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Deciding what to draw or paint every day can be just as worrisome as wondering what to write. That's why I rely on my grab-bag of prompts for both activities, whether they're from magazine cut-outs, art history books, or my handy pile of themed index cards.
Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite idea-starters, ones that can be used for artwork or sketching practice as well as steering clear of the writing doldrums:
- Illustrate a fairy tale. It helps to choose a story you truly love, but if, on the other hand, you feel that "Sleeping Beauty" or "Little Red Riding Hood" have been over-done, or are too iconic, try choosing an unfamiliar tale, one from a culture foreign to your own, or one you've made up!
- Collage your current goals. Magazines are a great way to find your initial pictures, but don't overlook the hidden gems you might discover in junk mail, retail catalogs, or business brochures.
- Last night's dream. Although it can be fun to reproduce the objects and scenes from a dream, I personally find it more evocative to paint the mood of my dreams. Fortunately, I have always dreamed in color, but even if you're a person who dreams in black-and-white, you can still explore what you think the colors of your dream would be if they appeared on paper.
- A still life of five random objects. Don't think--just gather items without judging or evaluating their artistic worth. Your job is to arrange the items in such a way that they take on a whole new life and meaning. Aim for, "Wow! I never thought of that before!"
- Copy an Old Masters painting in pencil. Don't be overwhelmed if the painting you've chosen to copy is too big, too detailed, or just plain old "too good." Instead, play with line work, blocking out the composition, or a portion of the picture, e.g., a section of drapery, the trees in the background, the hands in a portrait.
- Cut up or tear a reproduction or photocopy of an Old Masters painting and turn it into a collage. Pay special attention to the colors and themes of any materials or ephemera you add to your composition. Try some startling contrasts or harmonious blending.
- Your hand holding an object. Sometimes when I'm really stuck for subject matter I'll simply draw my hand and wrist. To make the exercise more lively, I've started adding objects to the mix: my pen, a toy, a cup of tea. Often these drawings can be the equivalent of a complete, but much-less complicated, self-portrait.
- Draw or paint a landscape with only two colors. Limiting yourself to a two-color palette can be a fun and inspiring choice. Will you use complementary colors (say, red and green), warm vs. cool colors, or two shades from the same range, for instance a light violet paired with a darker purple? It's interesting to note how the colors you pick can often speak more loudly than an entire rainbow of color.
- Collage with black-and-white photos. Make photocopies or prints of vintage photographs, whether from your own family or those found in used bookstores or thrift stores. Tell a visual story; then add writing or calligraphy to embellish the composition. Alternatively, you can use the pieces to make a strong and surreal abstract.
- Cut shapes out of various colors of construction paper. Then arrange them into interesting designs you either glue to paper and paint over, or use as a reference to copy and turn into a separate, and original, piece.
- Draw to music. Never fails. Whether you're doodling or painting a masterpiece worthy of gallery space, listening to music while you work is a great way to loosen up and fully express yourself.
- Read a poem. Then paint your feelings, or illustrate your favorite line(s).
Many, if not all, of these ideas can easily be turned into writing prompts. For instance, rather than painting a fairy tale, try rewriting one like I did with "Little Goldie"-- my take on "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Happy creating!
Tip of the Day: Write these and any other prompts you can think of on scraps of paper. Fold each one into a square, then place it into a jar or bowl to select at random each day. Be sure to keep the prompts when you're finished; repeating the exercises with new subjects, mediums, and approaches is a valuable practice in itself.
By: Evil Editor,
Blog: Evil Editor
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Guess the PlotPrincess of the Four Corners[Sorry, author of When Fire Ignites, but we have to go out of order because only one fake plot has come in for your title.]
1. Cinderella is married and happy with her prince. Or is she? Seems like she never gets to leave the castle, not even to visit the Korean fusion food truck down the street. Maybe she'll accept the handsome gardener's invitation for a night stroll since the prince is never around anyway.
2. When 10 year old Sylvania wins Young Miss Colorado her star-struck mother signs on to the pageant circuit. Winning Princess of the Four Corners is the first big step Sylvania must achieve, but is she cut out for the cutthroat world of big-time child pageants?
