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1. Query question: I have a contract but want an agent for film/translation

 I have recently secured a book contract without an agent for my YA novel with a small press. I retain  the film and foreign rights, which I believe should be left up to an agent. Will having a book contract provide me with more cachet to getting representation, or will my queries still be relegated to the "thanks but no thanks" pile?

First, you were smart to retain the rights your publisher is most likely not able to fully exploit.  

Second, if you're querying for a novel that's already got a contract, your situation is a bit different than most.  You'll want to query for your SECOND book, and mention that you retain the translation and film rights to the first book as well.

Most agents will not take on one book just for translation and film rights.  There simply isn't enough money in it to justify the amount of work.

But, if you secure an agent for the second book, having your sub rights for the first book will be a bonus particularly for film.

 

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2. A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

A Nest is Noisy Written by Dianna Hutts Aston; Illustrations by Sylvia Long Chronicle Books. 2015 ISBN: 9781452127132 Preschool on up I received a copy of this book from the publisher. They’ve done it again!  The award-winning duo, Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long, have added a fifth title to their informational science picture book series. (An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy, A

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3. The Book Bar - a fun place to sip and flip!




Raising the bar on reading!




Hi, my name is Marilyn and I'm the bartender here...

Welcome to "The Book Bar."  A beautiful space for you to order up your favourite drink and listen to guest authors, illustrators, musicians, anyone really, who loves books.  If quiet is what you are seeking you can take your drink and wander to the back of the bar and enter the room entitled, "Booked!"  This room is specifically reserved for those who want to curl up in a big comfy chair by the  fireplace and get lost in their own story with little or no distractions.  Others may join you there, but all-in-all it is a space created just for you and your book to enjoy each other's company.

This is the perfect venue to discover new books, relax yourself, have discussions about books, meet new people of like-minds, and of course make some new friends.  

I would like to highlight some great drinks for your enjoyment from time to time.

I'd like to introduce you to our special guest author today Brad Snyder. Grab your drink and head off into the lounge where he is waiting for you....








R. Bradley Snyder is the president of New Amsterdam Consulting, Inc. and has worked for industry giants Marvel Comics, The Discovery Channel, and Nickelodeon. The projects he has designed and managed have helped develop raw concepts into some of the industry's most successful program and campaigns for children.


Brad is going to talk to you about his book for parents called, 



"The 5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids."




Raising pre-teens and teenagers doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, if you only know five essential truths about why kids do what they do, you’re on your way to becoming a smarter, happier, and more sane parent. Brad Snyder is an expert in adolescent behavior and has years of experience decoding the messages that parents don’t get. He’s surveyed over 100,000 children and adolescents, and has interviewed close to 4,000 in group and one-on-one sessions. In spite of what you see on tv, kids these days are not more violent, more sexual, or more in danger than you once were. Kids are kids.
WithThe 5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids, you’ll:
  • Learn some secrets of tween and teen communication
  • Find out what exactly your kid is doing all day and why
  • Make rules that make sense for the whole family, without building resentment
  • Learn the truth about kids and social networking, texting, and bullying
  • Become a parent your children respect, but not one they hate or fear

What others are saying about Brad... (no worries, it's all good)
"This book provides an excellent overview of youth development. Educators and parents always look for advice and they will find many ideas about how to understand, support, and educate adolescents."--Gil G. Noam is the Founder and Director of the Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency (PEAR) and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School. 

In this wonderful book, Brad stands up for today's kids, debunks all the claims that they're somehow worse than the last generation, and offers sound, research-based advice on how parents and communities can do a better job raising them."--Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. 

An acclaimed author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations. "For parents, teachers, community leaders, and any adult who cares about the next generation of our citizens, "The 5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids" is an urgent 'must-read"!--Carol J. Evans, President, Working Mother Media, and Author, "This is How We Do It: The Working Mothers' Manifesto"

 "R. Bradley Snyder's book, "The 5 Simple Truths of Raising Kids" takes away the dread and replaces it with hopefulness and humor."--Nicole Feliciano, Editor & Founder of MomTrends "Whether the context is food or video games, parents and children together can identify the central issue, and apply Brad's five simple truths to figure out what to do."--George C. Brackett, Former Director, Technology in Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Founder, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Boston

 "Brad's humanity is infectious, and his dedication to his work is inspiring. I can think of no better mentor to parents needing reassurance that kids are good, and everything is going to be okay."--Art Roche, Creative executive for digital media and family entertainment "You'll learn from his book, and enjoy the lessons. Like Spock two generations ago, Snyder's worth your attention





Hey want to win a signed copy of Brad's book?  It's simple.  All you need to do is let me know what the favourite drinks (yes you heard me....drinks....plural) of Sir Winston Churchill were and the first two to respond (and to get them right) will win one of Brad's great books.  Just email me your answers at: 


storywrapsblog@gmail.com  

or comments on the blog

 I'll contact you, get your contact info, send it off to Brad and voilá...this awesome book is yours.








Interview with Brad...


Rapid fire questions:

1. What is your dream car?

Nash Metropolitan.

2. Do you prefer to give a gift or to receive one?

Both.  But I prefer not to open gifts I receive.

3. Do you prefer a sit down meal or a picnic?

Sit down.  

4. Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Left.

5. What is your favourite drink?  (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)

Espresso and Highland Park Scotch Whiskey (not mixed together)


Serious stuff:

1. What was your favourite book as a child?

I liked reading The Little Engine That Could, but I loved having A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh read to me.  

2.  What person influenced you most in your lifetime?

I have been lucky in that I have had wonderful mentors at different times of my life. Of course, my family (my mother and father, my grandparents, and my Aunt Barbara) is the foundation that instilled in me a commitment to service and afforded me the confidence to explore new things. Later in life, I would be inspired by people who were committed to making a difference in their communities for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. My work with kids is largely influenced by a close friend I had growing up whose home life was so radically different from mine that it created a dissonance in me that I have never been able to shake. The fact that there are children who are neglected or even abused by the very people they rely on for love and security continues to motivate me and shape my work and writing.

