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1. Okay, Okay. Even We Izzies are Impressed! 10K Hits on Bublish!

 Deedy (Dorothea Jensen to you) sent this to us, and we think it is big enough news that we agreed to put it on our blog.

After all, some of these Bubbles are apparently about us Izzies.

That's probably why people like to read 'em!


The Izzy Elves

So I hate to be a braggart, but take a look at this number:

This is the total - as of late today - number of "hits" on my Bublish account, that I began writing in late July. I have no idea who the people are who read my "Bubbles", or why they like to read them, but I would like to say "thanks" to all of you who have done so.

I have been having a wonderful time writing "background information" and "author insights" on Bublish for a couple of my Izzy Elf stories, as well as for my classic historical novel, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. (I am SO looking forward to writing about my new historical novel for young readers, A Buss from Lafayette, which is coming out April 22, 2016.)

I really had no idea how to do this when I started Bublishing exactly four months ago.  I found, however, that it was terrific fun to revisit my stories, sometimes many years after writing them (30+ years, in the case of Riddle). I can't believe how easily I recall how I came up with ideas. Especially at my age.

In any case, I ended up simply writing stuff to entertain myself.

I am delighted that my Bubbling is apparently entertaining for others as well.

Here's the link if anyone out there might like to take a peek at my Bublish stuff.

My Bublish Account

Hope you like it!


Dorothea Jensen

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2. life sketches / croquis modelo.vivo

marker and Indian ink on paper. marcador y tinta china sobre papel aprx. 40x50 cm

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3. An Interview with Tim Hopgood

fabulousfrogsfrontcoverTim Hopgood is an illustrator and author I admire greatly. His brilliant Here Comes Frankie was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog, over 6 years ago now, and I’ve yet to read a book of his which hasn’t made me happy.

His use of colour is exceptional. His strong sense of design is eye-catching. His use of visual textures always has me stroking the pages of his books. Yes, I’ll admit I’m a bit of fan!

And so it’s a great honour, and an enormous delight to bring you an interview with Tim today. His latest book is something of a departure for him – up till now (at least when working with children’s publishers) he has always illustrated fiction, but Fabulous Frogs is a bold, extremely beautiful and fascinating non-fiction collaboration with Martin Jenkins (author of the award-winning Can We Save the Tiger?). I kicked off my interview with Tim by asking him about this different genre and what impact it had on his illustrations.

Playing by the book: This is the first time you’ve illustrated a non-fiction book. How was your approach different (and also how was it similar) to illustrating a fiction picture book?

IMG_0652Tim Hopgood: It was my first time working on a non-fiction book and my first time working with the team at Walker (Editor – Lucy Ingrams, Art Director – Beth Aves) and Author – Martin Jenkins, but what was so great was their approach was exactly the same as mine when working on my own picture books. By that, I mean the process was very fluid. We met a few times face-to-face at key stages in the development of the book and the rest of the time it was all done via email, but nothing was ever set in stone until it went to print, and that’s how I like to work. So the book was allowed to evolve in a very natural, organic way; it was a very enjoyable process.

It was also incredibly hard work. For me, the biggest challenge was trying to capture the essence and personality of each frog in my style of illustration whilst remaining anatomically correct. When working on a fiction picture book I wouldn’t be too concerned with anatomical correctness as I’d be more interested in whether my frog character had personality and emotion so this was the main difference, as all the frogs had to be easily identifiable. I don’t think I’ve ever drawn anything quite so small and in such detail as the tiny frogs from Papua New Guinea!

The other big difference was each frog belonged to a different world; so unlike in a fiction picture book where you create a world for your characters to exist in and have to stick to it throughout the book, this project allowed me the freedom to create completely different backgrounds for each frog. In some cases I kept the backgrounds white, which is something I don’t usually do in my own books.

