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Terra Elan McVoy is a book hero in my neighborhood. Not only has she helped run the Decatur Book Festival (next weekend!) and our local children's bookstore, Little Shop of Stories, I've had the great pleasure to watch her writing career take off and blossom into a book-a-year phenomenon. So, I'm thrilled to help promote her latest (6th) novel, IN DEEP. Terra stopped by to talk about it...
When someone gets praise or wins something and I don’t—even someone I genuinely like—I can think surprisingly mean things about them.
In certain situations I push myself to be intimidating, just so I don’t get scared.
Sometimes I have to think of people as less-than-people so they don’t distract me from my own goals.
No matter how well a behavior, relationship, or routine works for you, every now and then life forces you to change it in order to survive.
Superiority feels better than inferiority.
In the summer of 2012, these thoughts were all floating in my brain, but I wasn’t paying much attention to them. Instead I, and just about the rest of the country, was distracted by the London Olympics, and especially swimming. Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Missy Franklin were everywhere in those weeks. Phelps alone was proving to be one of the greatest swimmers possibly ever, as he became the most decorated Olympian of all time, at the age of only 27. Watching him was stupendous, exciting, and inspiring, but as medal after medal kept coming—so many broken world records—all I could think was: The best thing that guy has to look forward to now is being in a Subway commercial. I was horrified a couple years later when I actually saw him in one. Days after the closing ceremonies, I was still thinking. Phelps had announced he was retiring, and I wondered what it would be like to have disciplined yourself so hard for something that was over so fast. He had tons of sponsorships, so I guessed he could do whatever he wanted next, but this was a young man who’d spent over three-quarters of his life in the pool. What was it going to be like, now that all the glory was over? Didn’t seem like it would be a very smooth adjustment. The whole thing made me curious. And just as was the case when I started my novel Criminal, my Florida State University Creative Writing mentor’s words came to my head: “Write what you want to understand.” Fortunately, I already had a character who was a swimmer, and who was having trouble with normal society. Her name was Brynn Polonowski, and she was the camp Bad Girl in my third novel, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts. As a secondary character, I hadn’t given Brynn a lot of backstory—her being a swimmer had been relatively arbitrary. She was, however, a great rabble-rouser and troublemaker. She also countered the Winthrop sisters’ pro-camp attitudes, and served as someone who longed for sisterly closeness, but remained an outsider. My cousin’s main comment when she finished the book was, “What’s up with this Brynn character? She is pretty interesting.” (Terra's fave writing spot.)
So after the Olympics, I let myself think about Brynn more. What was up with her? Why was she such a rebel? Why did she so badly want to be included, but fail at being a real friend? Was she, for some reason, having to rethink her life as a swimmer? What would lead her to that decision? What was her story? These questions about Brynn all dovetailed rather nicely into my Olympics musings, but they also brought more personal themes to the surface. Writing, just like swimming, is a solitary sport. It’s very easy to become achievement-focused. Anyone and everyone can be your competition—and not just other writers. On deadline, when time is precious, friends and family, social events and cultural experiences are all vying for your attention, too. Sometimes it’s easier to shut it all out. But in disciplining yourself to produce every day it’s equally easy to forget to live. Writing Brynn’s struggle around the difference between being “the best” and being her best self helped me remember things I already know, but could always be reminded of: That the people who love you are vital, and even great success is temporary. That how you recover from setbacks is more important than not having them in the first place. That what you achieve is far from the sum total of who you are, and that your life is valuable not because of what you accomplish, but simply because you are. Brynn is still struggling with these things, even at the end of In Deep, but I gained a lot of insight from writing it. I hope you will too as you read. Many thanks, Terra Elan McVoy Author of Pure, After the Kiss, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, Being Friends with Boys, and 2014 Edgar Award finalist Criminal http://terraelan.com
GIVEAWAY! Terra is generously giving away a free, signed and dedicated copy of IN DEEP to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below!
I'm pleased to share the debut issue of StoryMonsterink.com details and link… From Lynda Exley, Editor-in-Chief… "I can't tell you how excited I am to help teachers, librarians and homeschoolers learn about the latest and greatest titles, get to know authors and illustrators who visit schools, learn about award-winning books, gather a few teaching aids, and most of all, help students become story monsters like me in this monthly monster digest! Please click the link below to view this month's issue. Next month's issue will only be available by subscription, so don't forget to enter your email address in the box to subscribe! It's free! StoryMonster Ink." The issue includes a listing of the 2014 Purple Dragonfly winners as well as my school visit advertisement. Please share with your network! Wishing you an inspirational day!
Best wishes, Donna M. McDine Multi Award-winning Children's Author
Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!
Connect with Donna McDine on Google+ A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Favorite Five Star Review
Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
The winner of the 2014 Benjamin Saltman Award will be announced in 2015. Established in 1998, in honor of the poet Benjamin Saltman (1927-1999), this award is for a previously unpublished original collection of poetry. Awarded collection is selected through an annual competition which is open to all poets. This year’s final judge will be Douglas Kearney. Award is $3000 and publication of the awarded collection by Red Hen Press.
Entry fee is $25.00. Name on cover sheet only, 48 page minimum. Send SASE for notification. Entries must be postmarked by August 31.
As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story.
Description: having heightened powers of observation and exceptional body language reading skills that allow one to deduce things that others cannot, leaving many to believe some sort of psychic ability is involved.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: because the key to mentalism is the ability to see past deception and facades, appearing good-natured and nonthreatening will encourage others to put their guard down. A background in human psychology gives a mentalist insight into human behavior and motives, which allows them to make judgements about who they are and what they believe in. Armed with this knowledge, they will be able to deduce facts in a way others cannot. Having a way with words will allow the mentalist to ask the right questions to elicit a “tell” that can then be harvested for information. Sharp eyesight will allow them to notice micro-gestures in the split-second that they appear, which acts as breadcrumbs of true emotion. Mentalists are also skilled in mind tricks (the power of suggestion, reverse psychology, leading questions, misdirection, etc.) and utilize them to appear to read minds or somehow access information in a way that seems impossible.
