishing their works which The Hunger Games maybe helped elevate (like Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, etc.). But bookstores have always devoted entire sections to fantasy, which isn’t the case for dystopian or paranormal novels (Note: Barnes & Noble DID indeed have a “Paranormal Romance” section when I worked there as a children’s bookseller years ago, but that expired and collapsed when the demand did). I have no answers, unsurprisingly since there’s no foolproof science to publishing, just observations. And today I’m happy to host New York Times bestselling non-fiction author and historian Eleanor Herman, author of the forthcoming novel Legacy of Kings, sharing her personal connection to fantasy books.

    eleanot hermanFantasy is real. Just behind that door over there is something shockingly magical. Something that will challenge everything you are and all your ideas about what is true and right. Maybe it’s an elf or a vampire. Or maybe—just maybe—it’s another human being.

    When I was a child, I saw leafy green faces in trees, heard voices calling my name, and suspected my dolls of having raucous parties when I was at school. I tiptoed downstairs in the small hours of Christmas morning to try to catch a glimpse of Santa, and I spent Halloween night peering out m window looking for witches on broomsticks circling the moon. Books fueled my magical world: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe; A Wrinkle in Time; The Sword in the Stone; Dracula and Frankenstein.

    Fantasy stories have always bewitched their audiences, whether it was the five-thousand-year-old tale of the Babylonian demi-god Gilgamesh killing the mountain monster, Humbaba; the adventures of Odysseus’s ten-year homeward-bound voyage from the burning walls of Troy; or the Anglo-Saxon hero, Beowulf, stabbing the man-eating giant, Grendel. More recently, Young Adult fantasy mesmerized the world, including millions of Old Adults, with the adventures of a certain young man named Harry Potter. And in 2015, YA fantasy has seen a resurgence of fantasy titles on the New York Times list: Red Queen, An Ember in the Ashes, and A Court of Thorns and Roses, clearly casting a spell over readers of all ages.

    legacy of kingsHow do we explain humanity’s everlasting fascination with fantasy? I believe it’s because fantasy taps into the deepest, most innermost parts of ourselves, exposes them, raw and pulsating, and shows us the dramatic results of choices good and bad. Fantasy distills and crystallizes our fears and courage, our desire and loathing, our compassion and thirst for revenge. Like flintknapping, fantasy chips away at all the useless superficial layers coating our lives, and reveals a glittering core of truth.

    Do you actually believe no one has ever slain a dragon? Try telling that to anyone who has beaten cancer, healed from the aching loss a loved one, or suffered the slow torture of a crumbling marriage. Think no one charges into battle anymore with sword drawn? Wrong again. We bravely get up every morning armed with the courage of a warrior, knowing we have to be ready to face whatever pain, injustice or tragedy the day dishes out. No such thing as a fairy godmother? Every day, millions of people experience the unexpected kindness of strangers in tearful gratitude.

    “Imagination is everything,” Albert Einstein once said. It quickens the human spirit and empowers the mind. I’ve come to realize that fantasy isn’t about escaping our lives. It’s about understanding them.

    fantasy legacy of kings

    Do you agree with Eleanor’s post about fantasy novels being timeless and real versus just escapism? 

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    16. Full moon over little Poland


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    17. Take the time to enjoy your community

    Last Stop on Market Street

    Words by Matt de la Pena; pictures by Christian Robinson

     

    Ah, the old neighborhood! Can you remember yours? Can you remember going “downtown” on a bus and taking in the flavor and fabric of its uniqueness? People and places were part of its specialness, if you were smart enough to take a good look around, and drink it all in with a practiced eye.

    And that’s the lovely languor, nostalgia and wisdom filling Matt de la Pena’s “Last Stop on Market Street.” And Christian Robinson’s colorful art makes the people of Market Street come to life in a winning way. His take on CJ reminds me of Ezra Jack Keats’ look at a boy named Peter.

    I hope this feeling still exists in towns and cities, for Mr. De la Pena has captured it perfectly in this book; the feeling of “when all you had was time.”

    You had time to notice, time to converse, time to visit, time just to “be” in the moment, and whatever it brought. And it sometimes brought a great deal in the supposed ordinary everyday – if you were wise enough to notice. And if you were not, let’s hope that you had someone like CJ’s nana, to teach you the “practiced eye” for observing.

    I hope young readers have someone in their young lives like nana, who can jolly them past grumpiness to gratitude for what is – and may never come again.

    CJ wonders why they have to ride the bus, why wait in the rain for it, and go to the same place after church? CJ is filled with the eternal “why” of youth, but nana has the wisdom that goes with the “practiced eye.”

    She is the one who can point out in the midst of a rainy downpour, that the trees, especially a big one, is “drinking through a straw.” CJ sees, but not really.

    His neighborhood, like many, is filled with colorful characters that are unique human beings – if you take the time to listen and learn. And CJ, thank goodness, is on a very special learning curve, facilitated by nana. It’s the learning curve of life, of the real world. And I wanted to give this nana a big hug; for example is always the strongest teacher as she bids each person on the bus a “good afternoon.” And “She made sure CJ did the same.” Great!