Goliath Frog - a rough draft and the final image

Goliath Frog – a rough draft and the final image

Playing by the book: I think you’ve combined anatomical correctness, personality and emotion wonderfully well in this book – a huge part of its visual appeal is that the frogs have immense personality – lifting the book into something special and very, very distant from a “dry” fact based book…

Tim Hopgood: Thank you Zoe! that’s really good to hear…

Playing by the book: So is there anything about the process of illustrating non-fiction that you think you will “bring back” to your story picture books? Any way of looking at a subject which is different for you now because of the things you had to think about with your frogs?

Tim Hopgood: Although I wasn’t able to draw any of the frogs from life, I think my observational skills were sharpened because of this project. I studied lots and lots of photographs of each frog and had to work out what were the defining features, what made each frog special and then try to bring that frog to life on the page. I think working on the book reignited my interest in nature and I think this will influence my future projects.

Playing by the book: That’s wonderful to hear! Were you a fan of frogs before you illustrated the book? Not everyone loves wet slimy creatures…

Tim Hopgood: As a child I was fascinated by frogspawn and tadpoles; I think children like the way tadpoles move in the water. When my children were little we discovered frogs at the bottom of our garden so we created a small pond in the hope to encourage more (we put an old school sink in the ground and put some plants in it) and amazingly it wasn’t too long before we had a sink full of tadpoles. The kids loved watching the tadpoles grow and develop into tiny frogs.

A rough layout for an interior page from Fabulous Frogs, and the final version

A rough layout for an interior page from Fabulous Frogs, and the final version

Playing by the book: Which is your favourite frog in your book?

Tim Hopgood: My favourite is the striped rocket frog from Australia. It can jump five metres in one go. I love the look of this frog with its cool stripes running down its back and sides. The other one I really enjoyed drawing is the Malagasy rainbow frog.

Malagasy Rainbow Frog

Malagasy Rainbow Frog

Playing by the book: How did you and the author interact during the process of creating the book – like a great picture book, the illustrations in this book don’t just double up on the text – there’s a real interplay between words and images. Did Martin indicate what he was thinking of with regard to images? Or was there something of a dialogue about how text and image could play together?

Tim Hopgood: When I first read Martin’s text what really appealed to me was the humour running through it and that it was packed full of frogs I’d never heard of, so I knew this had the potential to be a very striking and informative book. Although we didn’t interact directly – it was all done via Beth (Art Director) – there was definitely a dialogue between text and image which shifted and developed throughout the creative process, but it was a team effort.

We did meet a few times at key stages in the development of the book. At our first meeting we discussed the overall approach and Lucy (Editor) explained how the text would work on two levels: there’s the main text running through the book and then there’s the more detailed information which would sit smaller on the page. We discussed initial ideas for each spread and Beth and Martin provided me with source material for each frog. The next stage was for me to respond to the text in a visual way.

For my first rough I did several versions for each spread so that we could discuss options and work out which one we all thought worked best. Throughout the process the copy would be revised and repositioned on the page to work with the illustrations I was creating. And sometimes I did new drawings to sit more comfortably with the text. Beth is the kind of Art Director I really enjoy working with, the kind that has a clever knack of getting the best out of you, sometimes pushing you out of your comfort zone, but in a supportive and encouraging way. I think a great Art Director can often see things in your work that you as an artist can’t see yourself, they can see you’ve got more to give and that maybe you should approach a subject in a slightly different way, and with the right encouragement and support you can do it! I learnt a lot from creating this book and not just about frogs, but about drawing too!

Striped Rocket Frog

Striped Rocket Frog

Playing by the book: Whilst researching your frogs, did you come across any other non-fiction illustrator’s work on frogs that really stood out for you?

Tim Hopgood: Oh yes – Art of the New Naturalists – Forms From Nature by Peter Marren and Robert Gillmor is an amazing non-fiction book for anyone interested in art and nature. I was given this book as a present and was inspired by the vitality of the drawings and the strong design compositions of the New Naturalist covers that are lovingly recorded in this book. It definitely influenced the way I approached the artwork for Fabulous Frogs: artwork for a non-fiction book doesn’t have to be clinical it can be painterly too. Combining expressive artwork with clear-cut information produces an interesting dynamic and that’s something I intend to explore in future projects.


