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a job I love, in a city I love, with people I respect and admire; the readers of and commenters on this blog who provide on-going enlightenment and entertainment; health, happiness, and the friends to enjoy it with.
I hope you have a lovely holiday filled with the things that make you happy.
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It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’d like to thank you for stopping over today. First of all, I’d like to wish all readers and fans of this blog based in the U.S., a very Happy Thanksgiving. I promise you’ll enjoy the spread laid out today. In the hot seat today is a wonderful lady who is fondly known as ‘Grammy Pags.’ I’ve been so inspired by her energy and passion for life in the lead up to today’s interview. She has so much to share with us today, so get into your most comfortable position and join me in welcoming Rhonda Paglia.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.
Hi David, thank you for inviting me to be part of your Author Thursday Interview. I’m honored, and congratulations on your new book, Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas that is coming out soon! Congrats!!! You are prolific!!
Okay, a few facts about me:
I’ve been married to my sweet husband, Tony, for 41 years. We have three grown children, five adorable grandchildren, and little Yorkie-poo named Bella. She’s my shadow.
I’m a retired elementary teacher, [I taught 26 years], and now I’m a Grammy babysitter, a flower planter, a musician, a tap dancer, and a self-published children’s author.
I have received a great deal of praise for the first book I released to the public: “The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission.”
I must add that growing up, I had NO confidence in my writing! NONE! ZIPPO! My writing was so bad that in 7th grade, when our English teacher gave us a story writing assignment, my mother ended up red-lining and rewriting everything I had written. I would have gotten an F on my story, but she earned an A. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t look at my teacher for the rest of the year. It was awful! I was living a lie every day I walked into his class. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way in my writing confidence.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Rhonda Paglia?
I’m still in the process of learning and developing my “niche.” I’m just writing for fun. I have learned a lot in the last two years, and I’m getting and understanding the process more. My hope is that readers will enjoy my stories and come away with a little glow in their hearts and a little tickle in their tummy.
I want kids to learn something and to stretch their imaginations and creativity. For example, in my crazy little book, Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue, kids will find a hero in Doonsey. They will also learn about his new friends, the “Beach Buddies.” Our family went on a vacation to the beach. We “met” Doonsey there. Then I started seeing faces in the sand that were made out of the shells and stones. My granddaughter, Sofie, and I started making a bunch of faces and the “Beach Buddies” were born! We used shells, stones, crab claws, and other items we found on the beach. The “Buddies” ended up as characters in the first Doonsey book and they will reappear in Book 2. Kids can learn to make their own Buddy characters with things they find in nature, not just stones and shells.
What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books?
I’m new to the “book business” too, but everything I’ve read, indicates that Social Media has a huge impact on getting your name “out there.” So I tweet, toot, blog, Facebook, website, and get Linkedin, as often as possible, but always feel behind. It’s a time issue for me, as I’m sure it is for most authors.
Is marketing on Social Media helpful? Who knows? I’ve sold books on line, but most of my sales success has been one-on-one, face-to-face, book signing events. It’s fun too!
What in your opinion makes a great children’s book?
This is a tough one, so my answer is simple. A GREAT book has ALL the pieces: characters, plot, setting, illustrations.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
The Little Golden Books series, Caps for Sale, Country Mouse and City Mouse, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and all of the classic fairy tales. I read the Wizard of Oz until the pages were falling out. Our nearest library was miles away, but every once in a while, we were allowed to buy a comic books at the grocery story. I loved the adventures of Little Lulu, Dot, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. And then there is dear Dr. Seuss. When his books became available, I loved them. Later I branched out to the Nancy Drew mystery series and some biographies, but mostly, I loved the books that would send me away on adventures.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
Dr. Seuss. I love the freedom of his language usage. I love the rhythm and cadence of his words. I love his stories, characters, and how he moves the plot. Such fun and imagination! I will never be a Dr. Seuss, but with my musical background, I find myself using rhythm and rhyme when it’s appropriate. In my yet to be released book, “Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap” – Grammy’s looks prim, proper, and sophisticated, but she’s really a closet rocker!
How do you reward yourself once your book is published?
I’m still very new at all of this – and currently, I’m self-published. However, the fact that my ideas and my works are in my hands, in a form, that I can share with others, is a huge reward. Like, “Phew! I did it!” The “no confidence – non-writer – F’s on story-getter – me” is now writing and publishing stories. I never thought that would happen – certainly not the 7th grader sitting in English class lying to my teacher about a paper my mother wrote for me! #Iamwriting! That’s a biggie reward!
I wrote “Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue” and created a companion coloring activity book for my grandchildren. It was a Christmas surprise last year. My heart just beamed! Not only did I write a story and publish it for them; I got to be around to read it to them and get their reactions. Big time reward!
Toy Story or Shrek?
Toy Story. I love the characters!! I love seeing the toys come to life, organizing themselves, tackling problems. Great fun! I grew up in the country. We didn’t have any close neighbors. My friends were at school, a distance away. I would have LOVED for my toys to come to life, be my “real” friends, and have merry adventures with them. So definitely, Toy Story!
What three things should a first time visitor to Pennsylvania do?