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, focused, alert, intelligent, shrewd, persuasive, crafty, controlled, friendly, unconventional, creative, curious, charismatic, mysterious, charming
Required Resources and Training: understanding human psychology and emotions, having exceptional body language reading skills through exhaustive practice and some working knowledge of hypnosis and/or the power of suggestion will all hep a mentalist hone his craft.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
magicians who use mentalism in conjunction with sleight-of-hand can become very effective at manipulating audiences through illusions
police or other law enforcement personnel in the course of interviewing suspects and determining what is truth and what is not
those who practice psychological torture, where secrets must be uncovered
politicians who must persuade and inspire in order to retain support
lawyers during jury selections, and then later at reading the jury during the trial, allowing them to revamp their strategy if needed
anyone in a position of leadership or power, where retaining control is difficult and may depend on being able to uncover enemies before they attack (criminal organizations, for example)
You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.
If you appreciate children's literature and want to know the stories behind your favorite stories, pick up WILD THINGS! written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter D. Sieruta. Packed from cover-to-cover with funny stories and little known facts about famous authors, secret feuds, inspired illustrations, and classic characters, this is a great resource for readers and writers alike. The authors - all three proud bibliophiles and bloggers - clearly had fun putting this book together.
Little Willow: This book is filled with anecdotes. Is anyone in your family a master of tall tales?
Betsy: In my family we've all had a predilection towards storytelling, but then I went and married a clear cut storyteller as well. Now I'm so steeped in them that it's only natural that a book like this would be the result. Here in New York City a children's literature gathering often involves members of the old guard (people who've been working in the field for decades) so you get all kinds of fascinating stories. Seems only natural that they should have ended up in a book at some point. As for me, I actually prefer to hear anecdotes to telling them, but some of them are just too good NOT to tell.
Jules: My family isn't necessarily filled with storytellers, but I'm fascinated by storytelling. In fact, I once took a grad course on the very subject, and I loved every second of it. For my final course project, I memorized every word of Rudyard Kipling's "The Elephant's Child." That is a wonderful story to tell. I no longer have it memorized word-for-word, but it'd probably not be that challenging to re-learn, since it's probably still hiding in the cobwebbed corners of my brain. "In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk...." (I love that singular beginning.)
Little Willow: That's impressive. Did any of the real-life stories change how you viewed a particular author or book?
Betsy: Well, I don't think I'll ever look at The Cricket in Times Square the same way again. That's all I'll say.
Jules: There's a very tender story about James Marshall and his mother, a story that didn't make it into our book. We did, however, share it at the site, where we are sharing stories cut from our manuscript. I'm a big Marshall fan, but this made me want to learn even more about him.
Little Willow: How did the three of you come together to write this book? Who had the first inkling that you should and would write a book together?
Betsy: That was me. I had this notion that there were some pretty amazing bloggers out there and that their sites would naturally adapt into a book format pretty well. Ironically, of the three blogs that came together here (A Fuse #8 Production, Collecting Children's Books, and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) mine is probably the least book-worthy. But I've an eye for talent and these guys were talented. So I reached out to them and asked if they'd be keen to work together on something. As luck would have it, they were!
Little Willow: Describe the writing process. How did you divvy up tasks between the three of you?
Betsy: First we decided which chapters should be in the book. Then we pooled all the stories we wanted to tell. Once each story was slotted into the right chapter we assigned chapters. There was a lot of swapping of stories between chapters and a lot of rewriting and editing of one another. That may account for the single "voice" found in the book.
Jules: Yep, we each worked on assigned chapters and then passed them around. We made suggestions for editing, adding, deleting, you-name-it. At one point, Peter and I were working on the same chapter and didn't even realize it. So, we eventually merged what we'd written. Whew. That worked out well!
Little Willow: What's your favorite part about collaborations? What does working with others bring out of you?
Betsy: For me, it makes me more confident about the final product. When I write something entirely on my own I may love it but there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that says I could have done more. When I work with other people who are as smart as Peter and Jules, that little voice disappears. I can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that no matter how much I screw up, they'll be there to point me in the right direction. It's an enormous relief, I can tell you.
Jules: I learned so much more about writing, I think, just by watching Betsy and Peter do their thing. And when someone edits your work, you learn TONS. I feel like if I'm a better writer at the close of this project, it's thanks to them. I love collaborating. I mean, no one likes, say, those grad school projects where you're stuck with people who don't pull their own weight OR you're assigned to a topic you hate, but if I dig my partners-in-crime and I love the subject, I'd much rather work in a group.
Little Willow: As a kid, did you have any teachers, librarians, or booksellers that you went to regularly to get (and give) book recommendations?
Betsy: Nope. And what's more, I couldn't tell you single one of their names. That said, my mom worked in an independent bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan and she was always suggesting books or handing books to me. My Aunt Judy was the same, so that's where I found the bulk of my recommended literature.
Jules: I didn't read a TON when I was a kid, which is why I'm trying to get caught up now! I did have a high school English lit and drama teacher who really got me fired up about reading, and I'm still friends with her. She's one of those amazing teachers you'd like to clone.
Little Willow: What aspects of blogging do you find the most enjoyable?
Betsy: I think it's a combination of the pleasure of the regularity (I am required to blog four times a week on my site), the fact that I can highlight books, people, or events that may not be getting a lot of publicity (I always alternate big publishers with little publishers in my reviews), and the different ways in which I can make my opinions known.
Jules: Hands down, I love the community. I love getting to know those folks who are as passionate about children's lit as I am. It's even better when you get to meet them in person.
Little Willow: How has blogging has changed how you read and recommend books, and how you interact with readers and authors?
Betsy: Since I work for New York Public Library and blog for School Library Journal I see a LOT of books in a given year, but there's always this sense that I'm not seeing ALL the books. And boy howdy do I want to see absolutely everything. So blogging, for me, is a way of filling in the gaps. It also allows me to recommend sites to friends who are looking to specialize in certain areas.
Jules: Well, before blogging I rarely interacted with authors and illustrators, but since I do a lot of interviews, I talk to many of them now on a pretty regular basis. As for how blogging has changed my reading habits, I tend to have less time for novels (though I still read them as much as I can), since I'm blogging about picture books and illustration. But it's worth it. I love writing about picture books and art.
Little Willow: What books did you love as a child that you still love just as much today?
Betsy: I was recently weeding my bookshelves, so this question was already in my mind. On my part, I think I'll always love Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep, various Steven Kellogg titles, The Secret Garden, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and any number of Apple paperbacks found via the Scholastic Book Fairs.
Jules: Shel Silverstein, the Grimm Brothers, Trina Schart Hyman, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary.
Little Willow: Would you rather travel with Max to meet the Wild Things, or go with Harry Potter and attend Hogwarts?