Playing by the book: So apart from books used for researching for work, what role does non-fiction play in your own personal reading? Now, and as a child?

Tim Hopgood: As a child, non-fiction played a big part in my love of books. I struggled to learn to read and I struggled to find books that I enjoyed reading. I was always drawn to the non-fiction side of our local library, highly illustrated books on nature filled with facts had a particular appeal.

tellmewhyWhen I was nine, my parents bought me a hardback copy of ‘More Tell Me Why’ – Answers to over 400 questions children ask most often, by Arkady Leokum, published by Odhams Books. I loved that you could dip into it, that you didn’t have to start at the beginning and stick with it all the way through to make sense of it. You could flick through the pages and see something different each time you picked it up and I loved that it weighed a ton! And although it was heavy that didn’t stop me taking it to school and proudly reading from it in assembly!

Nowadays you’ll find plenty of non-fiction titles on my book shelves; mainly cookbooks (I recently completed over 100 illustrations for the new River Cottage cookbook ‘Love Your Leftovers’), but also lots of books on artists, designers, textiles and architecture. I still love the way you can dip in and out of a non-fiction title and discover new things each time you pick it up.


Playing by the book: One last and completely different question given that you are being interviewed on Playing by the book… what’s the last thing you did / place you visited / something you made for fun having been inspired by a book you’ve read?

Tim Hopgood: Now I feel very dull! I’m afraid it’s been all work and no play here recently, but when I’m not drawing I love to cook. For my birthday I was given ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones – her Artichoke and fennel seed paella recipe is delicious!

Playing by the book: A book that makes you want to cook? That’s good enough for me! Thank you so very much Tim – here’s to frogs, fennel Seeds and further success in the future!


You can find out more about Tim Hopgood’s books on his website http://www.timhopgood.com/, and follow him on Twitter @TimHopgood.


Do look out for Tim’s new pre-school boardbook Walter’s Wonderful Web, and (like me) rejoice that his first three books are now all back in print!

Today’s interview is part of National Non-Fiction November, a month long celebration of non-fiction books for children and young people, set up by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.


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4. Mini-Reviews: Forgiven by Terri Roberts and Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

From Goodreads:
On October 2, 2006, a gunman entered an Amish one-room schoolhouse, shooting ten girls, killing five, then finally taking his own life. This is his mother's story. Not only did she lose her precious son through suicide, but she also lost her understanding of him as an honorable man. It was a trauma that none should ever have to face.

But the biggest headlines came when her Amish neighbors did the unimaginable, reaching out to the family of the shooter with comfort and forgiveness. Today Terri lives in harmony with the Amish and has built lasting relationships beyond what anyone could have thought possible. From the grace that the Amish showed Terri's family from day one, to the visits and ongoing care Terri has given to the victims and their families, no one could have foreseen the love and friendship that have been forged from the fires of tragedy.
I knew this would be a sad story, but I didn't expect to bawl my eyes out through the entire thing.  It's so sad, but also so beautiful.  I feel like Roberts' story is just unparalleled.  I remember when this happened, but somehow I missed the coverage of the Amish response to the shooting, so I was unprepared for how supernaturally kind and forgiving they were to the Roberts family.  It's a beautiful portrait of grace and how God can empower us to go so far beyond what our human hearts feel capable of.  I highly recommend this one and will be buying several copies to give as gifts this Christmas.

Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn't want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals--church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.

Centered around seven sacraments, Evans' quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest.

A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.
Another one that will rip your heart right out - I also cried through the entirety of this book.  I follow Evans' blog and love her ideas and writing style, so I grabbed this one as soon as I had the chance.  I could so strongly identify with her choice to both leave church and return to church, as it's something I've also gone through in the last five years or so.  She has such beautiful and honest stories about the pain and beauty of being a part of the Church and what that means.  It's another that I'll be buying my own copy of as well as passing around to everyone I know.

