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This illustration was sent in by Heather Dent. Since a little girl, Heather’s dream has been to become a professional author and illustrator. Now the time has come to try to make that dream come true. Right now she works for a small business in Berea KY called Attic Light Studios that transfers old videos and photos into digital files and makes movies for special events like weddings, funerals, and anniversaries. Her blog is: http://heatherdentstudio.blogspot.com/.
Anita Nolan is doing a four hour intensive workshop titled, Creating Better Beginnings on June 7th at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference. Here is the description:
It’s vital to make the first pages of your manuscript the best they can be. After all, an editor or agent might read no more than the first few paragraphs before deciding to reject. In this intensive we’ll look at different ways to begin a story and what should be included in the first few pages. We’ll consider what you are revealing about your main character, (and whether it is what you intended!) and whether the character is sympathetic. You’ll rewrite your first paragraphs of your story in this workshop. Bring a printed copy of your first chapter (at least 5 pages, double spaced), paper and pen, (and your laptop if you’d like—laptop is not necessary) highlighter, and be prepared to dig into your first chapter.
I asked Anita if she could share some tips with the writers following my blog. Anita does a great job. You will learn a lot and advance your story if you sign up for her Friday session. Below are a few things from Anita on what a first chapter should accomplish:
As a reader dives into the first chapter, he searches for clues as to what type of story he’s reading. Is it a fantasy? Historical? A fast-paced adventure or a slower-paced coming of age story? Is the voice humorous? Sarcastic? Flowery?
A story’s beginning makes a promise to the reader about what type of story he’s picked up, the pacing, and voice.
Recently I read first pages from one story that promised a fantasy but had no fantastical elements, and from another that had no fantastic elements in the beginning, but the story had an entire secondary fantasy world.
Here are a few things the first chapter should accomplish:
1. Intrigue Reader. Hook them & keep them reading.
2. Introduce either main character/s or theme.
3. Identify what Main character needs/lacks/wants.
4. Identify the obstacles standing in the Main Character’s way.
5. Establish a bond (sympathy) between the reader & Main Character.
6. Present the world in which the story is set.
7. Establish the general tone of the novel.
8. Show Pacing.
9. Show the Voice.
Remember registration ends April 30th at midnight.
“As a child in the Throgs Neck Housing Projects in the Bronx, I did not grow up with books. The only person I saw reading was my grandmother, who occasionally read mass-market paperback fiction and her Bible that was as big as a phone book. If the Bible fell from the top of the dresser where she kept it, it could take your kneecap off and crush your foot in the process! The only time I recall being exposed to children’s books was at school when the teacher took us to the school library and the librarian allowed us to take out Curious George books.
It was as an adult that I really began to appreciate children’s books. I remember being fascinated by the marriage of art and text. The stories and poems were depicted so beautifully and richly that it seemed as if they blended together seamlessly, creating a world by which even adults would be captivated. I knew right then that I wanted to be part of that magic. I thought, if I as a grownup can be taken with the majesty of these portable art galleries and museums, children must truly love them.
Soon after, I began buying children’s books and taking some out from the library. I not only found myself interested in the wonderful stories and poems, I wanted to teach myself how to write them—by reading them. The more I browsed through shelves in bookstores and libraries, the more I noticed that many of the books I came across did not speak to or from the point of view of a kid like me from the projects. I yearned to read about what a child from the ’hood had to say about his life and his world. I remember reading an interview with the African American novelist and Noble Prize-winner Toni Morrison, She said she wrote the books she wanted to read. That nugget of wisdom stayed with me as I made my way to fulfilling my dream of becoming a writer.
By the time I decided to write my own children’s books, a child’s voice began to present itself in my mind. It belonged to a kid named DeShawn Williams, and he was talking about his life growing up in the projects. Not surprisingly, his words seemed to mirror my experiences as a child. Poems in DeShawn’s voice began to take hold of me and I began to write them down. Before I knew it, DeShawn was telling me about the people he loved and lived with: his mother, who was in college; his grandmother, who helped raise him; his uncle, who stood-in for his absent father; his cousin Tiffany, who was like his sister, even though they fought like crazy; and his best friend from school, Johnny Tse, who taught him Karate, which he assumed was from China, but finds out was from Japan. Thus, DeShawn Days, my first book for children, was born.
There was no greater feeling than to see the publication of DeShawn Days, which was initially embraced in manuscript form by my editor and subsequently published by multicultural children’s book publisher, Lee & Low Books. At that time, no books like DeShawn Days were around. The only thing that topped seeing DeShawn Days out in the world was sharing it with children, particularly children who came from a world similar to DeShawn’s. I remember encountering a youngster who had the same name—DeShawn—who was also being raised by his grandmother. This boy exclaimed about me, the author, “How does he know about my life?”
This experience made me realize in a real way, outside of my own literary aspirations, the power of books: how they can matter and make a profound difference in a child’s life, especially when they speak to and from the child’s own experiences and validate his or her life.”
He recently sat down (online) with Curtis LeBlanc to answer nineteen questions about books, writing and his life as an author. Some highlights: who are Richard’s top three authors? Which bands does he listen to while writing? And what will he be working on next?
See your name in print—and on a dedication page, no less!
William Kowalski, author of three titles in Orca’s Rapid Reads series is running a fantastic new contest through his website. The winner will have Kowalski’s fourth Rapid Read title, Just Gone, dedicated to them.
Have you ever wanted to have a book dedicated to you? Not just signed by the author, but actually dedicated to you, with your name in print for all eternity?
Well, your time has come. Your ship has come in. Your Eagle has landed. I’m running a contest for my readers, and the winner will receive this fabulous prize: my fourth Rapid Reads novel, JUST GONE, which is coming out later this year, will be dedicated to them and them alone. By name. Exciting? You betcha.
That’s it. How to define ‘unlikely’ is up to you. (Just be safe, please.) The title of the book must be clearly visible. You may not use Photoshop or any other kind of enhancement or alteration tool. Other than that, the sky’s the limit.
Whoever is featured in that picture or owns the rights to it will earn the right to have JUST GONE dedicated to them by name.