Visit Amish Country. Lancaster, in northeast, PA, and Volant and New Wilmington in northwest PA, where I live, near, would be a cultural experience. It’s hard to believe that we have communities within our modern society that can exist and thrive without electricity and all the conveniences that the rest of us can’t live without! If you visit the Amish area, many of the locals have little shops in or near their farms. Visitors can purchase colorful handmade quilted items, homemade pastries and canned goods, plants, beautiful handmade furniture, and get your horse’s harness repaired at the same time!
Pymatuning Lake. I grew up there, so I’m a little prejudiced. Pymatuning Lake is located in northwestern PA on the border of PA and Ohio. It is located within Pymatuning State Park and is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. The lake is 18 miles long and has over 26 square miles of lake surface. In 1931, when my dad was 9 years old, he and my grandfather attended the ground breaking ceremonies for the lake. They saw the first shovel full of dirt removed that would later become Pymatuning Lake Reservoir. If you are an outdoors person, you can swim, hike, camp, fish, go boating, picnic, and explore. But make sure you don’t miss the Pymatuning Spill Way. That’s where you get to feed the fish! There are so many, the duck’s walk on their backs!!
Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a cultural hub for all the arts and it’s the home of our three major league sports teams, the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates. The Strip District is in downtown Pittsburgh and is a great market place filled with lots of people, cooking street vendors, markets with fresh produce, restaurants, places to shop, and the home of the Mancini breads and the Primanti Brothers’ famous super stuffed sandwich with French fries. Oh, and if you listen carefully, you’ll pick up some of the famous Pittsburghese language! Fun!
With a background in teaching, can you give us a few tips on capturing a child’s attention and relaying a moral lesson?
Phew – that’s a big question!! I may not answer your exact question, but here’s what came to mind as I reflected on it.
Make learning fun! When kids are engaged, they will take more ownership for their own learning.
Help kids develop confidence! I had very little confidence as a kid – all the way through adulthood. I recognized this weakness in myself, so I made it a goal to try to help develop confidence in my own children and my students. Kids have vivid imaginations. I’ve found that if kids can tap into their own creativity and develop ideas – without judgment – they will develop more confidence.
Teach tolerance! Everyone, kids and adults, all of us, have gifts and talents. Our interests and abilities vary. We are not the same. I believe that we have all come here to share our gifts and talents, and to share our differences. How boring we would be if we were all the same!! Each one of us is an integral piece of a gigantic universal puzzle.
What do your grandchildren think of Grammy Pags the Author?
Our grandchildren are young – ages 7 to 1.5. The younger ones don’t know what an author is. However, our oldest grandson, Orion, totally gets it! Orion was the inspiration for the story, “Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion.” The story has changed from the original version I wrote in 2009. It’s longer and beautifully illustrated by Ratna Kusuma Halim of Indonesia. I had a book launch birthday party for “The Three Little Gnomes” book and Orion came to the event and signed books too! He was a star for the day and loved it!!
What can we expect from Rhonda Paglia in the next 12 months?
Writing, writing, writing!
Where can readers and fans connect with you? Thank you for asking. Here’s the contact info for GRAMMY PAGS STORIES
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Have fun! Do what you love!
Frustration is part of the game. Figure out why you are doing what you do, then figure out your goals, the reach for them. What happens if you don’t reach? A big NOTHING! But if you reach, anything can happen!
The kid’s book market is crazy huge. Try to find your niche. I’m still searching for mine!
Write what you like and HAVE FUN! For me, that’s my goal! Girls just want to have fun!! Well, this Grammy just wants to have fun too . . . and maybe give my readers a few smiles!!
Wow! Thanks for sharing with us today Rhonda. I love the fact that you’ve been honest and just loving the journey. I love your advice about writing what you like and having fun. Rhonda and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I hope her zest for life has been an inspiration for you as it has for me. Remember to share this interview on social media using the social buttons and grab one of Rhonda’s books at the link below
Leonard Cohen’s decision to take up cigarettes again at 80 reveals a well kept secret about older age: you can finally live it up and stop worrying about the consequences shortening your life by much. Risk taking is not such a risk anymore, given the odds. Of course some take that more literally than others. I don’t plan to do a parachute jump when I turn 90, as President Bush #1 did. However, a new breath of freedom (and less worry) is an unexpected and pleasant benefit of older age that isn’t well known.
Research findings confirm this is true. In recent studies of many adults from many countries, people were asked to rate their level of well being on a scale of 1-10. Researchers found a fascinating relationship between age and well-being. 20 year olds start out pretty high, after which well-being consistently goes down with age, bottoming out around the early 50’s. What happens next came as a surprise to many: after this trough, well-being actually goes up with age, with 85-year-olds reporting slightly higher well-being than the 20-year-olds. These are known as the U-bend studies, because well-being through adult life takes the shape of a “U.”
One question we can ask is: how can elders feel better when they are much closer to death than younger people? My personal and clinical experiences suggest that we accept the reality of death, which helps us enjoy each day and its positives more, because we appreciate their preciousness. Pleasure in listening to music, seeing a beautiful sunrise or hearing early morning bird calls elicits more enjoyment than when we were younger.
We live in the “now”. One woman expressed it well in our support group for aging and illness: “My papers are in order, my will and all that. Only, I just got four chairs recovered in my apartment. I want to stick around at least to see how they look with the new covers.” Concerns about career are gone; elderly parents are gone and adult children are on their own (hopefully). Elders begin to see life from a broader perspective than their own personal being—we are concerned about the future of the planet and the fate of our children’s children’s children whom we may never see.