3. Sally Lapone longs to be named Queen of Quilt Fest, but her points are never perfect. A mysterious little man with a very long nose tells her he can help her...for a price. Should she trade her beloved Marie Osmond dolls for a chance at being the Queen?.
4. Growing up on the sprawling Navajo reservation, Naomi Begay sees beauty all around her. But when a friend convinces her to enter the "Princess of the Four Corners" beauty pageant, a contest traditionally won by Anglo teens from Albuquerque or Flagstaff, Naomi is exposed to the ugliness of competition -- as well as the beauty within every person.
5. Princess Winny has flitted about in satin dresses for seventy years. She owns everything to the horizon. Too bad she lives in BFE and "everything" is a flashing yellow light, a gas station and a hovel. But the frackers are in town and they want mineral rights. It appears she will be screaming, "Off with their heads!" more than usual from now on.
6. The soul of the princess was removed sixteen years ago and distributed to four babies. Now those four girls have been brought to the castle so the princess's soul can be restored to her by the wizard. But the wizard can't find the spell and he didn't memorize it, and . . . Shit! Now an evil sorceress wants the soul!Original Version
When a group of warriors tears sixteen-year old Gwinn away from her remote village to take her to the king, she has no idea why. She’s shocked to learn she’s a Bearer – one of four girls selected when she was a baby to hide a piece of the princess’s soul from Metheda, a vengeful sorceress. Metheda has been killed, and the warriors are bringing the Bearers to the castle so the wizard can perform the spell to restore the princess.
But the spell nearly kills the Bearers. The wizard discovers someone replaced it with a fake, [They take these incredibly elaborate measures to protect the princess and then the leave the spell lying around?] [It sounds like the spell is an object. Normally a spell is a series of words. Maybe accompanied by a recipe or a ritual. Would it have killed the wizard to just memorize the spell?]
so he confines the girls to the castle grounds until he can either find or recreate the true spell. Not content to wait, Gwinn begins her own search [It shouldn't take the wizard more than a few minutes to determine if he can recreate the spell. She can't wait that long?]
even as she struggles to figure out where the princess ends and she begins. [Has she considered that without the princess's soulness she might have become a serial killer?]
When signs of dark magic surface, Gwinn suspects Metheda is still alive. One of the Bearers is attacked in the gardens, and after testing the magic used in the attack the wizard confirms Gwinn’s fears – the sorceress has returned. [Brilliant. A sixteen-year-old figured it out before the wizard did. This guy is the most incompetent wizard since Rincewind.]
The Bearers search for clues and find evidence Metheda is amassing an army to the east of the castle. The kingdom sends all of their forces to fight, hoping to make a final stand against Metheda.
Unfortunately, she’s been hiding in the castle the entire time. [The entire sixteen years? Has she been disguised as a cook or hiding in a trunk in the attic? How do you amass an army while hiding in the castle?]
Gwinn must find a way to defeat Metheda without the aid of the kingdom’s warriors, and locate the stolen spell, if she ever hopes to return home. [I get why locating the spell will help her. Why does she have to defeat Metheda?] [Why would whoever stole the real spell hide it in the castle? Why wouldn't they destroy it so it could never be used?]
PRINCESS OF THE FOUR CORNERS is an 85,000-word YA Fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.Notes
What difference does it make to Metheda whether the princess's soul resides in the princess or in four sixteen-year-olds? Is Metheda's army less likely to triumph if the princess has her soul? Does Metheda want the four soul-parts for herself? If so, why? If not, why not just kill the four girls?
I seem to be more interested in Metheda's plans than in whether Gwinn gets what she wants. Possibly that's a sign that the well-written query is not focusing enough on Gwinn's problem, which is that carrying around a fourth of the princess's soul is a burden she doesn't want (even though a week ago she didn't even know she had
a problem). Or perhaps it's that there are three other girls with the exact same problem, so I'm less inclined to see Gwinn as the focus. Are the other three also interested in defeating Metheda?
Presumably the soul was distributed to others to keep Metheda from getting it. We need to know what will happen if she now gets it. The fact that Gwinn's goal of figuring out where the princess ends and she begins is solved whether her soul-part goes to the princess or to Metheda would be interesting if Gwinn had to choose whether to keep the soul-part or give it to Metheda, but as no one seems to know where the spell is, I guess that decision never comes up.
