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1. Music Monday - The Miracle of Life

Totally gorgeous rendering of conception/gestation/birth - complete with a Hans Zimmer soundtrack.

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2. FABRICS - andover

And here are some more designs that caught my eye at Andover Fabrics. The first of the prints are from the Flo's Garden, Little Monsters, Aurelia and Modern Folkloric collections all designed by The Henley Studio at Makower UK. Below : Two designs from Catnap by Lizzy House Below : An arrowhead style design by Alison Glass from Andover's Sun Print

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3. STARRED review (number two!!) for STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos this one from Kirkus!

Continued floating :)

STAR STUFF: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos has earned a second starred review! This one from Kirkus. Here is an excerpt: 


"Young Carl Sagan looks endearingly like his grown-up self, with expressive dark eyebrows and a cheerful look of inquiry, in this warm account of the life of the notable scientist.

Sisson captures an important moment in young Sagan’s life. In a library, where he has been handed a book on stars, “Carl’s heart beat faster with every page he turned.” The next double-page spread offers a vertical orientation and a gatefold opening skyward, as if Carl himself were soaring into space... Sisson’s economical narrative and lighthearted illustrations convey Sagan’s regard for the power of imagination and his generous approach to knowledge..."

And here is a link to the full review. 




And here is a picture of me with an early story board a couple of years ago for the book attending a meeting got my wonderful critique group back in California. 

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4. Autumn Mailbox News & Notes

Michael Sedano

Looking forward…
Los Angeles Sep 24 • Call for Readers / Writers • Quixote's 400th Anniversary

Planning reaches a critical stage for the University of Southern California Doheny Memorial Library’s “Day of Readings” commemorating the 400th anniversary of the completion of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha in 1615.

Tempus Fugit, an old Latina Latino would advise, noting the tight deadline to express interest to be a reader or writer at the 2015 event.

This is a nationwide call from USC’s Boeckmann Center for Iberian & Latin American Studies. The Center’s Librarian, Barbara Robinson, who sponsored the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow, tells La Bloga that the Quixote event will have two parts.

The morning begins with the novel reading on a stage at the heart of the USC campus. Here’s Tom Miller’s memories of participating in a reading in Toledo. Visiting readers, USC students, faculty, staff, alumni will select and read passages in their language of choice from the novel.

That evening poets, novelists, short story writers, journalists, artists, actors, and scholars may elect to read passages from the novel, or present original work illuminating divergent views on the novel and its legacies for people in the Americas.

Organizers will call upon USC’s formidable multimedia resources to project illustrations of Don Quixote's characters and adventures onto the facade of Doheny Memorial Library.

• Open to reading a few pages from Don Quixote in the all-day reading?
• Open to writing something related to Quixote, Cervantes for the spotlight session, or perform a reading?

Writers and readers open to participating will express interest via email by Sept. 24 to Bill Dotson or to Barbara Robinson.


Looking forward…
Nationwide Dec 1 • Speculative Fiction

Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fiction will be the first anthology
to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres.

Submission guidelines at this link.

Houston Sep 27 • Librofest


Arte Público Press authors will play a prominent role in the 3rd annual Houston LibroFEST, a festival celebrating Latino literature and culture on Saturday, September 27, 2014, from noon – 8pm at two Houston Public Library (HPL) locations.

This entertaining all-day event, part of Houston Public Library’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, is a book and arts festival for the entire family that highlights Hispanic writers and the vibrant culture, music and art of the city’s Latino community. Visit the fest site here.


Santa Barbara Sep 27 • Mission Poetry Series


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5. Confessions review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Minato Kanae's Japanese bestseller (and basis for a popular film), Confessions, now out in English.
       This was translated by Stephen Snyder; disappointingly, however: "Translation copyright © 2014 by Little, Brown and Company". (Not okay, guys.)

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6. Write, Share, Give: It’s SOL time

"You are an expert at your own life. Nobody else is." --Jen Bryant

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7. Prix littéraire de la Mamounia

       The Prix littéraire de la Mamounia, awarded for francophone Moroccan writing, has announced its fifth winner, and, as reported at, for example, Aujourd'hui, Prix Littéraire de la Mamounia: Le Job de Réda Dalil consacré -- apparently the big favorite. See also, for example, the Le Fennec publicity page

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8. Light the Way for the Underserved

Do you have an innovative new program or service that requires funding? Are you looking to serve an underserved part of your community more fully?  The ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved” Grant is a great opportunity for your library!