Betsy: Hogwarts. Is there any question? I wonder about folks who would say Wild Things. You'd have to be a very particular kind of person, I suspect. For me, there's no contest.
Jules: The Wild Things, without any doubt. Because maybe perhaps possibly if Sendak is there, too, we can chat.
Little Willow: Would you rather visit Narnia or Never Never Land?
Betsy: That is a very hard question. I go back and forth. Narnia, I guess. Though they both dwell in very distinct metaphors. But I should like to see a faun, so Narnia wins.
Jules: You're going to think I'm just saying the opposite of Betsy now, just to mix things up, but honestly I'd go to Never Never Land. I want to meet Mrs. Darling first, though.
Little Willow: Would you rather have a sip at the tea party in Wonderland or snag a treat from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?
Betsy: Wonka. Admittedly, you'd never be entirely certain what the Wonka treat would do to you, but I also suspect that the food at that tea party can't be entirely hygienic (there's a dormouse in one of the teapots, for crying out loud!). Plus there's always a chance that Wonka will look like Gene Wilder and I've always had a hardcore crush on that guy.
Jules: Well, given the theme of my blog, I gotta attend the Mad Tea-Party, yes?
Little Willow: Would you rather have the job of The Giver or be the head gamemaker for the Hunger Games?
Betsy: I don't think I'm skilled enough to pass muster as a gamemaker. I suspect I'd construct some little landscape and forget to do something essential like install the video cameras. And I'm always telling and retelling stories of the past ad nauseum anyway, so maybe I'm halfway to Giver-ship already!
Jules: Oh, The Giver! Definitely that. I recently read that book again---this time I read it aloud to my daughters---and it blows my mind how good it is.
SUPREMELY TALENTED ARTIST DAVE TAYLOR, AMAZING CREATOR CHRISTIAN WARD and ACCLAIMED WRITER JOHN-PAUL KAMATH ANNOUNCED AS FURTHER GUESTS FOR MALTA COMIC CONVENTION 2014!
(WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE)
Wicked Comics are proud to announce that internationally renowned creators Dave Taylor (Judge Dredd), and Christian Ward (The Infinite Vacation) as well as lauded writer/publisher John-Paul Kamath (London Horror Comic) will be joining Yishan Li, Rufus Dayglo, Andrew Wildman, Guillermo Ortego, Steve Scott, Mickey Lam, Mike Collins, Shaky Kane and Cliodhna as guests for the Malta Comic Con (MCC) 2014 which will be held on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th November at St. James Cavalier (all floors), Valletta, between 10am – 6pm on Saturday and 11am – 7pm on Sunday.
"The Malta Comic Con is an amazing event - it's held in a spectacular setting, the crowd are so enthusiastic and friendly and engaging! There was a fabulous display of skill and creativity from foreign and local creators so lots for attendees to get their teeth into. I was incredibly well-looked after by the staff, who made such great effort to ensure that I had everything I needed and ensured I had a great time both at the convention itself and outside sight-seeing and sampling local cuisine! I can't recommend it enough ♥". (Sonia Leong, 2012).
Touring rock drummer turned comic book creator Dave Taylor has worked on many mainstream books with many highly respected writers including Batman with Matt Wagner, Alan Grant, Karl Kesel and Chip Kidd, Judge Dredd with John Wagner, Alan Grant, Robbie Morrison and Ian Edginton, Arzak with Jean Moebius Giraud and Prophet with Brandon Graham.
His Batman: Death by Design, with Chip Kidd, is a New York Times best seller...twice! Taylor has also contributed design work for computer games, TV and Film.
He is currently working on the first Doctor Who comic book to feature the new Doctor, Pater Capaldi, written by Robbie Morrison.
Christian Ward is a London-based illustrator, comic artist and writer.
Alongside being the main cover artist on Dynamite's Dr Spektor with Mark Waid, he's also a regular cover artist at Marvel. Past comic-book projects include Image Comics' best seller The Infinite Vacation with Nick Spencer and Olympus with Nathan Edmondson. He's also worked with Matt Fraction on 'The Time Ben Fell In Love' a DHP Short and Kieron Gillen on Young Avengers. This April he was featured as part of the Guardian and British Library's Comic Unmasked project collaborating on a new comic with Margaret Atwood.
This November sees the release of ODY-C a new Image ongoing with Matt Fraction.
John-Paul Kamath is best known as the writer and publisher of London Horror Comic. Since appearing on the scene in 2006, London Horror Comic has become the UK’s most critically acclaimed horror anthology, culminating in it winning “Best Horror Anthology” in the Horror News Network awards. The book which is currently in its 8th year of publication has drawn praise from within and outside the field of comics for its mix of comedy and humour drawing kudos from the likes of Garth Ennis, Comedian Stewart Lee and The Horror Channel in the UK.
“Both Dave Taylor and Christian Ward have been heavily recommended to us by previous Malta Comic Con guests and we’re glad that we finally found the opportunity to welcome them to our show. We have no doubt that the combination of talent and pleasant personality that both these creators posses will have a positive impact on this year’s event. Similarly, John-Paul Kamath has been recommended to us by one of this year’s guests and considering how much the public enjoyed the presence of T-Pub and their flagship anthology Twisted Dark last year we are certain that London Comic Horror would leave its mark in Malta. The presence of Taylor, Ward and Kamath as well as that of the other guests has us all enthusiastically looking forward to the Malta Comic Con 2014 and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their participation and look forward to hosting them here” said Chris Le Galle co-founder of Wicked Comics.
As customary Wicked Comics have designed a number of packages for fans wishing to travel to the Malta Comic Con from abroad, which include heavily discounted accommodation rates and local transport from hotel to convention centre. Similarly Wicked Comics have a number of packages tailored for foreign creators who wish to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con including heavily discounted tables.
Each year Artsmith grants up to five Artist Residency Fellowships for artists, scholars, and writers to have one week of focused time to create new works. The 2015 residency takes place January 4-11 on Orcas Island in Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Fellows stay in individual rooms with private baths as guests of Artsmith and Kangaroo House Bed and Breakfast, and have access to the inn's amenities, including wireless Internet and garden hot tub. Five dinners are provided during the residency. Fellows are responsible for all other meals. Being within walking distance of the beach, library, coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and Darvill's Bookstore, and only a few miles from Moran State Park and Turtleback Preserve, residents have no shortage of inspirational sustenance.
Visual artists, please note that Artsmith does not have artist studios, much as we wish we did. As a result, the residency is best suited for artists who do not require use of a studio. If in doubt, please email us at info @ orcasartsmith.org to inquire.