3. What motivated you to become an author?

Before I started writing, I was speaking at public events, conventions, etc., about how the picture popular media paints of children is very different than what researchers know to be true.  Initially, I found it amusing that a morning talk show would report on the some "dangerous new trend" impacting youth that was neither a trend nor dangerous in any measurable way.  The overflow from those talks (i.e., the questions I could not answer during the sessions) became a blog.  Eventually, I was approached by a literary agent.  

4. What is the best/worst thing about being a writer?

I prefer speaking to writing.  With the audience in front of me, I can assess the pace, the difficulty, and the entertainment value of the message.  There is not that feedback when one is committing thoughts to text.  Also, I had to unlearn my academic writing style.  I also worry a lot about being right.

5. What do you like to do to relax?

I like to run and to cycle.  However, nothing is as rejuvenating to me as a great conversation with smart people over a glass of wine...kind of like what you are doing here.

6. What is the hardest thing about being a parent?

Parenting is a lot like trying to balance a wobbling object:  you can create a solid foundation (i.e., a structured environment, good nutrition, exercise, rest, etc.), but it is hard to predict where the child is going to be physically, emotionally, etc., at any moment. As a parent, it also can be difficult to give your child the space and time to do the right thing and opportunities to reset after mistakes are made.  Adults want immediacy, and we tend to hold grudges.

7. What adult authors do you like to read that you can pass onto us?

I like everything Paul Auster writes.  Lately, some work I am doing with Pop Goes the Classroom, which is a group that uses pop culture to stimulate learning in school children, has me reading graphic novels.  I am particularly fond of Paul Pope's Battling Boy.  Finally, I am reading some vintage science fiction by Richard E. Peck, collected in one volume appropriately titled Vintage SF, in preparation for an event I am moderating, called From Science Fiction to Science Fact:  How the science fiction writing of Richard Peck inspired his son Mason Peck to become one of the nation's most important aerospace engineers.  If you are in the Phoenix area on May 27th, you should check it out.

8. Do you have any new books that we can look forward to coming out in the near future?

For the last year or so, I have been focussed on a children's book series that I co-write with Marc Engelsgjerd.  It is the What Every Child Needs To Know Series, and it is designed to help adults introduce young children to a favorite artist, to start a conversation about a difficult topic, or just to explain why we adults are the way we are.











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4. Daytime Emmy Awards Hail King Julien

Animation projects created for Internet television dominated the 42nd annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

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5. Throwback Week: NOTICE & NOTE AND MEMOIR–WHEN READING WORKSHOP MEETS WRITING WORKSHOP

Let's check in on a moment in Tara's class from early November of last year as she shares connections between reading and writing workshop.

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6. Stacey Kade, author of THE TRIALS, on the importance of writing to the end

THE TRIALS is the final book in the Project Paper Doll series, and we're thrilled to have author Stacey Kade here to tell us more about her writing process.

Stacey, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Writing this book was an education in a couple of different ways. After reading 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron, I decided I wanted to keep track of my daily word count. I'd never done that before. It was uncomfortable at first--I felt like I was telling on myself on the days where I didn't quite make my goal! But it was very eye opening to see the patterns in my productivity and the way that even days with small word count add up quickly. (I wrote about the experience here: http://staceykade.tumblr.com/post/102698100788/how-i-wrote-the-trials-a-post-about-process)

This was also my first book with a new editor, which is always a little scary! You never know if they're going to like your style or your ideas. But working with Tracey was fantastic! I learned a great deal from her about tightening my story and my sentences.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

If I have to, I can write anywhere. But I prefer working at my local Starbucks at my favorite table, with a hot chocolate (yes, year round) in my hand. And yep, headphones on with my playlist playing.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

There are two things I wish I'd known earlier, when I first started writing.

1) Your character needs to have a story goal. What is he/she trying to accomplish over the course of the story?

I'm a pantser, so I used to just jump in and start writing. The problem with writing a character without knowing his/her goal is that you may end up sort of wandering all over the place in the story, going off on tangents and taking side trips that have nothing to do with the main part of the story. Knowing your character's goal helps keeps you on track.

2) Write all the way to the end.
I have yet to write a book that I did not HATE with an all-consuming fire at some point during drafting. I'm always convinced that it's terrible, that I should quit now and start revising. Or just scrap it and start over.

Sometimes I'm right, and it's bad. Sometimes it's just that I have no perspective on the story so far. Yeah, maybe the scene I'm working on clashes horribly with the beginning. But it might be because the beginning isn't right and this scene is, rather than the other way around.

Sometimes it's just insecurity screaming really loudly in my brain. :)

I used to follow that instinct to scrap and start over. But when I went back and reread the drafts later, I realized that they weren't as bad as I'd thought. In fact, I'd wasted time and effort by starting over.

So, now I make myself write all the way to "the end," even if it's the crappiest of crappy first drafts. I may end up scrapping it or I may end up using pieces of it or maybe it only will only require a few tweaks. It's impossible for me to know until I get to the end and look at the book as a whole.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on edits for my first New Adult novel, 738 DAYS. It's about Amanda, who was abducted when she was fifteen and held captive for two years. Now, she's nineteen, and two years after her return home, she's still suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia. A publicity stunt throws her together with the former TV heartthrob--Chase Henry--whose poster was her only friend in captivity. And it seems like they might be the only ones who can save each other.