The Light the Way Grant was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo. The spirit of the award honors the themes represented in her books.  The award itself consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done. So, whether yours is a new idea or one that has already been put into place, your library would be eligible.

The  ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee has the honor of selecting the winner. Special population children may include those who have learning or physical differences, those who speak English as a second language, those who are in a non-traditional school environment, those who live in foster care settings, those who are in the juvenile justice system, those who live in gay and lesbian families, those who have teen parents, and those who need accommodation service to meet their needs.

Be inspired by the impact and the work of the 2014 ALSC/Candlewick Press “Light the Way” current grant winner. Don’t forget to check back on the ALSC website for the most current grant application to be available soon!

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9. Rahasia Orang Terkaya Di Dunia, Bill Gates

Siapa tak kenal dengan Bill Gates, miliarder terkaya dunia yang juga populer sebagai pendiri Microsoft. Tapi tahukah Anda siapa orang yang paling berjasa membantu Bill Gates hingga menjadi super kaya seperti sekarang?.


orang terkaya di dunia
Gates Dan Larson

Mengutip Liputan6 dari laman Business Insider, Selasa (23/9/2014), Anda pasti belum pernah mendengar nama Michael Larson, pria yang selama puluhan tahun menjadi orang paling berjasa bagi Gates dalam mengumpulkan seluruh hartanya.


Gates merekrut Larson 20 tahun lalu saat jumlah kekayaannya masih berjumlah US$ 5 miliar saja. Kini, Bill Gates memiliki total harta yang melimpah luar biasa hingga mencapai US$ 81,6 miliar dan terus meningkat setiap tahunnya.

Larson menjalankan perusahaan investasi swasta milik Gates bernama Cascade Investment LLC yang seutuhnya didirikan pendiri Microsoft tersebut.

Pada saat mendirikan Cascade, sumber kekayaan Gates hanya berasal dari Microsoft. Tapi beberapa tahun kemudian, dia menjual sebagian besar sahamnya di Microsoft.

Meskipun Gates membuat investasinya sendiri di bidang teknologi, tapi Larson melalui Cascade merupakan pria yang mengelola seluruh harta Gates dan mendiversifikasikannya.

Gates kini memiliki sejumlah investasi yang tersebar di bidang properti hingga beberapa perusahaan non-teknologi seperti Canadian National Railway Co., AutoNation Inc., dan Republic Services Inc.

Seluruh investasi tersebut yang kemudian membantu Gates menemukan dana untuk aksi amalnya. Berkat Larson, Gates kini berhasil menjadi lebih kaya dalam waktu yang leih cepat bahkan dengan berbagai donasi yang digelontorkan sebesar US$ 38 miliar.

Hartanya meningkat hampir US$ 6 miliar hanya dalam waktu enam bulan sejak Maret 2014. Pada Februari tahun ini, Gates bahkan merayakan hubungan kerjasamanya dengan Larson yang telah berusia 20 tahun.

Dalam pesta tersebut, Gates memberitahu para tamu bahwa dirinya sangat mempercayai Larson. Artinya, pria tersebut menginvestasikan uang Gates, membeli dan menjual saham dengan kuasa penuh.

Saking besarnya jasa Larson pada Gates soal investasi, dia diberi gelar sebagai `Gateskeeper`. Larson dikenal memiliki sejumlah trik hebat untuk menjaga nama Bill Gates dan Cascade dalam sejumlah investasinya.

Dia juga memiliki trik bisnis hebat hingga banyak orang tak mengetahui bahwa Gates, melalui Cascade, memiliki saham di hotel mewah Four Seasons. Meski memiliki otoritas besar atas keuangan Gates, tapi dia tidak pernah boros dalam mengeluarkan harta bosnya.

Para pegawai Cascade yang diketahui sekitar 100 orang tidak diizinkan untuk menginap di Four Seasons dalam perjalanan bisnis. Bahkan jika bisnisnya mengenai Four Seasons, hal tersebut tetap tidak diperbolehkan.

Para pegawai tetap harus memilih penginapan yang harganya lebih murah. Begitulah, berkat bantuan Larson, Bill Gates akhirnya dapat menjadi miliarder terkaya dunia.

