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The most important thing about launching a new book is that everyone else must know it has happened.
You must take many pictures and remind other people to take many pictures and make an IMPORTANT FACE.
The second most important thing about launching a new book is the CAKE.
We made one that was secretly filled with gold which spilled out when it was first cut, and it had golden marzipan piled on top and it was gilded with edible gold dust.
You also need a CROCODILE. So I crocheted one and had a raffle. As it happened, Crocodile won my friend Lily because she was best at finding hidden raffle tickets (they were mostly in books to do with GOLD).
It was so exciting that no one remembered to take any pictures.
Fortunately, Chris Riddell drew one in his Laureate Log, because he is professional that way.
It was a very good launch.
By: Viviane Schwarz,
Blog: Letters From Schwarzville
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, how to find gold
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HOW TO FIND GOLD is only one of Anna and Crocodile's adventures.
I wrote a few of them down as letters to my team at Walker Books.
Here is a blustery one.
There's a whole book about Anna and Crocodile, called HOW TO FIND GOLD.
Yesterday I went to Westminster for a debate at the House of Commons. The event was to mark the anniversary of Nancy Astor, the first women MP, taking her seat in the Common's 96 years ago.
The room was packed. The seat next to me was shared by two people, and there was a small standing crowd by the door. It was a diverse crowd, including some very eloquent minors.
This is the issue:
Of the 650 seats in the House of Commons 459 are occupied by men and 191 women.Here's the Petition
There are 32 million women in the UK,
51% of the population. They are a diverse majority.
But the House of Commons is 71% male.
for you to sign if you agree that this is a bad situation and must change sooner rather than later.
And here are my sketches! Enjoy. And click to see them big.
The Panel (can't see them all here, they had to run in and out to cast votes and debate elsewhere):
Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, Jess Phillips MP, Angela Crawley MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Smith of Newnham, Callum McCaig MP, Wes Streeting MP, Ben Howlett MP and Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women's Equality Party.
"There are some awfully, awfully average men in here". Callum McCaig on Whitehall.
Ellan asked Maria Miller if her boss would introduce a quota for his party.
No, he won't.
Baroness Smith of Newnham and Ben Howlett.
Sophie Walker from the Women's Equality Party.
Many good questions asked.
The last question came from a child, to great applause, and was answered by every member of the panel (in the case of Maria Miller with s shrug - the rest gave firm estimates).
I'm delighted to announce that on Saturday, November 21, I'll be teaching two writing workshops as a fundraiser for Park Slope United Methodist Church. One will be in the morning (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) and one in the afternoon (2-5 p.m.) at the church in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Each one is $50, and all proceeds go to PSUMC. (This will be the first public debut of some material from my new book, The Magic Words, and I'm excited about that.)
"So You Want to Write a Book?" (9-12): In this workshop for beginning writers, or even people with just an idea for a book, "We’ll talk about practical techniques for starting and sustaining a novel-length narrative, including questions to ask, story dynamics to explore, and tips and tricks for getting the work done. A brief overview of revision and submission practices and publication options will be provided at the end."
To sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/so-you-want-to-write-a-book-tickets-18955014960
"A Master Class in Character" (2-5): "What makes a character come alive on the page? What details should you include, or not include? Do characters have to be likeable or relateable? If you want a character to be relateable, how do you make that happen? In this workshop for novelists, we’ll explore the many dimensions and mysteries of characterization, and discuss ways to create believable, compelling fictional people."
To sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-master-class-in-character-tickets-18955102221
It would be great to see you there! If you have any questions, leave 'em in the comments. Thank you for your interest.
My Anxiety web comic has a brand-new home.
I am reposting all the old episodes, edited and tidied a bit, and there are many new ones to come.
So: that's where the new stuff will happen. Go Look There.