I'm also working on--and very excited about--my 2016 YA release with Simon & Schuster. LIFE, AFTER is the story of the twin sons of a pastor. The boys are in a car accident and only one of them survives, which raises all kinds of questions about faith and fate and the secrets his brother was keeping. I'm the daughter of a pastor so I was able to draw on some real-life experiences for this book, which was really fun.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Trials
by Stacey Kade
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 4/21/2015

After being on the run, Ariane Tucker finds herself back where she started—under the cruel control of Dr. Jacobs, head of the research facility that created her. Now she must participate in the upcoming trials; a deadly competition pitting her against other alien hybrids, each representing a rival corporation.

But Ariane is no one’s weapon. She is prepared to die if it means taking down those involved in Project Paper Doll. They destroyed all that she holds dear, including Zane Bradshaw, the one person she trusted and cared for the most—the person she was forced to leave behind, bleeding and alone.

As her plan takes shape Ariane will need to depend on, now more than ever, the other side of her heritage—the cold, calculated instincts born from her alien DNA. With Zane gone she has nothing left to lose.

With heart-pounding action, and plenty of surprises, the gripping conclusion to Stacey Kade's Project Paper Doll series delivers a powerful finish that will keep fans hooked to the very end.

Purchase The Trials at Amazon
Purchase The Trials at IndieBound
View The Trials on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As an award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead.

She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and two retired racing greyhounds, SheWearsThePants (Pansy) and Shutter. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television catching up on her favorite shows (Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, Almost Human, The Walking Dead, and Sherlock, among others.)

Stacey is the author of the The Ghost and the Goth trilogy (THE GHOST AND THE GOTH, QUEEN OF THE DEAD, and BODY & SOUL) and The Project Paper Doll Series (THE RULES and THE HUNT). You can find her (far too often) on Facebook and Twitter as well as http://www.staceykade.com


What did you think of our interview with Stacey Kade, author of THE TRIALS? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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7. An Early Start

I love to get an early start
When all the world’s in bed,
So roads where traffic plagues me
Will have empty lanes instead.

I’ll get to stores just opening
And saunter through the aisles.
The checkout folk, not grumpy yet,
Will ring me up with smiles.

My chores complete, I’ll have the day
Where hours still await.
I’d better wrap this poem before
My early start is late!

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8. Lamar Giles, author of ENDANGERED, on the importance of 'The End'

ENDANGERED is the latest thriller by Lamar Giles, and we're excited he's stopped by to share more about it.

Lamar, tell us about your inspiration for writing ENDANGERED.

I was inspired to write this book by a number of cyber-bullying stories that have hit the news in the last decade or so. The most high-profile of these stories tend to culminate in the bullied child’s death, which is horrendous. It occurred to me that the kids who did the bullying likely believed they either weren’t doing something bad when they were accosting their target, or they simply didn’t see the kid they were bullying as a real person. I wanted to explore how that sort of thinking works. How do you self-mythologize to make psychologically torturing another person seem shrug worthy to yourself and your friends? Then, when things go terribly wrong, how do you deal? Do you hang on to the mythology you created? You’re a good person, and it’s not your fault? It’s something worth examining, and I want people who read it to take a harder look in the mirror when they’re done.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

There are two words that are the most important words for writers, but so many never learn to use them effectively. Those words are “The End”. Train yourself to finish stories. So much of the learning the craft comes in working the beginning, middle, and end of a story. But, it’s no secret that writing the middle of a story can sometimes feel like a drag, particularly with a long form project like a novel (which is why a lot of pros recommend honing craft by writing many, many short stories). If you’re the kind of writer that starts a bunch of projects, but finishes very few of them, break that habit. It’s the most useful skill you’ll develop.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing a book for Scholastic called OVERTURNED, about a teen card shark in Las Vegas who has to solve her poker player father’s murder. Then, I’ll be writing the follow-up to my first young adult mystery FAKE ID, which I’m super-excited about. The reaction to FAKE ID has been tremendous, and I’ve been longing to return to Nick and his world. Hopefully, all the FAKE ID fans out there feel the same.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Endangered
by Lamar Giles
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 4/21/2015

Endangered is a thrilling page-turner perfect for fans of Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers.

The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren "Panda" Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer's little game of Dare or . . . Dare.

But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn't know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself . . . and everyone else on the Admirer's hit list.

Purchase Endangered at Amazon
Purchase Endangered at IndieBound
View Endangered on Goodreads


LRGiles_Fake ID_Headshot_Color

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lamar "L. R." Giles writes books for teens and adults. FAKE ID, his debut Young Adult Thriller, will be published by HarperCollins in 2014. He is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and resides in Chesapeake, VA with his wife.




What did you think of our interview with Lamar Giles, author of ENDANGERED? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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9. PO-EMotion -- Cheerfulness

Wikipedia


flash of gold 
not smelted 
newly molted

lilting flight
burbling song
undulation

concentrated
coruscating
cheer

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2015









Carol, at Carol's Corner, will join me again this year as often as possible.


Kimberly, at iWrite in Maine, is joining me this month. 

Kay, at A Journey Through the Pages, is joining, too!


Steve, at inside the dog, is sharing his poems 
in the comments at Poetrepository.


Heidi, at my juicy little universe, will join us when she can.

Linda, at TeacherDance, will join as often as she can.
Check the comments at A Year of Reading or Poetrepository for her poems.

Kevin (Kevin's Meandering Mind) is back this year,
leaving poetry trax in the comments.

Carol, at Beyond Literacy Link, is writing alongside us when she can.


Jone, at DeoWriter, is doing a "double L" challenge. 
She and I are cross-poLLinating our challenges whenever possible.


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10. Claire LaZebnik, author of WRONG ABOUT THE GUY, on talking back to the negative voices in your head

We're delighted to have Claire LaZebnik join us to share more about WRONG ABOUT THE GUY, her fourth book to be loosely based on a Jane Austen novel.