At 86, I heartily endorse Cohen’s decision to forego all the illness prevention and screening that made sense in his 50s but not in his 80s when it is not likely to prolong life. For me, that means enjoying the pleasures of food and drink as I choose. My modern vegetarian-ish children chide me for the red meat on the table and insist I should be serving kale smoothies and brown rice for dinner and drinking bottled water with lemon instead of alcohol. My husband of 89 and I enjoy beef and wine for dinner, and we have no plans to change that. As to more wholesome drinks, as a Texan, I have drunk Dr. Peppers since the age of 10. I could easily be a poster girl for its benefits, but I am warned about the dangers I run every day of their poisoning my brain by the artificial “everything” in them.
As to fall prevention, which is a big concern of our children, I understand their wishes to prevent a broken hip, but I love most of my rugs and they are part of the pleasure in my home. I will compromise just so far in taking them up. I will be prudent but not coerced into a life style my children feel is more appropriate for us. My colleague, Dr. Mindy Greenstein, is a psychologist who works with me in a geriatric research group, and with whom I compare notes on aging from our middle and old old age perspectives. I complain that my children act too “parental” at times and I remind her that at 91, if her father eats another latke beyond what his wife deems appropriate, is that really a make or break issue in his survival? Children want to help us oldsters to outsmart the Grim Reaper, and that is very tender. But eventually he wins. So why sweat the odds? We are lucky—and happy—to be here in our upper 80s.
The bottom line is that Cohen has it right about the freedom to do things we want over 80, but wrong about paying too much attention to calculating the prevention risk ratio. The best story to put this into perspective is the old man who went to his doctor and asked. “Doc, if I give up alcohol, cigarettes and women will I live longer?” The doctor replied, “No, but it will seem longer.”
“My thanks to my parents is vast,” says Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboist with the Imani Winds woodwind quintet. “Without their help, I would never have become a musician.”
Many professional musicians I’ve interviewed have responded as Ms. Spellman-Diaz did, saying that their parents helped in so many ways: from locating good music teachers, schools, and summer programs, to getting them to lessons, rehearsals and performances on time, while also figuring out how to pay for it all. In addition, there are those reminders (often not well received) that parents tend to give about not forgetting to practice. Ms. Spellman-Diaz received her share of reminders, noting that “at some points, I didn’t feel like practicing. Dad’s going to be thrilled that I’ve admitted that it helped that he nagged me to practice. For decades he has been bugging me to admit that.”
But beyond these basics, when I ask musicians to recall something especially mhelpful that they’re thankful to their parents for in terms of furthering their musical development, the responses tend to focus on how a parent helped them find their own musical way.
Toyin-Spellman Diaz: The non-musical goal her parents had while looking for a good private flute teacher for their daughter during elementary school had a profound effect on Ms. Spellman-Diaz’s musical future. “They wanted an African-American teacher so I could see a classical musician who looked like me, to show me that there were African-American classical musicians out there,” she says. Her second flute teacher was also black, as was one of the three oboe teachers she had during high school, after she switched instruments. “It absolutely made an impact and is partly why I play in the Imani Winds.” This woodwind quintet of African American musicians was started in 1997 with much the same goal her parents had: to show the changing face of classical music. However, one of her flute teachers was also into jazz. “I think my parents were trying to steer me toward jazz. They would have been really excited if I became a jazz flutist,” she says. But classical music won out, and that was fine, too. “With my parents, it was knowing when to let go and let me find my own voice, my own passion for it.”
Jonathan Biss: This pianist credits his parents with creating an “atmosphere that I didn’t feel I was doing it to please them or because it was good for me. I was doing it because I loved music.” When he was young, he too sometimes needed practice reminders. “But if they said, ‘Go practice,’ which wasn’t often, it was always accompanied by ‘if you want to do this.’ Their point was that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but if you choose to do it, you have to do it well.”
Paula Robison: After she started flute at age eleven, her father realized that she had a special flair for it and “saw a possible life for me as a musician,” says Ms. Robison. He knew regular practice was essential, but he didn’t want to become an overbearing, nagging parent. So when she was twelve, they shook hands on an agreement: she promised to practice at a certain time every day and if she didn’t, it would be all right with her for him to remind her. That went well until one day during her early teens when she was “lounging around on the couch” during the hour she was supposed to practice. He reminded her of their agreement. She says she angrily “stomped up the stairs” to practice and “whirled around and shouted, ‘Someday I’m going to thank you for this!’” And she has. “I thank my father every time I pick up the flute.”
Liang Wang: When asked what he was most grateful to his parents for, this New York Philharmonic principal oboist says, “They allowed me to be what I wanted to be. A lot of parents want their kid to fit into what they think the kid should do. Oboe was an unusual choice. There aren’t many Chinese oboe players.” But he fell in love with the sound of the oboe. They supported him in his choice. He notes that his mother “wanted me to pursue my dream.”
