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1. Flower Garden... ink on paper

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Here's my new ink on paper work called  Flower Garden  
It was completed over a week and was inspired by my garden. 
This illustration also gave me the opportunity to try out my new carbon pen. (happy dance)
Please visit my portfolio to view more work.
http://melanierenaux.com/

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2. THE TIME FETCH by Amy Herrick - Guest Post and Giveaway!


Amy Herrick On writing THE TIME FETCH,
her first book for young readers

      I’ve always wanted to write about the end of December when the wheel comes around and the old year reaches its end. We modern guys, we tinsel up the streets and devote ourselves to jollification and fail to notice that the days are growing shorter and shorter and something dark is moving toward us. With the passing of the years we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into forgetfulness. But the ancients knew what was happening when they sat around their fires in caves, when they erected their great watching circles of stones. They felt the implacable turning of the earth and the cold wheeling of the stars, and they stood together and pushed valiantly back against the darkness. What came would be terrible. Or wonderful. For a long time I’d been searching for a way to tell a story about this, but I could but never find my handle. It wasn’t until right in the middle of one of our December holiday parties that an idea came to me. We’ve been throwing this party for years. It’s a tradition that has been passed down from my side of the line. My mother threw such a party and her mother before her. For our family, it has grown into a reckless mix of Christmas, Chanukah, and Saturnalia celebrations. Every year we sit down in November and make a reasonably sized guest list, and in the following weeks my husband and my sons, without consulting me, invite everybody else they run into. It’s true that lots of people will bring food, but each day in the weeks preceding the party, the guest list swells. I come right up to the brink of losing my mind. There will not be enough time to get it all done. Now I must add to the multitude of everyday chores and interruptions all the sugar plum fairy tasks of holiday schlepping and cleaning and baking. There will be reindeer cookies and six-pointed star cookies, latkes and a gingerbread house, spinach pies and lasagna, a turkey and a ham and smoked fish. I will decorate every doorway and window, inside and out, with lights and evergreens. The menorah’s candles will burn bravely against the ticking of the clock. Our tree will look out upon the street, hung to within an inch of its life with birds and bells and chocolate Santas and the little blown-glass carousels passed down to me from my mother.
      A few years ago, at the very topmost moment of the turning of the year, smack in the middle of one of these parties, I sat down for the first time in weeks. Slightly delirious, starving, and victorious. As always, I had no clear idea how I had gotten it all done in time. Outside, the cold and the dark pressed their faces to the window, but in here was light and warmth and everybody I loved. Over on the other side of the room, musical instruments were being toodled and tuned and tapped, an electric piano, a guitar, a violin, a set of bongo drums. Someone handed me a plate of food and a glass of wine, and my oldest friend, Kate, took a seat by my side. I’ve known her since we were six. Our moms were pals. “I swear,” she said, “it comes around faster and faster every year. I don’t know how you get this all done.” (Photo Credit: Breukellen Riesgo)
      I laughed. “I was just thinking the same exact thought.”
      “Doesn’t it seem to you our mothers had more time in their days?” she pondered. “More hours?” It was true. Our childhoods had felt so much roomier. It was then that the thought popped into my head and I said it out loud.
      “Wow. Wouldn’t it be weird if it turned out that something had gotten into our world and was stealing our time? I mean, what if all our minutes are just a little bit shorter than they used to be, and we just haven’t noticed it yet?”
      She looked at me nervously. She is easily spooked. “Who would do that? Who would steal time? What would they do with it?”
      Those questions, of course, I had no ready answers for, but I knew I had the beginning of my winter solstice story, the turning of the wheel, a time thief, and a gathering of friends to fight off the darkness and the cold.

Bio: Amy Herrick is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Every morning, she and her dog take a long walk in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, looking for adventure. They’ve seen and heard many wondrous things there, some of which have served as inspiration for this story.

GIVEAWAY!
Algonquin Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of THE TIME FETCH to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

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3. Confidence and courage in mentoring

By Mary Pender Greene


Mentorship is one of the most compelling assets for professional success. The mentor-mentee relationship offers one of the most priceless of all human qualities — transparency. The mentor offers the mentee hope for the future by sharing both wisdom and past challenges. Mentors help mentees be their best selves by helping them overcome their fears of failure and apprehension of taking risks.

Everyone struggles and gets scared. It takes courage to ask for help. Many of us are afraid to take the risk of being vulnerable. So we pretend to know. In fact, we are often encouraged to “fake it until we make it.” But if we never talk about our challenges and fears openly, we will never get help with those challenges. More importantly, we miss out on key authentic moments. Being fearful about our imperfections and abilities — as well as of the future are all universal human emotions — and it is at the intersection of these authentic moments that we learn, accept, and grow. If we pretend to know it all, no one reaches out to us. When we ask for help and guidance, many hands are extended.

Mentoring

There has been a paradigm shift as to how professional knowledge is passed on. It no longer happens naturally through traditional professional grooming and succession rituals. With greater turnover, less time, lower budgets, and more uncertainty, traditional mentorship models have become nearly obsolete in today’s workplace. This dramatic upheaval in the professional landscape has changed how 21st century professionals can most effectively cultivate career success. Mentorship is more important now than ever before.