Claire, what was your inspiration for writing WRONG ABOUT THE GUY?

Like my three previous YA novels, WRONG ABOUT THE GUY was inspired by Jane Austen—more specifically in this case by her novel EMMA, which is one of the great literary works of all time. Wait—that makes it sound stuffy—it’s not! It’s a wonderful read, romantic and funny and frustrating and satisfying all at once. I was also inspired by the Amy Heckerling movie CLUELESS, which took Emma’s story and updated it and made it relevant and modern and approachable. I didn’t want to reinvent the same old wheel, so I took my novel in a very different direction—instead of following the original beat by beat, I just borrowed elements of the plot--but my dream is to succeed in keeping the spirit of Emma alive as well as Heckerling did.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Having just gone on and on about how this book was inspired by Jane Austen, I now have to admit that the part of the book I’m most proud of is the part that has nothing to do with Austen. I added my own subplot about Ellie’s little brother, who isn’t talking yet and has some unusual behaviors. Ellie’s mother is worried about him, but her stepfather isn’t, and Ellie is torn: she adores Jacob just the way he is, but she also wants to be supportive of her mother. It’s always a struggle for families to tease out what’s really concerning about a child and what’s just overly-hysterical parenting, and I tried not to weigh the argument too much on one side or the other. And it dovetailed nicely with the romantic plot--we can all occasionally be wrong about the little guys too! Sibling love can be as complicated as romantic love.

What do you hope readers will take away from WRONG ABOUT THE GUY?

So for the most part, this book is just supposed to be FUN-- it’s romantic and written to bubble along entertainingly. You want to take it to the beach? It’s ready to get sandy. But I don’t think there’s an author in the world who doesn’t try to sneak in a little meaning along with all the fun. As I mentioned earlier, I worked in a storyline that’s near and dear to my heart, about the family trying to figure out whether the little brother is just a late talker or actually has special needs. And I’d like to think that anyone reading it would see that the goal isn’t to label anyone or leap to conclusions, but to be a supportive family in every sense of the word and to pull together instead of apart when a situation is both challenging and complicated.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I’m so all over the place! A lot of my work is done standing up with my computer on top of this closed cabinet in our dining room—the height is perfect for me to type while standing. If I sit down at a table or desk to work, my little dog will jump in my lap and fall asleep on my arms and it gets hard to type or to get up again—so I stand when I can. But I’m most efficient when I leave the house to work, which usually means a coffee shop. I like to walk to my local Starbucks—it’s a good half hour walk from my house, so I get exercise and a good work environment with just the right amount of white noise—and of course a nice hot Americano. I used to go to Krispy Kreme a lot but I can’t walk there, so it’s not as good. But . . . donuts!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Keep moving forward, like a shark. The biggest problem in writing is getting bogged down, both in the creative process and in the waiting-to-be-discovered phase (there’s a lot of waiting in this business—agents and editors take a while to read).

Years ago, I learned to talk back to the voices in my head that like to tell me that what I’m writing sucks. I respond politely to them that while they may be right, I can always go back and edit later, and right now I just want to get to the end of the rough draft, thank you very much. I know that sounds insane—I mean, here I am admitting not only that I Hear Voices, but also that I Have Conversations with Them, but most writers I know wrestle with self-defeating self-criticism and this is how I deal with mine. It keeps me from giving up or slowing down and I DO get through a rough draft eventually as a result.

And as far as the waiting process goes, the best advice I have is don’t sit around waiting to hear back from the people who are reading the thing you just finished—always start something new. It’s the best feeling in the world to say to yourself, “What’s next? I’m freed up to work on anything I want!” Don’t deny yourself that high just because you don’t know what’s happening with your previous work. Best case scenario, someone wants to represent or publish the finished product and you have two projects on your desk; worst case, no one says yes to that one, but you’re already invested in something new and thrilling and feeling hopeful about that one. Being creative keeps you going.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Wrong About the Guy
by Claire LaZebnik
Paperback
HarperTeen
Released 4/21/2015

Claire LaZebnik's latest twist on a beloved classic asks the age old question: Could the girl who knows everything be wrong about the guy?

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie’s stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand. But Ellie isn't the kind of person who’s content with simply having it all—the people in her life have to be equally happy. And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie’s plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don’t turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all. Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she'd expect.

With her signature witty narration and swoon-worthy romance, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail, The Trouble with Flirting, and The Last Best Kiss) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story: Jane Austen’s Emma.

Purchase Wrong About the Guy at Amazon
Purchase Wrong About the Guy at IndieBound
View Wrong About the Guy on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire LaZebnikClaire LaZebnik grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Harvard and moved to LA. (Her name was Claire Scovell for a large part of all that.) She's written five novels for adults, Same as It Never Was, Knitting under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts. She's also published two YA novels with Harper Collins: Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting (due out in winter, 2012/3). With Lynn Koegel (who’s absolutely brilliant), she co-wrote Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life and Growing up on the Spectrum: A guide to life, love and learning for young adults with autism and Asperger’s. She contributed to an anthology play called Motherhood Out Loud, and have been published in The New York Times, Self, Vogue and other magazines.

She lives in the Pacific Palisades with my husband Rob (who writes for “The Simpsons”), her four kids (Max, Johnny, Annie and Will) and too many pets to keep track of.


What did you think of our interview with Claire LaZebnik, author of WRONG ABOUT THE GUY? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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11. V is for Value ~ A to Z 2015 Challenge



V is for Value...

Definition...



noun

1.
relative worth, merit, or importance
Have you ever taken the time out to value yourself? Our self worth is immense in taking stock of our value not only for ourselves, but to our loved ones. For if we value ourselves and what's important to us our loved ones will follow suit in valuing you and themselves as well.

