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1. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e July 25th, 2014

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

A Better Way to Open Your Novel (Larry Brooks)

The Art of Microfiction (Gayle Towell)

Prologue and Epilogue (Diana Hurwitz)

Warning: Green Shore Publishing (Victoria Strauss)

Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now) (Claire Cook)

11 Grammar Mistakes That Label You “Amateur” (Janet Kobobel Grant)

One Way to Connect DIRECTLY To Your Fans? *Yawn* Email. Boring Old Email. (Dan Blank)

Watch out for writing ruts (Rachel Kent)

Resources for Writers—Industry News (Elizabeth Spann Craig)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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2. FOODFIC: Frozen - Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston


The dystopia created by Cruz and Johnston is pretty much what the title implies – a bleak world of cold and ice, insufferable to all but the heat-eliteof the RSA (Remaining States of America). You could even say the second social tier is comprised of hooved quadrupeds – the few remaining cattle who are nurtured in expensive temperature-controlled stables. The cows probably [live] better lives than most people, in fact.

Since clearly very few people are eating beef, the only meat available to the common folk consists of whale, walrus, or reindeer. Those who can’t stomach that are left with processed junk like pizza squeezers and Thanksgiving in a can. Like I said, bleak. And perhaps blechas well. ;) Either or both ways, the availability of food provides a great platform for revealing the inner-workings of the characters.

You see, we first meet Ryan Wesson as he is turning down a steak dinner. Or, more precisely, turning down a job offer he can’t stomach. He actually lets the food be sent back to the kitchen, knowing he’s in turn sending himself and his crew back to the food lines. But even in desperate times, he has an ethical fiber that he can’t shed, despite knowing he’d be warmer (and fuller) without it. Yes, he’s in the mercenary business, but his ex-military moral compass forces him to use his skills for protection and rescue. No, a contract to murder for hire is too much.

Now, in drastic contrast to Wes is the proposer of the next job he DOES accept – a girl who needs help getting out of the country ASAP... and who Wes instantly pegs as a liar and a thief.
Still, he agrees to take her to the “Blue” – a perhaps mythical realm where the sun still shines and the water still flows clear and blue, as does the sky – partially because he needs the money and the work doesn’t harm anyone, but equally because he finds Nat so intriguing.

And when Nat finds out mid-venture that Wes first needs her help to get his ship back – as in, he has a ship, he just doesn’t have it right now – she in turn finds herself falling for this Jack Sparrowish-rogue.

Will they make it to the Blue – if it even exists? And what will they eat when the get there? Good thing it looks like there’ll be another installment to this saga, as my hunger for answers was only partly satisfied. ;)

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3. hummingbird visitations

What a privilege, today, to work beneath the canopy of hummingbirds.
My husband and father keep threatening to remove this overgrown trumpet vine.
But then there are moments like these.

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4. “Help, Thanks, Wow”

When ruminating over this past year as ALSC President, the above title of a book by Anne Lamott comes to mind.

Help! Luckily, there was always plenty of it!

  • The stellar staff in the ALSC offices was always available for support.  From guiding me through the appointments process, organizing Community Forums and other events with members, editing (so many) communications, cultivating collaborations to expand and enhance our work, to finding a way to make some cockamamie ideas concrete, they never lost their patience or good humor.
  • My fabulous fellow Board members engaged in lofty thinking and diligent deliberation to move the work of the Association forward and always stepped forward to volunteer for each new task and accept every assignment.
  • The truly remarkable membership continues to humble and astound me with their vision, passion and commitment to raising issues and producing results.

Thanks!  So, from the above, you can already see that I have an abundance for which to be indebted. But, in addition, I had the opportunity to steep myself even more than usual in this wonderful, dynamic profession for an entire year. It was my honor to be the voice of the association, to represent libraries at the White House and children’s services in national media. It was my pleasure to be the ears as well and to get to know my amazing colleagues from across the country as I listened to their concerns and their aspirations for the association and the profession at large.  I thank you all from my heart.

I was recently reminded of the multitude of hats we wear when I had the good fortune to see Pepito’s pom-pommed velvet topper at the New York Historical Society’s Bemelmans exhibit. (Not a bad hat at all!) I am grateful to have had the chance to don the hat of ALSC President this past year. I encourage you all to throw your hat in the ring (or in the air) to create a better future for children through libraries by working together in ALSC.  Please, do yourself, the association and the profession a favor–volunteer for a committee or task force, write a blog post, participate in a Community Forum, or consider running for the ALSC Board.  The possibilities are endless and the rewards are infinite.

And finally…

Wow! That’s just about all I can say. Wow!


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5. Judge Not Satisfied With Apple eBook Settlement

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is not satisfied with the settlement that requires Apple to pay $450 million to  put an end to the eBook price fixing case.

Reuters has the scoop: “…she found ‘most troubling’ a clause requiring Apple to pay only $70 million if an appeals court reversed her finding that the company is liable for antitrust violations and sent it back to her for further proceedings.”

Apple was found guilty of eBook price fixing in July 2013. The company agreed to the settlement to avoid a trial after losing a number of appeals.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. One Systematic Approach

In my years of working in the industry, I learned to work in different ways what ever is more efficient for the given time period. Here's one systematic approach that I use which I find very useful when given a very limited amount of time - the LASSO approach. But before I get into the step by step, I always preach to student to identify first what are the Needs and Wants. For this exercise, the needs would be: 1. restaurant/bar for inhabitants of an extremely dry location of molten rock where no plants grow except thorn thistles. 2. Bugs, rodents, squirrels and shelled creatures only for animals. 