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10. FABRICS - greta songe

Flower House is the brand new collection by Greta Songe. This is Greta's first collection for Andover fabrics and is on sale now for retailers and will be in stores for consumers early next year, The prints were inspired by life in the Midwest. Greta is based in Iowa where there are many months of winter surrounded by a bare landscape devoid of colour. Making the spring and summer colours a

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11. Meet Elizabeth Fensham, author of My Dog Doesn’t Like Me

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Elizabeth Fensham.  My Dog Doesn’t Like Me (University of Qld Press) resonated with me because I also have a puppy, Floyd (whose middle name is Pink)– a spoodle who is easier to train than Eric’s dog, Ugly, but I have used one of the dog-training tips described in the novel. […]

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12. SURVIVAL COLONY 9 {Excerpt & Giveaway}

From Simon & Schuster Written by Joshua David Bellin Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn's world is a desert where small groups of survivors struggle against heat, starvation, and the creatures known as the Skaldi, monsters that appeared on the planet after war swept away the old world. Suffering from amnesia brought on by an accident, Querry struggles to recover the lost memories that might save

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13. The utter delight found in "Where My Wellies Take Me..."


Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:


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14. Strong Female Characters in Dystopian Worlds

I want to talk about strong female characters in dystopian worlds, but right off the bat, I’m going to be difficult and say, “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What do we mean by strong exactly?”

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15. Afterworlds Spoiler Thread

It’s that time again: A TIME OF SPOILAGE.

Use the comment thread of this post to discuss all that happens in Afterworlds. If you haven’t read the book, however, it might be wise to NOT LOOK AT THE COMMENTS.

Don’t forget what happened to this person back in May of 2006. I quote from the famous Specials spoiler thread:

oh god, i read the spoiler section before i read the book. i would have read the book by now but the bookstore doesn’t have it in yet! i got the first two before the sale date. why can’t i do that now!? crap i can’t believe i read the spoiler section . . . crap

The lamentations of one who has been spoiled!

If you haven’t got the book yet, go watch the Afterworlds videos instead. Or if you’re in NYC, come see my launch event tonight.

Or of you live anywhere else, go check out my tour schedule and come get a book signed by me!

JUST DON’T READ THE SPOILERS.

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16. Tabula Rasa, by Kristen Lippert-Martin | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Tabula Rasa, written by Kristen Lippert-Martin. Giveaway begins September 23, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 22, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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17. Picture Books: Character Development in Every Word!

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on

Picture Books: Character Development in Every Word!

We all know that our characters need to resonate with the audience. They need to relate to them, yearn to grow with them, feel their pain and celebrate their accomplishments.

It’s asking a lot. But it’s what keeps little fingers reaching for the same stories again and again.

It’s not as easy task when I’m working on an MG project, and I’m sure it’s a struggle for any authors no matter what the genre. But when I’m working on a picture book, I have an even smaller window to describe my characters, and far less opportunities to tell SHOW others what makes them so special.

The intimate relationship we have with our manuscripts sometimes makes it necessary to take a step or two back. WE may know Little Lucy or Bumbling Bradley just as well as we know living, breathing children in our life. But we are tasked with putting entire personalities into as few as 500 words and still having room for a story!

  1. I just re-read that last sentence. Putting it that way on paper makes it sound even more daunting.

But (deep breath) fear not! There is something truly beautiful hidden here as well.

One of my favorite things about writing picture books is that it is genuinely the epitome of the POWER of words. An entire story told in fewer words than this blog post will have. A full story arc with beginning, a middle and an end. And not just ANY story arc, one that will attract an agent, dazzle a publisher and make both parents and children reach to pull the story from the shelf time and time again.

Each word has a fingerprint.

Every word chosen MUST fit not only in the sentence, but in the essence of the story itself. Verbs are not only describing the action of the story, but setting the intangible style, the VIBE of the characters and of the story itself.   Adjectives do more than describe the subject they’re linked to, but represent the attitude and individuality of the characters they are entangled with.

Snort and giggle may have the same definition. But the aura of the characters they describe, are distinctly different.

Bounding, lurching and hopping may all describe the same actions, but one word may bring up stronger images of chaos, versus innocence or playfulness. And to make things more… let’s say exciting… there are no hard and fast rules. The same word used in one sentence may have different implications when used in a different way.

Well, that’s just not helpful at all, is it?

While a daunting task for sure, these word description choices also open almost limitless doors. The power is in our hands.   The slight change of a few words can alter an entire story, or give that extra shimmer of life that our characters so desire to have.

So okay, how do I DO that?

For me, something that helps me is when I assess every individual sentence in my picture books in two ways:

Auditory and Meaning

Auditory:

We have the benefit of knowing that 99 percent of the time picture books are read, out loud, TO our ultimate target audience. That’s powerful knowledge! And it’s important to capitalize on it. Of course, most picture book authors know the importance of reading your manuscript out loud from cover to cover. But you can go a step beyond that as well.