...have been announced.
The Children's/YA list is:
Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle
Boy In Box, by Christopher R. Michael
Girls I’ve Run Away With, by Rhiannon Argo
If You Could Be Mine, Sara Farizan
Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg
Rapture Practice, Aaron Hartzler
Secret City, Julia Watts
The Secret Ingredient, Stewart Lewis
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson
Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Click on through for the other shortlists!
By: Nina @ Death Books and Tea,
Blog: Death Books and Tea
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You know how much I love these books, where if you want, you can change a decision you made, even if it's not always for the best...
Anyway, Kim Curran's Shift
was released December 2012 and Control
was released last August (me: seriously??? How has the time gone past?) And this August, DELETE is being released. And here's the cover.
Given Control's giant cliffhanger, and the firey colours on the cover of this, I'm expecting big things from Delete!
I also like the way that the stakes seem to have gotten higher as the series progresses- look at the background- warehouse to modern city skyscrapery things to the Houses of Parliament. Exciting.
Finally, did I ever tell you about Kim's other project, Glaze? No? Well, check it out here
. It looks awesome.
Artist Matt Reedy designed Little Golden Books-style covers and interior art inspired by popular Japanese comics.
Comic Book Resources reports that Reedy’s “Little Golden Manga” pieces features re-imaginings based on the Attack on Titan, Death Note, and FLCL manga series.
Which manga series, TV shows, or movies do you think deserve the “Little Golden Book” treatment? (via Observation Deck)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
When the first draft is done, and you have thrown in all those placemarker words, read it through one passage at a time.
Underline every incidence of body language.
Then pull back and read through the chapter a second time.
Every scene should have a setup, a conflict, and a resolution that leads to a new conflict. You should have three or four key turning points in the overall story. They need the camera to slow down and take in the exquisite detail. Mark those level 1.
There will be three or four minor turning points. They deserve some attention. Mark those level 2.
There will be lighter moments that require little detail. Mark those level 3.
The rest are subtler conflicts that require the barest attention to detail. Mark those level 4.
The more heated the scene, the more important your actions and reactions are.
After you have identified the heat level of your scenes, highlight the critical encounter in each scene.
Choose the sections you want to highlight judiciously and keep the verbal camera zooming in and out. Give your reader a satisfying ride. Don't stay focused for too long in any one spot. Don't zoom in on unessential details. When the details are important, spend more time describing the actions and reactions. When they are less important, use fewer words.
When you have action and reaction in a scene, examine it carefully. What should you add, keep, or cut?
Have your characters used a body movement more than once? It is okay to portray a character with a specific tic, such as scratching his cheek when stressed, but you should not have him do it in every chapter. Reserve it for key scenes when it is important for him to be especially stressed.
How many times have they smiled, grimaced, laughed, frowned, cried, pouted? Cut out repetition. Ask yourself if their reaction is important at that moment. Sometimes we put too many reactions in. Less is more.
At any given moment, characters do multiple things. They think, feel, move, and/or speak. Each item brings something slightly different to the picture. Jane may feel angry, but force herself to speak calmly. Dick may play checkers with his child while worrying about work the next day or listening to a conversation Jane is having in the next room.
At key points, the body language may not support what is being discussed. Use this judiciously. We will talk more about specific body movements later in this series.
Next week we will look at the specific beats of action and reaction.
There is a sale in my Society 6 shop this week - free shipping and $5 off.
Here are some samples of what I have in the shop.
It's been one week since Janet (Wong) and I released our latest project, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, and we've been blown away by the response! We're so proud of the book and so excited about the crossover possibilities for science and poetry in the classroom.
But we're also very excited about the latest innovation: Student Editions for each grade level!
In addition to the massive Teacher's Edition that follows our usual format of a poem-a-week for grades Kindergarten through fifth grade, we are also publishing Student Editions that feature the poems for each individual grade level (with no Take 5! mini-lessons). And each of those books includes five "bonus" poems as extras! PLUS, these books have art! We've included fun black-and-white sketches for each poem to add visual interest.
Just for fun, I've made a mini-movie to showcase ONE of these student editions. See what you think! (Very rough, very homemade, very handheld!) Check it out here.
And here's a closer look at a screenshot of a sample page (with art):
Weather-related poems are always fun, don't you think?!