Now that the "needs" have been identified, I did a quick sketch using pencil on brown paper.

I applied values using mainly the lasso tool with just stock soft and hard brushes in PS. 
The idea I have is to use only the limited resources for materials and food. Just the right amount of architectural details for table and chairs tell the audience that inhabitants are bit civilized. Stripes on the wall give some history and story to the location. Inhabitants could have used available materials like sulfur as paint. This idea makes the environment more inviting.

I "colorized" the values in PS. Composition seemed crammed so I extended the layout to give more "breathing" space. Important to keep the original values  uncompromised. 

I started painting and blending in some spots and highlights. I also detailed the extended area on the right. Readability of shapes and silhouette of every detail and making them work in the context of the overall composition is very important! Never loose control of your shapes, values and color.

If the area is so enclosed, smoke coming from cooking and candles will stay inside and create a very nice, thick atmosphere to play round with. I enjoy adding that lower layer of smoke to give an opportunity to play with a glow that is off the ground reflected from the bright candle on the table. Fun.

To get an in-depth study of this design approach and visual development essentials in actual production, check out my 8-wk Environment Sketching for Production online class at CG Masters Academy.

©Armand Serrano 2014.

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7. What to Watch this Weekend: Book-to-Film Adaptations


Alex Bracken

Alexandra Bracken

A few months ago, while sitting in a weekly meeting with the Sales team to go over numbers and publicity and marketing plans for books, a question came up about why two of our backlist titles suddenly jumped up in sales. A few people chalked it up to summer reading starting in a few months, but I wondered–did it have anything to do with the fact both of these books’ film adaptations were added to Netflix a few weeks before?

Obviously not all book-to-film adaptations are good… in fact, as we all know, some make you want to die a little inside upon seeing how your favorite characters are being handled. But, thankfully, there are plenty of fantastic adaptations out there–and Netflix has recently added a whole bunch of them. Even if you don’t have a subscription to the service, most of these films and TV shows should be available to rent via iTunes of stream through another service.

Have you watched any great book-to-film adaptations recently? Here are some of my recent favorites.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.21.36 AMOrange is the New Black (based on the book by Piper Kerman)

This might be an obvious choice, but for good reason! It is a master class in character study and strikes the right balance between laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking. I’m in the middle of reading the real Piper’s memoir and I’m amazed at how well the TV writers have captured the spirit of her experience while letting their own characters and ideas take flight.

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How I Live Now (based on the book by Meg Rosoff)

Teens surviving the outbreak of WWIII together in England–otherwise known as Alex Puts Her Head Down on her Desk for a Good Cry.  Speaking of beautifully shot films, this one fits the bill and does a really fantastic job of elevating the book’s story. It’s harrowing, heartbreaking, and beautiful in turns with one sliiiightly scandalous romance.

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The Witches of East End (based on the books by Melissa de la Cruz)

I love me some Buffy, Teen Wolf, and Charmed, and this series fits right in with them–with some awesome (spoiler) Norse mythology thrown in as an added, surprise bonus to the great, heavily female cast. This is a really fun marathon if you’re looking for something a little more light-hearted, than, say, Sophie’s Choice or Legends of the Fall (both of which are also available to instantly stream if you need a good, epic cry).

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.04.48 AMTiger Eyes (based on the book by Judy Blume)

It took me a while to work up the courage to watch this film, having lost my own dad two years ago. But ultimately I found this to be a faithful, loving adaptation of the original work. Fun fact: it was adapted by Judy’s son Lawrence.

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Now is Good (based on the book Before I Die by Jenny Downham)

This book absolutely destroyed me when I first read it–it’s The Fault in Our Stars before The Fault in Our Stars, the story of Tessa, a seventeen year old who is losing her fight to leukemia and creates a list of things she wants to do before she dies.

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Bitten (based on the books by Kelley Armstrong)

Also in the supernatural camp, Bitten follows the trials and tribulations of Elena, the only known female werewolf, as she returns to her pack. While certain elements of the book series were changed–especially on the character front–I found this as equally as fun as the books. (And, let’s be honest, the cast is pretty easy on the eyes.)

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 11.09.11 AM

Jane Eyre (based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte)

This 2011 adaptation of Bronte’s classic work isn’t new to the world, but it is new to me. I waited way too long to watch it! This is is the perfect vehicle to transport you away from the sticky summer heat to the windswept moors. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Bronte fangirl, but the performances in this adaptation really breathed new life into the story for me and made me reconsider the characters in ways I hadn’t before.

Alex lives in New York City, writes like a fiend, and lives in a charming apartment overflowing with books. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. You can visit her online at her website or Twitter.

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8. Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker

Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker
Author: Kathy Gruver, PhD, LMT
Publisher: Infinity Publishing
Genre: Health
ISBN: 978-0-7414-8142-9
Pages: 198
Price: $15.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to pamper and nurture our bodies. But what if there are ways to incorporate deeper levels of healing during a session? Kathy Gruver explores these options in Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker.

A massage session doesn’t only have to work on the body. Massage therapists can also use stress reduction, affirmations, and visualization with a client, as well as many other healing techniques such as Reiki and aromatherapy, which can be used simultaneously. And should the client be open-minded, other non-massage therapies may be used.