Some benefits of mentoring are:

  • Enhances career development initiatives
  • Creates a “learning organization”
  • Improved on-boarding and training programs
  • Improved diversity initiatives
  • Improved adjustment to the workplace culture
  • Improved employee engagement & retention
  • Targeted skill and leadership development
  • Can address skills gaps

Mentoring has existed throughout the ages as an effective way to develop talent. More formal mentoring programs comprise structured components, such as training and onboarding programs. These programs are often tied to specific, quantifiable business goals and objectives. There are many new mentoring styles too, including:

  • Reverse mentoring: Senior employees are mentored by junior employees to fill a specific skill gap.
  • Team mentoring: Work teams are mentored by a supervisor.
  • Group mentoring: Groups from within different departments or the same department are mentored by a senior manager
  • Distance mentoring: Mentor-mentee pairs who are working in different locations.

Less formal mentoring relationships are less hierarchical. There is an equal partnership where both parties greatly benefit — and learn — from the relationship.

Mary Pender Greene, LCSW-R, CGP is a psychotherapist, relationship expert, clinical supervisor, career & executive coach, trainer, and consultant, with a private practice in Midtown Manhattan. Mary’s background also includes executive management roles at America’s largest non-profit organization, The Jewish Board of Family Services in NYC. Mary is the author of Creative Mentorship and Career-Building Strategies: How to Build your Virtual Personal Board of Directors.

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Image: Computer industry entrepreneur workshop by Dell’s Official Flickr Page. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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4. Whisper Down the Lane

Photo by Laurel Turton
I had the pleasure to perform in an Opera-Happening by Catherine Kontz and Ellan Parry who have made many strange and beautiful things in the past...
"Whisper Down the Lane" was a fringe event at the Tete a Tete Opera festival that's running around Kings Cross at the moment.

"Do you believe everything you read? Can you verify the source of the information and how it was passed on? Can you follow the trail? Is it a spin? Is it rumour? Is it actually true?
Even the most trivial snippet of news, however manipulated or bona fide it may be, is promoted to a worthier level as soon as it is written down in black and white. Unlike the elusive spoken word, evaporating instantly and leaving behind only the memory of its sound and meaning, the printed word weighs heavier, lives longer and comes to be literature! It becomes the truth. But can you trust it?
Expect fun tongue twisting imbroglios and misconstrued iterations 'whispered' around Kings Cross."


Photo by Claire Shovelton

Photo by Catherine Kontz








Photos by Laurel Turton (unless indicated otherwise)

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5. Evil Editor Classics


Evil Editor Exposed






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6. Query Question: Should an introvert try for a writing career?

Greetings oh cartilage-finned QOTKU,

I happen to know a young lady who is immensely talented at writing. However, she is also VERY introverted. And by introverted, I mean that she has a minor disability (which is possibly worse to her mind than it really is, but still) which makes it unusually stressful for her to meet new people, speak in public, and sometimes even travel. I can relate to her on a smaller scale – at least I no longer vomit in anticipation of social gatherings; age and the necessity of holding an actual job go a long way toward lessening that kind of thing. Plus, you just learn to fake it. However, it’s one thing to overcome a bad case of shyness and another thing to have a real problem that is sometimes recognized and understood by the general public, and sometimes not.

This woman asked my advice on whether or not she’s wise under these conditions pursue a career at writing. On the one hand I wanted to say HOLY COW, YES (she’s so talented!). On the other hand I wanted to say, DO YOU LIKE GIN? Seriously though, here’s the thing: I’ve been told that promoting your work – regardless of genre – is of vital import. I know that many (most?) writers are introverts, and I imagine that giving readings/doing book signings/ attending release parties is probably difficult for a lot of us. But for my friend, this is the stuff of nightmares.

I know that if anyone can be trusted to deliver the straight poop on this (or any) subject, it’s you. What is your advice to someone who would have a hard time with the social aspect of the writing biz?


Pursue a career in writing? Please, hold my tiara while I gasp for air. I'd sooner advise her to pursue a career in taxi-dancing.

"A career" implies that this is how she will earn her daily bread. That's not something most writers can do. Most writers need a full time day job and a spouse to make ends meet.

However.

If you were to ask me if this woman, lovely and talented as she is, should write with the goal of being published, I give that my rousing support.

Writing is how many people express themselves creatively, how they learn to think clearly and communicate well.  It's one of the most satisfying things in the world to know you've said something with pith and vinegar.

To connect with readers, to have readers write to say they find value, or solace, or entertainment in your words, well...I've never done heroin but I'm thinking that feeling of euphoria might come close.

Of course she should write.  All that other stuff is just an excuse not to sit down, stare at the wall, and commence with "it was a dark and stormy night."



And if her writing requires her to have a public presence, well, we'll solve that problem when we get there.  You won't achieve anything in this life if the only thing you can see are reasons you shouldn't try something.

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7. A Little Shout-Out to the Kidlit Con...

