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<<May 2015>>
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Results 1 - 25 of 7,294
1. Ask Your Library to Order Maggie on Audiobook!

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2. We Need NEW SHOES, More Than We May Know

By Kirsten Cappy, Curious City

Yes, #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #BlackLivesMatter. These hashtags and sentiments are integrated into my many literacy projects and into our ongoing commentary on this troubled nation. Yet, the more I hashtag, the more I wonder if the book industry’s endearing and infuriatingly slow pace can create a place where black lives matter simply by producing more diverse books.

Authors and illustrators will do their groundbreaking and childhood-lifesaving work and the publishers will publish them. But, are the consumers, educators and libraries buying enough books?  Are they buying at a pace that will expose a child to enough books to show him or her that their lives matter—matter to all of us?

Into the middle of these thoughts, a picture book New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer and illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Holiday House) landed on my desk. In the book, young Ella Mae is forced to wait for a white girl who came in the shoe store after her and then denied the right to try on the saddle shoes she and her mother have come to buy. Jim Crow sends Ella Mae’s mother to her knees to trace her daughter’s feet on paper.


The next day at school, Ella Mae has on her new shoes but “feels bad most of the day.”

“That’s happened to me too,” her friend Charlotte whispers when Ella Mae tells her about the store. What makes this story a marvel is that Ella Mae and Charlotte counter this Jim Crow discrimination with entrepreneurship.

Doing chores for neighbors, the girls ask to be paid in nickels and old shoes. After rounds and rounds of chores, they go into an old neighborhood barn. There they do not just play store, but create a store. With their nickels and their careful attention, they transform the old shoes into shelves of refurbished footwear.

When they post their “open” sign, the lines form and “anyone who walks in the door can try on all the shoes they want.”


We all strive to have children try out all the books they want. I want young readers to experience the tenacity and creativity of Ella Mae and Charlotte! But how many will? How many families will buy this acclaimed picture book from a bookstore shelf? How many libraries will have the funds to buy it for kids to check out or for teachers to pull from the shelves for a lesson?

If books and stories change lives, if diverse books allow children of color to be seen and validated, then why is book purchasing not a major charitable action?

For example, if the message of empowerment through entrepreneurship speaks to you and you have the means, why are you not buying New Shoes by the caseload for schools, libraries, and after school programs? Books have meaning and mission, but the industry has always been designed for single purchase use.  The bulk sale is rare.  If #WeNeedDiverseBooks, can we not find an entrepreneurial solution like Ella Mae and Charlotte?


We certainly can match a person or organization’s mission – to instill a feeling or lesson in children’s minds – to a children’s book that imparts that mission.

Public funds for schools, libraries, and many non-profits serving children continue to diminish. These institutions would welcome donated materials.  For example, I recently posted an offer on the American Library Services for Children email listserv offering 500 individually-donated paperback chapter books by Polly Holyoke. That offer brought 1,000 grateful schools and libraries to our site in less than 48 hours.  They would say a resounding “yes” for books that reflect their community.


The statement in New Shoes, “That’s happened to me,” is such a simple and searing statement of subtle and daily discrimination. Those subtle experiences of discrimination remain long after the end of Jim Crow.

Can we give kids of all races the tools to believe and act like #BlackLivesMatter by driving charitable donations of books? Is it as easy as setting up in the barn and painting a sign? It might be. Who wants to do the chores and gather the nickels with me?

NEW SHOES Text copyright © 2015 by Susan Lynn Meyer, Illustrations © 2015 by Eric Velasquez, Used by permission of Holiday House.

Kirsten Cappy of Curious City and Curious City DPW is an advocate for children’s literature and its creators and for schools and libraries. Through creative marketing projects, she seeks to create places where kids and books meet. She can be reached at kirsten@curiouscity.net or 207-420-1126.

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3. It’s Time For #ReadorWriteAnywhere

read or write black
Summer is about to begin and I’m trying to get as much writing done as possible before the kids are out of school!

But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we should stop reading and writing. I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in…

I’ll be giving away a copy of my new release STRANGE SKIES:

strange skies
Plus, there’s more! Every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits. Win a critique of your first chapter or fabulous YA books!

So are you ready?

Drum roll…

Denver Nature and Science Museum

Here are my 5 clues:
1. This place is in the capital city in Colorado.

2. There is a fabulous planetarium here which helped inspire my BURN OUT series.

3. Aside from the T-Rex in this picture, there are currently unicorns, mermaids, and dragons in this place.

4. I would normally do my writing or reading in the cafe area of this place, but the T-Rex made for a cooler picture.

5. My kiddos love coming here, and are especially captivated by the gemstone exit.

Can you guess where I am?

Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading, head over to the YA Chicks site and:

Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.
For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).