Traditional medicine often ignores the powerful alternative healing options we have available to us, but Gruver reminds us that these should always be used with caution. Serious medical conditions are best treated by a doctor, and there are quacks selling snake oil to the unwary. But this book shows how to carefully use these remedies which often help in the healing process. Although some techniques are only discussed briefly, websites are provided for the practitioner who is looking for more information. Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker provides a nice overview of options available to any massage therapist interested in expanding her healing practice.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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9. Liberio Lets You Make an eBook From Google Drive

Want to make an eBook based on files in your Google Drive? A new eBook conversion tool called Liberio has hit the market that lets you do just that.

The platform, which is free with a Google account, allows you to turn any text-based document into an ePUB file directly from Google Drive.  The tool will keep your text format, fonts and images as they are in the Google file. There is even a tool to design your own cover or use a template cover.

Check it out: “We want to make the publishing of eBooks easy for everyone.No matter if you are a teacher, student, designer, artist,engineer or tinkerer, creating and publishing your own booksis now only a push of a button away.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. Thinking of this today.

Thinking of this today.

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11. Beauty and the Beast

Join us for a one-hour autism-friendly performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Jr. on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 12:00 noon.  Seats are still available, and now open to everyone.  Come to the Children's Room to reserve your spot, or call 516-921-0185 or email splchildrens@syossetlibrary.org.

Posted by Pam

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12. Frog Fridays booklist

Leapin’ lizards! (oh, wait) Here are some nonfiction books and picture books about our “phavorite” amphibians.


arnosky allaboutfrogs Frog Fridays booklist Arnosky, Jim All About Frogs
32 pp. Scholastic 2002. ISBN 0-590-48164-9
(Gr. K-3) This book informs with a definition of amphibians, the differences between frogs and toads, identifying markings on various species, anatomical features, habits, and how frog spawn develop into frogs. The well-organized expository prose lends itself to reading aloud, with each double-page spread covering a topic. The detailed captions may be lost on groups, but the diagrammatic illustrations offer much to contemplate.

bishop Frogs Frog Fridays booklistBishop, Nic Frogs
48 pp. Scholastic 2008. ISBN 978-0-439-87755-8
(Gr. K-3) This informative book covers anatomical, behavioral, and reproductive facts. On each spread, one of the sentences is in larger type, serving as a highlight of main ideas and a pointer to the accompanying captioned photograph–the real star of the show. The pictures are stunningly crisp and beautifully reproduced. At book’s end, Bishop explains the extensive work involved in his nature photography. Glos., ind.

cowley red eyedtreefrog Frog Fridays booklistCowley, Joy Red-Eyed Tree Frog
32 pp. Scholastic 1999. ISBN 0-590-87175-7
(Preschool) Photographs by Nic Bishop. Startlingly close-up photographs of rainforest fauna depict the nocturnal adventures of a red-eyed tree frog. The simple, aptly paced text relates the hungry frog’s search for a meal and his close encounters with dangerous predators, and an accessible afterword provides a good overview of facts on the subject. The engaging narrative and captivating pictures are perfectly attuned to the preschool audience–a rare and noteworthy find in nonfiction.

pfeffer fromtadpoletofrog Frog Fridays booklistPfeffer, Wendy and Keller, Holly From Tadpole to Frog
32 pp. HarperCollins 1994. ISBN 0-06-023044-4 LE ISBN 0-06-445123-2 PE ISBN 0-06-023117-3
(Gr. K-3) Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series. This lovely introduction sketches the most basic aspects of frog life–the laying and hatching of eggs, the stages of growth, eating and the danger of being eaten, and hibernation. Pleasing views of plants and animals sharing the pond environment are rendered in bold economy. The text’s clarity and shape make the book an inviting read-aloud science lesson.

turner Frogscientist Frog Fridays booklistTurner, Pamela S. The Frog Scientist
58 pp. Houghton 2009. ISBN 978-0-618-71716-3
(Gr. 4-6) Photographs by Andy Comins. Scientists in the Field series. Readers are introduced to Dr. Tyrone Hayes, who studies the effects of pesticides on frog development. Hayes travels to a pond research site and back to his laboratory, explaining step by step the careful procedures his team follows. Sharp, vivid photographs alternate between portrayals of the scientists–at work and relaxing–and abundant images of the frogs they study. Websites. Bib., glos., ind.

Picture Books

cooper frog Frog Fridays booklistCooper, Susan Frog
32 pp. McElderry (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) 2002. ISBN 0-689-84302-X
(Preschool) Illustrated by Jane Browne. “Little Joe couldn’t swim….[He] just didn’t get it.” The boy finds the inspiration and gentle encouragement he needs when he rescues a frog trapped in his family’s swimming pool. Little Joe’s involvement in Frog’s small drama shifts the boy’s focus off of himself and his imagined limitations. Both text and art are stripped down to the essentials, with short, simple sentences and uncomplicated, expressive paintings telling the story.

french growing frogs Frog Fridays booklistFrench, Vivian Growing Frogs
32 pp. Candlewick 2000. ISBN 0-7636-0317-1
(Gr. K-3) Illustrated by Alison Bartlett. A mother and daughter gather frog spawn from a pond to observe the metamorphosis from egg to tadpole to frog. While French provides step-by-step guidance for gathering and observing frog spawn, there’s enough detail for a vicarious scientific experience. Bartlett’s use of multiple frames showing frog development paces the action while allowing enough detail for small, but important, changes. Ind.