Mark Inouye: When asked about the best musical advice he received as a young musician, Mark Inouye recalls something his father said to him at about age eleven, after a particularly disappointing Little League baseball game “in which I had played poorly,” says this principal trumpet with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The pep talk his father gave him carried over to his beginning efforts on trumpet, too. He says his father told him, “You may not be the one with the most talent, but if you are the one who works the hardest, you will succeed.”
Sarah Chang: “Mom understood I had enough music teachers in my life. The best thing she did was leave the music part to everyone else and be a mom,” says violinist Sarah Chang, who started performing professionally at age eight. “Bugging me about taking my vitamins, eating my vegetables, fussing about the dresses I wore in concerts. . . She was always encouraging, my number-one supporter.”
Headline image credit: Classical Music. Notes. Via CC0 Public Domain.
One of my goals for 2014 was to review more non-fiction books for children. So far this year I’ve written 85 pieces on the blog, and 12 have been about non-fiction. Given that non-fiction makes up about 15% of high street children’s book sales in the UK, it seems appropriate that almost the same percentage of my reviews have been about non-fiction titles.
As I’ve increased the number of non-fiction books I’ve reviewed, I’ve had to think about slightly different issues from those which concern me when reviewing fiction/picture books:
Given how few children’s non-fiction books are reviewed, what responsibilities do I have to authors/illustrators and publishers of non-fiction?
How much does accuracy matter? To you? To me?
What do readers (you!) actually want from a non-fiction review and how does this differ from a review of a piece of fiction?
Sales of children’s non-fiction in the UK are booming; so far this year about 36% more children’s non-fiction titles have been sold on the high street as compared to last year. Several new imprints either dedicated to non-fiction or with non-fiction as a strong strand have launched in the last 18 months. Usborne – which is almost synonymous with children’s non-fiction here in the UK – has seen its profits jump this year, up 26% on last year.
All this seems like great news for children’s non-fiction.
Children’s non fiction rarely gets reviewed. Whether we’re talking about reviews in mainstream media, or by book bloggers, reviews of non-fiction for children and young people are few and far between generally speaking. Approximately 2% of the reviews of books for children and young people on the Guardian website in the last year were about non-fiction. Another broadsheet managed a 6% review rate. Look around the UK Child/YA bookblogging scene and you’ll see similar low levels of reviews.
Why is this?
One reviewer for a broadsheet told me that she just “doesn’t have time” to review non-fiction. I don’t know about you, but ‘time’ in my world ultimately often corresponds to ‘level of interest’. Another highly regarded mainstream media children’s book reviewer told me that for non-fiction to even get a look in, it had to be exceptional and innovative. I don’t think many reviewers of fiction only review novels or picture books which are ground-breaking. I’d argue that plenty of ‘good-enough’ (fiction) books for children and young people get review space. Is the bar set differently for children’s non-fiction?
Perhaps another barrier to reviewing non-fiction books is our concerns as reviewers about being able to assess the accuracy of the books in question.
In reviewing non-fiction titles I sadly come across errors far more often than I ever thought I would. And I have not once seen these errors mentioned in other reviews of the same books. Indeed, some of these books end up on award shortlists (I’ve seen this twice this year, on two different shortlists) and in eminent ‘Pick of the year’ lists. Is there a culture of silence surrounding mentioning errors? Is it that reviewers are not picking up on errors? Is it that reviewers are fearful of souring relations with authors, illustrators and publishers? Are we swayed more by looks than by content? Do we just find it easier to avoid non-fiction reviews altogether because then we don’t have to consider issues of accuracy?
Accuracy of content really matters to me. When I review a non-fiction title I always fact check at least three randomly chosen facts from the book. Yes, this isn’t much, but it often gives me a rough and ready handle on the book. If with just three fact checks I can find an error…. what does that do to my trust in the rest of the book?
Perhaps there’s a bigger question to ask here: Does factual accuracy actually matter?
I firmly believe that children’s non-fiction is especially important in the age of Google; anyone can post anything on the net without it being checked whereas published books go through a system of checking, hopefully ensuring factual accuracy. But if books turn out not to be reliable, what advantages do they have over the internet? Maybe none, and yet I believe the physical book format is so important for encouraging quiet contemplation rather than quick-fix consumption, the sort of contemplation that is necessary for deeper understanding and the embedding of information. (When arguing for books over googling, I’d also highlight the attention authors pay to ‘readability’ of non-fiction books i.e. creating a pleasant reading experience. Books really can and do offer something different and potentially much better than at bunch a best of loosely curated articles online.)
But, stepping back a moment, maybe factual accuracy just isn’t that important. One parent on twitter admitted to me that whilst accuracy was nice, it wasn’t as important as a book being inspirational and grabbing the child’s attention -that if a non-fiction book got her child excited about the topic in hand, factual errors wouldn’t stop her from buying it.
I personally can’t accept this, at least when it comes to recommending books myself via my blog. I think we do a disservice to our children, and to everyone involved in creating children’s non-fiction if we throw our hands up and say “never mind” when it comes to errors. What do you think?
Apart from general stances re factual accuracy, I’ve also learned that there are huge variations in the fact checking process for non-fiction books (in the UK). All the NF authors I’ve spoken to are proud of their rigorous fact checking. Some authors provide fully referenced texts, even if the references don’t make it into the final book. Some publishers never ask for referenced texts. Some publishers will employ a consultant or even two to fact check, as well as a literacy expert where appropriate. But this isn’t always the case. One prolific non-fiction author told me “accuracy is almost entirely in the hands of the author“; “Children’s non-fiction is in such a parlous state that some books don’t even have an editor.”