(with my book due to my editor in fewer than two weeks)
SJKD;FIEWBNTBISLndjkfilgWEYGTBEHWYGF832G353BSJDKFNVIUNIo47brtntrlbyt23f5lbdishiuetblb t84295GAIUBFSEWG weuhi4b5laytbwoty4gbqtklhbglayeg8o8blef KBEDFIWEYRL
. . . That is actually a lie, but it was fun to write. My brain is tired but present, and mostly orderly. I have an entire edited ms. before me, with separate lists of things I need to do to implement said edits; I only need time to carry them out. I may not have enough time to carry them all out, and this distresses me extremely; but I will do the best I can, which is all anyone can do, and trust I'll get to revise it better still later. Onward! Or better: Excelsior!
By: Viviane Schwarz,
Blog: Letters From Schwarzville
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, henry finch
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I had a few wonderful school visits recently...
In St Christopher's School I helped with a project where the kids made their own picture books. I did a day of tutorials, some sketching and in the end made a whole dummy book on stage.
They had a biology lesson in the gym, handling exotic animals, which was great fun to draw.
In the Haberdasher's Aske's School for Girls I visited for a day with Alexis. We read them our books and drew monsters together.
Very important to have a party stomach.
It was awesome.
I went to the Anti Austerity Protest today and took my sketchbook.
The march started at Bank. Here are some people assembling and wondering if they are in the right place.
Here they worked out that they are in the right place.
Still at Bank. The streets are closed. The athmosphere is friendly. Drumming, chanting, leafletting. Every few minutes a sudden cheer goes through the crowd, not sure why.
Lots of families here. The crowd is starting to move.
There's not much police, surprisingly. Much less than I expected. A lot more protesters than I expected... really a lot.
Some surreptitious tagging going on at Bank. There's the first helicopter.
The chap in the background is inviting people to join the Socialist Party, I think.
Moving into Fleet Street.
There's an overwhelming amount of groups. Goths against austerity, Chefs against austerity (here in the foreground). The blimp is tethered to a fire engine crewed by the Fire Fighter's Union. Lots of local groups turned up to protest about hospitals, council housing and assorted public services (there's Haringey).
Here's a cluster of artists, mostly.
And some music.
Someone was asking "why don't they chant back?" Because they are the National Union of Sign Language Interpreters. They are chanting, look.
The Strand is packed. There's a tired child with a CUTS KILL paper hat, she perked up afetr a few minutes of being carried.
Sisters Uncut had an impressive presence, their crowd spanned the width of the road.
Some masked people. Most wore their masks on the back of their heads, like this girl with the princess backpack and the YOUTH FIGHT AUSTERITY placard, and her mum.
That dragon statue is quite alarming from the back.
I've never seen so many people marching together, and I didn't see anyone being aggressive to anyone else. I just watched the news, they did get some footage of "fireworks" (smoke bombs, the colourful sort, I stepped over a pretty bright purple one in passing) and people dressed in black with masks trying to block a road. They didn't try very hard. No point anyway, the city was full of people peacefully protesting.
(This is all scanned with my handheld scanner, excuse any wobbles.)
Here are some of the sketches I've recently been doing.
I do a lot of observational drawing using a fountain pen and a portable watercolour set.
I tend to draw people as cats.
|Icons of Elegance performing at Jamboree|
|Hot Dogs in Shoreditch|
|Posh birthday party at the World's End Pub|
|Piccadilly Line from Heathrow|
|Wapping, a cold Spring day|
|Board game testing|
Today, February 4, 2015, is the ten-year anniversary of Brooklyn Arden!
This blog took its current form one Friday night when I was home alone and lonely, and consequently decided to talk out loud to the Internet
. The years I've spent talking out loud here since led directly to writers' conference appearances, new publishing projects, my website, my book, and many, many great conversations and connections. (As well as much enjoyable silliness: See here
.) The Internet and my life have changed enormously since I started writing in this space, and I'm a little sad I don't chatter as much here anymore. But I am also enormously grateful to this blog for the chance to "know what I think when I see what I say" for the past ten years, and to all of you for coming here, seeing it, and sometimes saying back. Thank you.