hassett Too Many Frogs Frog Fridays booklistHassett, Ann and Hassett, John Too Many Frogs!
32 pp. Houghton 2011. ISBN 978-0-547-36299-1
(Gr. K-3) Illustrated by John Hassett. No sooner has the plumber de-flooded Nana Quimby’s cellar than frogs emerge…first ten, then twenty, thirty (count ‘em), and more. For each escalation, children playing outside have a solution (e.g., put them in a goldfish bowl). The ultimate answer? Re-flood the cellar. Delicious to look at–with its explosion of acrobatic frogs, primitivist-detail décor, and confectionery colors–and a treat to listen to.

heo thegreenfrogs Frog Fridays booklistHeo, Yumi The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale
32 pp. Houghton (Houghton Mifflin Trade and Reference Division) ISBN 0-395-68378-5
(Gr. K-3) Two frogs enjoy always doing the opposite of what their mother asks. Years later she finally catches on and asks to be buried by the stream instead of in the sun. Remorseful, they obey her last request, only to fear that her grave will wash away–which is why frogs cry by the side of streams whenever it rains. Too mischievous to be morbid, this quirky ‘pourquoi’ tale features quaint, comic illustrations.

kimura 999 Frog Fridays booklistKimura, Ken 999 Frogs Wake Up
48 pp. North-South 2013. ISBN 978-0-7358-4108-6
(Preschool) Illustrated by Yasunari Murakami. Time to check in with the tadpoles-turned-frogs that we left in a pond in 999 Tadpoles. It’s the following spring and the baby frogs are popping up out of the mud while Mother Frog tries to take inventory. Neon green endpapers springboard us into clean white pages that provide an inviting stage for waves of energetic lumpy froglets cunningly arranged and rearranged.

kimura 999tadpoles Frog Fridays booklistKimura, Ken 999 Tadpoles
48 pp. North-South 2011. ISBN 978-0-7358-4013-3
(Preschool) Illustrated by Yasunari Murakami. When 999 tadpoles transform into 999 frogs, things get crowded. Relocation across the field proves hazardous when a hungry hawk nabs Father. Mother’s quick thinking saves the day as she grabs onto Father, and all the young frogs link up in turn. There’s not a word misplaced in the spare and funny text, and the illustrations are full of lively movement and personality.

meyer frog Frog Fridays booklistMayer, Mercer Frog Goes to Dinner
32 pp. Dial 2003. ISBN 0-8037-2884-0 (Reissue, 1974)
Mayer, Mercer Frog on His Own
32 pp. Dial 2003. ISBN 0-8037-2883-2 (Reissue, 1973)
Mayer, Mercer and Mayer, Marianna One Frog Too Many
32 pp. Dial 2003. ISBN 0-8037-2885-9 (Reissue, 1975)
(Preschool) Each of these wordless books about the adventures of a boy and a rambunctious frog is a tiny masterpiece of storytelling, with expressive characters and easy-to-follow action. Thankfully, no attempt was made to change the cozy trim size, colorize the art, or–heaven forbid–add words to these reissues.

wiesner tuesday Frog Fridays booklistWiesner, David Tuesday
32 pp. Clarion 1991. ISBN 0-395-55113-7
(Gr. K-3) A surreal, almost wordless picture book shows the mysterious levitation of lily pads and frogs from a pond one Tuesday at dusk. The frogs soar around town until they fall to the ground at sunrise. Large, detailed watercolors use dramatic points of view and lighting effects and often show a humorous range of expressions. There is a forecast of further surprises to come on following Tuesdays.

willems citydog Frog Fridays booklistWillems, Mo City Dog, Country Frog
64 pp. Hyperion 2010. ISBN 978-1-4231-0300-4
(Gr. K-3) Illustrated by Jon J Muth. The dog and frog of the title become friends over the course of three seasons, but when the dog returns in winter, the frog is not to be found. This story of a friendship cut short by mortality is economically told and bittersweet; its atmosphere is matched by Muth’s paintings of the two at play in a glorious country landscape.

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The post Frog Fridays booklist appeared first on The Horn Book.

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13. fiber installation

I neglected to post a picture of this earlier, but I did think it deserves a mention:

6-9 year old class
This crazy installation is made up of yards of finger crochet from a group of girls who were first reluctant to learn and became crocheting fools once it clicked for them - fun!

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14. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week: July 25, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between July 25 and July 31 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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15. Learn How Satoshi Kon Edited Space and Time

In his four features and one TV series, the late anime director Satoshi Kon developed a unique style of cutting and editing, says Tony Zhou in a new video essay.

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16. How Kansas City Kids Beat Summer Slide

Summer_ReadingAll summer long, you’ve heard how summer slide – the learning loss that occurs when kids are out of school – adds up for kids who don’t have access to books and other learning opportunities.

But there’s good news – many schools and organizations throughout the country are working hard to stop summer slide.

Take Kansas City, Missouri, for example. Over the last two summers, a coalition of KC-based organizations have been working with First Book to help reverse summer learning loss for kids in their community.