For writer prize packs:

Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you’re already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:
Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments–we won’t open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”

You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!


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5. These Maggie Fans Won Free Audiobooks!

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6. KidLit Author Events May 19-26


ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD by Varsha BajajThe Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Awards have been announced, and SCBWI Houston has another author to add to our long list: Varsha Bajaj! This members’ choice award of the Texas and Oklahoma regions goes to Varsha’s debut middle grade novel ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD. ASGTB was also a 2014 Cybils finalist. Congratulations, Varsha!


After last week’s flurry of events, we only have one author visit to Houston this week, but there’s a writing workshop and a short story contest to fill out the week.

May 23, Saturday, 2:00-4:00A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS by Kathleen Baldwin
Katy Budget Books
Kathleen Baldwin, YA Author

Enjoy tea and biscuits with Kathleen Baldwin as she discusses and signs her young adult novel A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS. It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the “beau monde” who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible-until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts.

May 30, Saturday, 1:00 PM; Registration now open
Writing Workshop with Marian Szczepanski: All Genres
$30.00 – $45.00


Objects and memories can carry significant resonance for literary explorations into the past – from personal experiences to collective histories. Learn how to use objects and/or memories, both personal and those shared by family members or history, as prompts for imaginative rumination and writing. We’ll consider examples in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. This highly interactive class also will include joint exercises in creating meaning and exploring literary possibility from a provided object and historical event. As a prompt for individual writing, each participant will be encouraged to bring his/her own object – personal memento, family keepsake, or any item (or image) that interests or intrigues. I’ll have an assortment of new and vintage objects on hand for participants who prefer to consider something unfamiliar. This workshop is intended for writers of all genres, including writers of fiction, short story, personal essay, creative nonfiction, memoir, and poetry.

Now through June 30Houston Writers Guild Press
Houston Writers Guild
Short Story Contest
Entry fee: $25 HWG members / $35 non-members / $20 students or seniors over 65
Multiple entries: $15 for subsequent entries for members / $25 for nonmembers / $10 for students and seniors over 65

DIVE INTO MYSTERY Short Story Mystery Contest:

HWG is looking for original unpublished mystery short stories; stand-alone adaptations from a longer manuscript are welcome. Authors may submit up to 3 short stories for consideration in the contest. Please see their website for more information.


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7. Forest Queen

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer


Forest Queen is the first tales fantastic story where you can listen to the story as well as read it. The audio version of the story is posted above in the youtube video. The video is called the Tales Fantastic Podcast but it’s not actually a podcast yet. In order for me to host the audio file so you can download it as a subscription on itunes and other podcast platforms it costs money. Currently I’m only $8 away from my goal on patreon that will pay for the media host. If you want to listen to the stories at a podcast I hope you’ll check out Patreon.com/manelleoliphant so see how you can make it so.

To download this story free visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/543956

Forest Queen

A short story by Manelle Oliphant

Watercolor painting called Forest Queen by Manelle OliphantThe day started out like any other. I broke my fast in the dim light of dawn and headed into the forest with my cart in tow. Throughout the morning I chopped a large tree, which had been my project during the previous few days. It’s wood only filled my cart halfway. I had a few hours before the market closed and wanted enough wood to sell, as well as keep my own family warm. So, I wandered southward instead of toward town. I’d never been that direction, but the trees looked old. Experience told me older trees meant more fallen branches, and I looked forward to an easy afternoon of work.

As I traveled the trees grew larger. The occasional bits of sun breaking through the forest canopy echoed off the plants below and gave the whole scene a green glow. The fresh smell of wild flowers hung in the air. Squirrels, deer, and rabbits watched me without fear. There were no predatory animals among them. There were many birds as well. They flitted through the trees singing. I never saw a fallen branch or log. The lack of forest litter had me second-guessing my decision to go that way, but the forest looked so old. I reasoned I’d find what I needed before long. I felt safe there, and wanted to linger. I pulled out my lunch and made myself comfortable on a tree’s root.

While I ate I took a closer look at the forest around me. There were still no fallen leaves or dead branches, and the day was wearing on. I realized if I was going to have enough wood by the day’s end I’d have to start from scratch. I looked around at the huge straight trunks. Most of these trees were too big for me to harvest alone. In the distance though, I saw a smaller tree. I could chop it down on my own, and still fill my cart for the next few days.

I pulled my cart over to it’s base. I examined the tree and the surrounding area with my well-trained eye. I saw where to hit, and how the tree would fall. With the plan in place, I raised my ax.

A strong wind blew in circles around me and the bird’s chirped louder. I heard the chatter of other animals too. I lowered my ax. The animals silenced and the wind calmed. The hush after such commotion made the forest feel hollow. I shuttered, but raised my ax again. The animal’s chatter started up at a greater volume than before and a gust of wind blew me against the tree. I shook my head to clear it. Feeling spooked I resolved to leave. As I leaned to pick up my ax from where I’d dropped it, another blast of wind slammed my head against the trunk.