I take every individual sentence and read it out loud, numerous times in a row. Think about how the words sound together, how they physically feel coming off the tongue. Try different adjectives, new verbs, try to add or remove a comma, just to see if anything has a more pleasing flow, a more playful sound or something that fits better with the mood I want my readers to be experiencing.

And I ask myself, what would my character think of these sounds?

If I don’t feel that my character would have a natural and deep connection with the sounds and intonations throughout the story, than I’m probably not giving my readers a chance to connect with my character.

Meaning:

Again I take each and every word from each sentence individually and dissect it for meaning. As the great Ame Dyckman would say (author of Boy + Bot, Tea Party Rules and more), it’s the Picture Book Word Count SMACKDOWN! If a word does not make you tingle, if you don’t read it and say to yourself, THAT’S IT, that’s EXACTLY IT… find a better word or take it out!! Trust that your illustrators will know what they’re doing and that they will express the details and description so that you can focus on action.

Again, play with new verbs or adjectives and be sure that each word matches not only the scene that you’re painting in their minds, but the tone of the moment, the spirit of the main character and the emotion that the memory of reading the book will create.

The best picture books and characters are often burned into our memories for our entire lives. The words from these stories carried much more significance than their mere definitions. They were the medium for living, breathing characters that tiptoed off the pages and into our world. Your manuscripts have the opportunity to exercise the profound power of each individual word.

Your manuscripts… and the characters they will bring to life… are worth it!

Erika

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, Author, inspiration, picture books, Process Tagged: Develop every word, Erika Wassell, Jersey Farm Scribe, Picture Book Characters

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18. Gregory Maguire on Writing and Inspiration (especially for Egg & Spoon)

If I can collect a little assemblage of items that put me in a mood of the book, then I find some place in my study where I can put them out. For “Egg and Spoon,” I had some wonderful things. I had a 1940’s era paper mache Baba Yaga’s cottage. It’s only standing on one chicken’s foot; it got broken somewhere along the way. I have a number of matryoshkas I’ve collected over the years. I have a number of painted eggs I’ve painted myself starting 40 years ago; I used to paint one every Easter. Some of them have Russian themes. I have little British foot soldiers. I’ll arrange them on a little altar to the muse. I don’t play with them — I don’t march them around the room and sing little songs — but the fact that they’re there is a clue to myself that the studio is open.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/09/20/new-england-writers-work-gregory-maguire/rqPRM7pgCIvI9ZeE8hRnMP/story.html?event=event25

 

via Karen Kosko


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19. Slamina Terrain Scouting – Drawing A Day

They are exploring the terrain. Tried to get more detailed with background and motion. Drawn on Corel Painter X3 with custom brush with Wacom Intuos. Day 26 of 30 day Trial.

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20. A few Favorites from September

focal length 300mm, f/5.6, exposure 1/200 sec



 focal length 300mm, f /5.6, exposure 1/400 sec

Where we live, September brings several unique changes that I look forward to seeing again:

* Golden light on the rolled hay bails in both the front and back yard

*Cheerful sunflowers that pop up all over the surrounding areas as one last "hurrah" before the cold season hits

*Plants that look like wheat (not sure what they are actually called??) that seem to glow in the light

*Cicada insects that are super noisy (I won't miss these actually but they signal the end of summer)

*My neighbor's tree that's already changing red for fall! Yeah!

........Coming soon will be the black fuzzy caterpillars that cross the road in the early morning. They always signal the start of cool mornings. I've never gotten a photo of one. Maybe this year!

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21. 5 Tips for Writing Suspense

I am a traditionally published thriller author. My latest book No Time to Die just hit shelves this week. When I first started writing suspense fiction, though, I had very little idea what I was doing. It took a humble amount of trial and error to get in a groove and overcome basic rookie errors. Now, seven years later, I like to think I’ve figured out some tricks of the trade. I’ve also been extremely lucky to receive the support and mentorship of some of the top names in the biz, like Jack Reacher’s creator Lee Child and the late Michael Palmer. So without further ado, here are some tips for budding thriller writers that I wish I’d known from day one…

GIVEAWAY: Kira is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

no-time-to-die-novel-cover     kira-peikoff-writer-author

Column by Kira Peikoff, a journalist and novelist in New York who has written
for the New York Times, Psychology Today, Slate, Salon, and Cosmopolitan.com,
among many others. She is the author of LIVING PROOF (Tor, 2012) and
NO TIME TO DIE (Kensington, 2014), which was praised by best-selling
author Lee Child. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 
1) Structure Scenes like Mini-Novels: Each one should contain its own narrative arc, with rising action and a climactic moment that signals the end of the chapter. It’s good form to finish most chapters on a cliffhanger—especially the first one. A major dramatic question should be raised in the opening scene, and then resolved in an unexpected or unfavorable way to hurl the main character further into the conflict (and thus drag your readers into the story). Get your protagonist in trouble as soon as possible and never let her get too comfortable or too safe. As far as chapter length, I’ve found that an average of five pages (double-spaced, size 12) works well for keeping up the pace.