"Difference. Unlikeness. Variety. Multiformity. Diversity. It’s not even really easy to define terms. When one person says “diverse” another person nervously hears race, or ethnicity, or gender. But diversity in children’s lit can be – and... Read the rest of this post

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8. How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

By David J. Peterson


My name is David Peterson, and I’m a conlanger. “What’s a conlanger,” you may ask? Thanks to the recent addition of the word “conlang” to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), I can now say, “Look it up!” But to save you the trouble, a conlanger is a constructed language (or conlang) maker — i.e. one who creates languages.

Language creation has been around since at least the 12th century, when the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen created her Lingua Ignota — Latin for “hidden language” — an invented vocabulary she used for writing hymns. In the centuries that followed, philosophers like Leibniz and John Wilkins would create languages that were intended to serve as grand classification systems, and idealists like L. L. Zamenhof would create languages intended to simplify international communication. All these systems focused on the basic utility of language — its ability to encode and convey meaning. That would change in the 20th century.

Tolkien: the father of modern conlanging

Before crafting the tales of Middle-Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien was a conlanger. Unlike the many known to history who came before him, though, Tolkien created languages for the pure joy of it. Professionally, he became a philologist, but he continued to work on his own languages, eventually creating his famous Lord of the Rings series as an extension of the linguistic legendarium he’d been crafting for many years. Though his written works would become more famous than his linguistic creations, his conlangs, in particular Sindarin and Quenya, would go on to inspire new generations of conlangers throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Due to the general obscurity of the practice, many conlangers remained unknown to each other until the early 1990s, when home internet use started to become more and more common. The first dedicated meeting place for conlangers, virtual or otherwise, was the Conlang Listserv (an online mailing list). Some list members came out of interest in Tolkien’s languages, as well as other large projects, like Esperanto or Lojban, but the majority came to discuss their own work, and to meet and learn from others who also created languages.

Since the founding of the original Conlang Listserv, many other meeting places have sprung up online, and through a couple of decades of regular conlanger interaction, the practice of conlanging has evolved.

Game of Thrones dragon

Conlang typology

Conlangs have been separated into different types since at least the 19th century. First came the philosophical languages, as discussed, then the auxiliary languages like Esperanto (also known as auxlangs), but with Tolkien emerged a new type of language: the artistic language, or artlang. At its most basic, an artlang is a conlang created for artistic purposes, but that broad definition includes many wildly divergent languages (compare Denis Moskowitz’s Rikchik to Sylvia Sotomayor’s Kēlen). Finer-grained distinctions became necessary as the community grew, and so emerged the naturalistic conlang.

This is where the languages of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Syfy’s Defiance come in. The languages I’ve created for the shows I work on come out of the naturalist tradition. The goal with a naturalistic conlang is to create a language that’s as realistic as possible. The realism of a language is grounded in the reality (fictional or otherwise) of its speakers. If the speakers are more or less human (or humanoid) and are intended to be portrayed in a realistic fashion, then their language should be as similar as possible to a natural language (i.e. a language that exists here on Earth, like Spanish, Tagalog, or Cham).

The natural languages we speak are large, but also redundant and imperfect in a uniquely human way. Conlangers have gotten pretty good at emulating them over the years, usually employing one of two different approaches. The first, which I call the façade method, is to create a language that looks like a modern natural language by replicating the various features of a modern natural language. Thus, if English has irregular plurals, such as mouse~mice, then the conlang will have irregular plurals, too, by targeting certain nouns and making their plurals irregular in some way.

The historical method: making sense of irregular plurals in Valyrian

Game of Thrones DaenerysA contrasting approach is the method that Tolkien pioneered called the historical method. With the historical method, an ancestor language called a proto-language is created, and the desired language is evolved from it, via simulated linguistic evolution. The process takes a lot longer, but in some ways it’s simpler, since irregularities will naturally emerge, rather than having to be created by hand. For example, in Game of Thrones, the High Valyrian language Daenerys speaks differs from the Low Valyrian the residents of Slaver’s Bay speak. In fact, the latter evolved from the former. As the language evolved, it produced some natural irregularities. Consider the following nouns and their plurals from the Valyrian spoken in Slaver’s Bay:

hubre “goat” hubres “goats”
dare “queen” dari “queens”
aeske “master” aeske “masters”

Given that the singular forms all end in ‘e’, one has to say at least two of the plurals presented are irregular. But why the arbitrary differences in the plural forms? It turns out it’s because the three nouns with identical singular terminations used to have very different forms in the older language, High Valyrian, as shown below:

hobres “goat” hobresse “goats”
dāria “queen” dārī “queens”
āeksio “master” āeksia “masters”

Each of these alternations is quite regular in High Valyrian. In the simulated history, a series of sound changes which simplified the ends of words produced identical terminations for each of the three words in the singular, leaving later speakers having to memorize which have irregular plurals and which regular.

Conceptualizing time

Simulated evolution applies to both grammar and the lexicon, as well. For example, natural languages often derive terminology for abstract concepts metaphorically from terminology for concrete concepts. Time, for instance, is an abstract concept that is frequently discussed using spatial terminology. How it’s done differs from language to language. In English, events that occur later in time occur after the present (where “after” derives from “aft,” a word meaning “behind”), and events that occur earlier in time occur before the present. Thus, time is conceptualized as a being standing in the present, facing the past, with the future behind them.