When I woke, I lay on the mossy ground. My head swam as I sat up. I rolled to hands and knees and looked around. An eerie red light had replaced the dancing green one from before, and a thick fog rolled over the ground. Deer, raccoons, rabbits, and every kind of forest beast stood in a circle around me. I saw with dismay wolves, bears, and other predatory animals stood next to their gentler counterparts. I used the tree to help me stand.

“Woodcutter,” said a clear voice from behind me, “why do you enter my forest and attempt to break the pact I made with humans in eons past?”

I turned around. A beautiful woman sat before me on an ancient stone throne. She seemed larger than life; her dark hair fell wild, and branches grew from her head. She looked exactly as the forest queen is described in all our stories. She even held the staff of life with an unbroken egg affixed to it’s top. Powerful forces emanated from it, giving the forest life.

I flung myself at her feet. “Great Lady, I ask your pardon, and plead ignorance. I did not know you protected this part of the forest.”

“All the signs were there for you to see. I even commanded my wolves and bears to leave you alone. They could have eaten you, but I bid them not, as I felt you respected the forest and it’s kind.”

“I’m sorry. In my thoughts for my family’s welfare I neglected to see the signs. My only thought was for the food and warmth more wood could provide.”

She stared down at me. “I know humans often make mistakes. I also know you use wood to survive in your mortal bodies. That is why you are allowed your own portion of forest to do with what you will, but you may not mar the trees in my realm. Many years have made them wise and removing them from this world would be an irreversible mistake. Today you may go, but if you enter my woods a second time you will not live to come out.”

I nodded. “Thank you, I understand.”

As I spoke a soft breeze put me back to sleep. I woke up in a more familiar part of the forest. Pine needles littered the ground and the air felt crisp and empty, unlike the cozy feel of the  air in the queen’s realm. My belongings sat next to me. I fingered the bump where I’d hit my head and groaned. A headache already pounded in my brain. The sun set as I trudged home, and told my wife what had happened.

She examined the bump on my head. “Do you think it was a dream?”

“I’m not sure, but I’ll never head into that part of the forest again.”

Since then I am more careful how I get my wood. I seek the ground harder for trees and branches felled by nature. Sometimes, when I pay attention, the wind blows me one way or another. When I follow it, I always find what I am looking for. I believe it’s the Forest Queen helping me keep my family fed, and protecting her forest at the same time.

The End

If you enjoyed this story learn how you can support the creation of more like it at www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

Manelle Oliphant Patreon


The post Forest Queen appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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8. Daughter of Deep Silence: downloadable quotes + giveaway

Today, we’re kicking off the official blog tour for Carrie Ryan’s new book The Daughter of Deep Silence! I enjoyed the author’s zombie series The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so I was glad to see her returning to YA after launching her middle grade series. We have downloadable quotes from the book (just link back to us, please!), a giveaway, and a mini review to share with you today. This is the story of girl who lost everything she had–her family, her love, and her very identity. Frances is a survivor of a devastating attack on a ship at sea in which her best friend and family were killed. When she’s finally rescued, she discovers that the only two other survivors of the attack are her boyfriend Grey and his father, Senator Wells. But to her horror, they claim that the ship capsized because of a rogue wave–a mere... Read more »

The post Daughter of Deep Silence: downloadable quotes + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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9. 5 Questions – Week 3

KidsComicQuestions TourBanner

Wowza – another great week of asking some really talented folks, 5 Questions! Check out the interviews that Rafael and I did with them:

Day jobs, energy buckets & Superman! 5 Questions for Gene Luen Yang @ Finding Wonderland

Research babies,hazards of history, audiobooks! 5 Questions with Nathan Hale @ Kid Lit Frenzy

John Allison Talks webcomics, software, Husker Du and Bad Machinery @ Supernatural Snark 

The challenges of cartooning for science! 5 Questions for Maris Wicks @ Roar Robots

Jenni & Matt Holm on Babymouse, sibling shorthand & long distance storytelling @ The Busy Librarian

Craig Thompson talks Space Dumplins the All-American road trip and bedtime reading @ The Book Rat

Sketching, art school advice and influences with Chris Schweizer

Coming up next week: Sara Varon, David Rubin, Adventures in Cartooning, Mike Maihack, John Patrick,Rafael Rosado (interviewed me me!), and Faith Erin Hicks!!!




KidsComicSponsored BlogTourBanner

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10. Celebrating 40,000 Visitors! Audiobook Giveaway!