2) Plot Strategically to Avoid the Sagging Middle: This rookie error is one I had the misfortune of making early on: I wrote the beginning of a book and then abruptly ran out of steam about sixty pages in. When you’re staring down 240 blank pages without a plan, it’s easy to freeze up. Now I have a method. Once I have the main cast of characters and their conflicts, I conceive a new book in four sections. At the end of each section, I devise a major twist to launch into the next section and keep up the narrative momentum. Once I’ve figured out my four big plot points, I go deeper into plotting the concretes of each individual section, dropping red herrings and hints about the twists to come so that they will be logical without being predictable. This is the most challenging part of the process for me and is apt to change when I actually get to writing. I think of the outline like a highway: you can go off-roading from time to time but you get back on the highway to get to your final destination.

(How many markets should you send your novel out to?)

3) Alternate Character POVs: I love writing in third-person multiple vision, alternating between protagonist, antagonist, and usually another main character who has a stake in the central conflict. Getting into each character’s head increases suspense for the reader, who knows to anticipate the moves of competing characters and either roots for or against them to succeed. It’s the easiest POV choice to use in writing a thriller. When you follow Tip 1 and end each chapter on a cliffhanger, then switch to a new character whose scene also ends on a cliffhanger, the reader will be tearing through the pages to learn what happens. A word to the wise: the hardest POV choice is writing in first person—and keeping with only one character—for the entire story, because then you can’t create dramatic irony. (i.e. when the reader knows more about the stakeholders in the conflict than each character alone knows.)

4) Obscure POV when useful: Say you’re writing a murder scene but you want the killer’s identity to remain a secret. I wanted to pull this off in my new book, since the killer was someone surprising in the story, but I didn’t want readers to know who until way later. The trick is to write the scene from the victim’s perspective. Don’t allow the victim to know or recognize the killer—so you can have a dramatic, intense scene without spoiling the mystery. This is the first chapter of No Time to Die.

(Book Payments and Royalties — Your Questions Answered.)

5) Raise questions and delay the answers: This technique is the absolute key to suspense. Pique people’s curiosity and then make them wait for a resolution. While they’re waiting, introduce a new tantalizing question, and then delay that answer too. Once you can layer these successfully, you’ve got a page-turner. The famous author Pete Hamill told me once that writing suspense is about planting diving boards and then jumping off them later. Best advice I ever got.

Go forth and good luck!

GIVEAWAY: Kira is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Hook agents, editors and readers immediately.
Check out Les Edgerton’s guide, HOOKED, to
learn about how your fiction can pull readers in.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

 

 

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22. The kid-friendly, kid-maintainable classroom library

If you’re a teacher reading this blog, you likely devote significant attention to carefully selecting literature to add to your classroom library. And, if you’re like me, you want your students to have access to these books, but also to not spend hours after school reorganizing and looking for titles that have mysteriously disappeared. Last year, I found a solution to keeping my classroom library well-stocked and maintainable, but before I share it, let me explain the rationale behind it.

When I was in elementary school, there were always books out on display in my classrooms, but there were also many, many titles hidden away in cupboards and closets that my teachers would search through after exclaiming, “Have I got just the book for you!” This practice always struck me as odd and restrictive — I loved going to the library precisely because the number of titles was overwhelming and it seemed that there were treasures to discover as I explored the shelves.

In my own classroom, I am committed to making sure that my students have constant access to as many titles as possible. However, it is essential to me that the books can remain organized without much effort from me — which is something of a challenge when you work with second graders.