Erica Perl in KC“More needs to be done to address the summer reading loss,” says Brent Schondelmeyer, communications director for LINC. “With First Book, the Kansas City Public Library, the Mid-County Public Library, Turn the Page KC and other local partners, we are taking an intentional approach to summer reading. And we will use our summer experience to expand how we support reading all year long.”

Last summer, First Book provided 10,000 high-quality books to elementary school children in Kansas City Public Schools. The books were distributed as part of a comprehensive reading program led by the Local Investment Corporation (LINC), the Kansas City Public Library and the mayor’s office.

SONY DSCThe students who receive the books showed reading gains, instead of losses. More significantly, students from Title I schools who read over the summer saw higher improvements.

The great work being done in Kansas City confirms: access to books is key to reversing summer learning loss.

This summer, LINC’s game-changing program expanded. More than 30,000 books from the First Book Marketplace have been distributed to 72 schools, all in an effort to keep kids reading and learning while school’s out. The hope is that the gains made last year will continue and that more kids in the Kansas City area will be ready to start the school year off right.

Check out this video to learn more about what’s happening in Kansas City.

Want to learn more ways First Book is supporting organizations like LINC? Sign up to receive stories of impact and inspiration!

The post How Kansas City Kids Beat Summer Slide appeared first on First Book Blog.

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17. Take a Creative Risk – You Might Surprise Yourself

The ALIENS have landed!

"amusing. . .engaging, accessible," says Publisher's Weekly

I’ve been writing for years. (Let’s not discuss how many exactly!) It’s easy to fall into habits and to think about stories in certain ways. The best creative people, though, insist that they are constantly learning and to do that, they try something different. They take risks.

Let me suggest some risks you might want to take:

Take a creative risk today! Try a new format, genre, audience, or marketing strategy.

Take a creative risk today! Try a new format, genre, audience, or marketing strategy.

Try a different genre. If you’ve only written nonfiction, try a novel. Love writing picturebooks? Try a webpost. Good writing is good writing is good writing. But platforms DO make a difference in length, diction (your choice of vocabulary to include/exclude), voice and more. Why not try writing a sonnet?

Try for a different audience. Stretch your genre tastes and try a different one. Write a romance for YAs. Or a mystery for first graders. Are all of your protagonists female? Then try writing from a male’s POV and try to capture a male audience.

Try a different process or word processing program. I took a class on Scrivener this spring and am continuing to explore what this amazing program can and can’t do. I’m also learning Dragon Dictate to lessen the ergonomic strain on my hands. I know that these programs have potential to change not just my writing process, but also the output. I’m just not sure HOW they will affect it. It’s a risk.

Market to different places. While we often separate the writing from the marketing–especially when we think about the creative process–I think you can still take creative risks with marketing. For example, identify a market FIRST, and write specifically for that market. In this case, you are letting the market sculpt your creative output. If you write a short story for Highlights Magazine for Kids, it’s got to be 600 words or less. If you write an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post, everything is different in your creative output. If you decide to self-publish, you may find yourself suddenly taking the question of commercial viability much more seriously.

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18. “The Butterfly Picnic” – A perfect holiday read?

Originally posted on Joan Aiken:
     Joan Aiken writing at her very best was the perfect companion.   She was well travelled, cultured, with a wealth of personal experience, and the ability not just to tell a gripping story, but to draw the reader in to the very process of writing.   What she loved…

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19. Colloquialisms

Colloquialisms are words or phrases that we use in conversation or informal situations. 

An example would be the different ways people refer to carbonated beverages: cola, soda, soda pop, and pop.

Another example is cooked batter: pancake, griddle cake, flap jack, Johnny cake, and short stack.

They can be words (gonna), phrases (hang on), or aphorisms (when the going gets tough, the tough get going).

A few examples of colloquialisms include: 

  • bat out of hell 
  • beating a dead horse 
  • bigger than a barn 
  • bump on a log 
  • couldn't care less 
  • crazy as a loon 
  • deader than a doornail 
  • dumb as stump 
  • drunk as a monkey 
  • happy as a pig in shit 
  • hell for leather 
  • hotter than hell 
  • knocked into next week 
  • like flies on shit 
  • like white on rice 
  • meaner than a snake 
  • neat as a pin 
  • not the brightest crayon 
  • older than dirt 
  • one fry short of a happy meal 
  • piece of cake 
  • shut your pie hole 
  • slow as molasses 
  • tighter than a banjo string 
Colloquialism, clichés, and slang are close cousins and hard to differentiate. In general, colloquialisms are limited to a specific geographic location (the southern states) and slang is more widespread (America).

It isn't important for the sake of revision to worry about the finer points of distinction. We aren't in English class anymore. The important point is to use them wisely.

Both colloquialisms and slang can be used as a dialogue plant and payoff: a phrase repeated two or three times at critical points in the story between two characters.

Creating unique colloquialisms and slang for your fantasy world can add a dash of spice. Don't over do it.

Getting the historical slang wrong will earn you e-mails pointing out that the phrase was not used until _____. Nitpickers love this stuff.

Both can add color to your prose and dialogue. Sprinkled throughout a manuscript, they are fine. A few sprinkled in a paragraph is considered overdoing it.

Revision Tips
? Turn on the Clichés, Colloquialisms, and Jargon option in the toolbox in Word. These items will be marked for you. As you read through your draft, decide which to keep and which to kill. Have you used the cliché intentionally?
? Can you twist it or make it fresh?
? Have you committed colloquialism abuse? Should you trim them?
? Does the languge fit the time and place?
? Does the languge fit the background and personality of the character uttering it?