In Irathient, a language I created for Syfy’s Defiance, time is conceptualized vertically, rather than horizontally. The word for “after”, in temporal terms, is shei, which derives from a word meaning “above”; “before”, on the other hand, is ur, which also means “below” or “underneath”. The general metaphor that the future is up and the past is down bears out throughout the rest of the language, where if one wanted to say “Go back to what you were saying before”, the literal Irathient translation would be “Go down to what you were saying underneath”.

Ultimately, what one hears on screen sounds and feels like a natural language, regardless of whether or not one knows the work that went on behind the scenes. Since the prop used on screen is a language, though, rather than a costume or a piece of the set, the words can be recorded and analyzed at any time. Consequently, a conlang needs to be real in a way that a throne or a 700 foot wall of ice does not.

It’s still extraordinary to me that in less than 25 years, we came from a time when many conlangers were not aware that there were other conlangers to a time where our work is able to add to the authenticity of some of the best productions the big and small screen have to offer. The addition of the word “conlang” to the OED is a fitting capper to an unbelievable quarter century.

David J. Peterson is a language creator who works on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Syfy’s Defiance, and Syfy’s Dominion. You can find him on Twitter at @Dedalvs or on Tumblr.

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Images: Game of Thrones Season 3 – Dragon Shadow Wallpaper and Game of Thrones Season 3 - Daenerys Wallpaper. ©2014 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The post How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. My Life's Work, My Actual Calling: Project FLOW at the Water Works and in the Inquirer

We reach a certain juncture in life and we realize that there's only so much time left to us now. We look back and ask, Have we done enough, loved enough, been enough? We look ahead and ask, What now?

I have always been real with myself; I have known the me within. What are my passions? Children and stories. What have I done? Raised a son I love more than any story can tell and written books that a handful of kind souls have read. I've been flat-out lucky to publish as many books as I have, given the sales that I've had. I've been unimaginably blessed to be given the chance to take my stories into classrooms and into the open hearts of the young. I learn from them, again and again. Frankly, I love them.

Two Tuesdays ago I taught at a multi-week camp for young scientists and activists at the Fairmount Water Works. The camp is called Project FLOW. My privilege is to get the children thinking and writing about the soul of the river, akin to my own work in Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River (Temple University Press). Kevin Ferris and the Inquirer team made the moment even brighter when agreeing to publish my photo essay (which includes the work of the young people) about that morning.

I'll provide the link when it goes live tomorrow. A few more photos from last week's post are here.

In the meantime, below, all of the children of the 2014 Project FLOW. Here they are listening to Sashoya read from her brilliant river creation myth.
Finally, thanks to my friend, the poet Kate Northrop, whose poem "Things Are Disappearing Here" got us all started.

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10. Things that no-one tells you about publishing: deadlines - Cavan Scott

Aaaargh!

That's the noise I'm making today. Why? Because this blog post is an hour or so late going up online. Quick, hit me with a stick ancient deadline-gods.

Douglas Adams famously said: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by!"

I'm the other way. I have a pathological fear of missing deadlines. It comes from my magazine background. My first ever job in publishing wasn't in editorial but in print production, sending the files - long before digital - to the printers. Most of the time, this meant I was in the hands of the editorial teams. If they were late, I was late and would have to field increasingly angry calls from my contact at the printers, worried about the yawning gap appearing their print slots.

Now, as a work-for-hire writer, I'm forever juggling deadlines. But one thing no-one ever, ever mentions when you start out is that deadlines can shift when you least expect it, which can have a house of cards effect. It could be as simple as having to rely on materials sent by a publisher to write your book. If the materials are late, it knocks everything back. Usually the publisher will try and give you a new deadline, but it's not always possible. And if they do, that can impact on another project.

I've had another case recently when a big deadline suddenly came forward as the the publication date came forward six months. Cue much frantic rescheduling and biscuits. (Biscuits always help)

Usually, despite the stress, such goalpost-moving is manageable, even if it means burning the midnight oil from time to time and, in one extreme case last year, cancelling a holiday. And, by and large, publishers are understanding, especially when they've made the change. It's just another of those things you're never really told when you start out in this crazy business. Hmmmm, perhaps we should start a list of things you should expect but no-one ever talks about...

Anyone got any others?



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11. Air Australia

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It's always great fun to create a piece of work, simply for your own enjoyment.   
Grabbing some time to experiment with new techniques also keeps your portfolio fresh. 
Air Australia is a promo piece that I'm going to be using for my postcards and prints. 


Please visit my portfolio to see more work.



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12. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Sharpshooting

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

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

Lego Storm Trooper

Courtesy of William Warby @ Creative Commons

Description: Shooting with incredible precision and accuracy. In most circumstances, this talent is applied to those shooting guns, because advances in modern weaponry makes it easier to hit one’s target. But with a little creative world building and foundational support, there’s no reason that sharpshooting can’t apply to other distance weapons as well:  slingshots, darts, bows, javelins, axes, knives, boomerangs, etc.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: a steady hand, good distance vision, being able to remain still for long periods of time

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: patience, determination, calmness, self-control

Required Resources and Training: Practice is obviously important if one wants to learn to shoot well. Practice perceiving distances, anticipating and planning for the wind, shooting different kinds of targets, shooting in different kinds of light—distance shots are impeded by many unseen, difficult-to-anticipate factors. While natural ability is an asset, consistent practice can make the difference between lucky shots and expert ones.