Through talking extensively with NF authors and publishers I’m convinced they they are all dedicated to creating accurate, informative, enjoyable books, so why have I gone on so long about errors? Because I worry that silence about them – in reviews – and the processes by which they end up in print suggest that as a children’s book-buying, book-reading public we seriously undervalue children’s non-fiction.
We undervalue them in terms of publishing time and resources devoted to them:
Of course in a time of austerity we’re all subject to constraints, but from what I’ve learned this past year about children’s non-fiction, publishers’ time and budgets are being squeezed ever more tightly. There’s lots of pressure on getting books out there, sometimes without all the due care and attention they deserve. Yes, as a parent (and a reviewer) I want to see exciting, imaginative non-fiction, but style shouldn’t win out over substance.
We undervalue them in terms of public recognition of non-fiction authors:
Non-fiction authors are the cinderellas of the book world. Sometimes it can even be hard to find out who the author was of a non-fiction book, with their name not appearing on the cover but hidden inside in small print. Non-fiction reviews are nearly always subject driven rather than author driven and non-fiction author events are proportionally far less common than fiction author events. If you’re not persuaded by my argument that we generally hold non-fiction authors in low regard just test yourself: How many children’s non-fiction authors can you name? And how many fiction authors?
We undervalue them in terms of how much non-fiction authors are paid for the work they do:
Typically such an author earns a flat fee of around £1000 per book (though offers of much less are not infrequent), and receives no % of any sales. I understand that this is significantly less that the typical advance paid to picture book authors (typically 1-4k), who also receive 3-5 % royalties from all sales.
All this tells me that we don’t really value children’s non-fiction.
So here’s my call to arms:
Yes, let’s celebrate children’s non-fiction, the authors and the publishers who help bring adventures in the real world into the lives of our children and teenagers.
Yes, let’s create lots more brilliant non-fiction books for children and young people, recognising that for many non-fiction is their preferred reading of choice. I’m definitely all for more creative approaches to non-fiction and a move away from the look-and-learn style fact books of old, but let’s not cut corners just for the sake of good looks. If you want to create great books you need great authors and illustrators who have been given the time, money and wider support necessary.
Yes, let’s review more non-fiction for children and young people, but let’s not be afraid of reading it closely, reviewing it honestly, and starting debates about it.
Yes, let’s get more great non-fiction into the hands of children and young people. What non-fiction will you be buying for presents this year?
My thanks to all who discussed non-fiction reviewing, publishing, and related issues with me including Damyanti Patel, @ExploraBox1, Sue Cowley, Jonathan Emmett, @childledchaos, Polly Faber, Ian Manley, Cath Senker, Ali Baker, Brian Williams, Isabel Thomas, Ami Segna, Moira Butterfield, Charlotte Guillain, Stewart Ross, Brian Williams, Sean Callery and Nicola Davies. Thank you too to all who chose to remain anonymous. Of course, all opinions here are my own and do not necessarily represent those held by the authors, publishers, reviewers, or parents I spoke to.
Whilst I’ve been somewhat critical in this post, just for the record, let me state how much I do value everyone working in the field of children’s non-fiction. All the industry insiders I have spoken to, from authors to publishers, are full of passion for non-fiction. They are all 100% committed to producing excellent non-fiction. My commitment to the field is hopefully demonstrated by the fact that for all of the month of November I’ve been co-ordinating an initiative which celebrates non-fiction for children and young people, National Non-Fiction November. You can find out more about the various events which have been held, and the articles many different people have contributed here, here, here and here, or by using the hashtag #NNFN on twitter.
UPDATE: Whilst I did of course endeavour to have accurate facts in this post, one NF author has since contacted me to say that in their experience, rates for writing a non-fiction book are more like £1200 to £2200. The figure I quote above (£1000) was originally supplied by two different NF authors. If more NF authors would like to (anonymously) share their rates with me, then I could provide a more accurate picture.
It is of course Thanksgiving Day today in the USA so lots of our American readers will be busy spending time with family. So its appropriate that my Paperchase post today features an american designer Anna Bond of the Rifle Paper Co. whose designs are stocked by Paperchase. The above card is taken from the Rifle website and the snaps below were from the boutique gift room at the Paperchase AW14
Hello, dear friends! Today I am coming at you with this most delightful of posts. I recently took a trip to Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, PA. I actually discovered its existence when our own Wendy tweeted out this directory for independent bookstores and I discovered that I had this whimsical wonder practically in my own backyard! I knew I just had to take the trip. It was also featured in Buzzfeed’s list of the Great American Bookstores. I hope you can find similarly deserving treasures in your neighborhood! The building itself was built in 1822 and was an actual farmhouse until it founds its new life as a bookstore in 1946. Book lovers have been flocking to it ever since. This is the main entrance. It has a coal stove because of course it does. It’s a 19th century farm building. I was obviously and utterly... Read more »
2014 just wants to keep on running me ragged. Things keep happening (besides the riots and the racial strife). Not only is the new Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press ebook of Cortez on Jupiterorderable, but the press release is available, so you can read about the impending soft-cover edition, find out where to write about getting review copies, and read quotes of wild praise for the book.