A dare you, take the time out to value yourself and talents and watch them explode.

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

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. Baby Foxes Nursing

(Link to YouTube video) A few days ago, I filmed this family of red foxes at the edge of the wild woods behind my house. The male fox greets the vixen as she nurses five new kits. The mother's lactation lasts for about six weeks.

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13. Monster Day at Work, by Sarah Dyer| Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Monster Day at Work, written and illustrated by Sarah Dyer. Giveaway begins April 25, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 24, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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14. Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, on loving what you write

We're thrilled to have Lori Goldstein with us today because she and her book BECOMING JINN were part of a First Five Pages Workshop in 2013. It's very exciting to see an alum's book go on to be published!

So tell us, Lori, what was your inspiration for writing BECOMING JINN?

Simply a name. A few years ago, there was a horrible earthquake in Turkey. A mother and her infant daughter were pulled from the rubble and both miraculously survived. That baby’s name was Azra, which is my protagonist in Becoming Jinn. It was hearing this beautiful name and picturing this world she would live in that sparked the idea of writing a book featuring Jinn, which for some reason I knew was the term for spirits derived from North African and Middle Eastern lore. A fan of contemporary, I decided to merge the fantasy elements with our modern world and drop Azra and her Jinn family into the world in which I live—quite literally into my home state of Massachusetts.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Yes, there most definitely was. I had written an adult manuscript over the course of three years, give or take, while also working as a freelance copyeditor. I was always in the publishing world in some way but never on the fiction side. As an avid reader and someone trained in writing, I figured writing fiction would come somewhat easily. It didn’t. Writing that first manuscript was how I learned that! While I eventually ended up with a manuscript I was proud of that received some agent requests (including from my current agent, though she signed me for Becoming Jinn), I wanted to start my next project (which was Jinn) in a much more organized way. And so I took a novel planning course at the Grub Street writing center in Boston. It was during this class, taught by author James Scott, that I had my AHA! moment. He was talking about inside story and outside story and referred to what he called “the wound and the want” and how it informs both. That was my eureka moment. While much of what he was saying I’d heard or read in some way before, it was the context and the way he described this particular element that made everything fall into place in a way that I knew from that moment on would change my writing—all my writing—for the better. I wrote more about “the wound and the want” in a series I did on novel planning last year: http://www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com/novel-planning-step-3/

How long did you work on BECOMING JINN?

Following on what I said above, using the tools I learned in the novel planning course, I was able to write Becoming Jinn in two months after one month of planning. My first drafts are more like second drafts because my “first draft” is actually a very long outline/scene-by-scene synopsis, to the tune of 70-80 pages. That outline has summaries as well as full-on scenes with dialogue if the mood strikes while I’m putting it together. In fact, the ending of Becoming Jinn is pretty spot on to what I wrote in its original outline.

I then revised for a month prior to getting my agent. I revised for two months with her before we went on submission. So total time to that point was about six months. I then revised based on my editor’s notes for about three months. Then copyediting and proofing. So pretty close to a full year when you add it all up. And a grand total of having read the book through from beginning to end of, oh, about nine trillion times! You better love what you write!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

See the above about loving what you write! Seriously, that’s my biggest piece of advice. You will read your book so many times, you will nearly have it memorized. You have to do that and you have to want to do that. You need to know it inside and out so you can see the mistakes and fix them. So you can make it better. If you can’t dedicate yourself to doing that, if you get bored and itchy to move on, you won’t be able to see the manuscript through to publication.

What are you working on now?

The conclusion to the Becoming Jinn series, tentatively titled Circle of Jinn, is in the can, so right now I’m working on a contemporary that, like Jinn, involves a complicated family setup. This one is sans magic, but it has a lot of the flavor of Becoming Jinn, which I think is a contemporary fantasy in the truest sense of those words as Jinn reads very “real world,” or so readers are telling me! I won’t say more about the new project because it’s still early, but I’m really excited about the idea and can’t wait to truly dig in. Though I do still miss writing Azra, I have to admit!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Becoming Jinn

by Lori Goldstein
Hardcover
Feiwel & Friends
Released 4/21/2015

Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters,” Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
 Purchase Becoming Jinn at Amazon
Purchase Becoming Jinn at IndieBound
View Becoming Jinn on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lori GoldsteinLori Goldstein was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com.





What did you think of our interview with Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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15. Celebrating Thrift Shops


In this age of "reduce, reuse, recycle," it's a good reminder that thrift shops help us do that with material goods-- as consumers and as providers. And children can start young with the notion of donating to help others. Here April Halprin Wayland conveys a child's mixed feelings in a very clever and tender way in her poem, “Box for the Thrift Shop." Juli P. has her two young performers reading both the English and Spanish versions of this lovely poem here.


Plan now to donate goods (and/or visit a thrift shop) on August 17, National Thrift Shop Day. And encourage children you know to participate with you, too.

For the full text of this poem and 150+ more (all in English AND Spanish), order your own copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations HERE and for more Poetry Celebrations fun, click HERE. Plus for more on National Poetry Month, click HERE.


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16. Translations-from-the French shortlists

       The French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation have announced the finalists for their Translation Prizes.
       Only one overlap with the Best Translated Book Award longlist -- Pierre Michon's Winter Mythologies and Abbots -- but several others are under review at the complete review:

       The winners will be announced 9 June.

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17. Earth Quake

CDa9md6UIAAsUyOअचानक फोन घनघना उठे … सभी की राजी खुशी की खबर पूछे जाने लगी … बहुत खुशी है कि भूकम्प को बहुत से फेसबुक मित्र हल्के मे ले रहे हैं और मजाक भी कर रहे हैं. सच पूछो तो इस तरह की प्राकृतिक आपदाए हिला कर रख देती है.. इस पर अपना जोर नही चल सकता बस इतना ही कह सकते है कि … ईश्वर सभी को ठीक रखें …

The post Earth Quake appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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18. Into the Dark Series Ambassador Post #3

Get ready for some awesome preview quotes from The Eternity Key!