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: assassins, hunters, military personnel, and Olympians. Sharpshooters are often portrayed as very detailed, nit-picky, OCD types who take their ability very seriously. To turn the cliché on its ear, consider adding traits that defy the stereotype: laziness, naiveté, playfulness, sentimentality, etc.

A good example of a sharpshooter who doesn’t run true to form is Private Daniel Jackson from Saving Private Ryan—a gifted sharpshooter who humbly accepts his ability as a God-given gift that enables him to do a necessary job.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • when hunting is necessary to one’s survival
  • when the story resolution is dependent upon the hero hitting something very small that’s very far away (think Luke Skywalker vs. The Death Star, just…with sharpshooting skillz instead of mad Jedi skillz)
  • when one would prefer to injure or startle an opponent rather than kill him/her outright
  • in a kill-or-be-killed scenario
  • in a hostage situation
  • at a funhouse carnival midway, when it’s imperative to win a certain prize for a certain someone
  • when playing paintball, dodgeball, or other competitive sports

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

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

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13. Ghostly Gaze Illusion

Here's an optical illusion. This woman seems to be looking to our left when we see her up close, but she switches to looking to our right when we back up and look at the same face from across the room.

Here are two women with light gray eyes. They're looking more or less forward, right?

If you look at the same image files at a much smaller scale, the eyes of the two women seem to be looking at each other instead of looking forward. 

To create the faces, scientists rendered the eyes so that the sideways-looking eyes were rendered in the form of coarse, blurry detail, and the forward-looking eyes were rendered with fine detail. 

Back up enough and these ladies will all smile at you.

Our brains process fine and coarse detail in different ways, as was first made famous with the Albert Einstein / Marilyn Monroe hybrid image illusion. That's also why we need to back up from our portrait paintings while we're working on them. Otherwise we can unknowingly set up contradictory information streams at the level of fine and coarse detail. Every portrait painter has experienced eyes that seem to move or a smile that seems to change when the piece is viewed from farther back.

These gaze illusions have an eerie effect because it's so important to us humans to know which way another person is looking, and misreading gaze direction is a major issue for social interaction. That's also why it creeps us out to talk to someone up close who is wearing mirror shades.
----
The twin gaze illusion was created by Rob Jenkins of the University of Glasgow.
Hybrid images are a technique first published by Philippe Schyns & Aude Oliva in 1994.

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14. Paul-Celan-Preis

       They've announced that Gerhard Meier will receive (on 9 October) this year's Paul-Celan-Preis, a leading -- and €15,000 -- literary prize for translation-into-German.
       He translates from the French and Turkish, notably the work of Orhan Pamuk, as well as authors including Amin Maalouf, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, and Yaşar Kema.

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15. No More Gunk - Illustration Highlight

Even the teeth have personality in "No More Gunk!" "Two Books in One. In NO MORE GUNK! short playful rhymes and humorous illustrations help children learn in a fun way the importance of proper dental hygiene. Tooth Tips in the back of the book encourage children to take care of their teeth. Snappy rhymes along with colorful and fun illustrations in OUCH! Sunburn! help children see the

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16. Still More Ebooks This Week! The Wake By Paul Kingsnorth

Last night I downloaded Paul Kingsnorth's debut novel The Wake, which is on the long list for this year's Man Booker Prize. I'm not really into literary fiction, but this is also genre fiction, which I do love. It's set in 1066(and all that, okay, it STARTS in 1066) and is not about celebrating a dead person's life but about a rebellion in the fens country against the newly arrived Normans. It happened. The story of Hereward's rebellion is a part of history, though it's been fictionalised a lot. Actually, there was a wonderful, beautiful novel, Saxon Tapestry, by Sile Rice, which I read while playing mediaeval church music to get me in the mood.

But this is different. I've only started reading, but the novel is in Old English - sort of. Even the author admits he had to play around with it or it would be even harder to read than it is. He cals it a "shadw language" that gives you the feel of the real thing.

Now, I did a semester of OE at uni, though I ended up focusing on Middle English because you couldn't do both and I was interested in doing my Honours thesis on King Arthur and Malory wrote in ME, not OE. I was quite good at it in the limited amount I did, because I had a background in Yiddish, which is related to mediaeval German, which is related to OE. So I'll manage this book a lot more easily than the average Joe or Josephine and even I'm going to take a while  to finish it. 

That said, I've found through reading it aloud that the general text and the dialogue is basically in modern English without the slang. If it wasn't using OE names and spelling for things, it really wouldn't be too hard, so stick with it. You'll get the hang of it. I'd suggest the ebook version, as the publisher has, I believe, done it as a manuscript between stiff cardboard covers and when you just want to read a book on the way in to work, that could be a nuisance. But up to you. 