I reserve the right to remove any pictures that are cruel or insulting to anyone. I won’t put anything obscene or disrespectful in the dedication. I really want this to be dedicated to YOU, the winner. So, you agree, by entering the contest, that if you win, you have the right to have the book dedicated to you by first and last name, or first name only if you prefer, and perhaps a brief message, such as “To John Smith, the hoopiest frood in England.”
Go forth and photograph yourselves. Have fun. Don’t get hurt. And make us lol.
If you visit this blog on a regular basis, you know that I am a big fan of Doris and her art. I have every book she has illustrated and I haven’t held this one in my hand, yet, but I already know I have to add this new book to my collection. I hope Doris will be attending the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June, so I can get it signed. (Doris, are you attending?)
Doris says, “The story begins with a wedding in an English village during WWII. While illustrating Champ! my father’s army uniform hung in my studio for reference and inspiration.” Written by Catherine Stier, this book is part of the Tales of the World series published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Clinton Book Shop – 21 East Main St., Clinton, NJ – on Saturday April 6.
If you live nearby, please join us. Doris will be signing books from 11 am – 1 pm.
The luxurious Queen Mary ocean liner once sailed with diapers drying on clotheslines suspended over the ship’s emptied swimming pool. Why? This was part of an unusual cargo transported by luxury liners in 1946: tens of thousands of “soldier brides” and their children who immigrated at the end of WWII to reunite with the U.S. servicemen they had married overseas. This entry into the Tales of the World series shines a vivid light on war’s upheavals by focusing on fictional Thomas, a nine-year-old boy who faces leaving home, friends, grandparents, and his beloved cricket for the U.S., a new father, a new school, and the strange sport of baseball. A wedding cake made by friends’ saving up sugar and powdered eggs for weeks and a view from the train into London of the Blitz’s devastation bring home war’s everyday hardship and trauma. At the same time, Thomas is moving into a hopeful future. Heartfelt watercolor illustrations bring to life the anxiety and tentative joys of this unique historical situation. — Connie Fletcher
A sneak peek of my upcoming book, I CAN SEE JUST FINE, due out this August and published by Abrams Appleseed. It's the story of a little girl who is absolutely certain she does not need eyeglasses... no matter what everyone else thinks.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’re excited to share the cooperative efforts of some of our wonderful women writers! They’ve decided to review each other’s new spring titles in the spirit of collaboration. Here, Karen Krossing showcases four new YA titles from fellow authors Leanne Lieberman, Shelley Hrdlitschka and Robin Stevenson!
Mrs. Burgess worked as an elementary teacher and school counselor for a total of seven years. She has a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Texas State University. Starr is busy working on her second children’s book: Counselor Dynamite Befuddles the Bullyville Crew. She currently resides with her husband, Clyde, and their daughter in Pflugerville, TX.
Thank you for this interview, Starr. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I am a former elementary school teacher and school counselor. I live with my husband, Clyde, and our daughter in Pflugerville, TX. I have been working on writing books for five years and finally created the main character, Counselor Dynamite, whom I lovingly refer to as the pioneer super hero of schools.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
This book is about Counselor Dynamite, who is the superhero of schools. The story takes place the day before Christmas break. Teachers and staff members are tired and running low on patience and the students are full of unbridled energy. Counselor Dynamite notices that something is amiss and quickly jumps into action knowing that if something isn't done soon, students, teachers and staff will never be the same once chaos is unleashed.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I choose this genre because I worked as an elementary school counselor and had the wonderful opportunity to work with a diverse group of students. I learned that a lot of students had difficulty in the areas of conflict/resolution, problem solving, and boundaries. As a result I began writing stories that are amusing but instilled and reinforced positive character traits. I know that many children connect with and hold superheroes in high regard so I decided to create the first superhero of schools, Counselor Dynamite.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I write in areas of my home where there is an abundance of natural light. My most favorite place to write is in my living room by the window.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
My greatest challenge was not in the writing of the book but in how to market the book.
Are you a disciplined writer?
I am somewhat of a disciplined writer, however most times I prefer the spontaneity of being in the moment.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I am self-published.
Was it the right choice for you?
Absolutely! I appreciate the fact that I retain control of the creativity and direction of the writing and how Counselor Dynamite is portrayed.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I am a vendor at the Texas Counseling Association conferences; I participate in author readings/book signings in book stores and private schools; I utilize social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and I work with an online book promotion company, Author & Book Promotions.
How is that going for you?
It’s going very well; I really enjoy meeting people with inspiring feedback and hearing about their ministry and journey.
Do you have another job besides writing?
Yes, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. My private practice is LifeMenders Counseling.
Have you ever gotten an inspirational book-related moment at work and had to go run and write and it down?
No those moments usually come in the middle of the night.
Do your co-workers know they have a star among them? What has their reactions been? I don’t know if my co-workers think I’m necessarily a star but I do believe they think I am a visionary and a go getter. My colleagues have been a great source of support; they have given me words of encouragement, purchased my book and supplemental guide, and promotional products from my product line.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Utilize as much social media as possible, in addition to an online book promotion service company such as Author & Book Promotion.
What’s next for you?
My next book will focus on bullying and will be available in the fall along with a supplemental guide which contains lessons plans and activities for children. In the near future I will be publishing more Counselor Dynamite books, I would love to go on a book tour, be a regular on a talk and/or radio show discussing challenges children face and parent resources, and eventually partner with companies and build the Counselor Dynamite brand, maybe one day turning the adventures of Counselor Dynamite into a cartoon for children.
Children's author and illustrator Alex Milway was born in 1978, in Hereford, England. After entering art college in Shrewsbury at the age of 16, and then continuing to Cheltenham art college, he earned a degree in fine art.
Though he now writes and illustrates children's books full time, Mr. Milway has previously tried his hand at a few other vocations. He worked for several years in magazine publishing, once had a summer factory job building air conditioning units for Range Rovers, and worked for a time in a WHSmith.
His books to date include the Mousehunter trilogy, and the Mythical 9th Division series.
In addition to creating children's books, Alex Milway runs school events and workshops. He lives in London, England, with his wife and family and Milo the cat.