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11. Emotional Wounds Entry: Watching A Loved One Die

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

car accidentCharacters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

 Watching A Loved One Die


  • trying to help one’s passenger in the aftermath of a car accident
  • at the bedside of one who is terminally ill, at home or in a hospice
  • witnessing a friend’s hit and run as she crosses the street
  • on a family outing at the lake (a drowning or boating accident)
  • offering end-of-life comfort after a fatal fall (rock climbing, home repairs, a balcony that gives away, etc.)
  • finding a loved one alive after a disaster (earthquake, tornado, etc.) but being too late
  • being helpless to stop a violent act (a mugging or stabbing, a hate crime beating, etc.)
  • while on duty (a soldier in one’s unit, a fellow police office gunned down, etc.)
  • in a random accident (electrocuted by faulty wiring, a quadding accident, etc.)
  • in a house fire (being unable to reach a loved one in time)

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I failed when I was needed most
  • I should have died instead, he/she was worthy than I will ever be
  • If I care about someone, I will lose them
  • I am toxic to the people around me (if blame comes into play)
  • I don’t deserve to live
  • Loving someone will end in pain
  • *God is not real or this would not have happened (*rejecting one’s faith only if religious)
  • If I am not constantly vigilant, other loved ones will be taken from me

Positive Attributes That May Result:  cautious, observant, doting, farsighted, focused, knowledgeable, maternal, meticulous, practical, self-reliant, vigilant

Negative Traits That May Result: paranoid, anxious, clingy, aloof, guarded, hesitant, moody, needy, nervous, neurotic, perfectionist, resentful, self-destructive, unassertive, withdrawn, worrywart, irresponsibility

Resulting Fears:

  • fear of abandonment through death
  • fear of dying
  • fear of becoming too emotionally connected to people
  • fears associated with the manner of how one died (if a loved one drowned in a riptide, one may become terrified of swimming or water, for example)
  • fear of causing loved ones harm (if self-blame is a factor, real or imagined)
  • fear of failing those around oneself, fear of responsibility

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • avoiding the people who were involved in the accident or around at the time of death
  • distancing oneself from friends and family
  • alternatively, becoming clingy, protective or obsessive about a loved one’s whereabouts
  • needing to plan and understand all risks before committing to an action or decision
  • avoiding anything spontaneous and becoming very risk-averse
  • alternatively, behaving in self-destructive ways or being reckless  from a desire to “prove” one is not worthy of living
  • avoiding future responsible for the welfare of others by embracing irresponsibility
  • throwing oneself into work to avoid dealing with grief
  • becoming mission-oriented, seeking justice, vengeance or restitution for the death (investigating, raising public awareness, suing parties involved, etc.)

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

The post Emotional Wounds Entry: Watching A Loved One Die appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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12. Summer Stress Relief

Our Summer Reading Program starts tomorrow and goes through August 8. We have programs happening every day of the week and most weekends from June to the end of Summer Reading. My branch alone has around 5,000+ kids and teens participate in the Summer Reading Program, not to mention all the patrons that come through our doors and don’t turn in Summer Reading Program information. It’s going to be a long, busy Summer!

That’s why my staff and I came up with our Summer Stress Relief Basket this year. We cleared off a space in our workroom and created a space for us to take a break and relax. I added some Kinetic Sand-which is perfect for a quick relaxing brain break! I also included a copy of Secret Garden, the very popular and intricate adult coloring book. My staff have added chocolate and other treats and we’ll keep adding to it throughout the Summer.

Our goal is to remind ourselves that we’re doing a great job and to take a breather every once in awhile!

What would you put in your Summer Stress Relief Basket?

The post Summer Stress Relief appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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14. Nature and Summer-At-Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum is HERE!

Looking for a unique way to keep your kids busy this summer…and engaged with nature? The At-Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum is available for sale!

At Home Summer Nature Camp eCirriculum

A creative, affordable alternative to pricey summer camp, this 8-week eCurriculum is packed with ideas and inspiration to keep your kids engaged and happy all summer long. In one easy-to-follow PDF, you receive eight kid-approved themes, each including ideas and tutorials for: outdoor activities, indoor projects, arts & crafts, recipes, field trips, books & media, and more. Every weekly theme is packed with summer nature fun your family can have right in your own backyard!

Themes include: An Edible Garden, The Night Sky, At the Beach, A Spot in the Shade, Ponds & Frogs, Rain Rain, Wildflowers & Bees, and Sun Fun.

At Home Summer Nature Camp

Want a sneak peak of what’s inside? First, let me tell you that every week includes guest contributions from some really incredible, creative mamas. Here’s a sampling of their projects:

Of course, there are plenty of A Natural Nester projects & ideas too, including: At-the-Beach Touch Tanks, Rainy-Day Cheesy Croutons & Tomato Soup Recipes, Build a Bee CondoBlast Off to Outer Space (A Virtual Field Trip), and much more! And to tie it all together, I’m including two all-summer-long bonus projects: Keep a Nature Journal and Create a Curio Cabinet to help your little naturalists learn to observe, collect, and record the objects and events of their natural world.