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5. Tuesday's Question: What Was Your First Thought When You Woke up This Morning?

What Was Your First Thought When You Woke up This Morning?

Hello, and welcome to A Nice Place In The Sun and Tuesday's Question. I try to post a question every Tuesday to get to know my readers better, play with my online friends, and hopefully attract more visitors to my online home.

If you would like to answer today's question and you're a blogger, I will post your answer along with a link to your blog, but if you do not have a blog, I'll just post your answer.  I hope you have fun answering today's question and will return to A Nice Place In The Sun for more fun!

Alright, I'll answer first,

My first thought this morning was, "Which work should I do first so that I will have time to post Tuesday's Question and have fun with my friends? And then, What question am I going to ask?"

I love to write, but I do not like deadlines. I would love to the time to visit my blogging buddies and write for A Nice Place In The Sun. Although Tuesday's Question is posted late today, you're welcome to answer any of Tuesday's Question's anytime and I will reply.

Thank you for visiting and have a fabulous day!

Now, it's your turn:)

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6. Holiday Frenzy

Everyplace is crowded
As the holiday draws nigh
And frenzied shoppers roam the aisles
To buy, buy, buy, buy, buy.

Another side dish for the feast?
Some extra beer or wine?
A brand-new tablecloth?
(Although the old one still looks fine.)

A jazzy outfit so they’ll feel
Both festive and in style?
Perhaps some decorations
To make guests take note and smile?

The cashiers ring up purchases;
The buyers leave the store
But rarely head straight home because
They have to shop some more!

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These horses have helped with my recovery

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8. What's this? An Update?!?

Now Playing -  I Am Invisible by They Might Be Giants Well, hello! Sorry about the delay, as usual! It's been a hectic year, between two dozen comic con appearances, a "kids" alphabet book and the always there shop madness, this blog kind of fell by the wayside, but I'll be trying to do better in the new year, using this blog as both a personal journal and as a way for my fans and

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9. New York Public Library Launches Holiday-Themed Pop-Up Exhibit

NYPL Holiday LionThe New York Public Library has opened a pop-up exhibit called “A Writer’s Christmas: Dickens & More.”

This program was organized to celebrate the holiday season. Some of the items being displayed include a Christmas card from James Joyce, a Christmas-themed book by T. S. Eliot, and ceramic figurines associated with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

According to the press release, visitors will only be able to see this exhibit at the McGraw Rotunda inside the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The closing date has been scheduled for Jan. 04, 2016.

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10. Keeping First Draft Creating separate from Editing

Our friends at grammarly.com have sent a helpful list of things to watch for when editing - whether it's your NaNoWriMo novel or anything else. However I've held back on sharing till the end of the month, because I think it's essential that while you're in that first draft and actively creating, you must NOT worry about spelling, commas, or anything else that blocks your flow.

The important thing in your first draft is just to keep writing. Even if you realise you've just used a stereotypical description - 'red as a beet', etc – unless you can come up with a better one immediately, just leave it there for now. If you're truly worried that you won't notice how bad it is, use an asterisk or footnote e.g. 'red as something unusual that fits into the store: ruby? traffic light? fresh blood?'

Then move on. No matter how beautiful a sentence seems as you write it in that first draft - it's highly unlikely that it'll remain in that form in the finished book. So relax, write, and when your story is done and needs tidying and editing, be absolutely rigorous about these five tips.

Good luck to everyone doing not just NaNoWriMo, but taking that brave step of leaping into any new writing!