The Selection Process The Artsmith Peer Review Panel, comprised of artists, writers, and scholars, selects Fellows based primarily on two main criteria:
1. How well the proposed work will benefit from the residency setting 2. Do the statement of intent and work sample reflect originality and evidence of pushing the boundaries of craft
The makeup of the Peer Review Panel changes each year, but is always selected to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the residency.
To Apply For the January 4 to 11, 2015 Artsmith Artist Residency, applications will be accepted until September 30, 2014.
1. Cover letter, including residency statement of intent, contact info for two recommenders, and commitment that you can spend the entire week in residency (maximum 250 words to be pasted in online form). 2. Artists: Up to three digital work samples; Writers: Up to 10 pages writing sample in one file 3. $35 application fee
Previous Fellows, please wait two years after your last residency to reapply. 2013 Fellows may apply for the 2015 residency.
I found myself in a twitter conversation about Christian YA books, and I thought, “Hey, someone ought to write one for the Satanic kids.” I think I tweeted out the first few paragraphs almost exactly as they appear in the final draft.
How long did you work on the book?
Off and on for a couple of years; I’d work on it to amuse myself during downtime, then tell myself to get back to work on the other projects that I thought would be more commercial. I hadn’t done a YA book with a guy narrator in five or six years; my publisher back then told me they were hard to sell, and I was better off either writing more girls or switching to middle grade. I did a little of both.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
Well, this is my sixteenth book, counting nonfiction, a couple written under other names, etc. In any given year I’ll write 3-5 books; maybe a third of the ones I write get published. The rest get used for parts; there are a couple of scene in PLAY ME BACKWARDS that are partly drawn from an unfinished one about younger versions of the characters called TAKE THIS TEST AND SHOVE IT, and others come from an old graphic novel script. If you want to go back further in time, I wrote three or four full novels before the first one that came out. The first one I wrote when I was fifteen or sixteen, the first one that was published came out when I was twenty-six.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I get up and go to work every morning, usually at the closest coffee shop to my house. Putting together playlists, creating an atmosphere, etc are really just excuses not to work. But I do them all the time. Some songs one every version of the playlist for this project include “DC Comics and Chocolate MIlkshakes” by Art Brut, “Stay Hungry” by Twisted Sister, “Thinking of You" by Katy Perry (I always had visions of publishers making me use a Katy Perry song as the title) and “Ask Her for Adderall” by the Hold Steady. And lots of The Mountain Goats.
What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I hate to say it, but the most practical advice anyone can give is “follow the trends and stick to the formula.” I only manage to do so off and on, but the difference in how interested people are in the books when I do is pretty shocking.
My parents bought our town cemetery when I was in middle school, around the time a bunch of really random deaths were happening in the close circle of our family and friends. It was a pretty harsh and rapid introduction to death and mourning for a young kid, and the way our parents guided mine and my siblings' responses to the sadness around us was always kind of baffling to me. As we grew up and each worked different jobs in the graves, my sisters and I would encounter people and events that were at turns heartbreaking and beautiful and confusing and just awful and our responses were constantly monitored and often mocked. It was messed up! I've always written, all my life, and I think this story, many versions of it, began forming when I was maybe twelve years old.
How long did you work on the book?
The first incarnation of the book was as a full length play, part of my grad school thesis in Playwriting. I wrote the play in 2000, then began the prose version of the story when my daughter started pre-school in 2006. It took two years to write, a year to revise. So really, I guess thirteen years? Yikes.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
SIX FEET OVER IT is the first novel I've written. It took me a year to land an agent, and once I did she bravely led me through a year of doing spec revisions for several editors who "Loved" the MS, but wanted changes. I would revise for months to each editor's liking, then they would ultimately turn it down. This happened five or six times, until Random House bought it in 2011. The book is completely different in many ways from the initial version, and once Random bought it it went through several more revisions. Not at all easy, not a road for easily bruised egos or wishy-washy agents. My agent is AMAZING. So is my editor. I won the literary lottery and I'm grateful every day for those two unbelievably talented women and everyone at Random who brought this book to life.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I recently moved to Seattle from San Francisco where I at last have the writer's dream: a home office. My ritual is blessed and rigid: I run every morning at 7am, take my daughter to school at 8am, shower and do errands till 10am and then it is ON. People better not mess with me from the hours of 10am-3pm because I AM WRITING. I take breaks, of course, but that's WRITING TIME. I listen to music, religiously. I've written every word of every play and story and book I've worked on since 1998 listening to one artist: Enya. She is just perfect! Moody and easily tucked into the back of my mind. I love my office, and am incredibly grateful my husband and I have figured out how to make it work for me to take care of things at home and write. Still though, there are days I have to leave the house and go to a coffee shop or the library or I'll be distracted by the never-ending laundry and dirty dish piles.Seattle is a haven of writers who are so generous and I've been lucky enough to start having writing dates with some of them, which are incredibly productive. When I'm revising things shut down and my family is like, "Are we ever going to eat or have clean underwear again?" The answer is, of course, sure. As soon as I'm finished with this revision, People.
What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Before you begin, make sure you've got at least a basic grasp of the main tenants of sentence structure and grammar. And plotting prose. READ. All the time, and make note of why you love what you love and hate what you hate, what confuses you and delights you and WHY. Outline. It may work for you. Write the book that won't leave your mind alone, the story that nags you night and day. Find an agent who loves your book for the same reasons you do, same goes for an editor, and then trust them. And trust yourself. Trust your story and why you wrote it. Two books I could now never do without: ON WRITING by Stephen King and THE ELEMENTS OF STLYE by Strunk/White/Kalman, a book suggested by King in ON WRITING. In a sea of books about how or why to write, they are all I will ever need.
There were a couple of mosque burnings in the news. I posted on my FB page, "We all serve one Creator," meaning Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, whomever. A teen slapped me, saying, "It's awfully arrogant of you to think I have to believe in anything at all. I'm an atheist." That interested me as a storyline....
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I broke in as a freelance journalist and did that for a number of years. Some of the stories I wrote seemed like they'd make interesting nonfiction children's books. I was already involved with SCBWI and thought I'd write picture books--not my skill set! But I was learning the children's publishing industry that way and published 20 nonfiction children's books before the story idea for CRANK hit me. I met an editor from S & S at a conference, showed her ten pages of CRANK, and the book sold with only 75 pp complete. RUMBLE is my 11th YA with S & S.