My first picture book was "Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure", I think it came out in 2001.
I started working on it in 1996 when I was still in school in Germany.
|Early picture book script, 1996|
We had a leak in the studio above my storage boxes, that's why I am going through all my old scraps and notes and artwork. Lots of fun stuff.
|Childhood photo of me working on a travel journal.|
|Me as a student, 2003 or so|
you may have been told that life is a game
and that you can win it or lose it, in some way you probably almost understand but not quite
(which is worrying)
and that love is a reward
I would like you to know that a mistake has been made there
life is not a game
love is not a reward
love is a tidal thing
and if you don’t know this you will be like a child crying on the beach because the sea went away
because the sea didn’t like you
we often don’t know what strange moons are dragging
at the reservoirs of love held by those we wish to rely on
cancer moons and money moons and that big old sky-smothering satellite that drives your parents mad
it is probably not about you
most of the time
it would be a strange world in which it is all about you
and where everyone carefully checks how much love you deserve before handing it over
sometimes we try because we are silly and we have been told lies about life and love, too
but frankly we are far too self-involved to keep track
unconditional love is so much easier
Father Christmas doesn’t keep a list
you are loved
not by everyone all the time
but this world is full of decent people with hearts that have been broken enough to be quite elastic
and they will not let you go without a fight
they will write stories for you and give birth to you and carefully do your dental work
they may notice that you are sad and maybe not even say anything and maybe kick you in the shin because they think it might help or they may do the right thing and one of them might be your dog and some of them are probably imaginary but it’s a strong team working shifts
and they won’t let you go without a fight
even though they are scared
you can help not let them go either
once you got some rest
you are welcome
From notes for the Anxiety comic
I am working on, which should be a book before long. More drawings soon!
P.S. The other file I found is this - I have no idea what that was for.
This episode actually doesn't have any Anxiety in it.
It seems like time to give you an update on this comic about Anxiety I am doing.
In short: it's still going on, tehre weren't many updates because I am working on a picture book, but I have planned and written and collated and thought. There will be more soon, and there will be a book eventually.
Life is good, I have a great studio now, and I'm really enjoying my projects. Inbetween drawings and writings I am building kites.
|From The Penguin Book of Kites|
|Kite made from pigeon feathers, staws and string|
Earlier in this week of awful news out of Ferguson, in my home state of Missouri, my friend and colleague Rebecca Sherman commented on Twitter:
I do too. That speech remains the best speech I've ever heard a politician give in my lifetime, both honest and inspiring, both personal and national in its implications. It acknowledged the complexities of Mr. Obama's candidacy, of his relationship with the Reverend Wright, and indeed of the whole history of race in America after slavery. Rereading it now
, I was astonished to see these lines:
We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students. Legalized discrimination — where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments — meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
. . . What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them. But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it — those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations — those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways.
This anticipates nearly everything in Ta-Nehisi Coates's brilliant article "The Case for Reparations"
in The Atlantic
earlier this summer -- except, of course, Mr. Coates's conclusion, which is that Congress should investigate the idea of reparations for African-Americans. Rather, Mr. Obama describes this legacy of pain as an opportunity for all Americans to come together, first to listen to and acknowledge each other's sufferings across racial lines, and then to work to address that suffering: the lost jobs, the lack of health care, the poverty and poor education that afflicts the 99% (to draw on another political metaphor). The speech received near-universal acclaim
, and while politics, being politics, quickly reverted to the usual game of sound bites and wins and losses, it did create a quiet moment in the hullaballoo of that 2008 campaign, a moment when most people heard what Mr. Obama said, and glimpsed that opportunity, even if we did not take it . . .
Like Rebecca, I wish very much that Mr. Obama had the time and courage and clarity and political daring to make another speech like this in the wake of events in Ferguson -- to be our storyteller-in-chief of sorts, to help one part of America listen to and understand the anger and fear of another, and to point the way toward dialogue among and a shared mission for all our citizens. I am sorry that he doesn't make this a priority, because I think perhaps he could do some good. But in his absence, we have to do that work.