The solution that I’ve come up with for my own classroom library is pretty simple. I started by drawing up a list of categories into which I could sort all of the books in my classroom library. Current categories include biographies, world cultures, biology and chemistry, and, my favorite, “Books Miss Hewes loves.” Next, I assigned each category a specific color-code, using dot and star stickers. For example, biographies have a yellow dot with a green star, while easy readers have just a silver star. Then, I bought bins and clearly labeled them with the proper codes and category names.

photo 1 e1409716191871 500x375 The kid friendly, kid maintainable classroom library

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The next step was the most labor-intensive — putting the proper labels on each and every book in my library. While I was doing this, I also used the free tools available at Book Source to create a digital catalog of my library, which came in handy during the year as I wondered whether or not I actually had a certain book. (You can check out the organizer at  http://classroom.booksource.com/). Finally, after labeling the books, I put them into the appropriate bins and then put all of the bins on display in my classroom.

photo 3 e1409715975770 375x500 The kid friendly, kid maintainable classroom library

photo 4 e1409716039837 375x500 The kid friendly, kid maintainable classroom library

This system proved to be an overwhelming success last year. It allowed me to saturate my students in books without needing to go find a perfect book that I have tucked away somewhere in my room. Additionally, when I looked through the bins over the summer to check on them — something I faced with trepidation after having seen my students’ cubby area — I only found four books out of place. Most importantly, I am confident that my students found books to treasure as they independently navigated the bins — something I hope helped steer them towards becoming lifelong readers.

photo5 500x375 The kid friendly, kid maintainable classroom library

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The post The kid-friendly, kid-maintainable classroom library appeared first on The Horn Book.

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23. Libraries champion our freedom! Helping our students understand their freedom to read (ages 8-12)

Freedom is an essential element of democracy, and the freedom to read is a cornerstone of American democracy. And yet how do we help our children understand the importance of this fundamental right? Abstract declarations are pretty hard for kids to grasp, but they will get immediately involved if they start considering a concrete example that relates to them.

When I explained today that many schools ban Captain Underpants because it uses offensive language, our 5th graders were outraged! They told me that was just awful, and that kids should definitely be able to read Captain Underpants. They were incredulous that Harry Potter had been banned in schools and libraries. Pretty quickly, they could see why it is so important to stand up for our freedom to read what we want.

Libraries across the US champion our freedom each and every day. This week, we band together to defend that freedom and celebrate Banned Books Week. If you want more information, I'd highly recommend looking at these resources:
Our overall right is important to me, but I care most about how books impact individual kids. We need a wide range of books in our libraries because we need to connect so many different kids with books that make a difference to each and every one of them.

Tim Federle talks about how librarians are fierce champions of the First Amendment. Better Nate than Ever, one of my favorite novels of the last few years, tells the story of a kid who loves, loves, loves Broadway shows and takes a daring overnight trip to New York to audition for a Broadway musical. Tim won both a Stonewall Honor Award (portraying GLBT experience) and the Odyssey Honor Award (audiobook) for Nate. Tonight, Tim posted on Twitter this letter he's received from a fan:
Here's a section from the letter:
"It was so amazing to read books where the main character was like me when I was that age. His borderline-obsession with musical theater and his difficulty accepting his feelings was so relatable and to see such a character be front and center in a book easily available to kids is something I'm just so grateful for. It was the first time I'd ever seen myself in book pages, and I just wanted to say thank you very much."
As we celebrate Banned Books Week, I just want to pause for a moment to think about what this young man said. Not only was he able to relate to this story, but it was readily available for kids. That's the thing -- we need to provide these opportunities for our students to discover themselves in our shelves, with books that are available and easy to find.

Take a moment to share with your kids why this is important to you. Make the idea of our freedom to read palpable and concrete for your kids. And next time you see your librarian, tell them that she or he is your favorite superhero: CHAMPION OF FREEDOM.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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24. Explaining Piketty's success

       Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century continues to be one of this year's unlikely publishing success-stories -- a university press-publication, a work in translation (indeed, I wonder how many have sold more copies this year), and, well, on some level, a pretty scholarly-dry tome (though it is, in fact, a pretty good read). In The Guardian they ask now four "star economists and finance experts" (and no literary experts, oddly enough) Why is Thomas Piketty's 700-page book a bestseller ?
       (I've been impressed by the book, but the surfeit of reactions and reviews has kept me from posting review-coverage for now; meanwhile, see the Harvard University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

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25. How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critiques) Starts Oct. 1

How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this Boot Camp starting Oct. 1, 2014, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. You’ll also work with an agent online to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel. As always, seats in the boot camp are limited, and many WD camps sell out — so consider signing up sooner rather than later.