What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write honestly. Write courageously. Don't write to trends. Create a new one!
Creative Odyssey Enterprises and Africa House Announces Its Debut Heart of a Woman African-American Emerging Women Writers 40 and Over Writers Residency Program in Gallatin, TN for October 2014. application instructions are here.
Several lucky women will be selected to receive a two-week writing fellowship, which includes free room, board and meals, and various other perks, as they spend 14 lovely days of uninterrupted time to create, while relaxing in an historic, elegant, harmonious mansion; nestled in the gloriously plush landscaped beauty of nature and copious verdant meadows; to stimulate the muse and allow the recipients time and space to engage in creative revelry as they write, stretch their imagination, begin a new project, or to continue and complete an ongoing project.
Africa House is an elegant, expansive, historic mansion in Gallatin, TN, built on more than 30 acres of gorgeous landscape, and boasts 16,330 square ft., of luscious living. This is an elite setting where dignitaries, ambassadors, corporate leaders and other luminaries have stayed as guests of Dr. Arikana Chihombori and her husband, Dr. Nil-Saban Quao.
Africa House with its spirit of Ujamma (collective work together), also welcomes and promotes the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity working toward a common goal). Thus, we are very pleased to add the creative fervor of a variety of writing energies from several very talented emerging women writers 40 and over; to build yet another portal which supports the creative spirit in the literary arts.
Heart of a Woman's annual commitment is to develop an excellent venue, in which talented African-American Emerging Women Writers 40 and Over, can thrive, create and ultimately complete projects; once they've been granted an opportunity to devote a significant amount of uninterrupted time and concentration toward working on a particular literary project. This necessary respite affords a writer the luxury of solitude, to ruminate with their muse, conjure up new works or continue with works-in-progress; which may not be as easily accomplished while maintaining a full life of marriage with children, or single parenting, grand parenting, or full-time employment.
Our ultimate goal is to provide a dream-come-true atmosphere, conducive to creating the kind of solitude that evokes inspiration, and allows each writer the freedom to connect with the passion of her muse, in a fuller, deeper experience; which encourages exploration of one's truest voice.
Who doesn’t enjoy a well-drawn curmudgeon? Children’s books are rife with them. From dour Eeyore moping about the Hundred Acre Wood to the irritable Mary Poppins, they come in all shapes and species. Proudly singular, such cantankerous characters are invariably exasperating, endearing and entertaining all at the same time. And now along comes Jennifer L. Holm with a doozy. Best known for her works of historical fiction, three of which have won Newbery Honors (“Our Only May Amelia,” “Penny From Heaven,” “Turtle in Paradise”), and the graphic novel series “Babymouse,” Holm uses a surprising twist to bring us a particularly memorable grouch in her latest, “The Fourteenth Goldfish.”
That’s the beginning of my very enthusiastic review of The Fourteenth Goldfish in this weekend’s New York Times Book Review. Read the rest of it here.
CONSEQUENCE magazine, the literary magazine addressing the culture and consequences of war, is currently accepting submissions of fiction and poetry for its Spring 2015 issue. All submissions must be received by October 1st.
Guidelines for submitting can be found on our website.
CONSEQUENCE magazine, the literary magazine addressing the culture and consequences of war, announces the 2014 Consequence Prize in Fiction. The winning story will be published in the Spring 2015 issue and the author will received a cash prize of $250.
Submissions for the contest must be received by October 1st. Please visit our website for submission guidelines.
I have a question for you (I have only read so far back on your blog posts, so I apologize if you have addressed this farther back) regarding anonymity. My first novel that I am working on right now is a bit like Grisham, Crichton, and King having an orgy produced love child with Veronica Mars, including Big Themes about free will, power structures, Biblical metaphors, neuropsychogy, feminism and the nature of creative vs destructive genius all wrapped up in the palatable presentation of a suspense novel from a female perspective (with a tiny bit of sarcastic comic relief interspersed throughout to play with the tension - I have been writing/performing stand-up comedy for 2 years).
I would love to write across genres as I have always been a fan of horror, scifi, fantasy, and suspense. I also would like to avoid fame as long as possible so that I may continue to interact with real humans in order to continue widening my reality tunnel so I can understand as many diverse perspectives as possible.
Would a literary agent take on a writer who has the desire to avoid fame under one name, instead preferring to write under a variety of names, or is the publishing industry as such that they rely on the Cult of Personality to sell books?
I have found that people only pay attention to the message for so long before they begin deifying the messenger instead. I would rather people understand the complex scientific and philosophical concepts I am translatong into more common language through metaphor while enjoying the entertainment aspects instead of just blindly worshipping a favorite author. I am aware that it may sound like hubris to imagine myself as a literary rock star, but I have confidence in my wisdom and understanding of humanity and my ability to convey that in various metaphorical languages for wide audiences.
Given that I would like to remain relatively unknown for as long as possible, should I go the literary agent/publishing house or the self publishing route?
Thanks in advance and I hope that wasn't a duplicate question.
I think you're the perfect candidate for self-publishing. Make sure you hire an excellent book designer, a good copy editor and leave your author photo off the dust jacket.
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Thanks to my sister for recommending this book to me. SUCH a good story. What made the book for me: the main character, Catherine. She is entirely believable, funny and flawed, and I fell in love with her right away. HIGHLY recommended.
Please welcome special guest Anna Campbell to the virtual offices!
Never Leave Home Without… by Anna Campbell
Hi Julie! Thank you so much for asking me to visit Manga Maniac Cafe to talk about my latest release (26th August), WHAT A DUKE DARES, book 3 in the Sons of Sin series.
The story opens with a proposal from my duke Camden Rothermere to his childhood friend Penelope Thorne. A proposal that goes so badly that Pen says no and runs off for the Continent to find refuge with an eccentric aunt.
So what should Pen take with her on her escape?
Plenty of euros. She’s heading for Italy and I can tell you from experience, that’s an expensive destination. Oh, what’s that? This is pre-Euro? Well, what do you know? Actually the subject of Italian currency in the early 19th century when Italy was still a patchwork of different states is enough to give me a headache. Which brings me to…
Given that a certain duke has given her a major headache, Pen will take lots of aspirin with her. What’s that? I’m too early for that too? Poor Pen, she really is missing out on the mod cons in her travels, isn’t she? In the 1820s, when Pen is embarking on her headlong dash, people used to smell aromatic vinegar to cure a headache or use a variety of herbal cures based on things like feverfew, valerian and lavender, some of which I suspect helped.