I do a lot of covers for a lot of people these days. Sometimes when I whip up something for a client it doesn't exactly work for their book and I have to give it a second go. It's all part of the process. It happens.
Unfortunately, this means that I'm left with a pretty decent cover that doesn't have a home.
Covers are just like people, right? Every cover wants to be loved and every cover deserves a home.
Also, I'd like to at least get my money back for the stock images. That's a part of it too.
With that in mind I've decided to implement the First Annual Pre-Made Cover Extravaganza! (You know it's important because it's in caps.)
Here's how it works: Have a look at the covers below. If you think one of them might work for something you've written all you have to do is drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (or leave a comment in the comments section) and it can be yours.
I'll remove the novakillustration.com watermark, plunk in your title and your author name, and even putz around with the fonts a bit if you think you'd like to try something different. If you like most of the concept but want to make some changes I'm sure we can work out a price that'll make every happy.
I'll do all of that for a measly $40.(Payable through Paypal)
Come on, that's a serious deal. Final images will be sent to you in printable 300dpi quality, as well as three sizes for all of your online needs.
“Welcome to the studio, Dahlia! I am so glad to meet you! Your entrance made me smile! Now let’s get down to business! Tell me about yourself? “.
When I create a new character I have to find out who they really are and what makes them tick! Will they be loud and boisterous? Will they be shy and hold back? Will they run to meet the world or hide behind trees and bushes? It’s great fun to imagine!
Since Dahlia is new, let’s walk this process together. Let’s get a good look at her and ask ourselves some questions.
Here she is, in her great BIGness. As you can see, Dahlia is running! That gives us our first clue. She is ready to meet the world!
(Another little tidbit you can use when creating a character. It is a link to writing a character profile. I can get your wheels turning!)
In order to decide WHO Dahlia is, I look into her face. Her eyes are not like our eyes, but expression and body language are quite helpful.
Dahlia is running. Dahlia is laughing. Dalia is carrying a flower. Dahlia is practically leaping off the ground! I can almost hear the ground shaking! So, she is a “ground shaking” happy elephant.
But wait! She has no tusks! That tells me she is a baby elephant. My imagination is taking off now! Dahlia tromps! … but no… I found out that tromp is not a word… (hmmm…it seemed so fitting). So, Dahlia thumps, stomps, tramples and plows through! Thank you dictionary.com! Love all those words!
Looking again at this picture, I see that Dahlia is also clumsy. She trips, stumbles, tumbles, plunges, sprawls and topples. Even so, she is not bothered by falls. She simply rolls over and gets back up to her feet laughing! “What great fun!” she gigglies, “Let’s do it again!”
This tells me that Dahlia does not take herself too seriously. She is playful, but is she smart?
More of her qualities may surface once the other characters in her story emerge. Bring on the monkeys!
Courtesy of the Heath Brothers amazing insights into the applicability of much research, these are practical ideas to help you make the best decision possible. If you want to know more, DECISIVE will be released on March 26, available now for pre-order.
You just wrote, “The End.” And you hit the SEND button. The manuscript is off to the editor.
What now? How do you decide on the next project?
Build a Career
An agent once asked this question: What is the next logical book for you in terms of building an audience that will support your career?
Do you see the criteria embedded in that question:
Build an audience
Support your career
Is that what you want? A career with a growing audience? Then, you probably need to stick with the genre of your first book, and turn out a second book that will appeal to the same audience. If you wrote a mystery and it sold well, write another mystery—different, better, but definitely appealing to the same audience.
But it may not be that easy. Maybe several genres interest you and you want to try something new. But that might risk your career, because you aren’t building a consistent following. How do you sort out all your ideas and commit to the next project? Here are 15 questions to ask yourself.
15 What Next Questions
Don’t Get Trapped in Too Small a Framework. The decision is rarely one like this: Should I do Mss A or not? Instead, try to look at a range of options. Here are ideas that I have, A, B, C, D, and E. Which of these would appeal to the same audience as my first success?
What else you could write in the same time period. If it takes you six months to write a novel, what else could you get written in that time period? What project deserves that time commitment?
What if you couldn’t write the Mss you had planned to write next? What would you write then? For example, if you were planning a picture book biography of Shirley Temple and one was just published to great acclaim, maybe it’s not the best time for this story. So, pretend something similar just happened to your pet idea. What would you do then?
Could you write the openings of several different manuscripts and THEN decide which one excites you the most? Multi-tracking sometimes allows the cream to rise.
Look at the career of someone you admire and want to emulate. At a similar point in his/her career what was the next book published? Or, look at a musician or actor/actress and find parallels in their careers. For example, Sean Connery could have gotten stuck in the 007 role and never found his way to new projects. Instead, he has regularly “reinvented” himself by taking risky roles that led to an expanded career. Is it time for you to write that “breakout” book you’ve been planning?
Looking over all the possible manuscripts and ideas—what has you the most excited? Which one are you scared to write—and therefore, will push you to write your best?
Ask the opposite question: if you have been writing mysteries, what if your next novel was a romance? Is this the time to make a switch or not? Can you carry any of your audience over to a new genre? Is there a way to work more romance into your next mystery, so the transition isn’t total, but pulls in readers from both genres?
Could you test new waters with a short story or a short ebook? Is there a way to TRY something new, without doing damage to your current audience? Once you decide on a new mss, you’ll have to commit wholeheartedly to write the best possible. But maybe you can take a couple weeks and try out a new market.
Are you too attached to the status-quo? Your publisher wants more and more of this one type story and you get paid. But somehow, you feel your passions are lessened. At what point do you need to shake up the status quo?
What would you tell your best writer friend to do in this situation?
What are you passionate about? What are your core values? Does Mss A or B or C or D allow you to express that passion better?
If you write this book and a year from now it fails(either not published or published to poor reviews), can you think why it would have failed to reach your audience?
If you write this book and it succeeds, can you discuss why it would make your readers excited about your work?
Do you set goals for your books? If this mystery doesn’t sell 10,000 copies, then I’ll try a different genre for my next project. Would a goal like that help you make the next career move?