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

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11. Nifty – 50

nifty 50

Nifty—50 is a poster project organized by Socio Design, in which 50 creatives from around the world were invited to creatively interpret the word ‘Money’. The fifty posters have been printed as an Edition of One and will be sold through a process of sealed bids on nifty50.sociodesign.co.uk. All proceeds from the project will be going to the Countess Mountbatten Hospice Charity — an organisation that cares for people with life-limiting illnesses.



nifty fifty

nifty 50

nifty 50



Also worth viewing:

Anne-Margot Ramstein
Tom Froese
Dock 57

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Thanks to this week's Sponsor // RetroSupply Co. - the #1 online marketplace for retro inspired effects for Photoshop and Illustrator.

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12. Library of Bangladesh

       I mentioned the announcement of the Dhaka Translation Center's 'Library of Bangladesh'-series earlier this year, and apparently the first two volumes are now out, published by bengal lights: see their publicity pages for two novellas by Syed Shamsul Haq and a collection of stories by Hasan Azizul Huq -- and let's hope there's some foreign distribution for these, too.
       Apparently ten more volumes are already planned.

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13. Lauren Faust No Longer Directing ‘Medusa’ at Sony Pictures Animation (Exclusive)

"We ultimately ran into creative differences on the direction of the project," Faust told Cartoon Brew.

The post Lauren Faust No Longer Directing ‘Medusa’ at Sony Pictures Animation (Exclusive) appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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14. Because She Never Asked review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Enrique Vila-Matas' Sophie Calle-novel(la), Because She Never Asked.
       This is actually just one story from a bigger Spanish collection (Exploradores del abismo), published as a stand-alone in New Directions' lovely pocket-sized Pearl-series.
       It's a great introduction to Vila-Matas' work -- perhaps the ideal starter-volume.

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15. Penguin Random House to Give Away Books on Giving Tuesday

Penguin Random House’s employees will be giving out free books on Giving Tuesday, December 1 as part of its #GiveaBook social media campaign.

The #GiveaBook team will be handing out free books in front of several of the publisher’s offices in New York (1745 Broadway and 375 Hudson Street), as well as at Carroll Community College (near the publisher’s Westminster, MD distribution center), and Sommer Elementary School (near its Crawfordsville, IN distribution center). The giveaways include: Red Rising by Pierce Brown; The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown; All I want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey, illustrated by Colleen Madden; and Llama Llama Gram & Grandpa by Anna Dewdney.

The promotion is part of the publisher’s social media promotion in which the publisher is donating a book to First Book for every tweet with the hashtag #GiveaBook, up to 35,000 times.

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16. ‘Anomalisa’ Scores 4 Independent Spirit Nominations

"Anomalisa" is proving that great animation can compete against anything -- even live action film.

The post ‘Anomalisa’ Scores 4 Independent Spirit Nominations appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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17. Changing the Lives of Families

Smart from the Start screen grab 2

When you support First Book, you also help hundreds of thousands of schools and programs across the country. Meet one of them.

Smart from the Start supports families, engages communities and prepares children for school. They work to prevent the academic achievement gap among young children living in the lowest income communities.

By working together, we change the lives of families like these. Take a look.

The post Changing the Lives of Families appeared first on First Book Blog.

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18. Cassava Republic coming to UK

       In less than a decade Cassava Republic has established itself as a leading Nigerian publisher -- and it's great to hear that, as Natasha Onwuemezi reports in The Bookseller, African publisher Cassava Republic to launch in UK.

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19. Thanksgiving Turkey Rods!

The days are shorter, the air is crisp. Perhaps your house smells like fresh baked cornbread?

Thanksgiving is only short two days away!

While the dark might make some younger patrons sleepy, Monday night, some young gourmets trotted into the Syosset Library Children's Room to make a Thanksgiving treat!

Check out some pictures of the adorable Thanksgiving Turkey Rods below. If you ask me, they look too cute to eat. Almost.

Don't you just want to gobble (gobble) them up?