It is, anyway, a brave experiment by the author. He could have sold it to a regular publisher if he'd just written it in modern style but he refused to change it and ended up instead going with a small press, Unbound, that has the policy of asking the author to crowd fund his or her book. He managed to get 400 pre-orders and here he is, up for a huge prize! Clearly his faith in his book as it was worked out. 

 I don't blame him, anyway; it must have taken a HUGE amount of research to get this done, not to mention getting the style just right. No convenient spell or grammar check on the computer - actually, you'd have to turn it off or go crazy.

Good luck to him!

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17. The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.

But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

I've spent five minutes looking at synonyms for 'surreal' but none of them quite fit this novel - 'whimsical' is too flippant and 'absurd' doesn't sound complimentary and 'dreamlike' belies the sinister aspects. The Astrologer's Daughter leans towards the incredible and the extraordinary without ever stepping right over into paranormal. There are parts of it that feel not-quite-realistic. The astrology is detailed and authentic (or at least authentic-sounding - I wouldn't be able to tell). Joanna, for a character that never actually appears, is utterly fascinating. There is a surreal aspect to this novel but it is still very much cemented in our reality: the city of Melbourne is a beautifully evoked setting, drawn with much affection.

It is not quite like any other YA novel I have read, a fabulous mash-up of genres. The plot is beautifully constructed but not at the expense of character development. There is resolution but there also isn't resolution. I thought it was leading towards something but then it ended in another way entirely - it ends in very thrilling fashion, all the same. I think if you are looking for a novel that is refreshingly different - complex and curious and a bit not-of-this-world - this is maybe the novel for you. I really enjoyed it.

The Astrologer's Daughter on the publisher's website.

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18. Get Real! A Non-Fiction Video Book Review

This month, Kelly shares Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth, a fascinating, picture book-length history of both Puerto Rico, and the parrots that live there.


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19. Urban Sketchers Get Wet (again) in Manchester


Yes, despite all this glorious, sunny weather of late, it poured down all day this time last week, for our SketchCrawl. At least it was still warm. I wore strappy sandals and waded my way through the streets of Manchester.


I seem to have an uncanny knack of picking the only REALLY rainy day of the month for our SketchCrawls, surrounded by beautiful, sunny days. June's squelchy day in Buxton was exactly the same, and so was our May outing, the last time we were in Manchester. The forecast was so awful, I nearly cancelled this time. 

I'm so pleased I didn't. About a dozen of us had a fantastic time and, in dodging the torrents, discovered some rather special, hidden spaces. First stop was the library, chosen mainly because it was actually open at 9.20am. Mostly it was a bit BIG and so quite hard to draw at that tender hour. So we just did a 30 minute warm-up, then sploshed our way round the corner, to the cafe at the Town Hall.


I discovered the The Sculpture Hall Cafe by chance, while researching whether we were allowed inside the Town Hall to sketch. It totally lives up to its name. Under an amazing, vaulted ceiling are leather sofas and tables draped in white linen, and its all watched over by the statues. A beautiful, very unusual place. 

I decided I wanted to fill my mini concertina sketchbook, so did this series of sketches across a couple of pages:  


Next stop was the Royal Exchange Theatre. I'd never been. What a surreal building! The traditional, and very lovely, Royal Exchange building, with its marble columns and gigantic circular windows above, is huge, like a cathedral, so big it actually encloses the ultra-modern theatre. It looks a little bit like an alien spaceship has teleported in! Apparently, the floor wasn't strong enough to take the weight of the new theatre, so they created this mad set-up to transfer weight through the columns.


I managed two drawings before we stopped for lunch. I really loved the three giant roof windows, so tackled a part of the central one:


I didn't think there was time to sketch the modern theatre, as it was visually pretty complicated, but I was struck by the contrast between old and new, so took a section of the view from where I was sitting, which incorporated both elements:


I didn't sketch them separately like this though. I carried on in my concertina book, so the end result was the long thin sketch at the top of this post. 

We lunched in Waterstones - cheap and cheerful (and big enough for us all to sit together). Stephan was showing us his Pentel brush-pen and let me have a try-out. It was lovely and fluid to use. I did this quick sketch of Mike:


The afternoon was spent at the John Ryland's Library. I had really fancied drawing the outside (it's a wonderfully Gothic building - dark stone and very twiddly) but no chance: still pouring. Luckily the inside was good too.

I had never been before but Lucie knew where to go - she took us straight to the Reading Room:


It was designed by Basil Champneys and is a mass of decorative detail. The space feels very like a church, with stained glass windows and another extraordinary vaulted ceiling. Like in a church, everyone was whispering and it was very peaceful, until someones mobile phone went off and played a silly tune VERY loud:


By lucky chance, there was an exhibition of Urban Sketching on in the Reading Room: a collection of really evocative drawings of the city, by the Manchester artist Anthony McCarthy.

We did the sharing session in the Ryland's Cafe - part of a modern wing, added during the recent restoration of the building. There were several new members again and it was so lovely chatting about what we all do and looking through the sketches. Here's me being very proud of my concertina sketchbook:


Oh, and guess what? The sun came out and the rain stopped, just as we finished our drawing time and started the sharing. Typical!