Are there deadlines for this project, or can you create a deadline? You’ll devote six months to this fantasy story, and then, you must write your next mystery.
You have a choice to make and the choice will affect your future and your career as a writer. What will you write next? There are no right or wrong answers, only answers that please you. You’re in control. I know–that’s scary! But that’s another post.
While many families in British Columbia enjoyed spending some time together as our province celebrated its first ever Family Day, host of the CBC’s Titles and Tate Nikki Tate-Stratton got in the Family Day spirit by discussing three novels focused on the same family: Sara Cassidy’s Slick (Orca Currents), Windfall (Orca Currents) and Seeing Orange (Orca Echoes) all feature the same family, although the protagonists are two different siblings.
Slick: Liza, determined to prove that her mother’s boyfriend is no good, starts researching the oil company he works for. Liza discovers a lawsuit against the company for compensation that is long overdue to Guatemalan farmers. She starts a group at school called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and launches an attack on Argenta Oil. As her activism activities increase, her objections to her mother’s boyfriend become political. She is learning to separate the personal from the political, but when her mother discovers her plans for a demonstration outside the Argenta Oil head office, the two collide in ways Liza least suspected.
Windfall:Life is full of challenges for thirteen-year-old Liza. She is already having trouble coping with the death of a local homeless man when she learns that her family’s apple tree will need to be chopped down. If that wasn’t enough, the new principal at school keeps blocking her attempts for a positive outlet by refusing permission for every project that GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and BRRR! (Boys for Renewable Resources, Really!) proposes. Liza starts to feel like she needs to create change in her world without seeking permission. When she chooses the school grounds as the site for her latest endeavor, she may have gone too far.
Seeing Orange:Seven-year-old Leland has trouble writing, but he loves drawing. He so dislikes his teacher that he conjures up Delilah, an imaginary seeing-eye dog to help him into class each day. When a neighborhood painter recognizes Leland’s gifts as an artist, Leland grows more confident about the world as he uniquely sees it. And when his family’s cat goes missing, it is Leland’s keen observation skills that lead to finding him. Leland’s newfound confidence helps him both confront and sympathize with his teacher, who only wishes Leland could be a bit more focused.
Kid Lit Reviews would like to welcome Anna Alden-Tirrill, author of A Cat Named Mouse: The Miracle of Answered Prayer, which will be reviewed here tomorrow and can be read HERE! A Cat Named Mouse: The Miracle of Answered Prayer is a middle grade novel. Annie, whose cat is named Mouse, will discover a lot about faith and prayer while searching for her lost Mouse. Welcome, …
Hands down, the Internet beats the old days when writers had to go to the library to research a topic. Now anyone can retrieve information with a few computer clicks. I frequently use Google in my searches and have discovered the following ways to improve results:
Use the asterisk (*) as a wild card with the words you’re searching. For example, if you wanted to search for me on the Web but couldn’t remember my last name but knew I was a children’s author, you could type Ronica * children’s author and related sites would pop up, providing my last name.
Use the minus sign before words you want to exclude from the search. Using a similar example, if you searched solely on my first name, Ronica, and a bunch of “Ronica Smith” sites showed up, you could eliminate Ronica Smith from your search by typing Ronica -Smith.
Put quotation marks around a word or two (such as “Ronica Stromberg”) to pull up sites only with the word (or words) as quoted.
To find the word you’re searching for on a Web site that came up, hit Control-F (Command-F on a Mac) and enter the word you’re searching for again. This will highlight the word you’re searching for. I’ve found this useful when a Web site has page after page of text but no clear indication where the word or phrase I’m searching for may be.
To restrict search results to a specific URL, add site: in front of the URL. For example, dognapper site:nytimes.com would pull articles printed about dognappers at The New York Times domain.
To find sites similar to one you’re using, type related: before the URL of the site (as in related:nytimes.com).
Use two periods between numeric ranges to find information about a range. For example, if you wanted to find information about gasoline prices between 1970 and 1980, you could type gasoline prices 1970 . . 1980. Writers of historical novels may find this particularly useful for research.
To use Google as a dictionary and look up the definition of a word, type define: immediately followed by the word.
To find the current weather in a town (in case you are about to set off on a book talk or other trip), type weather in followed by the town’s name.
To convert currency or measurements, use search formats such as 50 pesos in US dollars or 100 kilometers in miles.
To find the title of a song that lyrics come from, type some of the more distinct lyrics followed by :lyric. For example, when I type want to be a paperback writer:lyric, several sites appear, letting me know this line of lyrics comes from the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” song.
To get alerted about breaking news on a topic, go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the topic and your e-mail address. Google will then e-mail you the next time news on the topic appears on the Internet. I know a lot of authors type their name or key words from their works into this site to track online publicity and, also, to check whether their writing is being plagiarized.
Instead of doing a general search of the whole Internet, I may have only a specific area I want to search. The following are my favorites.
images http://images.google.com This site can be misleading. When I searched on “F. Scott Fitzgerald,” the name of one of my favorite authors, photos of him–and a bunch of other people–cropped up. Had I not already known what F. Scott Fitzgerald looked like, the site wouldn’t have helped much.
If you are self-employed, you are worried about health care. I know: I had surgery in July and it took six months to get all the bills cleared up.
The new Affordable Heatlth Care plan goes into effect in 2014, with enrollment beginning October, 2013, when self-employed persons can sign up for one of a tier of products. The Small Business Administration has just started a new website and blog about health care to help educate the public. Here are some places to start:
If your PAL book was published in 2012, we want to make sure that your book is included for consideration in the 2013 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards! The deadline for submitting your book is January 31, 2012.
How do I make sure my book is a contender for the 2013 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards?
1. Go to and click on the Awards tab to familiarize yourself with the guidelines for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards.
2. Make sure that your SCBWI membership is current! Only current members of SCBWI are eligible for the Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards. Not sure when your membership expires? Log in at SCBWI.org and click on “Membership Renewal.” Your member expiration date will be shown at the top of that page.