If that isn’t enough, Digital Parchment has started a new Ernest Hogan blog so they can promote their editions of my books. They also started an Ernest Hogan Tumblr. I’ll be posting stuff on both of them, so check ‘em out!
Which brings me to the main subject of this post . . . the writer Nalo Hopkinson, who teaches at UC Riverside, sent me a direct message on Twitter (most of my sales and gigs these days come through the social media) asking if I would be willing to lead a workshop “on writing Latino-focused SF/F/H,” because “The community has been asking for it.” Ever the professional, I asked if it was a paying job, and it is, so it looks like in February 2015 I’ll be teaching a master class (hey! I’m an expert in the field!) as part of their Writer’s Week. I will provide more details as I get them.
2015 and February are coming at us fast. I need to think about it, and take some notes . . . I could fill the time with funny stories about my weird career, but since this is a university thing, I should probably ask the communitythat Nalo was talking about what theywant. I’m assuming that a lot of you aspiring Chicanonauts read La Bloga.
So, what would you like to know about writing Latino-focused speculative fiction/fantasy/horror? Are there specific questions you’d like answered? Just what can I do for you?
I’ll be waiting for your comments . . .
Ernest Hogan has accumulated a lot of ancient Chicano Sci-Fi wisdom over the years. He’s willing to share it. Especially for money. Or food. Or cerveza. Oh yeah, feliz Día de Los Guajolotes.
There's already been a flood of US/UK 'best of the year' (and the like) lists, but these aren't nearly as popular (or premature) abroad.
One that's been around for a while is Lire's top twenty -- the best book in a variety of categories -- and they've now announced Le palmarès des 20 meilleurs livres de l'année selon la rédaction de Lire.
Their book of the year is Limonov-author Emmanuel Carrère's Le Royaume (about which I continue to harbor doubts -- but it looks like I'll have to have a look at it, when/if I can get my hands on a copy; see also the P.O.L. publicity page).
They named James Salter's All That Is the best foreign novel (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), and Nii Ayikwei Parkes' Tail of the Blue Bird was named best foreign first novel.
A Tanizaki was named best audiobook ....
Le Point is the other periodical out with a(n early) top-of-the-year list -- again headed by the Carrère: Le palmarès "Le Point" des 25 livres de l'année.
Salter makes their top 25, too (as does Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch -- a best foreign novel finalist on Lire's list).
Of course, Hillary Clinton's Mémoires make Le Point's top-25 too, so .... forget that ?
The past few days I've tried to go beyond my original challenge and show more finished illustrations instead of just studies. With all the visual research I've done the last month I'm starting to get quite a few fun ideas. I thought it would be more interesting to see the results of my research rather than the research itself. I was hoping to show another finished piece today but I underestimated how hard it is to come up with something finished every day. Anyway I hope you find something of value in seeing my studies.
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Michelle Henninger sent this illustration in to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Michelle prefers a traditional approach of pen/ink, and watercolor: with a touch of digital thrown in for good measure. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she was a New England SCBWI Ann Barrows Illustration Scholarship recipient. She was the first 2014 featured illustrator on Illustrator Saturday. She is represented by Christina Tugeau at CATugeau.
by Eileen Spinelli
Thank you for the world–still sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the honeyed sun
that spoons its light on everyone.
Thank you for the leaves that fall
in glowing piles near the wall,
for kindness in a stranger’s face
and every unexpected grace.
Thank you for the starry dark,
for children laughing in the park,
for cozy towns and sleepy farms,
for dreamers, dancers, babes in arms.
Than you for all hearts that sing
of hope in spite of everything.
by Carol Murray
Pumpkins, round, upon the ground,
and children playing ball,
Scarecrow tips his tattered hat,
and waves to one and all.
Sleek black cats on fuzzy mats,
reclining, large and small,
and every size has starlit eyes,
like diamonds at The Mall.
Wine is chilled, and home is filled
with friends, both short and tall.
Hooray! Hooray! Thanksgiving Day.
Favorite things of Fall.
by Carol Murray
A Thanksgiving Toast
Here’s to years of happiness
and months of sunny skies,
To weeks of reaching mountain peaks,
and days of caring eyes,
To hours of hope and tenderness,
and minutes of delight,
On second thought, we wish you love,
We’re giving thanks tonight.
Thank you to Michelle, Eileen, and Carol for sharing their work to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Hope everyone enjoys the day.
Darlene Beck-Jacobson won Gayle Aanensen’s book BETTER THAN GOLD.
Joanne Roberts won SPAGHETTI SMILES by Margo Sorenson.
Congratulations! Winner please send me your addresses so they can be sent out.
You may wonder why I did not post the poems for the Thanksgiving Poem Contest yesterday. That is because Carol Murray was the only one to send in a poem for the contest and the default winner. Thank you Carol.
They can’t put on plays in the evening in Donetsk, because of the curfew. They have had to hang a sign on the theatre entrance saying ‘Please don’t bring weapons with you’ – but not everyone obeys. The stage is not just their calling anymore; it is literally home. The actors are living in the playhouse, because their houses have been destroyed by shelling or are on the frontline.