 

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This Boot Camp will cover a range of important questions:

– What keeps an agent reading? What makes writing jump off the page?
– What are the most common Chapter 1 mistakes that make them stop reviewing your submission?
– What are the steps you need to give your query and manuscript the best possible shot?
– What are the turn-ons and turn-offs when it comes to queries?
– How do agents make judgment calls?
– And much more.

With real-life examples of queries that do and don’t work, you will learn how you can refine your own query letter and get an agent to request your novel.The world of literary agencies can be an intimidating place. You’ll be lead through the inner-workings of finding the perfect literary agent, working with an agent and how to get the most out of your relationship. See what a day in the life of an agent looks like, and get tips about how to find your perfect author-agent match that will result in a successful partnership.

The best part is that you’ll be working directly with a knowledgeable and experienced agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work.

Here’s how it works:

On October 1, you will gain access to a special 60-minute online tutorial presented by agents at the Dijkstra Literary Agency. It will explain the submission process of submitting to an agent, what they find appealing in a query letter and what an author-agent relationship looks like from the inside. You will also be notified by email which agent you’ll be working with Monday afternoon.

From 10:00 am to 1:00 pm (PT) on October 2, instructors will be available to answer questions and provide additional feedback via the Writer’s Digest University message boards. Only registered students can access these boards. You’ll also be able to ask question of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers.

After listening to the presentation and participating in the discussion sessions, you’ll be able to revise your query & first 5 double-spaced pages as necessary. Then, you’ll email those pages directly to Jill Marr, Elise Capron, Thao Le, Jessica Watterson, or Roz Foster, by the end of the day on Thursday. They will spend 10 days reviewing their assigned critiques and providing feedback as to what works and what doesn’t.

Please note that any one of the instructing agents may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise.

In addition to feedback from instructing agents, attendees will also receive:

– Download of “An Agent’s Tips on Story Structures that Sell,” an on-demand webinar by Andrea Hurst
1-year subscription to the WritersMarket.com literary agent database

PLEASE NOTE: No Additional discounts are available. All sales are final. If you have a preferred agent you would like to work with, please notify WDU after registering.

RECAP ON DATES:

Wednesday, October 1 – Access to Tutorial
Thursday, October 2 – Blackboard Discussion 10 am to 1 pm (PT)
Friday, October 3 – Materials due to agents
Monday, October 13 – All critiqued materials due back to attendees

About the Instructors:

ELISE CAPRON is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She also manages the SDLA office and works closely with Sandra Dijkstra on author development and management. She is most interested in serious, character-driven literary fiction and well-written narrative non-fiction (particularly serious history with a good story).A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing, and served on the editorial staff of the Emerson Review for several years. She interned at Harcourt and the Dijkstra Agency before joining the agency full-time in late 2003.Elise is interested in fiction that has unforgettable writing, a terrific narrative voice/tone, and memorable characters. She loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She aims to work with writers who are getting their work published regularly in magazines and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Some of Elise’s recent and soon-to-be-published fiction titles include Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead) and How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf); Rachel Toor’s On The Road to Find Out (FSG); Jonathon Keats’ The Book of the Unknown (Random House); Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke (Coffee House Press); Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (Small Beer Press), which was picked as a “Top 10 Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly; Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf); Peter Plate’s Soon the Rest Will Fall (Seven Stories Press); and more.

On the non-fiction front, Elise is looking for fascinating true stories told in a compelling way. Currently, Elise is especially interested in working with up-and-coming scholars (particularly historians) who are looking to transition from the academic market to a trade readership. Some of Elise’s recent and soon-to-be-published non-fiction titles include Jack Shuler’s The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose (Public Affairs) and Blood and Bone: Truth and Reconciliation in a Southern Town (University of South Carolina Press); Leo Braudy’s Haunted; Jane Vandenburgh’s The Wrong Dog Dream: A True Romance (Counterpoint); Jonathon Keats’ Forged: Why Fakes Are the Great Art of Our Age (Oxford University Press); Cynthia Barnett’s Blue Is the New Green: An American Water Ethic (Beacon); Billy Smith’s Ship of Death: The Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World (Yale); and more.

Please note that Elise is specifically not interested in: fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, sci-fi, business books, cookbooks, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or self-help. And while she is interested in narrative non-fiction, please note that she takes on very little memoir.

JILL MARR is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.She graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 15 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads for Pages, the literary magazine for people who love books, and continues to write book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find the “hook” and sell it.

Jill is interested in commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense and horror, women’s commercial fiction and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors who are getting their work published regularly and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of history, sports, politics, current events, self-help, cookbooks, memoir, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor and music.