Comfortable shoes. The half boots that Regency ladies wore were pretty practical and would stand up to the rigors of travel (and running away from marriage-minded aristocrats).
Some good books. Good books never go astray, after all. And given how bad the Continental roads are, especially in the wild corners that Penelope explores with her scholarly aunt, something to read while she waits for the mud to dry or the snow to clear will be very welcome. Hmm, can I suggest the Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell? Hours of entertainment there for a lady looking to pass the time stranded in villages outside Rome or Florence.
A duke-defeating kit. Sadly, Pen left home before I could pass this invaluable piece of equipment to her, including anti-duke spray, a book of anti-etiquette and that informative pamphlet, How to Get Rid of Your Aristos: Start Your Own French Revolution Today. I have a dreadful feeling because Pen left without this, that the Duke of Sedgemoor may just show up again to disrupt her life. And without this kit, she’ll be doomed to all the adventures and passion in the rest of WHAT A DUKE DARES. What a terrible fate! Snerk.
So if you were running off to the Continent then or now, what would you take?
About WHAT A DUKE DARES
What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name. Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over. The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . .
Always a voracious reader, ANNA CAMPBELL decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer. Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Avon historical romances including Romantic TimesReviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill, the Heart of Excellence, the Aspen Gold and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s most popular historical romance (twice). Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and twice for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year.
When she’s not writing passionate, intense stories featuring gorgeous Regency heroes and the women who are their destiny, Anna loves to travel, especially in the United Kingdom, and listen to all kinds of music. She lives near the sea on the east coast of Australia, where she’s losing her battle with an overgrown subtropical garden.
Submissions Call: Iron Horse Literary Review's Bedroom Issue
Deadline Sept. 19, 2014
This February, the movie adaptation of 50 Shades hits theaters, and in response to it and our strong belief that sex can be written so much better, we're putting together the Iron Horse Literary Review Bedroom Issue. We're asking serious writers to take an artistic look at love, intimacy, and the complications of sex. Send stories, poems, and essays that capture private moments and use them to narrate the power of human experience.
For most language learners and lovers, translation is a hot topic. Should I translate new vocabulary into my first language? How can I say x in Japanese? Is this translated novel as good as the original? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that Pushkin isn’t Pushkin unless he’s read in Russian, and I have definitely chastised my own students for anxiously writing out lengthy bilingual wordlists: Paola, you’ll only remember trifle if you learn it in context!
Context-based learning aside, I’m all for translation: without it, we wouldn’t understand each other. However, I remain unconvinced that untranslatable words really exist. In fact, I wrote a blog post on some of my favorite Russian words that touched on this very topic. Looking at the responses it received both here and in the Twitterverse, I decided to set out on my own linguistic odyssey: could I wrap my head around ‘untranslatable’ once and for all?
It’s all Greek to me!
Many lovely people of the internet are in accordance: untranslatable words are out there, and they’re fascinating. A quick Google brings up articles, listicles, and even entire blogs on the matter. Goya, jayus, dépaysement — all wonderful words that neatly convey familiar concepts, but also “untranslatable” words that appear accompanied by an English definition. This English definition may well be longer and more complex than the foreign-language word itself (Oxford translates dépaysement as both “change of scenery” and “disorientation,” for example), but it is arguably a translation nonetheless. A lot of the coffee-break reads popping up on the internet don’t contain untranslatable words, but rather language lacking a word-for-word English equivalent. Is a translation only a translation if it is eloquent and succinct?
Translation vs. definition
When moving from one language to another, what’s a translation and what’s a definition — and is there a difference? Brevity seems to matter: the longer the translation, the more likely it is to be considered a definition. Does this make it any less of a translation? When we translate, we “express sense;” when we define, we “state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning.” If I say that toska (Russian) means misery, boredom, yearning, and anguish, is that a definition or a translation? Or even both? It is arguably a definition — yet all of the nouns above could, dependent on context, be used as the best translation.
If we are to talk about what is translatable and what isn’t, we need to start talking about language, rather than words. The Spanish word duende often features in lists of untranslatable words: it refers to the mystical power by which an artist or artwork captivates its audience. Have I just defined duende, or translated it? I for one am not so sure anymore, but I do know that in context, its meaning is clear: un cantante que tiene duende becomes “a singer who has a certain magic about him.” The same goes for the French word dépaysement. By itself, dépaysement can mean many things, but in the phrase les touristes anglais recherchent le dépaysement dans les voyages dans les îles tropicales, it’s clear from context that the sense required is “change of scene” (“English tourists look for a change of scene on holidays to tropical islands”). Does this mean that all words are translatable, as long they are in context?
Saying no to stereotypes
One of my biggest beefs with untranslatable word memes is the suggestion that these linguistic treasure troves are loaded with cultural inferences. Most of the time they’re twee, rather than offensive: for example, the German word Waldeinsamkeit means “the feeling of being alone in the woods.” Gosh, how typical of those woodland-loving Germans, wandering around the Black Forest enjoying oneness with nature! The existence of an “untranslatable” word hints at some kind of cultural mystery that is beyond our comprehension — but does the lack of a word-for-word translation of Waldeinsamskeit mean that no English speaker (or French speaker, or Mandarin speaker) can understand the concept of being alone in the woods? Of course not! However, these misinterpretations of Waldeinsamskeit, Schadenfreude, Backpfeifengesicht et al. make me think: what about those words that really do have a particular cultural resonance? Can we really translate them?
Excuse me, can I borrow your word?
Specialized translation throws up its own variety of “untranslatable” words. For example, if you are translating a text about the Russian banya into a language where steam baths are not the norm, how do you go about translating nouns such as venik (веник)? A venik is a broom, but in the context of the banya it is a collection of leafy twigs (rather than dried twigs) that is used to beat those enjoying the restorative steam. Translating venik as “broom” here would be wildly inaccurate (and probably generate some amusing mental images). The existence of a word-for-word translation doesn’t provide the whole answer if cultural context is missing. We can find examples of “untranslatable” words in relation to almost any culture-specific event, be it American Thanksgiving, Spanish bullfighting, or Balinese Nyepi. If I were to translate an article about bullfighting and retain tienta rather than use “trial” (significantly less specific), does that mean that tienta in this context is really untranslatable?
So what has all this research taught me about translation? Individual words may not be translatable, but language is. And as for the accuracy of the translation? That often depends on how we, as speakers of a particular language, attribute our own meaning. Sometimes, the “translation” just has to be Schadenfreude.