Happy Thanksgiving Day!
-Posted by Miss Jessikah

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20. Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This is a quick note to let you know how thankful I am for all of you that read my posts. It is nice to know what you do, or in this case, what I do is not for naught. I hope each one of you has a wonderful holiday. I will see …

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21. Ann Morgan Gives TED Talk on Reading Translation Books

How often do you read a book translated from another language? Ann Morgan delivered a talk at the TEDGlobal>London conference to talk about her “year reading a book from every country in the world.”

Morgan discussed the origins of this challenge, all the issues she encountered, and the community that came together to help her complete it. The video embedded above features her entire talk.

At the end of 2012, Morgan was able to find and read books from 196 countries. Follow this link to check out some interactive maps that showcase Morgan’s reading list.

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22. Translations from ... Madagascar

       The December issue of Words Without Borders will apparently be devoted to literature from Madagascar, and at Broadly Ilana Masad profiles translator Allison Charette, in Meet Madagascar's 27-Year-Old Literary Ambassador.
       Madagascar is one of those countries from which almost nothing is available in English -- even though some Malagasy writers write in French (i.e. aren't that inaccessible). Charette got a PEN grant to translate Naivo's Au-delà des rizières (see the Sepia publicity page), so hopefully we'll at least see that in English soon.

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23. Picture Book Dummies

Even if you're not an illustrator, you should make a dummy for all your picture books, and here's how.


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24. Writer Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Since tomorrow is thanksgiving, I thought I'd share what I'm thankful for this year. These are in no particular order, and I'm sure I'm forgetting people so I'll apologize in advance for that.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for:
  • my family who is so supportive of the crazy author/editor lifestyle I've chosen
  • my friends who accept that I ignore them when I'm in my writing or editing bubble
  • my writer friends who truly know how tough this business is and endure it alongside me
  • my amazing street team, Kelly's Coven, who shares every step of this journey and helps me make decisions about author logos, book settings, and so much more 
  • my agent who keeps me sane when I just want to scream and cry, which has been more than I'd like to admit
  • my social media manager, Amber, who always has brilliant ideas about how to spread the word about my books
  • my readers, whether they've been with me from the start or have just discovered my books
  • my newsletter subscribers for actually wanting to hear from me every month to see what I'm up to
  • the schools who have invited me to speak and share what I do for a living
  • my editing clients who allow me to make some money to pay bills and allow me to work on some really amazing books
  • bookstores who invite me to sign and who also carry my books on the shelves so I can take pictures of them out in the wild
  • my social media followers who put up with my posts about my crazy Shep-hound dog, my adorable daughter, all my books, The Walking Dead, my love of Jensen Ackles, and my Jamberry nail obsession
  • Limitless books for being so amazing to work with and for putting out Our Little Secret and the entire Into the Fire trilogy
  • my editors and beta readers for making me a better writer
  • bloggers and book reviewers who take the time to review and share my books with others...
I could keep going, but this is getting kind of long. And the really nice thing is that amidst all the struggles I encounter in this industry, seeing all these great people I have to be thankful for makes me really grateful that I decided to pursue this career.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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25. Rabia Chaudry to Write a Book About the Case Which Inspired the Story for Serial

Serial Podcast (GalleyCat)Attorney Rabia Chaudry has signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press. She plans to write a book about the case of Adnan Syed entitled Adnan’s Story.

Here’s more from the press release: “On February 28, 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Since his arrest, Syed has consistently maintained his innocence. Rabia Chaudry, a family friend and attorney, believed in his innocence and advocated on his behalf. By 2013, however, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, things looked bleak. That’s when Chaudry contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in the hopes of bringing greater attention to Adnan’s story. Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, an international phenomenon and Peabody Award-winning podcast.”

Chandry, who shares a friendship with Syed, has received his permission to work to this project. It will feature letters written by Syed from prison. new evidence about Syed’s case, and personal thoughts from Syed himself. The release date for Chaudry’s book has been set for September 2016. Season two and season three of the Serial podcast has been scheduled to come out in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. Follow this link to listen to the episodes from the first season of Serial.

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