I am moderating a panel this Tuesday for Scholastic's Teacher Week
-- a conversation with Varian Johnson (The Great Greene Heist
), Lisa Yee (Millicent Min, Girl Genius
), Sonia Manzano (The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano
), and Sharon Robinson (Under the Same Sun
) about diversity in children's literature and the need for all children to see themselves in books. There are a lot of dimensions to the diversity conversation, but the moral use of such books (and the moral necessity of publishing them) is fairly straightforward: More than any other media, a book allows a creator to control and tell their own story, to reveal the world they see in all its joys and sorrows, complexities and nuances, and to have that story be heard. For readers, books provide that opportunity to step into someone else's story and hear it -- to be affirmed by the story if some part of it speaks to your own experiences, emotionally or racially or religiously or emotionally, to know that you are not the first to go through this; to learn from it, both intellectually and emotionally, if it does not match your experience; to be challenged by and grow from it all around. (I wrote more about this, and the moral and sociological necessity for diverse books, in the opening of this talk
And I can't help thinking: How different might Ferguson have been if all the policemen had read Walter Dean Myers's Monster
? Or Fallen Angels
or Sunrise Over Fallujah,
for something closer to their own quasi-military experience? Or Ta-Nehisi Coates's article, or The Beautiful Struggle
? Or even listened to the "This American Life" stories on Harper High School
-- about a very different place than suburban St. Louis, certainly, but unforgettable in showing some of the pressures on young black men? Or best of all, if the policemen had heard the stories of the people of Ferguson as individuals? If they had shared their own?
Perhaps nothing would be different. These can be seen as highly naive and facile questions, given the money and history and societal factors that went into the making of this as-yet-ongoing tragedy, and I acknowledge my highly privileged role in asking them. But I also believe that books, stories, do what not-yet-President Obama did with his "More Perfect Union" speech: They reveal the complexities, allow us to see things as both individual and universal, make other people real, open up space for dialogue -- if we'll take the time to listen and talk and learn. I wish we could find more of that time and space.
News! Later this month, on June 28, I'll be appearing in a great little mini-conference in my hometown of Belton, Mo. (about half an hour south of Kansas City). I'll give a talk on the five things editors want to see in every manuscript. Then the picture book author (and my best friend) Katy Beebe and I will discuss query letters, particularly the one that led to the publication of her lovely book Brother Hugo and the Bear. And finally, we'll do a first-pages session to round out the morning. Registration is $60, to benefit the Cass County Library Foundation (one of several library systems that made Katy and me the writers and readers we are today). For more information and to register, please click here.
In sad news, last month marked the first month in the nine-year history of this blog where I did not write a single post! Not a one! Part of it can be attributed to this fine fellow:
Mr. Bob Jacob Marley Monohan, who has come to dwell in our apartment and demand my time and attention, cat treats, things to gnaw on (currently a pair of James's cargo shorts that he unwisely left on the couch), etc. Part of it is that I have Twitter to accept all of my random thoughts. Much of it was simply work and life. But I miss writing here. I'm going to try to do a post a week for the rest of the summer, and I hope it will result in good energy all around.
- The Great Greene Challenge is still on! Have you gotten your copy yet? It's a great opportunity to support diverse books, an independent bookstore, and fantastic middle-grade in one fell swoop.
- As this blog has often served as my running results archive: My sister and I ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon a couple weeks ago in 2:10. It was my slowest time for a half ever, but I didn't care, because I super-enjoyed running and chatting with her.
- We have a great new episode of the Narrative Breakdown up here, with Matt Bird and James and I talking character goals and philosophies. Our podcasting has fallen off a bit of late because we lost our sponsor.... If you'd be interested in donating to the cause or sponsoring an episode yourself (a great way to reach a wide audience of writers and other lovers of narrative), please contact us at narrativebreakdown at gmail dot com.