After I turned this blog back on yesterday I felt the need to get away for a while. To draw near to the Lord. And as I pulled out of the drive it was very obvious there was a power struggle going on. I could feel it in the air. As if there is a battle heading up in huge proportions. I felt as if I were in the middle of it.
I got a milkshake and I did a once through of the thrift shop- went on my way praying over a bed (frame) that would cost about one tenth of the one I had dreamed up in my head for her majesty's birthday present in two weeks. I prayed it would still be there when I had money in hand, and the price would be down to one I feel comfortable paying for a used item. I was just minding my own business. Praying. Seeking. No, not for a bed. For the Lord.
I turned onto the main street, and I began to go up the hill by the hospital (on my way to the river to be alone with the Lord). As I began to accelerate up the hill, a trucker pulled up in the left lane (had his left turn signal on, so I thought, Okay?!). I was in the right lane.
Something said to give that truck the once over so I could identify it. Couldn't figure out why I need to do that, until it began to pull over into the right lane (left turn signal still blinking). He didn't even see me. He kept pulling into my lane where I was. Fear and anger almost overcame me. Finally there was a parking lot right across from the hospital.
If it hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here.
I remember beeping my horn two or three times and the person never even let off the gas. In fact, accelerated. My jaw was to the floor. Seriously. I just looked around. Nobody who had been behind me would let me back into traffic, so I couldn't get the license plate number. I was dumbfounded more than anything.
Here's the thing. It was like I was invisible. Like nobody saw me. Didn't see it happen. I was so freaked out, and nobody even came to my aid. And that was when the devil hit me with, "You are invisible. Nobody is going to help you. They don't care."
Wow. Not so much.
I began to speak the word of God. To pray.
And then I heard the Lord say that it is time for things to break. Not just in me, but in others all around me. And I knew I had to draw away deep within His presence.
I said the words ripple effect.
He said, "No child. Tidal wave."
I am okay with that. Definitely. Just protect me and mine as we all go through this.
So instead of getting into the river, I climbed the hill. The very steep, slick hill. It was about 90% humidity yesterday, and 80+ degrees. But I went. Still frightened and feeling as if something/body had it in for me. Trust me Princesses, your enemy does.
I sat on a towel and I prayed. I felt led to tell the Lord my allegiance is with Him. He knows it, but I know He needed to hear me say it out loud yesterday. There is a huge battle going on in the spirit. And it is heading up to be a war.
Children of God, listen. We have got to get our heads out of the sand. Stop believing that everything will be just fine, and we can continue to keep doing the things we are, committing the same sins over and over. We are lying to ourselves. Self included.
The Lord really does want to set us free. But something has to change. That change begins inside of us, not in the middle of a political party. The word of God says may you prosper, even as your soul prospers. Nothing is going to change in this nation, inside our churches, our homes, our hearts, until we make up our minds that we are done with the game playing.
Stop hiding the porn, and other sexual sins. Stop hiding the excessive drinking in private. Stop hiding the gluttonous appetites and the gimme gimme attitudes. Stop with the envy. Stop with the pride and arrogance. Stop with the anger and unforgiveness and just let go of the hurts of the past.
When we make up our minds that we truly want to change, then, and only then can it be broken and restoration begin.
It starts in the head, and when the head is convinced, then it moves to the heart (or the body...). Once the body catches on, it goes outward, and not just inward. It radiates. Calls out to God like E.T. sending his signals home for mom and dad. Turn on our heart lights. Call out to the Lord. Repentance. Truly sorry for the things we have allowed to go on. Sometimes we don't even know we were allowing something to go on until we begin to ask the Lord to open our eyes to see.
Problem is, some stop right there. They see what is going on and, oh no, please don't make me go there Lord. They run and hide. They are afraid to face it.
If we would seek Him in boldness and not just give the Lord lip-service, we would know that these things inside us HAVE to change if we are ever to be truly usable by the Lord our God. And if we truly have allegiance with Him then we will not shy away from those things which hurt. We will just let the Lord be who He is, and cleanse and purify us from the inside out.
People will get saved. Ministries will grow. Churches will have revival. The Holy Spirit will pour out and create in us newness and new gifts. Fears will melt like ice cream in the heat of a July day. Children will straighten up. Homes will no longer be broken. Life will be so full, instead of empty. Our hearts will be full. There will be less poverty and homelessness. Less sickness and emotional grief. People will be made new. They will understand and feel again.
Wouldn't that be wonderful? That is my hope and my prayer. Join me.
Matthew 7:7-"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
2 Chronicles 7:14- if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
If you have questions, complaints, concerns- email me. If you need prayer, email me. If you need to give your life to the Lord, email me.
If you have been touched by this, please share.
If you have suggestions or comments, feel free. But please, keep them pleasant and positive. We don't go bashing other people's blogs, and we would hope for the same respect here.
These are just some of the beautiful books I've catalogued in the last couple of weeks. I love my work! The oldest – Wee Bits O’ Things by Ernest Aris was published in 1914 and the newest – The Church Mice and the Ring by Grahame Oakley in 1992. The Chalet School & the island, Adventurous Four, My first and second story books and the Tiny Tots annual were all published in the 1950s. Doodles the performing pup is a cardboard puppet ready to cut out and build. Beautiful books - vintage or new they need no words! I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed cataloguing them.
These and many others are available to view or purchase (unless sold) atMarch House Books
Doodles, The Church Mice and the Ring and The Chalet School and the Island are now sold, thank you for your interest.Add a Comment
Written and Illustrated by Stefan Page
Chronicle Books 3/04/2014
Age 1 to 3 14 pages x x “TO MARKET! TO MARKET! We are on our way! Visit local farmers, fill baskets with fresh fruits and vegetables, and then head home to coo a healthy feast all with your goodies from the farmer’s market!”
“To market, to market, we are on our way.”
What little one does not like going to the store with mom and dad? Farmer’s Market takes young children to an open farmer’s market where they can pick out the day’s groceries from assortment of fine stalls with fresh fruit and vegetables. Start at the dairy and pick up eggs, milk, and a slab of cheese. Next pick out fresh vegetables like lettuce, radishes, onions, celery, and potatoes. Now add those fruits. Choose from tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, black berries, mushrooms, and kiwi. With a full basket you are ready to head home.
“To kitchen, to kitchen, we, chop, stew,and bake.”