    Mr. Dennis, the bus driver, is a bit of a magician, pulling coins from behind CJ’s ear, and an old woman on the bus has butterflies in a jar, while a blind man, nana says, can “…watch the world with their ears.”

    This is one lucky, lucky young man, though he may only realize it years later. He is getting an education in life.

    It is a guitar playing musician that allows CJ to “feel the magic of music.” With eyes closed, (a nearby dog closes his, too), and in a magical moment, CJ is lifted beyond the space of his seat, to a place where he starts to “see” the people around him.

    It is this richness of the unique in the everyday, that his nana patiently coaxes him into seeing.

    Listen to this quote from nana that I long to have resonate with readers everywhere, for it is filled with hope for many people, “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, CJ, you’re a better witness for what is beautiful.”

    What a great model Matt de la Pena must have had, to bear witness, in the final scene in a soup kitchen, to what is possible, if you teach children to “see” beyond a “selfie” and the tip of their nose!

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    18. Netflix Unveils Teaser for ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’

    A teaser trailer has been unveiled for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. This show was inspired by Lemony Snicket’s popular children’s book series.

    The video embedded above features spiders, the shadow of the villainous Count Olaf, and a song by the Dresden Dolls called “Missed Me.” The first season will be made available in 2016. (via BuzzFeed)

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    19. Typo to an Editor? Here’s How to Unsend an Email

    warningsignThis post is from this week’s Monday Motivations for Writers email. To get these emails in your inbox, plus a free e-book and checklist for writers, you can sign up here.

    Ever send a query to an editor and realize — too late — that you had a typo in the lede? Or accidentally hit “Reply All” on a sensitive work email?

    Wonderful Renegade reader Cherese Cobb let me know about a solution: unSend.it.

    unSend.it is a free service that lets you track email opens, edit emails and attachments AFTER they’re sent, and steal back emails you wish you’d never sent.

    I tried it out with a couple Gmail accounts of mine. Sign-up was super easy thanks to a slideshow that covers every step.

    If you choose the unSend.it mode where you’re able to edit emails after they’ve been sent — and even after they’ve been opened — the email is converted to a graphic on unSend.it’s servers. I have to say, that looks a little wonky to the recipient. For example, when I tried emailing myself with this option, as the recipient I wasn’t able to copy the e-mail’s contents since it was a graphic, not text.

    Something else that’s a little strange: If you unsend an email, according to the site, “unSend.it removes all content from the body of the email (including any attachments) you sent. The email itself will always remain in your recipient’s inbox along with the subject line—however, all email message content will be removed.” But…guess having your editor see a blank email is better than having her see one you meant to send to your best friend venting about said editor!

    You can also opt for the mode where you can only unsend emails and edit attachments, in which case your email comes through as regular text.

    There’s also a tracking-only mode, and you can choose to have unSend.it email you when recipients open your messages.

    A cool perk is that you can change modes for individual emails as you send them out by using shortcode such as [att] for “attachments,” which means you have control over that particular email’s attachments even after you send it.

    Hope you can use this cool tool to take the worry out of pitching! (Thanks, Cherese!)

    By the way, I love sharing tips from my readers. If you have a good one and I can use it, I’m happy to send you an e-book gratis as a thank you!

    Happy writing,

    Linda Formichelli

    P.S. Have you seen my new Writing Assignment Checklist, which I’m selling for just $1.49?

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    20. A Hymn for Bree Newsome



    How could Bree have known, as the ash from blackened
    churches coated monuments that mocked the slaughter
    of Charleston’s innocents, who had invited a fiend,
    unafraid of the hallowed ground of Africans, into the midst

    of their sanctuary where he would spill blood over the pews
    and taunt the god who had promised to lift the yoke off
    their backs brailled with stripes of the Klan, the midnight
    raiders whose flaming crosses had struck terror into the marrow

    of her ancestors, yet who remained unbowed and whose voices
    rustled through the live oaks surrounding the capitol--
    that when she stripped the pole of its stars and bars, the fear

    that had held generations would disappear from southern skies?




    Image: https://dakrolak.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/comic-book-superhero-freebree/

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    21. My tweets

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    22. Diversify Your Shelves with WNDB

     

    Column by Maurene Goo

     

    Maybe it’s because Comic Con is around the corner, or just the general languor that settles in when it’s hot—but summer always makes me want to crack into a good graphic novel and just completely escape.

    So here are my personal recommendations for some great graphic novels by Asian American authors and illustrators—there’s a lot of ’em out there and I’m excited to share their crazy talent with you all.

    Find a hammock, some shade, and give your eyes and brain some summer lovin’... 

     

     

    This One Summer 

     

    I’ve been a fan of Jillian Tamaki’s artwork for years (she did those great Penguin thread covers and was properly blown away by the lushness of the illustrations in this coming­ of ­age novel. Every page, every spread, is a serious piece of art. It’s a story of friendship between two girls who see each other every summer, and the one summer where things start to change. Not only do the girls find themselves growing apart as they grow older, but they also witness some teenage drama that becomes a fixation to either help them cope or distract them from their own turmoil (a parents’ dissolving marriage for example). It’s about what happens as you transition from the innocent bubble of childhood to the realities of the adult world, beautifully captured through the lens of a fleeting summer. 