The book releases on April 28! If you haven't read The Shadow Prince, don't worry! It's out now so check your local library or bookstore (it's out in paperback!)


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19. BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR IS TOUGH - #AmWriting #WriteTip


I'm not going to whine in this post (well, maybe just a little) about being a self-published writer or indie author, but...
Some mornings I wake up and feel like I’m going to have a panic attack as I stare at the blank page of my MS Word document. Or at the words mockingly gazing back at me that I’d written the day before. The pressure to get another book published feels like heavy weight on my shoulders. Adrenaline floods my veins. My limbs vibrate. I even start to doubt my own writing skills…
My head even tells my creative muse that watching all those TV shows on the DVR sound like more fun than trying to be creative today. The cat rubs against my legs and meows as if to say, “Let’s cuddle and skip that writing stuff.” (I admit that it’s hard to resist kitty.)
At first, I was super excited to write my New Adult novel, but I soon realized that I’d been writing horror and paranormal romance for so long that a contemporary novel was somewhat out of my comfort zone. I had written other novels like this before but not in about six years. And I was struggling to write the more romantic elements of the story, because I just wasn’t “feeling” it. Anyone who knows me, understands that I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. I like some element of romance in almost everything I read or watch.
Yet I was stuck on the romance aspect of my current WIP and it made me want to quit. So I reached out to one of my editors, who is great at writing/editing romance to help me rewrite those scenes, and one of my long-term critique partners for help.
Sometimes having someone else read or edit your work and offer suggestions on ways to enhance a subplot or a scene can unblock your creative muse. It was a cry for help, but I didn’t want to give up on this MS. Those two actually helped me get past my own writer’s doubt and feel inspired again.
CPs are just all kinds of awesomesauce in my opinion. They help to remind you that you LOVE writing and not to give up whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or want to quit.
I try not to work on other manuscripts while I’m revising/writing one. Often I’ll get ideas that inspire me and I’m lured into quitting one MS to start a new one, but I force myself to stay with the one I’ve already started. A few night ago, I had this idea for a story about a werewolf and got up to feverishly jot down notes. Then as I reread what I wrote, I told myself that this story would have to wait. I had to finish my WIP and write another book in one of my YA series first.
I’m actually envious of other writers that can start a new novel or jump back into a series back-to-back. It takes my brain a month or so to move out of one story world and jump into another. I usually need some downtime between writing projects, but as an indie author that can kill my sales. But if I don’t do any promotion or marketing that can kill my sales, too. It is such a double-edged sword!
I used daydream about being traditionally published and my only job would be to write. No other obligations. No promoting. No cover design. No endless editing. Just write…
But the more I read and hear and learn about being published by one of the big six (or is it 5 now?) the less I dream about it.
As I did my taxes for last year, I realized that I made a lot more money than I thought. And so far this year, I’m making even more and it has helped that most of my books have been featured on Amazon’s top 100 lists over the last five months. (Thank you to my awesome readers!)
I was thinking about querying my New Adult WIP, but after talking to good writer friend whose sister is traditionally published and the nightmare she is going through, I am having second thoughts.
And to be honest, I am a bit of a control freak. I actually like being the “publisher” and setting my own prices, creating my own book covers, and being paid every month. And I don’t want to wait 1 to 2 years to release a new book.
And after I read this blog post by a bestselling mid-list author: http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestsellerI’m not sure I still dream about being published by the big six anymore.
Although, it might be nice to be published by a smaller indie publisher, where I’d get more control over the production.
My goal for 2015 now?
I think what I need to do is write FASTER. Publishing a new book every three to four months would really help. But I’ve also made the mistake of publishing a book too soon and getting a few negative reviews.
Over the last two years, I’ve heavily revised my already published books at least twice, which kept me from writing anything new. Although, as I learn and grow as a writer, I want all of my books to be the best they can be too. 
I also got sidetracked from my writing by designing premade book covers.  I was having so much fun creating them that I did ditch my WIP for about six weeks. I knew I needed to refocus my time on what I love to do...WRITE! So I bought a ton of New Adult books from Amazon and emerged myself in the genre, feeling determined to finish my WIP and get re-inspired. So between reading and working with my CPs and editor, my WIP started to shine again and I felt a renewed sense of love for the book I was writing. Still, the whole process has seemed painstakingly slow.
But how to write faster? Maybe it is time to go from pantser to plotter?
I read Steve Windsor’s book, “NINE DAY NOVEL,” and it gave me some great tips on how to write faster, and then I downloaded Scrivener. It seems complicated to learn, but it’s such an awesome writing program that I want to try. I’m going to test it out and attempt to start outlining.
Once this current WIP is finished, I think it’s time to go back to what I feel most comfortable writing—paranormal. I have some page-turning ideas for the sequel to LOST IN STARLIGHT so that will be my next project.



What are your goals for 2015? 
How many books can you write a year? 
What do you do to overcome doubt or writer's block?
I'd love to hear about how other writers deal with these issues and your goals for 2015, so please leave a comment!



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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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21. GIVEAWAY: A Pocket Star EBook Kentucky Derb-E Treat! The Aspen Valley Series by Colette Auclair

GIVEAWAY

A Pocket Star EBook

Kentucky Derb-E Treat!

The Aspen Valley Series:

To gear up for the Derby, and to celebrate the start of the horse show season, I have a giveaway for Colette Auclair’s Aspen Valley series, thanks to Pocket Books!   I loved Thrown, so I’m excited to share this giveaway with you!

The Kentucky Derby is just one week away and we are giving away promo codes for the EBooks Thrown, Jumped, and Branded in Colette Auclair’s award-winning Aspen Valley series!