Special thanks to German artist Frank Ramspott and Taiwanese artist Bug Wang for their art for our student editions!
Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work helping women throughout Africa planting trees to improve the environment and their quality of life. As we celebrate Women's History Month, I make sure to introduce students to women from throughout the world who have worked hard to improve their communities.
Seeds of Change
Planting a Path of Peace
by Jen Cullerton Johnson
illustrations by Sonia Lynn Sadler
Lee and Low, 2010
your local library
Although it was unusual for girls to receive formal education in rural Kenya, Wangari’s parents agreed to send her to school. Wangari’s determination and hard work continued as she went first to high school in the city, and then to university in the United States to study biology.
Wangari returned to Kenya to teach and inspire women scientists, but became concerned when she saw the environmental damage that was occurring throughout the country. Maathai established the Green Belt Movement, bringing about environmental and economic change in Kenya by helping local women plant over thirty million trees.
I would also share this video clip, from the PBS/Independent Lens documentary Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari MaathaiInternational Women's Day
, March 8th, is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday. Are you celebrating International Women's Day with your children?
The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
By: Andye ReadingTeen,
Blog: Reading Teen
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NoVaTEEN is coming tomorrow! The Arlington Central Library is partnering with One
More Page Books and special guest sponsors Fall for the Book and
Fairfax County Public Library to bring a FREE festival packed with
books, authors, and special events to Arlington, VA.
I'm really excited about this event and hope it's a huge success! If you're close, make sure you come one out! Great
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, Artist Phillip Carrero
, Crowdfunding Campaign
, Custom pole vault bag
, Dial Athletics
, Fuzion Athletics
, Gill Athletics
, Girls Sports
, Grant Overstake
, Inspirational Sports Stories
, Maggie Steele Scholarship Award
, Maggie Vaults Over the Moon
, Maggie's Audiobook Campaign
, New Audiobooks
, Pole Vault Pole Bags
, Raise the Bar Pole Vault Club
, Recommended sports books for teens
, Rusty Shealy Pole Vault Club
, Tailwind Pole Vault Club
, Tavia Gilbert
, Texas Pole Vault Club
, Vaulter Magazine
, Add a tag
By: Grant Overstake,
MANHATTAN, Montana – The Manhattan Tigers’ pole-vault squad will transport their poles in style this season in a new pole bag from Fuzion Athletics! The bag, valued at $175, is being made especially for Manhattan High School, thanks to Coach … Continue reading
Recommended for ages 7-12.
In this picture book for older readers. Tracey Fern
tells the little-known story of Eleanor Prentiss, an extraordinary woman who not only navigated a clipper ship but also set a record for the fastest time from New York to San Francisco, navigating around Cape Horn in a record-breaking 89 days, 21 hours.
If you're an avid movie-goer like I am, you may have seen the two major films this year set at sea, Captain Phillips
and All is Lost
. Such movies always make me think about the "olden days," when sailors navigated by the stars and a sextant. Doesn't it seem incredible? Even more incredible (but true) is the life of Eleanor Prentiss, born the daughter of a sea captain in 1814 and taught everything about ships, including navigation, by her father, perhaps because he had no sons. Certainly this education was highly unusual for a 19th century girl. The sea was in Ellen's blood, and, not surprisingly, she married a sea captain, who took her along on his merchant ships as her navigator.
When Ellen's husband was given command of a new, super-fast clipper ship, Ellen seized the opportunity to get as quickly as possible from New York to the tip of South America to San Francisco and the Gold Rush. Speed was of the essence for those looking for riches in the gold fields of California. The book portrays the considerable dangers of the voyage, including a period when the ship was becalmed (no wind, no movement!) and also the perilous stormy waters of the Cape. Fern does a terrific job of capturing the excitement of the journey, and Ellen's triumph when she sets a world record for the fastest time for this 15,000 mile voyage. The book is greatly enhanced by the beautiful water-color paintings of Caldecott-winning artist Emily Arnold McCully
. The seascapes, and particularly the scenes of storms, are particularly effective. Back matter includes an author's note with further historical information, and suggestions for further reading, both books and websites, a glossary, and end pages which show a map of the Flying Cloud's 1851 Voyage.