For all of the revision tips on colloquialisms and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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20. Evil Editor Classics

Guess the Plot

Don't Date a Bro

1. In the grim darkness of the future, an attempt to carbon-date the last member of the Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity goes horribly awry, loosing a horde of dread demons upon the world.

2. Number seven in Leon "Ladies' Man" Phelps's advice series: Dating Rules for Straight Bros.

3. Gayree Gayun goes gargantuan when looking for love by way of the newly developed Random Reality Transcendentalizer. That's when he learns, the hard way, that bro isn't a condensed form of the word brother ... in Brontosaurus Land.

4. When Leila realized after three months of dating Jackson that he was an alcoholic, sexist, belligerant, narcissistic asshole (aka a bro), she decided to dump him. But is her new boyfriend a step up or a step down?

5. This rhyming picture book explains the hazards of incest with cheerful, upbeat color illustrations.

6. When the body of Z-list actor/singer/dancer/model Chad Hunkley (real name:Ralph Snodgrass) turns up in the dumpster outside a gay bar in Northridge, detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, this kid is a looong way from Oskaloosa, and two, the frat boys at CSUN are getting a little too randy.

Original Version

Dear _________,

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work. Don't Date a Bro; is a 47,000 word young adult novel that follows the sarcastic and slightly awkward Leila Jayne, an acclaimed soccer player and GPA whiz, who realizes after dating her popular baseball player boyfriend for three months that she is dating a Bro. [To aid those unfamiliar with the term "bro," I've spent a few hours on Urban Dictionary and Google compiling traits of a bro: An alpha male idiot. White, 16-25, inarticulate, belligerent, talks about nothing but chicks and beer, drives a jacked up truck that’s plastered with stickers, lives off his rich parents, constantly uses the word "chill" (as a noun, verb or adjective), wears wife beaters or no shirt, constantly smokes weed and drinks and parties with his fellow bros, so sexist you'd think he's exaggerating normal sexist guys to be satirical except he's not being satirical, he's that sexist, thinks women are good for nothing except making sandwiches for bros and providing bros with "dome," which is oral sex; for instance, a bro might brag, "Today I was getting road dome from a chick and her parents gave me a dirty look from the back seat but I told them it was chill."] [Also, dating a guy for three months and then realizing he's a bro is like taking three months to realize you're dating a warthog.] The problem is that she's not exactly the Bro type - she hates parties, likes to read, and enjoys "me" time - but has been faking it to fit in. To add insult to injury, her best friend has abandoned her for spending too much time with her boyfriend Jackson.

When Jackson's not be as interested in her as when they first started dating, [Suddenly you're talking like a bro.] Leila thinks it's because of her Catholic guilt and her desire to not want to have sex with him anymore. [That would do it. Also, I'm guessing she's refusing to make him sandwiches. Or to chill.] It isn't until [a] new senior boy arrives at her Catholic prep school who actually interests her – an atheist, an intellectual, [If this atheist is so intellectual, why can't he find a school that's not affiliated with a religion?] and a self-proclaimed loner – [A self-proclaimed loner is several steps up from a bro, but can't she find a boy who actually wants her around?] that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must  break up with her boyfriend. And when they kiss one night, even though she's still dating her Jackson, [Actually, she's dating his Johnson. That's the way it works with bros.] she has to make things right, come clean, [chill,] and ditch the Bro for the guy nobody seems to notice.

Thanks again for considering my novel, and please feel free to contact me if you would like to see more from me.



The whole plot is: girl realizes she's dating a bro, and decides she'd be better off with the new kid in town? Where's the conflict? Dumping a bro is an obvious choice if you have any self-respect. Most women would dump a bro faster than they'd dump a serial killer. In fact, consider making the new kid a known serial killer, so that when Jackson gets dumped for him, it's a bigger blow.

This is all setup. We know Leila Jayne's situation. Now we want to know what she does about it and what goes wrong, and what she does about that. Does Jackson do anything when Leila breaks it off? Besides chill? Give us a reason to care about Leila. If you have an interesting story, show us.

Selected Comments

BuffySquirrel said...It's a cute moment in Truth About Cats and Dogs when the Uma Thurman character realises her boyfriend is a loser. But it's not a moment that's expected to carry the whole film.

Usually tension in these situations comes from the woman being madly in love with the wrong guy and unable to see the attractions of the right guy. Here you have someone who's reached that point when the book starts. So...where's the tension going to come from? How can people root for Leila to spot boyfriend is a bro and choose the bright boy instead if she's already pretty much done that?

Also, if her Catholic guilt didn't stop her having sex with him initially, why should she believe it's turned her off it later? The bro's supposed to be the stupid one.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...Yeah, I agree. Choosing between a guy who's not right for you and a guy who is? It's like choosing between an ice cream cone and a broken arm. I'll take the ice cream, thanks; next question?

But I'm actually more concerned about the grammatical and punctuation errors. Don't know why EE didn't mention them. Triage?

Evil Editor said...I rarely mention every little error I spot, especially if I feel the query will be rewritten to the extent that the sentences they're in will be gone. In this case I noted one problem by saying "Suddenly you're talking like a bro," and another by adding the word "a."

Delete the semicolon after Bro. Put a hyphen after 47,000. Rewrite and resubmit.