     

     

     

    Same Difference and Other Stories 

     

     

    When I first read this over a decade ago, it was one of the first stories (or collection of them) that I had ever read about the Korean American experience. And with such humor, angst, and heart! I don’t think it was a coincidence that it was in the form of a graphic novel—a medium that I feel is always a step ahead of the curve. I fell in love with this collection of stories (a lot of which feels autobiographical) and graphic novels in general, soon after. Kim’s amazing illustration skills are just icing on the cake. While the Korean American factor is what initially drew me in, it was just good solid storytelling that had me smitten. And I credit Kim as a huge inspiration for my own writing, as I’m always in pursuit of humor and authenticity in writing about the Asian American experience. 

     

     

     

    In Real Life

     

    In light of all the Gamergate craziness, I was very interested in picking up this book about a gamer girl (it helped that it was illustrated by my good friend Jen Wang!). I don’t know what I expected but it sure wasn’t this thoughtful, heartrending story about human connections, the complexity of online gaming, and rethinking what is “right” and “wrong.” In Real Life tells the story of an American teen girl named Anda who loves playing a multiplayer role­playing game online called Coarsegold. She eventually takes on the role of hunting down gold farmers—players who illegally collect valuable objects and sells them to other players. It’s the right thing to do, you know? But what seems black and white becomes murky when she befriends one them, a Chinese teen who is doing this out of necessity. I was surprised by the intensity of my feelings about this story, which is an important one as the globe both constricts and expands with our online connections. And Wang’s illustrations are just so perfect and gorgeous that you’ll find yourself wishing the world of Coarsegold was just a little bit real. 

     

     

     

     

    Maurene Goo is the author of Since You Asked. She has very strong feelings about graphic design and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles. She is also a team member of We Need Diverse Books.

     

     

    b2ap3_thumbnail_DiverseBooks.jpg 

     

     

     


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    23. Monday Mishmash 7/6/15


    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Book Deal! You know that news I've been hinting at? Well, it's that I signed another book deal! Yay!!! OUR LITTLE SECRET, my YA contemporary romance (written as Ashelyn Drake) will be published by Limitless Publishing. Here's the PM announcement:
      Ashelyn Drake's OUR LITTLE SECRET, when a girl falls for her best friend's twin brother, she'll have to decide what she's willing to risk to keep the guy of her dreams, to Jessica Gunhammer at Limitless, by Sarah Negovetich at Corvisiero Literary Agency.
    2. Signing Postponed  I was supposed to have a signing on July 4th for The Monster Within and The Darkness Within at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg, PA, but it had to be postponed. It's now scheduled for July 25th from noon to 3:00 p.m. If you'll be in the area, I hope you'll come see me.
    3. Editing  This is the summer of edits for me. Last week I tackled edits on two of my own books as well as edits for clients. My poor eyes are going to hate me soon—if they don't already.
    4. Free Monthly Newsletter  Today my newsletter goes out. In it is a sneak peek at the cover of the secret project I've been hinting about. The cover has already been revealed in my street team (Kelly's Coven) FB group, and now it's time for my newsletter subscribers to see it. I won't be doing a cover reveal, which means no one else will see the cover until the book is released, which will also be a surprise! If you aren't signed up to receive my newsletter, but would like to, click here.
    5. Slow Response Time  I have funeral services to attend this week because there was a death in my family. So if I'm slow to respond to comments, that's why.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    24. Doña Barbara: Our free e-book for July

    9780226279206

    Our free e-book for July is Doña Barbara by Rómulo Gallegos (“a Madame Bovary of the llano,” as Larry McMurtry hails it in his Foreword).

    ***

    Rómulo Gallegos is best known for being Venezuela’s first democratically elected president. But in his native land he is equally famous as a writer responsible for one of Venezuela’s literary treasures, the novel Doña Barbara. Published in 1929 and all but forgotten by Anglophone readers, Doña Barbara is one of the first examples of magical realism, laying the groundwork for later authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.

    Following the epic struggle between two cousins for an estate in Venezuela, Doña Barbara is an examination of the conflict between town and country, violence and intellect, male and female. Doña Barbara is a beautiful and mysterious woman—rumored to be a witch—with a ferocious power over men. When her cousin Santos Luzardo returns to the plains in order to reclaim his land and cattle, he reluctantly faces off against Doña Barbara, and their battle becomes simultaneously one of violence and seduction. All of the action is set against the stunning backdrop of the Venezuelan prairie, described in loving detail. Gallegos’s plains are filled with dangerous ranchers, intrepid cowboys, and damsels in distress, all broadly and vividly drawn. A masterful novel with an important role in the inception of magical realism, Doña Barbara is a suspenseful tale that blends fantasy, adventure, and romance.

    Download your free copy, here.

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    25. some old fragments from another life




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