Highly recommended for Women's History Month and for those looking for stories of strong, heroic women and girls!
Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Congratulations to Carol Lynch Williams
on the release of The Haven
(St. Martin's Griffin, 2014). From the promotional copy:
For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020.
But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories.More News & Giveaways How to Write YA
But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?
Powerful and emotional, The Haven takes us inside a treacherous world in which nothing is as it seems.
by Seth Fishman
from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "...how do adult writers, so far away from the source, successfully manage to create believable teen characters? ...I’ve written a couple YA novels now and have a few handy hints for those aspiring writers who want to give it a go." Five Agents Share What Makes Them Stop Reading Sample Pages
from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek from Suzie Townsend: "This might sound harsh, but I stop reading when I'm not hooked. Which means: I read the first line. If I'm interested, I read the second line. If I'm still interested, I read the third line, and so on."Black History Month: Interracial Teens in Historical Fiction
by Diane Colson
from YALSA. Peek: "These mixed race children have had to work out their place in society for hundreds of years. The books listed below focus on the choices available to teens of mixed white and black heritage."Ten Positive-Aging Picture Books for Pre-schoolers
by Lindsey McDivitt from A is for Aging, B is for Books. Peek: "...internalizing positive images of getting older
is more strongly linked to longevity than a low-fat diet or daily exercise, especially when we begin in childhood."Embracing Failure
by Ginger Johnson from Quirk and Quill. Peek: "Rejection can be a slippery slope into a deep chasm of self-doubt and fear. As a matter of self-preservation, we’re advised not to dwell on our failures, our rejections, our bad reviews. That’s good advice. However..." See also When Publishing (Or Life) Has You Down on the Mat, Answer the Bell
by Tiffany Trent
from Adventures in YA Publishing.Giving Up Our Stories
from Marion Dane Bauer. Peek: "My best stories aren’t the ones that give answers, the ones that support my most passionately held certainties. They are the stories that ask the hardest, most-difficult-to-entertain questions."Do Great Work and the Rest Will Follow
by Shadra Strickland
from The Horn Book. Peek: "...interviewers would ask questions like, 'Why do you only paint black people?' To which I would reply: My choice of characters isn’t what defines my style; it’s how I paint them and the world around them. Would you ask a white male artist why he doesn’t paint black people?"Multicultural Children's-YA Books Action List from CCBC-Net Discussion
, compiled by Sarah Hamburg (with additions by Debbie Reese
) from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "...how people could advocate for more books that are representative of all the peoples who, in some way, are part of the United States."Surviving the Cancelled Contract
by Nicole Maggi
from The Writing Barn. Peek: "...I’d been asked to do endless (unnecessary) edits and my acquiring editor had left. I never felt like my new editor was on board. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to get that awful call from my agent. But it was devastating
."Interview with Renowned Publisher Neal Porter on the Current State of Picture Books
by Leonard S. Marcus
from The Horn Book. Peek (on picture e-books): "I think they are not going much of anywhere. The fact remains that there has yet to be a platform that is as effective from a cost point of view as well as from a delivery point of view as the physical book." You Are Not Lazy
from Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Peek: "They’ve said I'm not lazy...and I relish the declaration. But it’s only true when it comes to those
things, because those are the things I care
about. And for them, I will never have enough time and never put in enough effort. Whereas for somebody else, it might be drudgery."How Manuscript Auctions Work
by Deborah Halverson
from DearEditor. Peek: "The agent contacts the chosen publishers, pitches the project, and explains the rules and timeline. It’s usually blind, with the editors knowing the number of houses involved but not the names."