3. Log in at scbwi.org and update your publication information! Click on “Manage Profile” and be sure to enter the name and publication date of your most recent book. Then, choose your publisher from one of the drop-down menus. If you have any trouble updating your profile, feel free to call our offices at 323-782-1010 during business hours (9 AM – 5:00 PM, Pacific, Monday – Friday) and someone will be happy to assist you.
4. Already entered your book? To check to see that your book has been entered visit your regional home page at SCBWI.org (click on the Member Home button and then the text “See what’s going on in your region”! and then click on the Crystal Kites tab.Crystal Kite . In the salmon colored bar above the Search by Author or Title box will be your entered title. If your title is missing, then update your publication information. At this page you can also see all the books already submitted for consideration for your region so that you can start reading them before voting begins.
5. One major question we had last year was about publicizing your book. We want you to promote and publicize the Crystal Kite Awards and remind people to vote! We just can’t allow promotion or publicizing of individual titles. For example, you can tweet, Facebook and otherwise state: “Don’t forget to vote for your favorite in the Crystal Kite Awards”!..or words to that effect. However, publicizing a specific title will lead to disqualification of that title.
Don’t forget to read through the Crystal Kites Member Choice Awards page where you will find further information, dates for 2013 and a link to the Frequently Asked Questions page.
I hope everyone has a magical Christmas Eve. I thought I would share a poem by Eileen Spinelli to help celebrate the feel of the season. You can visit Eileen at: www.eileenspinelli.com . Each month she shares a poem.
Today I have author Laura Hunter on my blog for her book tour. I met Laura on facebook some time ago, she is an amazing and wonderful woman! Please enjoy this interview and be sure to check out her new release! It is available at Amazon , Barnes and Noble (paperback only at this point- if you want a nook copy please click on “request from publisher” and Kobo
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 24 years old and I live on the central coast of NSW, Australia with my family. I enjoy writing, reading, acting, singing and directing. With my dramatic arts class I have written, directed, and starred in two original plays.
2. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first began writing when I was 15. I wrote a lot of song lyrics as a way to get my thoughts down on paper. I then switched to writing fan-fiction at the age of 19. I finished my first book about September this year.
3. How did you choose the genre you write in?
I have always loved reading the paranormal/ urban fantasy/ YA fantasy fiction genres, so its only natural I began writing this genre, it chose me lol
4. Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from anything I experience and my friends and family, but mostly my ideas come from dreams.
5. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes, I am currently having a little bit of writer’s block at the moment, mostly due to not plotting properly so I need to go and do that for my next few books.
6. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
As a teenager I remember walking into my school library and searching through the YA books. I picked up Phillip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife and my love affair with YA fantasy fiction began. Cassandra Clare and Kathy Reichs also inspire me every day.
7. Can you tell us the challenges in getting your first book published?
The first real issue for me was money. As I am not particularly rich and a self published author, I found investing my own money into my first book quite taxing, so I hope it will be worth it in the end. Everything else has been a breeze.
8. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found work best for your genre?
As a self published indie author I feel marketing is the biggest challenge for us, but I have found social media is the biggest help in creating a platform and reaching my target audience- Facebook, twitter and blogs (I have read several eBooks on the topic and they said this was the best way) Also I am addicted to goodreads! I recommend that every author get a Goodreads account as you can add the books you want to read to shelves and keep up to date with upcoming releases and have people rate and review your work.
9. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The Chronicles of Fire and Ice is a New Adult urban fantasy set in Melbourne, Australia. It deals with the fact the human race is becoming over taken and out- bred by angels. It features Scarlett, a 21-year-old half Nephilim girl who finds out she is also half archangel and she has a frightening new ability to go along with it. She enrolls at an Academy for angels where she meets the handsome, yet mysterious Dyston Blackbell, the youngest son of the owners of the Academy, whom she discovers has been sending her weird dreams for years. Some of the story also deals with the backstory of Dyston’s dashing yet egotistic older brother, Lakyn.
10. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Some things in my book are from real life experiences, like some of Scarlett’s dreams, they actually happened to me. Some of my characters are based on my friends, certain qualities. Most of the fantasy parts are all from my imagination.
11. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
One of my favorite scenes that I loved writing was when Scarlett first met Dyston. I also loved writing Lakyn’s backstory. He is one of my favorite characters to write as he has two sides.
12. How did you come up with the title?
I came up with the title, The Chronicles of Fire and Ice a few ways. I wanted something catchy and unique (aspiring authors, I recommend googling possible titles to see if there are any similar already out there, or doing a goodreads search) and also I played around with the elements of my story and tried to fit them into the title. Some might say fire relates to Scarlett, and ice to Lakyn, yes they do, but the meanings run deeper than that.
13. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Probably the toughest and most offending compliment given to me was criticizing my marketing plan, saying social media isn’t good enough. They are not authors so I didn’t really listen. As for the best compliment… I get more beautiful messages and compliments about my book every day and it almost brings me to tears, it means a lot to me.
14. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Yes, believe in yourself and believe in your work. If you think negative thoughts then that will be reflected in your work and it will suffer.
1) If you were a superhero (or villain!) what would your power be? Would you wear a cape?
I love superheroes! I think I would like to the ability to heal. And no cape for me.
2) Chocolate, Strawberry or Vanilla?
Chocolate all the way. I am a self- confessed chocoholic!
3) The light side or the dark side?
I love all things dark but I live on the light side
4) Do you have deep dark secret? How about a shallow grey one?
Hmm had to think about this one… I have a crush on someone I shouldn’t.
5) What sort of coffee would you order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
My poison is a soy latte. And sometimes if I’m feeling like a sugar hit, I order a soy hazelnut latte.
6) Have you ever given someone who asked for decaf, regular coffee just to see what would happen?
No because you can taste the difference. But I have given someone full cream milk when they have asked for skim.
7) Is there any food you refuse to eat? (Other than brussel sprouts because NO ONE likes them)
8) If you could live off of chocolate would you? What kind?
Totally! Chocoholic here! Dairy milk or the dark and nutty kind would suffice.
9) What do you think the coolest pet to have would be?
I have always wanted a pet Panda.
10)If you could visit any world (real or imagined) where would you go?