It’s going to be loads of fun, and a resource you can use for years to come. And the best part…it’s really affordable. Pay only $39.99 for all 8 weeks – that’s just under $5 a week folks! So, now you know why I’m jumping out of my skin to share this new project with you…

For a few more details, and to pre-order your

At-Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum, Click here to visit A Natural Nester.


**these links are affiliate links

The post Nature and Summer-At-Home Summer Nature Camp eCurriculum is HERE! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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15. In Search of the Elusive Lesbian Mom

On a typical day at work I might be called upon to come up with a list of children’s books pertaining to one topic or another.  Recently I decided to cull together a GLBTQ list for grades K-3 and one for grades 4-8.  Easy peasy.  I know a lot of the books, both old and new, and putting them together is a breeze.

The picture book list wasn’t all that hard.  Books with two dads are pretty easy to locate (the 10th anniversary of And Tango Makes Three, the upcoming Stella Brings the Family, and so on and such).  Thinking up moms . . . that was a little harder, but eventually I was able to locate Antonio’s Card, Heather Has Two Mommies (the newly illustrated edition, of course), and In Our Mother’s House.  Not a plethora, but serviceable.  Forget about finding any books about girls defying gender roles, though.  Plenty of boy in dress books and even a couple transgender titles, but gender fluid girl titles?  Not much on offer.

As I moved onto the middle grade list things got tricky.  Middle grade novels with two dads or gay guys in general?  Again, easy peasy.  Popularity Papers, The Manny Files, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, The Accidental Adventures of India McCallister, etc.  Middle grade novels with two moms . . . huh.

It took a lot more effort to find such books.  They had to be currently in print, for one thing.  And I really wanted moms.  Just normal old moms.  Not an aunt’s roommate or anything.  Finally I had to tap my social media friends and together this is what we came up with:

Middle Grade Titles With Two Moms

  • Best Friend Next Door, by Carolyn Mackler
  • Case of the Stolen Scarab & Case of the Vanishing Valuables by Nancy Garden.
  • A Clear Spring by Barbara Wilson (it’s aunts in this case, but we take what we can get)
  • The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
  • I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
  • My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari
  • Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder
  • I wasn’t able to confirm this but apparently all three Maggie Brooklyns by Leslie Margolis including Girl’s Best Friend, Vanishing Acts, and Secrets at the Chocolate Mansion
  • The Flower Power book series by Lauren Myracle
  • From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson (though we bought the reprinted edition for our YA collections, in part because of the cover).

That’s all she wrote, folks.  But if you’ve more you can name of either this (or picture books with gender fluid gals) I’d love to hear ‘em.  No YA, though.  It’s easy to get YA and middle grade mixed up, but I work strictly in the children’s book realm.


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16. room for everyone

Originally posted on travel and sing:

room for everyone

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17. What Are the Great Children’s Literature Writing Retreats?

This one’s for the writers, but could be of just as much use to those folks who want to be published authors and just haven’t gotten there yet.  In my time as a roving children’s librarian I’ve spoken at two different but enchanting writing retreats.  I should probably define my terms, though, so when I say “writing retreats” I mean places where authors, incipient and otherwise, pay a fixed amount to be inspired, edited, or taught by a knowledgeable staff.  Bonus points if there’s pretty scenery. Extra added bonus points if you get good food.

Recently I was speaking at one such retreat (to be named below) and it got me to thinking.  If you wanted to make a compiled list of all the children’s literary retreats in the States, where would you go?  Well, you’d go here since I’m going to start trying to compile such a list right now.

If you can think of any that should be added (and specifically target writing for kids and/or teens) mention them in the comments and I’ll include them.

Literary Retreats for Folks Who Write for Kids and Teens

Better Books Marin

Name: Better Books Marin
Location: Marin County, California? The website is a bit spotty on that point.
Who’s It For? The motto is, “A Craft-Based Workshop for Middle-Grade & YA Writers”.
What’s it like? This is a retreat for folks who want a good hands on learning and critique experience.  As you can see from this schedule, the days are rigorously planned out.  This is the kind of retreat where you get bang for the proverbial buck.


SCBWI Falling Leaves / Spring Leaves

Name: SCBWI Falling Leaves / Spring Leaves Retreat
Location: Silver Bay, NY
Who’s It For? The two retreats (Spring Leaves for the spring and Falling Leaves for . . . well, you get it) rotate genres.  So there’s a little something for everyone.
What’s It Like? Both SCBWI members and non-members are able to apply for this retreat.  Compared to some other retreats this is an affordable option.  Registration does not appear to be currently open for the next fall conference, but one suspects it’s just a matter of time before it opens up.