Short Lists Announced for the Canadian Library Association 2014 Book Awards
|CLA Book of the Year for Children Short List|
from The Canadian Children's Book Centre. Peek: "...shortlists for its three Canadian children's book awards — the CLA Book of the Year Award for Children, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award and the CLA Young Adult Book Award." Note: Ten books are listed for each award. Why Playing It Safe May Be the Most Dangerous Game of All
by Emma D. Dryden from Dryden Books. Peek: "Where but in stories can we allow our youngest readers to not play it safe, to try new things, to explore, to roam, to make mistakes and make amends, to reach higher, deeper, and further than we ever thought possible? And where but in stories can we allow ourselves the very same?"If Writers Wrote Every Scene Like a Sex Scene
by Jane Lebak
from QueryTracker. Peek: "...let's talk about details and at what point your reader stops reading and starts noticing that you're cramming every sentence with far too many of them."Connecting Science and Poetry
by Sylvia Vardell
from Poetry for Children. Peek:"Pairing science-themed nonfiction or informational books and poetry may seem to be an unlikely partnership at first, but these two different genres can complement one another by showing children how writers approach the same topic in very different and distinctive ways."After the Call
: a blog series from Caroline Richmond
. Peek: "...chronicles what happens after you get an offer of representation from a literary agent. For instance, how do you choose between multiple offers? How do you communicate with your new agent? And what is the revision process like?"SCBWI Golden Kite & Sid Fleischman AwardsGolden Kite Award WinnersGolden Kite Honor RecipientsSid Fleischman Award for Humor
: Openly Straight
by Bill Konigsberg
(Arthur A. Levine)
Note: "The Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor will be presented to the winners at the Golden Kite Luncheon during the Society of Children's Book Authors & Illustrators’s Annual Conference on Writing and Illustrating for Children, taking place in Los Angeles, California. An Honor Book plaque is also awarded in each category."2014 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
Winner: Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet
, written by Andrea Cheng
, with woodcuts by the author (Lee & Low).
Note: "This prestigious award is named for Lee Bennett Hopkins
, the internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Selected by a panel of teachers, librarians and scholars, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first award of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the Penn State University Libraries and Lee Bennett Hopkins share joint administration of the annual award." See more information
.Lambda Literary Award Finalists
Note: "Now in their twenty-sixth year, the Lambda Literary Awards
celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2013. Winners will be announced during a ceremony on Monday evening, June 2, 2014, at The Great Hall at Cooper Union (7 East 7th Street, New York City 10003)."Children's Africana Book AwardsBest Books for Older ReadersBest Books for Young Children
Note: "Collectively CABA winners show that Africa is indeed a varied and multifaceted continent. CABA titles expand and enrich our perspectives of Africa beyond the stereotypical, a historical and exotic images that are emphasized in the West." See more information
. Source: Monica Edinger
.Scottish Children's Book Awards
From Scottish Book Trust
: "A record breaking number of votes – over 38,000! – were cast to choose the winners, who took to the stage at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 5 March to present their books and receive their prizes." See more information
. Source: Bookshelves of Doom
.This Week at CynsationsCynsational Giveaways
Enter to win
a signed and personalized copy of Robot Burp Head Smartypants!
(Candlewick, 2014) and a set of alphabet-and-numbers foam stickers. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Enter here
. Note: scroll through the photos to the entry form at the bottom of the post.
Check out the OneFour Kidlit Preview & Seven-Book Giveaway
at Adventures in YA Publishing.
Check out the One-Year Anniversary Giveaway
from Diversity in YA. Seventeen winners will each receive a prize pack of four books. Eligibility: U.S. addresses only. Deadline: March 31. Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Only Thing to Fear
by Caroline Tung Richmond (Scholastic) from YA Highway. Peek: "What if Hitler Had Won World War II?"More Personally
Lucky me! I had a terrific lunch on Ash Wednesday with Austin SCBWI
RA Samantha Clark
and author Lesléa Newman
on 6th Street in Austin.
This week's big event was the launch party for Varsha Bajaj
's debut novel Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood
(Albert Whitman, 2014) at Blue Willow Books
in Katy/Houston, Texas.
I'm on a revision deadline for Feral Pride (Book 3 in the Feral series). First, I'm streamlining the antagonists' logistical situation and then I'll move to my protagonists' interpersonal dynamics.
Congratulations to Laney Nielson winner of the Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award
and cheers to all the finalists!
Congratulations to Clint G. Young -- Illustrator
on his new official website. If you're not already a fan of Clint's work, you should really click the link and be wowed. Really, it's breathtaking.
Cheers to Read Across America
and World Book Day
! Interview with Bestselling Author Cynthia Leitich Smith
by Brittney Breakey
from Author Turf. Note: Get the scoop on my preferred apocalypse, legacy, hidden messages, theme song and more!What Surprised Me in Writing the Feral Series?
Find out from YA Series Insider.