Hmm, The House of Night school, or Narnia (before and after the white witch’s rein)
11) What kind of person drives you nuts? (personality trait)
Loud, obnoxious people, and smokers.
12) Have you ever gone out in public with your shirt on backwards, or your slippers on, and when realizing it, just said screw it?
All the time. And I’ve had to leave it until I could find a bathroom to fix it lol
13) Do you prefer fuzzy or tub socks?
Fuzzy but then my shoes don’t fit lol
14) Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
No point because it’s a known fact that bed bugs love made beds.
15) Be honest, how often do you wash your hair?
Once a week, I have the worst frizz prone hair
16) Do you get road rage? What pisses you off the most about other drivers?
I don’t drive but I hate slow drivers and tail gaters
17) Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?
Cockroaches, spiders and flies. I have a phobia of bees and wasps.
I am an Australian author who began writing when I was fifteen or sixteen, originally song lyrics, but then moved onto fanfiction when I was nineteen. Having published over 20 stories online. One of which was nominated for an award. I have also written, directed and starred in two original plays entitled, “No Frills Airlines: Flight 123,” and the sequel, “No frills Airlines: Come Fly with Us.” The latter of which was a musical.
This Christmas card was sent in by Gwen Connolley.
Even before the recent nightmare in Connecticut, the spirits of many seemed a bit dampened for the holidays this year. Sometimes it can require effort, at least for us grown ups, to see beyond our troubles and discover that simple joys can be found even in dark or stressful times. I think most holidays were created by and for those who need to find reason to be joyful in otherwise dire times. I would like to encourage others to seek and to find that life and light and love perpetually surround us. You can find more of my illustrations at www.gwenconnolley.com
Best wishes to you for the holidays and in the coming new year!
Names All Children’s Writers Should Know How To Spell: A Tribute to Kidlit Greatness
Though the below descriptions/explanations are mine, this list is from a lecture by Shelley Tanaka, an award-winning nonfiction children’s author, Canadian children’s book publisher and editor (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelley_Tanaka).
In preparation of starting my studies at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in pursuit of an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in less than a month from now, I came across a handout from one of my teachers, Shelley Tanaka, which, with her gracious permission, I would like to share with you. This list is more than a checklist of names with tricky spellings – although it’s that too. It is a reminder of our roots as children’s writers. These are the names of the great kidlit warriors, whose shoulders we are all trying to stand on.
(Note: Don’t feel bad if you don’t know all of them. I had to look up a couple!)
Newbery Medal. Named after an English bookseller John Newbery, the medal aims to recognize excellence in young people’s literature.
Hans Christian Andersen. Yes, we all know the wonderful andwhimsical storyteller from Denmark – author of numerous fairytales, novels, poetry and more — but some of us sometimes confuse his name with Anderson, as in M.T. Anderson, another name to know in young people’s literature, by the way).
Noel Streatfield. A Carnegie-medal winning English author.
Katherine Paterson. The beloved author of many young adult and children’s novels, including my personal favorite, Newbery-winning “Bridge to Terabithia.”
Stephenie Meyer. Some in kidlit circles like to look down on this author of the wildly popular “Twilight” saga. But she has definitely proved herself a force to be reckoned with, luring millions of girls to her romance with a vampire. Did you know that in addition to writing, Meyer is a film producer? Her production company is behind a movie based on Shannon Hale’s adult work, “Austenland.” (Yes, Shannon Hale’s another great one.)
Kate DiCamillo. Best known as theNewbery-winning author of sometimes tender, sometimes whimsical fiction for children, DiCamillo has also written picture books, early chapter books and published stories for adults.
Diana Wynne Jones. Born in London in 1934 and having passed away just last year, Jones was best known for her numerous fantasy novels for children and adults.
Ursula K. Le Guin. This author of several popular children’s series (as well as standalone stories), was a huge influence on many of the fantasy and science-fiction novels we read today.
Kenneth Grahame. This Scottish author wrote such children’s classics as “The Wind and The Willows,” and “The Reluctant Dragon,” both of which became Disney films.
Rosemary Sutcliffe. This British novelist was best known for her exciting historical fiction for young readers – especially her Arthurian stories (some of which were for adults).
Arthur Ransome. Another Englishman, considered one of the classic children’s authors, best known for his “Swallows in Amazons” adventure series set in between two world wars.
J. R. R. Tolkien. Though he didn’t write for children specifically, one could easily call him one of the founding fathers of fantasy, influencing such modern works as the “Harry Potter” series by Tolkien’s fellow Englishwoman J. K. Rowling (and yes, I trust we’ve all heard about her, and know her name’s spelling). Though of course fantasy was written before his time, it seemed his “Lord of the Rings” series resurrected the once-dying genre.
Madeleine L’Engle. Much beloved and missed, this American Newbery-winning author passed away in 2007. In her obituary, the New York Times described her work as “childhood fables, religious meditations and fanciful science fiction” that “transcended both genre and generation, most memorably in her children’s classic ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’”
15. Laurie Halse Anderson. Another great author name with literary spelling, this versatile YA giant writes books on difficult subjects spanning from rape and anorexia, to slavery.
16.SCBWI! Founded in 1971, by several Los Angeles writers, including the versatile Stephen Mooser, author of more than 50 works, including picture books and chapter books, and the middle-grade series author Lin Oliver, our beloved Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators is a source of knowledge and support, organizer of conferences and forger of great ties, and a promoter of children’s literature all around the world.
Of course this list only barely scratches the surface, and if she chose to Ms. Tanaka could probably have come up with a book filled with names of importance. But if there is anything you’d like to add to the list, please post a comment, below.
Katia Raina is the author of “Castle of Concrete,” a young adult novel about a timid half-Russian, half-Jewish teen in search of a braver “self” reuniting with her dissident mother in the last year of the collapsing Soviet Union, to be published by Namelos. On her blog, The Magic Mirror, http://katiaraina.wordpress.comKatia talks about writing and history, features interviews, book lists and all sorts of literary randomness.
Katia will start her MFA program in January 2013 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, pursuing a degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults. (link: http://www.vcfa.edu/wyca)
This was sent in by Barbara Johanson Newman was featured on July 14th, 2012. Click Here to View.