Some of Jill’s recent and soon-to-be-published non-fiction includes the Travel Channel’s Nick Groff’s Chasing Spirits (NAL); Maybe We’ll Have You Back (Skyhorse) by actor Fred Stoller; Get Over It (Seal Press) by Christina Pesoli; Doulas A. Wissing’s Funding Our Enemy (Prometheus Books); Why We Love Serial Killers (Skyhorse) by Scott Bonn; America’s Greatest “Failing” School (Nation Books) by journalist Kristina Rizga; Don’t Lick the Minivan (Skyhorse) by Leanne Shirtliffe; William Jones’ More Than the Dream: The Untold Story of the March on Washington (Norton); Rocking the Pink (Seal Press) by singer-songwriter Laura Roppé; Stop Reading Baby Books (Skyhorse) by JJ Keith; Drunks: America’s Search for Sobriety by Christopher Finan; and Argyle Armada: Life with America’s Top Pro Cycling Team (VeloPress) by Mark Johnson.

Some of Jill’s new and upcoming fiction includes Bloodman andAmerican Woman (Thomas & Mercer) by Robert Pobi; Reckless Disregard (Seven Stories Press) by Robert Rotstein; Three Souls(HarperCollins) by Janie Chang; Madam (Plume) by Cari Lynne and Kellie Martin; The Cordell Logan thriller series (The Permanent Press) by David Freed; Benefit of the Doubt (Tor/Forge) by Neal Griffin;Garbo’s Last Stand (Entranced) by Jon Miller; The Crossroads thriller series (Thomas & Mercer) by Eyre Price; The Dog Year (Berkley) by Ann Garvin; The Change Your Name Store (Sky Pony Press) by Leanne Shirliffe; and the Jaden Terrell series that includes the Shamus Award nominee Racing the Devil and A Cup Full of Midnight (The Permanent Press).

Please note that Jill is specifically not interested in: YA, children’s books, sci-fi, romance or anything involving unicorns.

ROZ FOSTER is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She works from New York. She has a B.A. in English Literature from UC San Diego, studied philosophy for a year at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and earned her M.A. in English, with an emphasis in composition & rhetoric and creative writing, from Portland State University. At PSU, she taught writing in exchange for tuition. She’s been learning French since 2009.Roz spent over five years as a qualitative researcher in high-tech consumer products marketing. In 2008, she co-founded a web design company for which she provided non-profit organizations with audience-focused market research, project planning, and digital design. She joined SDLA in 2013.

Roz is interested in non-fiction in the areas of cultural studies, sociology, business, history, politics, current affairs, science and design. She looks for driven, narrative storytelling and sharp concepts that have the potential to transcend their primary audience. She’s also interested in literary and commercial fiction, literary YA with crossover potential for the adult market, and literary sci-fi. In fiction, she looks for a resonant, lively voice; rich, irresistible language; characters with compelling development arcs; and a mastery of dramatic structure. Across the board, she’s looking for books that make her feel like the author is tuned into a rising revolution — cultural, political, literary, or whatnot — that’s about to burst on the scene.

Please note that Roz is specifically not interested in: sports, cookbooks, screenplays, poetry, romance, fantasy, or children’s books.

THAO LE handles finances and selected contracts at the Dijkstra Agency. She is also an agent. Thao is looking to acquire adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror, New Adult, YA and Middle Grade. She enjoys both gritty, dark narratives and fantastically quirky stories. She is also looking for light-hearted, funny, and moving contemporary YAs with a raw, authentic teen voice. She’s particularly drawn to memorable characters, smart-mouthed dialogue, strong plots, and tight writing. Her favorite books are ones that reimagine familiar tales and tropes in a completely fresh new way and she has a soft spot for multicultural stories and lush settings. Recent sales include: Katherine Harbour’s fantasy, THORN JACK (Harper Voyager), Lisa Freeman’s surf YA, HONEY GIRL (Sky Pony Press), IPPY Award Winning S.K. Falls’ NA (Forever Yours), and James Kendley’s paranormal thriller, THE DROWNING GOD (Harper Voyager Impulse). Thao is NOT looking for: Biographies, business books, cook books, memoirs, picture books, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, self-help, short stories, travel books.

JESSICA WATTERSON graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in Sociocultural Anthropology and English. Jessica has made books a serious part of her life for many years. Jessica is most interested in all subgenres of adult and new adult romance, and women’s fiction. She is looking for heartfelt and unique romance that will instantly draw a reader in and keep them hooked.

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