- And if you'd like to buy my book SECOND SIGHT, but not through Amazon, please e-mail me at chavela_que at yahoo dot com. I'd be happy to work out alternate means of payment and delivery with you.
- Happy summer!
This happened to me last week or so. They haven't been back.
An actual person I met on an actual train, not my mother who was never like this.
Here's an in-progress shot where you can see how rough my pencils are. They are pretty rough.
People get very irate about anti-anxiety medication. Some say everyone should just get over it with exercise and positive thinking and diet. They can't have experienced the sort of panic bout that leaves you unable to eat, walk or think for most of the day.
There are risks, it can't be done without proper medical supervision, there may be very bad side effects, it might not work, and even if it does it's only a way to enable a person to take care of themselves - it's a raft, not a motorboat.
I've found medication really useful at times of great stress - for example while house-hunting in London. It keeps the panic attacks under control and gives me time to sort things out and re-settle.
Going back off it is great, but no fun at all. It's important to remember that the withdrawal is temporary, and that although it takes time to phase it out gradually it's a very bad idea to just stop cold.
Note: As always, this is about my personal experience, not an advert for medication - it really is prescribed for the wrong reasons at times, I agree. It's part of my anxiety narrative. Your mileage may vary.
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There is all kinds of great and exciting stuff happening with diverse children's literature these days! By the time you're reading this, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign should be live on social media, May 1-3 -- follow it on Twitter and Tumblr and please share your own thoughts there. Kudos to the awesome team who put that together!
Closer to home, The Great Greene Heist
by Varian Johnson
-- a modern, middle-school, multicultural Ocean's 11
; a book I edited and am immensely proud of -- is getting a ton of awesome attention from indie booksellers and Varian's fellow authors, who are asking everyone to take the #greatgreenechallenge and help us get a diverse book on the bestseller lists. Kate Messner threw down the initial challenge
; Shannon Hale raised the bar
; and some guy named John Green sweetened the pot further
for bookstores. You can check out all the action at Varian's blog post here
. The book has received wide praise from many authors and a starred review from Kirkus,
and it was named a Publishers Weekly
Best Summer Book of 2014! If you still need more convincing, you can check out this wonderful little prequel
as a taster, or just join the challenge and preorder it now
. (I advise the latter.) Out officially on May 27, 2014.
Equally exciting: Sarwat Chadda
is going to be in New York for the PEN World Voices panel this coming weekend, and appearing at Books of Wonder
and a conversation on writing superheroes
on May 3, and a great panel on sex and violence in children's literature
on May 4. Good stuff!
Finally, I'm going to post this list here for anyone who might still need diverse book recommendations -- a list of books I've edited featuring diverse protagonists. Diversity has been a priority at Arthur A. Levine Books since the imprint was founded, and it's been a particular passion of mine for years, so I'm very proud of both this list and the many great books on our publishing lists to come.Books I've Edited Featuring Diverse Protagonists
- Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee (MG; Asian-American)
- Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) and Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee (chapter book; biracial, Asian-American)
- Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (MG: American of Black Jamaican descent)
- If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (YA; Tuscarora Native American)
- The Path of Names by Ari Goelman (MG fantasy; Jewish)
- Marcelo in the Real World, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, and Irises by Francisco X. Stork (YA; Latin@)
- The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb (YA nonfiction; Jewish)
- The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (YA; Chinese)
- Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (YA; Gay)
- Gold Medal Winter by Donna Freitas (MG; Latina)
- The Savage Fortress and The City of Death by Sarwat Chadda (MG fantasy; British of Indian descent, Hindu(ish))
- Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (MG; Afghan, Muslim)
- The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (MG; biracial, of British-Caribbean descent)
- Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (YA fantasy; Asian-inspired)
- Above by Leah Bobet (YA fantasy; differently abled cast -- which is putting it mildly -- and biracial protagonist of French and Indian descent)
Yay diverse books!