The Highlights Foundation

Name: The Highlights Foundation
Location: Honesdale, PA
Who’s It For? Boy howdy, you name it! Of all the workshops listed here, the Highlights Foundation’s is the one with the most workshops per year.  Everything from science writing and nonfiction picture books to early readers and first chapter books are covered.
What’s It Like? I’ve spoken twice at Highlights with a third engagement is coming up in two months. Basically it’s just lovely. Adorable tiny cabins. Amazing food. Great speakers. It feels more low-key than some of the other retreats, but honestly you can find the workshop that fits your style.

Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop (OCCBWW)

Name: Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop (OCCBWW)
Location: Oceanside, Oregon
Who’s It For? Everyone, insofar as I can tell. Anyone writing children’s books, anyway.
What’s It Like? This is the rare retreat where you can get actual graduate level course credits for taking the workshops and intensives on offer. Unlike other retreats this one makes no bones about what they hope to accomplish: “Getting attendees published is the end goal.” They do a lot of one-on-one coaching as well.

Picture Book Boot Camp

Name: Picture Book Boot Camp
Location: Phoenix Farm, Western Massachusetts (in the Northampton area, I believe)
Who’s It For? It’s described as a Master Class for working picture book authors.
What’s It Like? Well, this one’s much smaller and more personal than a lot of the other retreats mentioned here.  Authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple started a boot camp at Jane’s 1896 Victorian farmhouse home in Massachusetts.  There appears to be a lot of close attention paid to the attendees (which cap off at 12).

The Speakeasy Literary Retreat

Name: The Speakeasy Literary Retreat
Location: Various. It moves around. Past retreats have been in San Francisco (2012), Fallen Leaf Lake (2013), and Portland (2014). The next one is slated for the Rivendell Writer’s Colony in Sewanee, TN
Who’s It For? That’s a bit unclear. To be a member of the Speakeasy Literary Society you must submit your application and be accepted. One assumes that folks who attend the retreats are also members.
What’s It Like? Informal and without an official schedule. As they (the Speakeasy Literary Society) say, “We have one mission: to encourage children’s publishing professionals to relax and commune in a variety of inspirational settings. Preferably with drinks.” Of the retreats listed in this post, this one’s probably the most laid back.

Whispering Pines

Name: Whispering Pines Writer’s Retreat
Location: West Greenwich, RI
Who’s It For? Hard to say. This is the rare retreat without a website. At the same time, with its connection to NESCBWI, it’s one of the most successful.
What’s It Like? Now in its 20th year, co-directors Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Mary Pierce are stepping down this year and will be replaced with Julie Kingsley and Cameron Kelly Rosenblum. Described as the kind of place where you “design your own retreat” but with plenty of speakers, games, and fun.  Liz Goulet Dubois has recapped several years’ worth of retreats, so you should be able to glean how they go.

Name: The Writing Barn
Location: Austin, TX
Who’s It For? Everyone. Juv and YA alike.  Picture books, novels, chapter books, you name it.
What’s It Like?  The brainchild of author Bethany Hegedus, it’s just the loveliest space.  Wild deer and foxes frolic about the cactus plants while inside the barn you’ve amazing and brainy folks talking about books left and right.  I’ve only spoken there once, but it was just the nicest time.  Busy?  Heck, yeah!  And fun.

I’ve heard a rumor that the Spruceton Inn, a bed and bar in the Catskills (run by Jon Scieszka’s daughter, the writer Casey Scieszka, and her author/illustrator husband Steven Weinberg) has the occasional writing and/or illustration retreat.  So far there’s nothing to confirm this online, but I know they’re game so if you writerly types want to do an official retreat, think about contacting them.

Sidenote: Laurel Snyder mentioned that, “The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences isn’t just for kidlit enthusiasts but they WILL fund YA and kidlit projects, which not everyone does.”

Actually, author Laurel Snyder also pointed out to me that most retreats are of an unofficial nature.  As she put it, “I’m doing my third retreat this year, and all three have been DIY– a group of writers getting together in a house in the woods, just because they can!”  So in lieu of going to any of these magnificent places, consider renting a cottage for a week and inviting some pals!



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18. Hachette Book Group’s Revenues Down 12.3%

Hachette Book Group’s revenues dropped 12.3 percent in Q1 2015, Hachette’s parent company Lagardère revealed in its earning release today.

The company attributed the drop to softer sales and a drop in e-book sales. “Hachette Book Group’s results this quarter reflect tough comparisons to Q1 2014 when we saw ‘The Goldfinch,’ ‘I am Malala,’ and ‘Grain Brain’ surging beyond the holidays into the first part of the year, and a Q1 2015 publishing program that was lighter than usual on major hardcover lead titles,” stated Michael Pietsch, CEO of HBG.