I would like to introduce you to Muriel Harris Weinstein. I think her journey to getting published in the Children’s Book Industry will be an inspiration to everyone one who reads this post.
Muriel taught elementary school for 22 years and sang every morning while driving to work. That says more for how much she enjoyed teaching than anything else she could say.
Today over 30 years later, she got her first picture book published. Here is Muriel and below her answers to my interview questions:
Children’s fiction hooked me. It always has as I read so much of it to my classes, my grandchildren and yop, my great grand children. And there’s that special something in them that lures me, that begs me to say. “Come… come and look and you’ll never want to leave.”
I must’ve been born under a lucky star, my first picture book, When Louis Armstorong Taught Me Scat, (about the joys of chewing bubble gum) was a Junior Library Guild Main Selection.
And two years later came Play Louis, Play! the true story of a boy and his horn, the biography of the grrrreat Louis Satchmo Armstrong’s young years. It has garnered a Junior Library Guild Selection, it has won the Paterson Prize, a national poetry award, that for the first time has expanded its sights to children’s lit, and it is a nominee for The Texas Bluebonnet Award and just came out in a Japanese edition and Amazon now has it on kindle and in paperback. WHEE! How lucky can anyone get???
I’m an octogenarian. WOW! that’s six syllables. That means that I’m in my eighties. I’m not a kid, although kids are my lifeline.
What was your first published book?
My first published books were work-books, The World of Vocabulary, which incorporated not only vocabulary but comprehension and grammar. We wrote them for one company, but they kept merging and with other companies, but we stayed on for over 35 years. The publishers were initially, Learning Trends & Globe, then Simon & Shuster, & Pearson. I was collaborating with my husband, Alfred Weinstein, who had taught English & then became a principal.
These books have been on the market over 35 years & are still out there today. I still collect royalties. It is amazing. that our books, which were later declared the most popular vocabulary & English workbooks on the market were initiated in the early ‘70’s and are still going strong today.
My first published Children’s picture book was When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat from Chronicle Books. The music teachers loved it. The reviewers from Kirkus and Booklist & other reviews, called it a tribute to Louis. I thought I was writing mostly about the joys of chewing bubble gum which I love, to this day It relieves stress and anxiety. I just chew away & off all my cares go. It seems to make me focus more on what I’m doing..
What was the inspiration for writing it?
Simple. I LOVE bubble gum. I chew it when I’m thinking hard. I chew it when I’m upset. I chew it when I’m anxious. I chew it a lot & I even blow bubbles. Have a picture of me blowing a HUGE bubble. That was not easy to get. It all started when a doctor saw a nodule on my throat & he suggested that I chew gum to promote the saliva. He said that keeping it moist was good for my throat. I did and learned that it calmed me…even was handy when I was hungry & had to wait a short while for lunch, but I was impatient and threatening to eat a bear.so the bubble gum helped me enormously.
How long did you submit to editors before it was published?
First of all, every time I submitted it, I edited it and it began to change…even now, when I look at it I’m dying to change a few things. Can’t tell ya’. Can’t snitch on myself… my other self will cry. Sooo, I guess it was a about 4 or 5 years. And then it took 2 years to become a part of Chronicle’s book list. They had to have the heroic nods from every editor or so it seemed to me. Then they didn’t have a meeting several times because they merged with another company… then the then head editor was on vacation… all kinds of reasons but I just chomped on the bubble gum and that saw me through it.
How did you feel when you found out about they wanted to publish your book?
WOW! I felt like a MACY BALLOON so pumped up…I felt like those huge sails on clipper ships with the wind blowing into its sail….have you ever seen how they swell???? EEEEnormous. I felt so good that I literally, wanted to stand on every street corner with fliers telling the world my book , When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, was puiblished.
Was Scott Treimel your first agent?
Yes, Scott Tremeil was my firsffffffffft agent but how he came to be my agnet is very interesting. I was a children’s conf. KINDLING WORDS, in Silver Bay, N.Y., the most northern part of Lake George, near Ft. Ticonderoga, near Lake Champlain, Canada. And we were asked if we wanted to read on Sat. night as that was the entertainment. So, enjoying reading, I signed up. When I finished, Scoptt cam over to me & told me that he knew a publisher who would love it
I was thrilled beyond words. First I never knew there was an agent in the crowd. Then for him to give me this info, I thought, “Geeee, is he terrific!!!
That Monday morning instead of getting info on Chronicle, I called Scott (found out his address & number). And I thanked him for his help, but wanted to know the name of an editor at Chronicle as I just didn’t want to mail it to the Children’s Dept. And Scott very helpful, gave me the name fo an editor, who, by the way, is no longer there and that’s how it got to them. Within one week I was told that they wanted it, but it took TWO YEARS for them to publish it.
How did you connect with Scott?
As I mentioned it above, he was one of the “hidden” guests of KINDLING WORDS & I didn’t know him from Adam. So I was just dammned lucky. We never signed a contract. We didn’t even have a handshake. There was just trust.
Is he the one who sold your first book?
Technically speaking, I sold my own book. I sent my book to them and they purchased it. But when it came to the contract, I asked Scott if he would protect it & handle it, I He said, “ YEAH, sure…no problem.. And he did. There wasn’t anything special in the contract. It was “boiler plate.” which meant, I guess, both ususal and the ordinary contract. But I could NEVER have sold it wihout Scott as he GAVE me the info about the publisher and he GAVE me the name of a good editor, etc… So I consider that Scott done did the deal. Yes, he came in on the sealing & signing of the contract.
Tell us about your second book.
My 2nd book, PLAY LOUIS, PLAY ! the true story of a boy and his horn is the bio of Louis Armstrong, which breaks all the rules of biography. That came about because I always loved Louis & when Chronicle asked me to write an Afterward about him for my SCAT book and stated that it should only be one page, I found that I couldn’t stop. I just had to write about him. I fell in love with a guy who was dead. He had such a remarkable disposition, such fine character, that I just kept going. Could not resist writing about him. I wanted to show the world, LOOK AT HIM! LOOK at what he does. Observe him. Learn from him.