At least I got to walk back to the station with Stephan in lovely weather. I travelled back to Sheffield alone, so did my usual on the train:


Another great day out with smashing company. Thanks to everyone who came, especially given the weather conditions. If you'd like to join Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and come out to play with us sometime, just drop me an email or join our Facebook group.






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20. Small yellow skeleton


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21. Etisalat Prize judges

       They've announced the panel of judges for the next Etisalat Prize for Literature -- awarded to a first work of fiction, first published in (and hence presumably written in ...) English (sigh) by an African author (with African citizenship). (The official site has it as the 2014 prize; press reports suggest 2015, presumably since that's when they'll be handing out the prize .....)
       Worth a mention, because it's a pretty impressive panel that includes: Jamal Mahjoub, Alain Mabanckou, and Tsitsi Dangarembga.

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22. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in July

New Loot:
  • The Anatomist's Wife: A Lady Darby Novel by Anna Lee Huber
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl by Arthur Allen
  • Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • The Quaker and the Rebel by Mary Ellis
  • Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin
  • The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics
  • The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That's Simple, Tasty, And Incredibly Good for You by Laurie David, recipes by Kirstin Uhrenholdt
  • The Late Scholar: the new Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mystery by Jill Paton Walsh
  • The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury
  • The World According to Bob by James Bowen 
Leftover Loot:

  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  • Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America's Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals by Richard Rashke
  • Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer 
  • Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
  • Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective On How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer
  • Now Eat This: 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods, all under 350 Calories by Rocco DiSpirito
  • Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts at home and on the go by Rocco DiSpirito
  • Simply Satisfying Over 200 Vegetarian Recipes You'll Want to Make Again and Again by Jeanne Lemlin
  • The Pound a Day Diet: Lose up to 5 Pounds in 5 Days by Eating the Foods You Love by Rocco DiSpirito
  • Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
  • Simple Faith by Anna Schmidt
  • The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Professor Barnabas Quill, Historian of the Island at the Center of Everything, Washed, Dusted, Translated, Edited, and Greatly Shortened for the Rest of the World by Jennifer Trafton
  • Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  •  Tudors versus Stewarts the Fatal Inheritance of Mary, Queen of Scots by Linda Porter
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
  • The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by James Cross Giblin
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel
  • Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.    

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan

 

 

KNIGHT AVENGED
Circe of Seven, #2
Released July 15

Alone in a world on the brink of war…two unlikely allies will discover a love greater than time.

Exiled from her home, powerful oracle Cosmina Cordei holds the key to uniting those protecting mankind from evil. But just as she makes her way into the holy city to perform an ancient rite, the enemy closes in for the kill.

Drawn by a destiny he won’t accept…elite assassin, Henrik Lazar, detests the mystical curse handed down by his mother. But when the sorcery in his blood is activated and past pain comes back to haunt him, his new abilities come into play and he must learn to control them.

Rescued by Henrik in the heat of battle, Cosmina must decide whether to trust the assassin who loathes the goddess she serves or face certain death on her own. Forced into an untenable position, Henrik is left with a terrible choice—protect the magical Order he despises, or deny destiny and lose the woman he loves forever.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Avenged-Circle-Seven-2-ebook/dp/B008H5VWVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398342253&sr=8-1&keywords=knight+avenged

So pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab the first book in the series, Knight Awakened, too and settle in for a wild, magic-filled ride.

BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/o_KdxrTIIlU

 

KNIGHT AWAKENED
Circe of Seven, #1

In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive. For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark. Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop adventure.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Awakened-Circle-Coreene-Callahan/dp/1455885908/ref=la_B006NAHH48_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1349251261&sr=1-4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the only girl on all guys hockey teams from age six through her college years, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write about them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally succumbed to her overactive imagination and returned to her first love: writing. And when she’s not writing, she’s dreaming of magical worlds full of dragon-shifters, elite assassins, and romance that’s too hot to handle. Callahan currently lives in Canada with her family and writing buddy, a fun-loving golden retriever.

Connect with Coreene:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

http://www.coreenecallahan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coreene-Callahan/173981189346509

https://twitter.com/coreenecallahan

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5321960.Coreene_Callahan

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

A signed copy if Knight Avenged & some dragon swag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. well my time went so quickly, i went lickety-splickly

 I've just made these really quick sketches whilst watching a series of interviews with Bette Davies. They took a couple of minutes each. It's by doing these fast and furious portraits, from the tv, that I've become comfortable with drawing faces and people. I've made hundreds and hundreds of them over the past few years. They're not amazing. They're not going to set the world alight. But that's not the point. I've learnt so much from doing them, and more than that I really enjoy creating them.

There's another blog post HERE, from two-ish years ago. Back then, it seems, I was still not confident drawing 'real life people'. Which just goes to show how quickly you can build your confidence through practice. Jeez, I'll draw anyone and everyone now - from the big screen to the real life.

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25. Author Interviews with Stephanie Diaz, Susan Dennard and Laurie Stolarz!

Stephanie Diaz, Extraction

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

My inspiration for writing Extraction came from a question that popped into my head out of nowhere: "What if the moon were poisonous?" I built a world around that and dropped characters into the middle of it.