Overall, Hachette Livre saw net sales reach $474M, up 7.1 percent from the comparable quarter last year. In France, sales were up 10.4 percent and in the UK, sales were down 4 percent.

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19. ICYMI: Dragon Bewares Videos!

VIDEO 1: Claudette is back!

VIDEO 2: What’s Your Favorite Thing About Dragons?

VIDEO 3: What Should be Claudette’s Battle Cry?

VIDEO 4: What’s do you like about dragons?

VIDEO 5: How would you fight a dragon?

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20. Saint Anything: book launch + Sarah Dessen interview + giveaway!

Earlier this week, I went to the launch party for Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen here in Los Angeles. While a new Dessen book is always something to celebrate, I had an especially good time because I had the chance to interview Sarah before the event. Yes! The grand dame of contemporary YA herself! There was already a line an hour before the event at Children’s Book World, with girls and women of all ages waiting excitedly to see her. The lovely employees ushered me into the green room , where Sarah was waiting, looking fresh and pretty in a cheery pink dress that her daughter had chosen for her. I’m going to be very girly for a minute and tell you that the polish on her hands and her toes matched her dress. ADORABLE. Q&A with Sarah Dessen Wendy: In Saint Anything, Sydney’s family dynamics with her brother and... Read more »

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21. Announcing…The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus!

Just like real people, our characters have a plethora of past experiences that play a part in molding who they become. While these experiences, good and bad, affect their personalities, it is often the harrowing ones that have the most impact.

car-accident-337764_1280An emotional wound is a negative event from the character’s past that causes a hurt deep enough to change who he or she is. It might be a single experience (discovering a spouse’s infidelity), a longer term situation (being so poor one often went to bed hungry), or a series of small cuts that leave scars (a parent who withheld affection whenever one’s performance and grades were less than perfect). Whatever the wound, the result is an all-consuming fear that if the character does not protect himself, this situation (and resulting emotional pain) will happen again.

This intense fear causes flaws to bloom, flaws that act as emotional shields to keep people and situations at arms length, preventing a past hurt from reoccurring. Behaviors, habits, attitudes, and even beliefs may alter. The character who was cheated on will struggle with trust, and may become promiscuous to avoid meaningful relationships that could put his heart at risk. The character raised in poverty may become stingy with money and resources to avoid any possibility of having to go without. A character taught that affection is tied to success may become an overachieving workaholic out of a need to please others. The most important aspect of these flaws is that while they appear to “protect” or “help” the character, they actually do the opposite, damaging relationships and preventing the self-growth needed to move past these fears.

Wounds will help shape our characters. Who someone is at the start of a story is due, in part, to any wounds from his past. As authors, it’s important to identify a character’s unique wounds to better understand what kind of person he is, how he’s likely to react in a given situation, and why.

It is for this reason that we’ve chosen EMOTIONAL WOUNDS as the topic for our next thesaurus.  We will examine different wounding events and offer ideas on how they could change a character, helping you plot how a wound will impact your character’s personality and steer his motivations.

Wounds are messy, and their effects can be complicated. To break it all down, here’s a brief tutorial on the elements that will be covered in each entry of this thesaurus and how they’re inter-related.

1024px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svgBasic Needs: According to famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, people are driven by 5 basic needs that we all need in order to be fulfilled. If a need isn’t being met, we will deliberately or subconsciously set out to meet that need. Often, a wounding event will steal away one of these needs—i.e., safety being sabotaged when someone is mugged. Even after the event is over, that lack of safety haunts the victim and can affect his or her behavior as she tries to reclaim her feeling of security. Thus, it’s important to identify which needs will be compromised from a given wound so the character’s resulting actions will make sense.

False Beliefs: There’s something in human nature that makes us internalize bad things that happen, even when it wasn’t our fault. In the aftermath of a wounding event, a character will often blame himself and come to believe a lie that begins to erode his self-esteem. For instance, someone who is bullied may start to believe that there’s something intrinsically wrong with him, and this is why he’s picked on. This lie, like any belief, will affect the character’s behaviors, mannerisms, decisions, and beliefs. It’s a highly motivating factor in influencing who a character becomes in the aftermath of a wounding event and so must be identified. For more information on lies and their relationship with basic human needs, check out the Needs and Lies appendix in The Negative Trait Thesaurus.

Character Traits: Because a character will be highly driven to avoid repeating both the wounding event and the negative feelings that are associated with it, he will often adopt new attributes and flaws that weren’t a part of his personality in the past. For instance, a character who was abandoned by a parent might become distrustful of others, rebellious, or withdrawn. On the positive side, he may be fiercely loyal to those who meet his need for love and acceptance; he might also develop and express deep empathy for others who have suffered from abandonment. There are many ways a character might respond to a wound, giving you much freedom in creating a character who is believable and makes sense to readers.