One recent Sunday afternoon they performed Chekhov. The sound of shelling roared from the suburbs, but inside the theatre a string quartet played Bach to the pre-performance crowd. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me down to lie in green pastures… A frock-coated actor shepherded his flock into the darkened auditorium, leaving behind all the troubles and dread for two brief hours, two magical hours made of lighting and costume and make-believe – and words, words, Chekhov’s wry, witty, warmly humane war of words. That, to set against the real war outside.
Afterwards in the dressing rooms, where actors live now with their children in a world of mirrors and make-up, where jars of home-made gherkins jostle with tubes of facepaint, we drank to peace. And to art, to theatre and literature and music, all those hopelessly fragile, endlessly enduring things.
Read the answers to our Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz.
To get you in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I posted a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Trivia Quiz! Did you gobble up the questions, and spit out the answers? Or did it give you indigestion? (I hope not!) Without further ado, check out the answers below:
Photo by Sachyn Mital
Which city is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held in? ANSWER: New York City. It starts at 77th St./Central Park West and ends at 34th St. in front of Macy’s . . . (of course).
Who is always on the LAST float in the parade? ANSWER: B) Santa Claus! Every year since 1924 Santa and Mrs. Claus close the parade.
Which book character will be a balloon in the 2014 parade? ANSWER: A) Greg Heffley! Although I would like to see Slappy one year . . .
Macy’s symbol is a red _________. ANSWER: Star.
The Radio City _________ also perform a famous holiday dance number in the parade. ANSWER: Radio City Rockettes.
Which character has never been a balloon in the parade? ANSWER: D) Elsa from Frozen. Although Idina Menzel (the actress who does Elsa’s voice) is set to perform this year!
Which float has been in the parade for 40 years straight? ANSWER: A) Sesame Street!
In 1997, several balloons had to come down due to high winds and safety concerns during the parade. Which balloon caused the most serious damage? ANSWER: A) The Cat in the Hat. The balloon was as tall as a 6-story building, and was careening out of control before it crashed into and broke the arm off a lamp post at 72nd St. Those winds can be hazardous!
Hope you enjoy the parade and turkey today! Gobble, gobble.
Joyeux Turkey Day, my fellows! Between bites of sweet potato and rolls, perhaps it might do the soul good to listen to a l’il ole podcast that’s actually a bit perfect for the day. The “original” Thanksgiving was between Pilgrims and Native Americans, or so we were taught in grade school, yes? Well perhaps we should do away with the myths and listen to some American Indians today in one of my Children’s Literary Salons. Normally they’re not recorded but Cheryl Klein and her husband James Monohan turned one such Salon into a podcast. Here’s Cheryl’s description of it:
In happier news, the recording of the Native American Young Adult literature panel at the New York Public Library is now available here: http://www.thenarrativebreakdown.com/archives/698. Joseph Bruchac (author of KILLER OF ENEMIES), Stacy Whitman, Eric Gansworth (author of IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE), and I had a terrific conversation (moderated by Betsy Ramsey Bird) about finding Native authors, the editor-author relationship across cultural lines, creating authentic covers, and the many pleasures of Native YA books. Please listen! #Weneeddiversebooks
Go! Enjoy! You’ll feel happy you did. They were an impressive crew and kept me on my toes.
Paperchase week continues today with a design range for the young and young at heart called 'Snackpackers'. This is one of the cute style collections that Paperchase do so well featuring kawaii style characters. A lion flies around the world in a balloon meeting animals and foods from different countries. Snackpackers is a full collection with lots of products including as you would imagine
Well, by the time you read this little promotional missive I shall be en route to the best convention known to mankind – MALTACOMICCON in the capital city of Vallettaon the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta.
Over the past six years I have been invited out a total of seven times by some of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. I feel extremely humbled and honoured to be in this very privileged position. I now look on the organisers as great friends whom I visit every year on the run up to Christmas.
Truth told, my continued involvement with the guys this year, with the passing of my Mum has given me the impetus to carry on and get back into working again – indeed it gave me back my deadlines. Although I am still a few days off completing the final pencils, something I had hoped to pull back in time for the convention, I have, however completed all the layouts onto the Bristol board and will be showing those as stats along with the completed pencils for the pages thus far. To all intents and purposes the second book’s storytelling (the most important thing for me) is complete at long last. I just wish Mum was here to share that with me.
I am looking forward to showcasing and launching2NEW products, which will go on general release upon my return to the UK.
The first is my second Sketchbook: “12 – The Witching Hour”
The second is as yet a TOP SECRET, other than the Teaser Art below:
I am excited, as always and cannot wait to meet everyone there.
The Venue has to be seen to be believed; a medieval fortress with walls so thick you could not span it with arms outstretched. Little wonder, Malta has never been successfully invaded and conquered.
With this year’s events, I was remiss in publishing the Blogs from my notes I created upon my return from last year’s event. They remain languishing in limbo, but at some point it would be nice to write them up properly. I will however be Blogging about this year’s event, again upon my return.
In the meantime, watch out Twitter Fans for my Tweets –@TimPWizardsKeep – that is, if I can find the time during the convention. There is so much for folks to see and do there, it’s finding the time to fit it all in.