Do you plan to continue to use the music theme with other books you write?
Of course, I want to write about music or musical themes or musicians or poets, who have music in their language, or artists who have music on their canvasses. In fact, some of my poetry is like a jazzy blues.
Tell us about the awards that you have won.
The Scat book, When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, is a Junior Library Guild Main Selection.
Play Louis, PLAY! the true story of a boy and his horn, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection. That book also won a prestigious poetry award, The Paterson Prize, which is the first year they included children’s prose. And I’m very honored. It also is a nominee for the biggest state award in the U.S., The Texas Bluebonnet Award which means that my publisher, Bloomsbury, had to print 20,000 books to be distributed to the students of Texas so they could vote this coming January…as they decide the winner. I wouldn’t care if I don’t win because I am in such illustrious company, Brian Selznick & so many others, I just can’t believe it.
It also has been printed in Japanese and maybe come out in Korean.
Amazon put it on kindle the first month it was out. I regard that as validation like an award. And it is coming out in paperback this coming Jan. 2013.
I have won several awards for my poetry which is really for adults. But I’ve written a small volume of nonsense poetry for kids and have never sent it out. Am now going to do that. So we’ll see.
Do you have anything new coming out?
Yes, I have another book coming out, a chapbook of poetry for adults, WHAT WOMEN WILL DO from Finishing Line Press, a publishing press in Kentucky, only for women. They believe in Emerging Poets. It is known throughout the poetry world and is highly regard.
How did you learn to scat?
I learned to scat listening to Louis’ & Ella’s records. Listening to them is a treat. Try it. It’s relaxing. I LOVED doing it… felt like areal jazz artist. In fact, if you go to my website www.murielharrisweinstein.com you can hear me Scat.
What are you working on now?
I’m now working on something that has taken years of research…I love research so it was hard to stop. I fall into such a mode of amazement that my mind is boggled by what people living in the past did… In fact, the ancient people without the knowledge that we have yet managed to create insulation, understanding of the human body, etc. I’m working On the Ancient Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut & her life…how she was denied what men were allowed & her struggle to attain some of those privileges. It’s about her life from birth onward…broked up because a pile of papyri were found & she wrote what we would call a diary. And it’s of her rise to power and how actually became a KING.
I see you are doing school visits. Can you tell us about how the kids interact with you? Do you have fun going back to school?
I LOVE going back to school. Went yesterday to the Little Red Schoolhouse on Bleeker St in NYC. Went with Patty McCormick… her book, NEVER FALL DOWN is one of the best 100 book published this year, a/c to The N.Y. Times.
So I go to this 5th gr. class & I tell them I’m home..I taught for 25 yrs & that when I enter a school, I smell it, I feel it, I am at Home. I’m extremely comfortable in front of kids. My feeling for them must shine out as they always behave well & enjoy listening. I say, enjoy, because they are quiet and so attentive. I wish I could do this once a week for the whole year…but I’m careless in calling & forget or get involved with calling the schools.
Do you feel that editors treat you differently when they find out you are an octogenarian?
The editor who bought the bio of Louis, never responded differently. She acted most normal & matter of fact alth’ she loved Louis, the attention was on the book, which I was thrilled with.
The teachers & administration of schools DO give me a great deal of respect… but it’s not unusual. I can see them being polite & thoughtful to others. After all, an author visiting is a wonderful situation. Yesterday, at the The Little Red Schoolhouse, one of the teachers asked me how old I was… I tell them the truth. And they are overwhelmed…. I think that’s what eggs me on. I love to startle them It’s such fun. Because they can SEE I’m much older, but they never expect to hear that I’m 89, going on 90 !! Aren’t you surprised?? I am …I’m shocked !!!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other writers?
I can pass on what was passed on to me in so many ways and to all writers. NEVER give up. That’s why I give my true age. You never know. And your creativity NEVER dies. Your mind continues to work in spite of the rebellion of the body.. So if you want to write, DO NOT GIVE UP !! And join a workshop or a group of writers you know…it’s important, I feel, to have a community of writers around you. In fact, I call it essential… Of course, there a few who do not need it, but most do… so try it. If you prefer your own company, by all means, enjoy it !!! Good Luck !!!
Hope you enjoyed your visit with Muriel. I know she inspires me.
Planning to join the LMM Journal Read Along? Here's what you need to do: Find the books Try your public library, or order through your local indie, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Now that they're available in paperback, they're more affordable and easier to track down. Save the dates Volume I: introductory post - Friday, February 1 discussion - Monday, February 25 Volume II: introductory post - Monday, April 1 discussion - Monday, April 29 Volume III:
introductory post - Monday, June 3
discussion - Friday, June 28
introductory post - Friday, August 2
discussion - Friday, August 30
introductory post - Wednesday, 2 September
discussion - Wednesday, 30 September
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Kit Pearson, award-winning children’s author, will discuss her new books, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth, and talk about her life as an author at the next Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable on Monday, January 21. The Whole Truth won the CLA Book of the Year Award for Children and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award in 2012. The Whole Truth was shortlisted for the Bolen Book Prize 2012.
January 21, 2013
The VCLR is open to the public. Members free, drop-ins $5, students $4. Meetings are held at the Nellie McClung Branch Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Road. Doors open at 7 pm.
4139 Park Road
Park Road Shopping Center
Charlotte, NC 28209
Bring the kids! We’ll have snacks!
“This entertaining early reader features Fiona, a girl who really, really likes to stop and smell the roses…The text is interspersed with black-and-white illustrations that do a stellar job of conveying both leisure and frenzy. A clever early reader with challenging vocabulary and some food for thought to boot.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Pearce’s succinct text will amuse emerging readers with her only slightly exaggerated references to the hectic pace of modern life. Ritchie’s fluid, cartoon-style illustrations are equally adept at conveying the story’s speedy absurdities (Mom consuming an entire plate of meatloaf in one gulp) and its more relaxing moments (Fiona smelling the flowers). Best of all, everyone gains an appreciation of the other’s sense of timing—including where and when each is appropriate.” –Booklist