All that is left now is to wait for our feast and watch Daddy ice the cake. Ready? Let’s eat!
Farmer’s Market is a nice board book for younger children interested in grocery shopping, food, or spending time with mom and dad on errand—this time grocery shopping. The view is that of the child as seen in the line waiting for something, the view is of adult legs and hands holding shopping baskets. Oddly, none of the people with stalls to sell food from have a smile. Their looks are one of disinterest.
The pages are thicker than normal so little fingers have a much harder time tearing them. The pages also have a nice finish that let’s things like peanut butter and jelly wipe off the surface without leaving a stain. And the book is the perfect size (6” x 6”) for little ones to carry and read.
The illustrations in Farmer’s market are basic, making it easier for young kids to understand and know what is illustrated. Each spread has a basic color in the background, such as yellow, green, and orange. The items pictures are large and easy to recognize. Kids will enjoy finding the item you ask them to find, or simply pointing to each and telling you hat it is. They could also then find the same item in your refrigerator or the next time you go to the grocer.
Young children will enjoy reading Farmer’s Market with mom and dad. It can prepare them for an actual trip or help them understand what each item you buy looks like. I think this is sturdy little book for little fingers can help kids learn about basic food, grocery shopping, and enjoying the entire process—especially the cake Dad is icing. Farmer’s Market is Stefan Page’s debut. Also available to enhance the child’s experience are a Farmers’ Market Mobile
and ABC Flash Cards. (images below)
In the first autumn of World War I, a German infantryman from the 25th Reserve Division sent this pithy greeting to his children in Schwarzenberg, Saxony.
11 November 1914
My dear little children!
How are you doing? Listen to your mother and grandmother and mind your manners.
Heartfelt greetings to all of you!
Your loving Papa
He scrawled the message in looping script on the back of a Feldpostkarte, or field postcard, one that had been designed for the Bahlsen cookie company by the German artist and illustrator Änne Koken. On the front side of the postcard, four smiling German soldiers share a box of Leibniz butter cookies as they stand on a grassy, sun-stippled outpost. The warm yellow pigment of the rectangular sweets seems to emanate from the opened care package, flushing the cheeks of the assembled soldiers with a rosy tint.
German citizens posted an average of nearly 10 million pieces of mail to the front during each day of World War I, and German service members sent over 6 million pieces in return; postcards comprised well over half of these items of correspondence. For active duty soldiers, postage was free of charge. Postcards thus formed a central and a portable component of wartime visual culture, a network of images in which patriotic, sentimental, and nationalistic postcards formed the dominant narrative — with key moments of resistance dispatched from artists and amateurs serving at the front.
The first postcards were permitted by the Austrian postal service in 1869 and in Germany one year later. (The Post Office Act of 1870 allowed for the first postcards to be sold in Great Britain; the United States followed suit in 1873.) Over the next four decades, Germany emerged as a leader in the design and printing of colorful picture postcards, which ranged from picturesque landscapes to tinted photographs of famous monuments and landmarks. Many of the earliest propaganda postcards, at the turn of the twentieth century, reproduced cartoons and caricatures from popular German humor magazines such as Simplicissimus, a politically progressive journal that moved toward an increasingly reactionary position during and after World War I. Indeed, the majority of postcards produced and exchanged between 1914 and 1918 adopted a sentimental style that matched the so-called “hurrah kitsch” of German official propaganda.
Beginning in 1914, the German artist and Karlsruhe Academy professor Walter Georgi produced 24 patriotic Feldpostkarten for the Bahlsen cookie company in Hannover. In a postcard titled Engineers Building a Bridge (1915), a pair of strong-armed sappers set to work on a wooden trestle while a packet of Leibniz butter cookies dangle conspicuously alongside their work boots.
These engineering troops prepared the German military for the more static form of combat that followed the “Race to the Sea” in the fall of 1914; they dug and fortified trenches and bunkers, built bridges, and developed and tested new weapons — from mines and hand grenades to flamethrowers and, eventually, poison gas.
Georgi’s postcard designs for the Bahlsen company deploy the elegant color lithography he had practiced as a frequent contributor to the Munich Art Nouveau journal Jugend (see Die Scholle).In another Bahlsen postcard titled “Hold Out in the Roaring Storm” (1914), Georgi depicted a group of soldiers wearing the distinctive spiked helmets of the Prussian Army. Their leader calls out to his comrades with an open mouth, a rifle slung over his shoulder, and a square package of Leibniz Keks looped through his pinkie finger. In a curious touch that is typical of First World War German patriotic postcards, both the long-barreled rifles and the soldier’s helmets are festooned with puffy pink and carmine flowers.
These lavishly illustrated field postcards, designed by artists and produced for private industry, could be purchased throughout Germany and mailed, traded, or collected in albums to express solidarity with loved ones in active duty. The German government also issued non-pictorial Feldpostkarten to its soldiers as an alternate and officially sanctioned means of communication. For artists serving at the front, these 4” x 6” blank cards provided a cheap and ready testing ground at a time when sketchbooks and other materials were in short supply. The German painter Otto Schubert dispatched scores of elegant watercolor sketches from sites along the Western Front; Otto Dix, likewise, sent hundreds of illustrated field postcards to Helene Jakob, the Dresden telephone operator he referred to as his “like-minded companion,” between June 1915 and September 1918. These sketches (see Rüdiger, Ulrike, ed. Grüsse aus dem Krieg: die Feldpostkarten der Otto-Dix-Sammlung in der Kunstgalerie Gera, Kunstgalerie Gera 1991) convey details both minute and panoramic, from the crowded trenches to the ruined fields and landmarks of France and Belgium. Often, their flip sides contain short greetings or cryptic lines of poetry written in both German and Esperanto.
Dix enlisted for service in 1914 and saw front line action during the Battle of the Somme, in August 1916, one of the largest and costliest offensives of World War I that spanned nearly five months and resulted in casualties numbering more than one million. By September of 1918, the artist had been promoted to staff sergeant and was recovering from injuries at a field hospital near the Western Front. He sent one of his final postcard greetings to Helene Jakob on the reverse side of a self-portrait photograph, in which he stands with visibly bandaged legs and one hand resting on his hip. Dix begins the greeting in Esperanto, but quickly shifts to German to report on his condition: “I’ve been released from the hospital but remain here until the 28th on a course of duty. I’m sending you a photograph, though not an especially good one. Heartfelt greetings, your Dix.” Just two months later, the First World War ended in German defeat.