THROWN (December 2013; $5.99) is the first book in The Aspen Valley Series.  Professional horse trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t compete. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—and braces herself for three miserable months. But the movie star is funny, down-to-earth, and gorgeous—and his spoiled daughters are just desperate for a mother figure. By Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.

 

JUMPED (August 2014; $5.99), the second book in The Aspen Valley Series, is Colette Auclair’s steamy sequel to her “page-turning debut” (Library Journal), Thrown. A young woman in the equestrian fashion business finds herself head over heels for her ex-husband.  Thoroughly enjoying herself at her best friend Amanda’s wedding, Beth is shocked when she is seated next to her ex-husband, Finn, at the reception. Determined to not let this fluster her, Beth strikes up a conversation only to learn Finn isn’t the same man she walked away from. 

Relieved the reception is over, Beth is looking forward to a relaxing weekend against the beautiful backdrop of sunny Aspen at Amanda and Grady’s estate.  Little does she know Finn will be partaking in the weekend activities.  But just as Beth decides to keep as much distance between her and Finn as possible, Finn has a terrible accident and Beth is stuck being his bedside nurse.  Over the course of the weekend, Beth and Finn discover that the wounds of their failed marriage are not all that’s left. There are sparks…and hope. But just as they decide to give it another try, Finn confesses a huge secret that could destroy everything he’s fought to get back—Beth, their relationship, and another chance at love.  Will Beth turn away, or will she take a leap of faith and say “I do” once (again) and for all? 

BRANDED (December 2014; $5.99), the third book in The Aspen Valley Series, will take readers on a wild and dreamy ride through the beautiful valleys and mountains of Colorado.  Professional, polite, and pearl-wearing, dressage rider and resort consultant Cordy Sims is the last person anyone would expect to initiate a weekend of debauchery. And yet, that’s exactly what she does after meeting a handsome stranger at an Aspen resort. Agreeing that they’ll leave personal details at the door, they indulge in a memorable weekend of carnal recreation. On Sunday night, Cordy doesn’t want to leave this charming, seductive man, but she must play by her own rules.
On Monday, Cordy sits in a meeting at the ad agency that’s hired her as a freelancer, and her professional and personal worlds collide. Turns out agency owner Jack Cormier looks just as good in the boardroom as he did in the bedroom. Forced to work together, Cordy and Jack can’t ignore the chemistry that crackles between them, or the deeper feelings that have developed. But secrets and scars from their pasts may prove too formidable, even for a love that’s as powerful as it is unexpected. 

Praise for The Aspen Valley Series:

“The story portrays two convincingly flawed but likeable characters who find each other’s aults both provocative and exciting, as they try to decide whether a second chance at marriage is worth the risk.”

Publishers Weekly on Jumped

“Harris, the Brunswicks’ chef, is a clairvoyant Cupid, full of honest evaluations of people and their love lives. He adds a spark to the story as Auclair continues to build her cast of series characters and develop their varied personalities.”

—Library Journal on Jumped

In JUMPED, the author returns to the Aspen area with many of the same characters that were in her well–received debut novel, THROWN…Major and minor characters are interesting and likable, and the friendships add to the primary romance. There will be at least one more book in the series. Look for BRANDED to release in December. If you like horses, a tangled relationship, and a series that flows from one book to the next, check out these titles.”

—Romance Reviews Today on Jumped

“If you’re looking for a highly entertaining, fast-paced, horsey beach read, Jumped should fill the bill.”

—Horse Nation on Jumped

“There is enough tension among all the forces at play to keep the pages turning. Debut novelist Auclair is a 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, winner of the 2011 Winter Rose Contest, and a finalist in the 2011 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest.  Recommended for most romance fans.”

—Library Journal on Thrown

“Romantic fiction with an equestrian theme gets a fun new twist in this novel which follows trainer Amanda Vogel… the star is single, handsome, and has the hots for Amanda. But both characters are carrying hefty loads of their own baggage, and as they navigate through various dramas and horse-related mishaps, the layers (both physical and psychological) start to come off. Thrown weaves horses into the story with a practiced tone, and the accuracy of equine knowledge and horse people adds to the plot. For a fun, entertaining read, be sure to pick up this debut novel by Colette Auclair.”

Horse & Style on Thrown

“Totally accurate, as far as HorseGirls go…Colette Auclair nails the horse stuff…whether it’s describing Amanda’s selection of appropriate mounts for Grady’s beginner daughters, or setting up a human cross-country course for the girls to play Olympics over, or accurately detailing an episode of colic (including the joy when the horse finally poops), or explaining the feeling of connecting with a once-in-a-lifetime horse…my favorite part about the book, aside from the discussions of how horse training prepares just about anyone for human training…is the humor…Aside from getting the horse stuff right, the characters are also well-developed…The story is quite a page-turner, so be prepared to be completely unable to stop–like a runaway horse except actually fun.  And the book does have one pretty detailed sex scene and multiple explicit make out sessions, so it’s not for kids. Bottom line: if you like romantic comedies, you’ll definitely enjoy Thrown.”

Horse Nation on Thrown

Colette Auclair has been a copywriter for more than twenty years.  She’s ridden and shown horses since she was ten and owns a lovely twenty-year-old Thoroughbred mare.  Thrown, her first novel, was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist in the single-title contemporary romance category.  It also won the 2011 Winter Rose Contest (Yellow Rose Romance Writers) and finaled in the 2011 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest (NE Ohio Romance Writers Assoc.)  Jumped is second and Branded is third in the Aspen Valley series.  Please visit coletteauclair.com.