Rachel6 said...I kinda feel like you summed up your entire story with the title. That's a bad thing.

And hey, does anything happen with the best friend? Maybe the friend introduces her to the new guy, maybe the friend helps her see why she should dump Jackson? You mention her briefly at the end of the first paragraph, and then never again, so I'm a little curious. :)

khazar-khum said...If there's one thing I'm tired of seeing, it's the "Atheist=Intellectual" meme.

Richard Dawkins, biggest proponent of that, is a mysogynistic jackass; Hawkings is right there with him. That's not a good thing.

Unless, of course, Leila intends to challenge him on it. That would add an interesting dimension to their story, possibly making it deeper.

Golfball said...The Bro needs amping up, he needs to become a crazy psycho-stalker after protag dumps him, big fangs and sucking protag's (or protag's new squeeze) life energy are strictly optional.
And then you'll have conflict, you have something going wrong.

 Chelsea Pitcher said...I didn't get atheist=intellectual here, but I think the problem is we're not told why the atheism is relevant. Do Jackson's religious beliefs contribute to his bro-ness? If we understand that, I think we'll better understand why New Boy's atheism is appealing.

Is there a story besides Leila ditching the wrong guy for the right guy? If there is, I'd love to see it come through in the query. There's some interesting stuff here, but I'm definitely getting the vibe that Leila defines herself in terms of who she's dating, which doesn't work for me personally.

AA said...If this was adult literary fiction, I wouldn't consider the premise too thin. I'd assume a lot of soul-searching, flashbacks, and possible experimentation with sexual orientation.

But in a YA fiction, stuff's basically gotta happen. Stuff's not really happening here. I'm assuming stuff does and you've just left it out.

I'm concerned about the quality of writing, even sans typos. For instance: "It isn't until [a] new senior boy arrives at her Catholic prep school who actually interests her – an atheist, an intellectual, and a self-proclaimed loner - that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must break up with her boyfriend."

Besides sounding like the start of a joke (An atheist, an intellectual and a self-proclaimed loner walk into a bar...) it's just one blamed awkward sentence.

If you remove the interruption you've now got two phrases that could come out completely: "It isn't until a new senior boy arrives (at her Catholic prep school) (who actually interests her) that Leila embraces what makes her unique and accepts that she must break up with her boyfriend."

...and on top of that you've got that list clause. When you're cobbling together sentences from phrases and clauses you need to sit back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself,"What am I trying to say?" and "What is the most straightforward way of saying that?"

Consider: "The problem is that she's not exactly the Bro type - she hates parties, likes to read, and enjoys 'me' time -" Well, you've lied. The problem isn't "she's not EXACTLY" the bro type. The problem is she's NOT AT ALL the bro type. She is the opposite.

And this: "her desire to not want to have sex with him anymore" is confusing. At first I read it as "her desire not to have sex with him" but that didn't seem right. It doesn't seem right this way, either. It's the "to not want to have" that ruins it. If what you're trying to saying is "She wishes she didn't want to have sex with him anymore," then just say that.

I think you need to clear your mind and stop trying to be writerly. Then rewrite this as if you were describing the plot to a friend. Polish that up a little bit and you'll probably have it.

Dave Fragments said...I might be closer to kids than others because there are three kids I "listen" to -- boy 17, girl 15, and girl 10 -- and DATING and all that ANGST is not a small thing in their lives.

There is no way this is too thin because each of these kids has dating in their mind. Teens reading about teen angst is a big deal.

Girls getting involved with boys who are not their types or not good for them is definitely the problem. I saw that with these three kids parents and I see it again with the children.

Fix the words of the query because dating and sex is like, about the most important thing, yanno, like, in their life. Except when adults ask, then it's whatever.

AA said...I have no doubt you're right about teens, Dave. The problem is that this is a story, not real life, and in order for a story to carry an entire book there must be some type of central conflict or important decision.

This is the story I get out of this: Teen is dating wrong guy. Teen realizes this. Luckily, there's a new guy who's perfect for teen. There is no really important obstacle to them getting together, so they do. The end.

I'm assuming there's more to it than that.

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21. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 25

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. This week's topics include book lists, diverse books, ebooks, growing bookworms, events, KidLitCon, literacy programs, literacy research, schools, libraries, and summer reading.

Book Lists and Awards

Fun new #BookList from Stacked: Teenage Criminals http://ow.ly/zydPR #yalit

A Tuesday Ten: Magical Time Travel in #kidlit | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/zvU6C

A Tuesday Ten: Speculative #kidlit in which MAPS play a major role | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/zpXU3

2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists Announced | @sljournal http://ow.ly/zt0Oq #yalit

In honor of Apollo XI moon landing anniversary, @FirstBook shares favorite space-inspired books http://ow.ly/zsTGS

Our Top Ten Favorite Picture Book Friendships by @heisereads + @fins025 @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zpXKp #kidlit

Nice list of 10 family-tested "Great Audiobooks" from @Book_Nut http://ow.ly/zpSN7

First Day of School Books, old and new, recommended @growingbbb http://ow.ly/zpPOa #kidlit

Diverse Books

The 10 LGBT YA Books You Need to Read This Year | Kelly Gallucci @BookishHQ http://ow.ly/zvMAz