Oh, well, I’m off now, but look forward to telling of my exploits on the island this time around, real soon…
What started as a simple festival celebrating the year’s bountiful harvest has turned into an archetypal American holiday, with grand dinners featuring savory and sweet dishes alike. Thanksgiving foods have changed over the years, but there are still some iconic favorites that have withstood time. Hover over each food below in this interactive image and find out more about their role in this day of feasting:
What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Let us know in the comments below!
On 28th November 1814 The Times in London was printed by automatic, steam powered presses for the first time. These presses, built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, meant that newspapers were now available to a new mass audience, and by 1815 The Times had a circulation of approximately 5,000 people. Now, 200 years later, newspapers around the globe inform millions of people about hundreds of topics, from current events and local news, to sports results, opinion pieces, and comic strips. The Times, along with many other newspapers, is now available online, on desktops, mobile phones, and tablets, with a circulation of over 390,000 people. Newspapers themselves date back further than November 1814, to the early 17th century when printed periodicals started replacing hand-written newssheets and the term ‘newspaper’ began to make its way into common vernacular. These first newspapers are defined as such because they were printed and dated, had regular publication intervals, and contained many different types of news. As the technology of printing improved, the spread of newspapers to more and more people grew – it may be said that as the physical printing press was invented, ‘the press’ as an entity came into being.
To celebrate this milestone in newspapers and printing we’ve brought together a reading list of free content across our online resources. Below you can discover more about the history of printing, its influence on society, how computers are used in the newspaper industry today, and much more:
‘What News?’ in The Invention of the Newspaper: English Newsbooks 1641-1649 by Joad Raymond
How did we find out about news before the newspaper? Before the publication of the newsbooks, the inhabitants of early-modern Britain had to rely on gossip, hearsay, occasional printed pamphlets and word-of-mouth to get to grips with what was going on outside of their communities. When newsbooks, the precursors to the modern-day newspaper, began to be printed in Britain in the 1640s, this, however, began to change. This chapter examines not just the literary and historical merit of these publications, but also analyses what they reveal about a burgeoning, British print culture.
‘Printing and Printedness’ in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, Volume 1 (Forthcoming) by James Raven
From Gutenberg’s printed bibles in 1438 to the advent of newspaper printing in the 17th century, the social, economic, and political implications of newspaper production and circulation transformed early modern Europe into a more socially aware society. The introduction of new typographical styles allowed for a more accessible and inclusive written history, contributing to a rise in European literacy no longer restricted to the upper classes. Raven tracks the impact of this evolving “print culture” on job creation and industrialization, demographic variation and new literary forms, and geographical innovations resulting from periodical dissemination.
‘Uses of Computing in Print Media Industries: Book Publishing, Newspapers, Magazines’ in The Digital Hand: Volume II: How Computers Changed the Work of American Financial, Telecommunications, Media, and Entertainment Industries by James W. Cortada
The rise of the computer has been a relatively sudden and recent one, and yet has changed almost every facet of our daily lives – from how we entertain ourselves, to how we communicate with each other, and much more. One field in which computers have come to reign supreme is the workplace, and this chapter examines the huge impact they have had on the world of print media industries, including book, newspaper, and magazine publishing.
‘Gossip and Scandal: Scrutinizing Public Figures’ in Family Newspapers?: Sex, Private Life, and the British Popular Press 1918-1978 by Adrian Bingham
Our attitudes towards celebrities, and how they are reported in the news media, have changed drastically throughout the last century. During the time of Edward VIII’s affair with American socialite Wallis Simpson in the 1930s, the press – in marked contrast to how they would have reacted today – remained silent. Things began to change in the 1950s, however, as a market developed in Britain for sensational and scandalous stories featuring the celebrities of the era. This chapter then analyses the relevance of the Profumo Affair which broke in 1963, as an example of the increasing invasive investigations undertaken by the industry.
‘Murder is my meat: the ethics of journalism’ in Journalism: A Very Short Introduction by Ian Hargreaves
Journalism in all forms, including newspapers, must intrinsically be truthful and accurate. Without either of these the trust of the journalist or newspaper is undermined, so codes, laws, and standards have been put in place in order to eliminate serious misconduct. This chapter reflects on the UK phone-hacking scandal and considers the ethical issues that surround journalism today.
‘Clicking on What’s Interesting, Emailing What’s Bizarre or Useful, and Commenting on What’s Controversial’ in The News Gap: When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge edited by Pablo J. Boczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein
With the advent of the internet and mobile devices, how does society now read newspapers? With the increasing digitisation of news content, we are starting to consume and interact with news stories in different, complex ways. Taking a closer look at the data behind our interaction with online news content, this chapter analyses what might make us click on an article, and why we might comment on one, whilst emailing another to friends or family.
Headline image credit: Newspaper stack. Image by Ivy Dawned. CC-BY-SA 4.0 via Flickr.
When someone comes at you with a gun, despite the fact that you’ve done nothing, he tells you, suffer peacefully. Pray for those who use you despitefully. Be long-suffering. And how long can you suffer after suffering for four hundred years?”Malcolm X: The White Man sold your history(1962)
Very different from the above Snackpackers comes this more sophisticated range from Paperchase called 'Spora'. This mushroom inspired range comes in black and white with shots of orange and features on stationery and homewares. Besides the main mushroom print there are two complimentary patterns of stripes and spots. All available now at Paperchase,