One Winner will win all three ebooks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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22. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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23. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Musicality

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

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Pixabay

Description: having a natural talent for music in one or more of its forms: singing, playing musical instruments, composing, conducting, etc.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: having an ear for pitch; being able to hear parts, as opposed to only melodies; being able to recreate a piece of music once it has been heard; having a basic understanding of music theory

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: analytical, creative, disciplined, focused, industrious, inspirational, meticulous, passionate, sensual, studious, talented, perfectionistic 

Required Resources and Training: When it comes to musicality, many people are born with a bent in that direction; there definitely can be a genetic component. This bent is often developed by frequent exposure to music. 

Formal training in the form of lessons, classes, and schools that specialize in the arts has been proven to improve musicality, though it’s not always necessary. Many people with a knack for music have no formal training but instead hone their gift by studying the greats and surrounding themselves with music. And there are, of course, the rare examples of true prodigies like Mozart, Chopin, and Yo-Yo Ma, whose musical abilities seem to exist and flourish without much instruction at all. Despite these exceptions, whether classically trained or self-taught, disciplined practice is almost always a necessary part of becoming an accomplished musician.

Associated Stereotypes: child prodigies, idiot savants, talented children who are driven by obsessive or controlling stage parents

Associated Perceptions: gifted musicians being socially awkward

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • When the adult caregiver is unable to work and the family needs money
  • In a culture where the arts are highly valued
  • In a society where musicality is rare
  • When a character is in need of validation and self-confidence
  • In a stressful environment where music can bring solace and hope to others
  • When an oppressed group of people need or want to be reminded of their culture or shared history (as was the case with African-American slaves) 

Resources for Further Information:

Musicality: Instinct or Acquired Skill?

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Musicality appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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24. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Staff programs sufficiently and appropriately.

Staffing situations vary from library to library based on a number of factors including population served, budget, and organizational structure. So who gets to staff programs? YALSA's guidelines lay out a number of considerations to take into account whenever making staff and volunteer assignments for a program, no matter our size or structure. Points 6.3 and 6.5 in particular consider the different roles that staff and volunteers take.

6.3: Consider which tasks are best suited to librarians and which are more suited to paraprofessionals, community partners and mentors, adult volunteers or Friends of the Library, and teen volunteers and participants.

With any program, someone needs to take the leadership role and accept responsibility for everything (the good and the bad) that comes of it. I find this is most often the person (usually a librarian) who pitches the program, and who believes in it enough to carry through with it. Whether hiring a presenter or relying on a crew of regular volunteers, the program leader needs to know (or find how to find) the answers to any question anyone may have about it from the time it first goes on the program schedule to three weeks afterward, when someone calls to ask when the next one will take place. The librarian leading a program is also most often the person charged with enforcing the rules as in, "Sorry, this a teen program for teens only."

Other staff may be recruited to handle specific aspects of a program because of their expertise in a certain subject area; for instance, having the graphic designer (who also happens to be huge Doctor Who fan) design crafts for a Doctor Who oarty. Adult volunteers and mentors may serve in similar roles. When a local Star Wars cosplayer learned of a multi-fandom fest we planned last fall, she offered to not only come in costume, but bring her collection of hand-made doll costumes and accessories for display.

Community partners can range from a business that donates pizza, to an after-school program that arranges transportation for their group to all attend together. We love community partners at my library, and are generally happy with any participation they are willing to commit to. Outside groups always have their own policies; a business may ask that we display coupons or flyers with their donated food. As long as their policies don't violate ours, we are happy to comply. The program leader is the one who needs to step in and explain, for instance, that we cannot post advertisements on our community bulletin board.

Teen volunteers step into a number of roles depending on the program, their maturity level and skill set; always under staff supervision. Most volunteers are tasked with set-up and clean-up. Some are more enthusiastic about these duties tha others. Every now and then you'll find a volunteer who enjoys running the sweeper over the carpet. Most teens love to help their peers during the program. If it's a craft program they may even provide one-on-one assistance to participants who need a little more help.

Teen Advisory Boards and other regular volunteers should get involved as much as possible during the planning stages. Are you offering prizes for a contest? Talk to the board members to find out what they think their peers would like. In the case of our Fandom Fest, a couple of Anime & Manga club members came up with their own ideas for an informal trivia contest, so I let them run with it. They put questions together, dug through their manga collections to compile prizes, and ran the contest as one component of the bigger program. I had them announce the trivia contest winners, and made sure to thank them publicly at the conclusion of the program.

6.5. When hosting programs led by outside presenters, consider ways to ensure that teens also develop positive relationships with library workers.

This point goes hand-in-hand with maintaining your role as program leader. Sometimes leading means showing up early to assist an outside presenter with set-up and making sure they have everything they need. You can use this as an opportunity to learn just enough about what the teens will be doing during the program to assist them later if/when they need it. You can greet the teens as they enter, take attendance, and show  where to put their things. You can introduce the presenter, introducing yourself in the process. If you have a name tag or shirt to identify you as staff, then be sure to wear it. Then be an active presence  throughout program. I try to carry a camera or smartphone with me to document the program. Mostly I find myself answering questions, like, "Where is the restroom?"

With many programs, maintenance and/or security staff will be in the room periodically. This is a great time to introduce them to the teens, and vice versa. The relationship between teens and these staff can be filled with friction; I think mainly because maintenance  see teens as ones who make messes and break rules, and teens see maintenance as ones who scold them for natural behavior like eating and putting their feet up. It's during a program like the fandom fest where teens might learn that the maintenance and security are members of the same fandoms they are, and maintenance and security can see that teens are interested in making more than messes and noise.

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25. Snowball by Shel Silverstein

Snowball I made myself a snowball As perfect as could be. I thought I'd keep it as a pet And let it sleep with me. I made it some pajamas And a pillow for its head. Then last night it ran away But first - it wet the bed. - Shel Silverstein (suggested by zoey)

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