An big, categorized LGBTQ TBR List For Any Occasion by Alison Peters @bookriot http://ow.ly/zpTkZ via @catagator

eBooks and Apps

A look at Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited from All Sides — @100scopenotes http://ow.ly/zvTi3 #eBooks

Forbes Says Close The Libraries And Buy Everyone An Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription http://buff.ly/1mrHHvf #libraries #ebooks

What Young Adult Publishers and Authors Can Do to Fight E-Book Piracy | Karen Springen @PublishersWkly http://ow.ly/zyG5I

Are Today’s Kids All Thumbs? Touch Matters. Researchers Bring Tactile Learning into Digital Realm @ShiftTheDigital http://ow.ly/zt0I3

Events, Programs, and Research

FirstBookSummer_ReadingNo Kid Hungry: Summer Feeding and Summer Fun @FirstBook blog http://ow.ly/zkiSg #literacy

Press Release Fun @FuseEight | Announcing the Ninth Annual Carle Honors on Sept. 18th http://ow.ly/zydAj

Hillary Clinton launches campaign that recommends reading aloud to children from birth @MercuryNews http://ow.ly/zyeel #literacy

Study finds children who have strong reading skills 'are more intelligent by their mid-teens' | http://ow.ly/zyd10 via @librareanne

Growing Bookworms

Important post! You’ve got them reading–now, how do you keep them that way? | Kathy Higgs-Coulthard @wendy_lawrence http://ow.ly/zpUJU

Grownups: You Can Read YA, and Why Not Read It With Your Kids? | @lori_day @HuffingtonPost via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/zsWPw

Teaching My Daughters to Read -- Part IV, Success by @ReadingShahahan http://ow.ly/zpSZN #literacy

"Wimpy Kid" Author's 6 Tips to Hook Reluctant Readers | @CommonSense via @librareanne http://ow.ly/zpDXV


Fusenews: Full of ever-interesting tidbits from @FuseEight, like The Snow Queen – There Can Be Only One http://ow.ly/zpYrR

KidlitCon2014_cubeDon't miss: A Note for Authors and Publishers About #KidLitCon14 from @Book_Nut + @StackingBks http://ow.ly/zpZCU

Still more from Tanita Davis at Finding Wonderland on why you should attend #KidLitCon14 (even/especially introverts) http://ow.ly/zpYNa

"One of the best ways to deepen commitment to #kidlit is meeting other people who share that passion" @MitaliPerkins http://ow.ly/zkiZ8

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Why YA needs heroines beyond Katniss Everdeen http://ow.ly/zsWnj @TelegraphBooks via @PWKidsBookshelf #yalit

Thanks for the laugh, @SevenImp + @FuseEight | Celebrity Picture Books: The Gift That Keeps On Giving (laughter) http://ow.ly/zsUi8

The Precocious Ones, overachievers who kick-started their career at eye-poppingly young ages? @SevenImp @FuseEight http://ow.ly/zpR6A

Stacked: A Short Update on a YALSA Policy Change from @catagator http://ow.ly/zpX4g

Things that cause readers to "hit pause" on some books, by @donalynbooks @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zpTRe

Lovely Infographic: (Canadian) Readers Save the World, shared @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/zkke7 #literacy @CBCBooks

Schools and Libraries

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing (costly textbooks) - Meredith Broussard @TheAtlantic http://ow.ly/zsVR1

Why Do Americans Stink at Math?: NYT article recommended by Jeff Barger http://ow.ly/zyFTZ

Great tips for Supporting Readers During Workshops: The First Few Weeks, by Katie DiCesare @ChoiceLiteracy http://ow.ly/zpE8m

How I Addressed Gender Bias in My Book Club by NC teacher librarian @sedley1 @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zkjJu

How The Public Library Turned Me Into A Reader by Claire Fallon @HuffPostBooks http://ow.ly/zyGiDvia @PWKidsBookshelf

Summer Reading

#SummerReading Tip31 @aliposner | Make some time for playing board games this summer — they can promote #literacy http://ow.ly/zvUo7

#SummerReading Tip27 @aliposner | Encourage summer writing by authoring books (journals) this summer http://ow.ly/zkk2A

#SummerReading Tip29 @aliposner | Use summer as an opportunity to build your child’s vocabulary! http://ow.ly/zpWFG

I'm tempted by #SummerReading Tip30 @aliposner | have “ice cream only day” with your kids (+ tie in #literacy )! http://ow.ly/zsUGe

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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22. Inspired by the Sketch Dailies topic today, and how much I loved...

Inspired by the Sketch Dailies topic today, and how much I loved using ink yesterday I created this! I know how nice it is to snuggle with your best friend, especially if it is sort of smelly, but happy with a tail.

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23. Anti-Porn Group Calls ’50 Shades of Grey’ Film Deceiving

Morality in Media, a anti-porn watchdog, has launched a campaign against the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. The film’s trailer was released yesterday and the criticism comes in response to the release.

The organization claims that the film “deceives the public with a visually appealing melodramatic love story that romanticizes and normalizes sexual violence.”

Here is more from the organization’s statement: “A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture. Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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24. Writing Contests

Winning a writing contest can boost your confidence and maybe even lead to greater things. 


0 Comments on Writing Contests as of 7/25/2014 3:56:00 PM
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25. Summer holidays

It's beautifully sunny here in Normandy - just like summer ought to be!

0 Comments on Summer holidays as of 7/25/2014 11:24:00 AM
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