How long did you work on the book?

The first draft of Extraction only took about two months to write. But it took another eight months of revising off and on before I finished the draft that landed me an agent. A couple more revision passes happened before the book sold to an editor, and two more happened after that. So, the revision process was by far the longest.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was quite long, but I started young. I finished my first full-length novel at age eleven and started pitching it to agents shortly afterward. That novel didn't fly (and no one else will ever read it), so I wrote another, and then another when the second one didn't land me an agent either. The third one, Extraction, did the trick. I was nineteen when I signed with an agent, and twenty when the book sold to St. Martin's.

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

Most of the time I write at home in my bedroom, usually with movie soundtracks streaming through my headphones. If I need a change of scenery, I'll go to the local library or a Starbucks.

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

My biggest writing advice is to keep writing even when you're afraid your work isn't good enough and to always trust your instincts. Also, read often and widely, anything you can get your hands on.

~~~

Extraction is Stephanie Diaz's debut novel and it arrived on shelves on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads












****

Susan Dennard, Strange and Ever After

How long did you work on the book?

This book took me about 3 months to write and revise before I turned it in. In some ways, it was the easiest of my trilogy to write because I was familiar with the characters and knew how the plot needed to wrap up. On the other hand, it was the most emotionally wrenching of the stories. (I must've cried a million tears.)


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

I get up at 5 AM every day (weekends too), make a cup of coffee, and write at least 1000 words before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, I head back to work until the early afternoon. :) Some days, the writing is great, I'll write 5K, and I'll save every word. Other days, the writing is awful, I barely reach 1000, and I throw it all out the next day. But I find that a little bit everyday--no matter what--eventually gets me over the finish line.


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

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. This was advice given to me by my agent early on in my career, and it really resonated with me. I think writers of all publication stages (aspiring, agented, debut, long career) get impatient--we want to finish this draft now and sell this book now and reach readers NOW! But there's really no rush. Unlike many other professions, you can write until the day you die. Plus, very few authors are successful right out the gate. A solid career takes many years and many books to build.

~~~

Susan Dennard is the author of Something Strange and Lovely, and A Darkness Strange and Lovely with Strange and Ever After hitting shelves this past week. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads














***



Laurie Stolarz, Welcome To The Dark House

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

A lot of readers ask me if I ever get my ideas from dreams or nightmares. The truth is that I don't. I don't really dream too much – not that I can remember, anyway. But about two years ago, I did have a nightmare and Welcome to the Dark House is the result. I dreamed about a contest in which horror film fanatics (all of them eagerly awaiting the next film in a certain famed director's cult-followed movie series) enter a contest in which they have to submit their worst nightmare. The winners would get flown from all over the country to see the director's long-awaited, highly anticipated film. As the winners arrive, they couldn’t be more excited. The place where they’re staying has been hand-tailored to all of their tastes. They can’t wait to meet the director and see the film. This is a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity - or so it seems. My nightmare continued, and let’s just say there’s a creepy amusement park involved, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll have to read the book;)

How long did you work on the book?

It took me about seven months to write the first draft and then another six months to edit it (delete, add, reconsider, rework, strengthen, tighten, tweak, repeat).

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My initial path to publication was a rough one. I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the young adult supernatural/paranormal genre). It took me over a year to sell my first novel. I have a folder filled with rejection letters. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive young adult market.” That same young adult novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, has sold over 200,000 copies, has been translated into numerous different languages, has appeared on many different award lists, and was optioned by Blondie Girl Productions (Ashley Tisdale's production company) in partnership with Mandalay Entertainment, and sold to ABC Family for a TV series.

When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, after I received my first – or my 40th rejection letter – I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my career. BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES came out in 2003 and it's still in print. I followed "Blue" up with WHITE IS FOR MAGIC, SILVER IS FOR SECRETS, RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE, and BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS, all published by Llewellyn/Flux.

I’ve also published several books with Disney/Hyperion: BLEED (2006) and PROJECT 17 (2007); these are companion books to one another, though stand-alone titles. I also published my five-book TOUCH series with Disney/Hyperion, the first book of which is DEADLY LITTLE SECRET (2008), and now WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, the first book in my DARK HOUSE series is also with Disney Hyperion.

I’m grateful to have been very busy with work after publishing my first novel.


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

When I’m on deadline, I write ten pages per week, revising as I go along. I normally work at home, though I can also work pretty much anywhere - coffee shops, waiting rooms, libraries, the car. I don’t have too many requirements, but a cup of strong black coffee is always nice.


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

My biggest piece of advice is to persevere. There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10, or even 50 rejection letters. Be open to learning and to getting better in your craft. If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again. Never pay reading fees while trying to get published – ever. Do your homework. Know to whom you’re sending your query letter, who that person’s clients are, what that person’s track record is (i.e. the details of his or her most recent acquisitions), and what that person is looking for. Every letter should be personalized and reflect that you’ve done your research. And, lastly, consider joining a writers group. There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

~~~

Laurie Stolarz is the YA author of the Touch series, with Welcome to The Dark House coming out on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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