Cynsational EventsThe SCBWI-OK Conference
|Typewriter Cake by Akiko White|
will be March 29 in Oklahoma City. Speakers are: Liza Kaplan, Editor, Philomel; Melissa Manlove, Editor, Chronicle; Andrew Harwell, Editor, HarperCollins; Colleen AF Venerable, Design Editor, First Second and author of Guinea PI series; Kristin Miller-Vincent, Agent, D4EO Literary Agency; Tricia Lawrence, Agent, Erin Murphy Literary. See more information and registration
.Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers
will be held June 16 to June 21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Keynote speaker: James Dashner
; faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith
. Learn about the WIFYR Fellowship Award
. See also Alison L. Randall on Choosing a Writing Conference
Here are some handpicked titles from our Coming Attractions page. Want to include your book? Just read our Share Your New Book with GalleyCat Readers post for all the details.
Saigon Survival by Simon Miller: “This condensed volume combines the essentials of both a guidebook and travelogue in one indispensable package. Save thousands of dollars, avoid countless scams and never have to wonder what that bucket of water in the bathroom is for. Take it from an experienced traveller who spent over a year in Saigon and learned so much about life there he had no choice but to put pen to paper to bring you this book.” (September 2013)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
I used to make fried rice with stir-fried vegetables on a fairly regular basis. Everyone liked to eat it, but no one liked to help clean up. Also, by the time I was done cooking, I was exhausted. After one too many complaints about the mess it made (from someone who will remain nameless) I vowed never to make stir fry again! Take that!
I stuck to my promise for several months, but I missed the flavors. So I tried to find a way to simplify the process.
Step one: I found a great recipe for baked fried rice. Yes, it involves less oil, and that’s nice and all, but even better, I don’t have to tend to it, and I still get that yummy chewy texture. So much less work! I don’t add the Sriracha that the recipe calls for at this stage since the kids wouldn’t touch it if I did. And I’d love to try the pineapple and cashews she uses—they look so yummy—but so far I’ve just stuck to whatever “usual suspect” veggies I have on hand. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, that kind of thing.
Step two: I pared down my list of vegetables to cut out some of the chopping. I usually feel like I have to put in a little of everything, but really, I don’t.
Step three: I roast veggies instead of stir-frying. Nope, it’s not just the same, but the veggies are still delicious. I cooked everything at about the same temp as the rice until the rice was done, and then I think I turned up the heat a bit.
I let the kids choose the veggies they want before we mix them all together for us. If I have time, I like to make this peanut sauce and of course, the grown ups always get Sriracha.
Now I’d be lying if I said this version isn’t messy or time-consuming. It still requires a fair amount of prep and cleanup. But somehow being able to cook it unattended, all at the same time (rather than in batches) makes it less of a pain to make. Works for me, anyway.
Finished My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Sigh. I miss it now. Are you reading anything good? I need something to curl up with. The weather here has been horrible this week, and I’m sorry, friends in northern climes, because your weather must be ten times worse. It’s starting to feel like that Ray Bradbury story where the people live on a planet where the sun comes out only once every seven years (All Summer in a Day). We can make it to spring, right?
The school’s book character parade was this morning and as usual was pretty much the cutest thing all year. Hope I can show you a pic of our little Marco Polo soon. The costume is pretty sweet. Marie Antoinette also looked great, though her costume was just a fancy dress we found at the thrift store.
Have a great weekend! And now, back to novel writing….
This photograph of a 9,550-year-old Swedish spruce tree is one of several images shot by photographer Rachel Sussman, featured in a slideshow at Time magazine. The photos are drawn from Sussman’s latest project, The Oldest Living Things in the World, which chronicles the decade Sussman spent traveling the globe, taking stunning photographs of continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older.
From the Time piece:
There’s a sense of wonder imbued in these photographs of organisms that seem to be a physical record of time, but there’s also a call to action. Many of these subjects of Sussman’s portraits are under threat from habitat loss or climate change or simple human idiocy. (Sussman has written movingly about the loss of the 3,500-year-old Senator tree in Orlando, destroyed in a fire that was almost certainly set on purpose.) “The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of our past, a call to action in the present and a barometer of the future,” Sussman has said—and the images that follow prove her out.
Read more about The Oldest Living Things in the World here.
The internet is all abuzz about knitting sweaters for penguins. Snopes.com
first said it wasn't true, but now they're showing uncertainty. As a children's book illustrator, I can just use the story as a jumping off point for a sketch. Lucky me. What could be cuter than penguins in sweaters?
Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat-
You must have walked-
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!
I got your letter, and the bird's;
The maples never knew
That you were coming,-I declare,
How red their faces grew!
But, March, forgive me-
And all those hills
You left for me to hue;
There was no purple suitable,
You took it all with you.
Who knocks? That April!
Lock the door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occupied.
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come,
That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.
- Emily Dickinson
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
Anyway, below are most (I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few) of the books I read over the past year that weren’t reviewed here at BWATE?
And, as always, please feel free to suggest some great reads for me in the coming year. :)
T.J. Forrester – Black Heart on the Appalachian Trail
Author Stephan Eirik Clark thinks that he may have been a victim of Amazon’s algorithm rigging.
In a column for Slate, Clark claims that his book Sweetness #9 was not available in Amazon search results. The book, which is available for presale and ships in August, only showed up when he entered the title of the book and his name. But it wasn’t the top listing. In fact, it was at the bottom of a long list of books with the word “Sweet” in the title, buried under a number of Sweet Valley High books.
Clark theorizes that the poor search results had to do with deals that publishers make with Amazon to get ranked in search results. This practice is outlined in George Packer’s recent New Yorker article on Amazon. According to the story, search results are affected by fees that publishers pay to Amazon.
Unclear on what his publisher Little & Brown has paid to Amazon, Clark points out that his search results got better over time. Today, a search for “sweetness 9″ brings the novel to the top of the search results, but it’s not clear why.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
There are kids who walk into the Children’s Library, walk right up to the desk, and tell you exactly what they’re looking for. There are kids with definite opinions and kids whose taste is harder to suss out. All these kids are a part of the joy of Reader’s Advisory – the easy ones make you feel like you’re aces at your job, while the difficult ones make you feel like a superhero when you find the perfect book for them to read.
But there is another group of kids that we noticed we were not reaching – the ones who won’t approach the librarian for suggestions, even when coaxed. At the same time, we noted our new fiction displays were not emptying out as quickly as they once had. In an effort to reach those children who don’t like to come to the librarian for RA and to help kids realize that there were worthy options among the new fiction, we started adding a simple and effective bit of hands-off RA to our displays.
photo provided by the author
What we did was simple and not groundbreaking, but it has amped up our new fiction turnaround to the point where are there are days that we run out of new books in the library! I used the die-cut machine to punch out roughly 1 zillion (a real number) bright yellow medallions, on which we wrote “For Kids Who Love….” and then inserted the title of a similar book that kids will know. The thing that makes this so effective is we exclusively link the new books to massively popular titles and authors. This lets both kids and parents who might not be familiar with popular but mid-list titles recognize books they may want to read. Does the book have family issues or emotional plot beats? For kids who love Wonder. Are there animals who talk/have feelings? For kids who love The One and Only Ivan. Is there any magic? For kids who love Harry Potter.
What’s your favorite book’s soulmate?
photo provided by the author
We started applying this to our themed fiction displays as well. For example, in February, we had a Book Soulmates display. We invited kids to discover the soulmate to their favorite book and then linked massively popular titles to older books that need an new audience. This allowed me to FINALLY convince a child to check out Good Night, Mr. Tom, a book with some of the worst cover art I have ever seen, but which I love so much I wrote about it here. I advertised it’s soulmate as Number the Stars, since they’re both about children’s experiences during WWII. And Mr. Tom hasn’t been checked in since!
The author’s favorite tiara and everyone’s favorite song.
photo provided by the author
We plan to keep this up for as long as it’s effective. Patron feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Both parents and kids have remarked that they love the new displays, and our only questions have been about whether or not it’s ok to disturb the display and/or take a book with a medallion on it.
Now I just need to figure out how to tie together princesses, RA, and like titles for this display, and I’ll be golden!
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I'm delighted to present this awesome book trailer for Away We Go! My talented friend, Dave Swain with Cream Studio did a shapetastic job
on this fun and playful animation. Please share with your little ones.
Like me, I think they'll be tickled silly!