Resulting Fears: Wounds often spawn fears that are born out of a desire to avoid repeating the negative experience and associated emotions. These fears will absolutely impact a character’s behaviors and habits moving forward, so it’s important to identify them.

New Habits: The lies and resulting fears that stem from a wound will drastically alter a character’s actions as he moves into his new normal. The habits offered in this thesaurus may seem contradictory in nature because behaviors will vary from character to character. For example, someone experiencing the violent death of a loved one could begin to act a number of ways: he might withdraw from meaningful relationships out of the fear that he can’t protect his loved ones; he may turn volatile and seek revenge because he wrongly believes that he will never find peace until the culprit is brought to justice; he could throw himself into work as a way of avoiding the negative feelings that resulted from the wound. Once you’ve identified any lies or fears, it will be a simple matter of picking the new behaviors that correspond.

As you can see, wounds are highly formative. Choosing the right wound for your character and your story is a good first step toward writing a believable character who rings true with readers. If you would like more information on wounds, the front matter of The Negative Trait Thesaurus covers this in great detail.

We hope that you find The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus to be a useful addition to our Writers Helping Writers collection. The first entry will be posted next Saturday. Enjoy!

photo credits: 1)Pixabay, 2)Wikimedia Commons

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22. ALSC Releases white paper: “Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth”

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) announces the release of a new white paper, “Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth.” This paper was written for ALSC by Cen Campbell, Claudia Haines, Amy Koester, and Dorothy Stoltz and adopted by the ALSC Board of Directors on March 11, 2015. The paper explores the role of children’s librarians as mentors of digital media and calls on youth service librarians to support families in their intentional, appropriate, and positive use of media.

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper

ALSC’s next Community Forum will be held on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 2pm Eastern/1pm Central and will also serve as a virtual release party for this white paper. Members are invited to logon to learn more about the paper, discuss its implications on the field, and share experiences as media mentors in their own communities.

ALSC is committed to assisting members as they explore this media mentor role in their own communities. Therefore, ALSC is offering two past webinars free to members through July, 2015 and has made available a collection of examples of current media mentorship practice. ALSC has also invited Lisa Guernsey, Director of the Early Education Initiative and the Learning Technologies Project at New America, to speak at Leadership & ALSC program at ALA’s Annual Conference to discuss the idea of media mentorship and implications on early childhood learning.

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23. When Illustrators Surprise You

Brinton Turkle: Purveyor of Terror.

For that statement to strike you funny you have to first be familiar with the collected works of a man that, I would argue, was the most successful Quaker author/illustrator in the business.

Today I want to tackle the phenomenon of what happens when you discover a new book from your favorite illustrator, only to discover that it’s surprising in some way.  This can happen with someone publishing today who, it turns out, has a long and storied backlist.  It can also happen with one of your favorite illustrators from the days of yore.  In fact, that’s what happened to author/illustrator Elizabeth Rose Stanton (of the delightful and weird Henny) when she reread one of her kids’ books.  And it was by Brinton Turkle.

A quick bit of background first.  For those of you unfamiliar with Turkle, you can find a nice biography of him here.  His most famous books are debatable.  Here in New York I often notice that The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton shows up on a lot of teachers’ reading lists.

Still, I think his Obadiah series (Caldecott Honor book Thy Friend, Obadiah is the only one still in print) remains best known around the country.  It was a historical series following a Quaker boy in Nantucket.

Lovely illustrations.  Sweet storylines.  You’d hardly think the man capable of Do Not Open.

Published in 1981, the innocuous description reads “Following a storm Miss Moody and her cat find an intriguing bottle washed up on the beach. Should they ignore its ‘Do not open’ warning?”

Not to spoil the surprise for you but, no.  No they should not ignore the warning.  Because the contents are, quite frankly, deliciously horrifying.

What interests me about this book isn’t so much the fact that it’s unafraid to get scary, though it is curious that no one minds.  In an age where Pinkerton covers get re-illustrated to remove firearms and Let’s Get a Dog, Said Kate is lambasted for an imagined cigarette, both the Amazon and the Goodreads reviews of this title are remarkably innocuous.  Still, more interesting to me is the phenomenon of trusting an artist to keep producing the same old, same old, only to have them launch in an entirely different direction.  This is particularly interesting when they have a commercially successful product on the one hand, and yet they yearn to get artistic and creative on the other.  Some, like Sendak, could afford to be both but I think we can agree that he’s the exception, not the rule.

Other examples of books that you might be surprised to stumble across, though these are just cases of artists getting silly more than anything else, are:

The Seven Lady Godivas by Dr. Seuss

I had a copy of this at a branch once, and though it was cataloged as adult the pages kept shelving it in the children’s room.  I could hardly blame them, though I did wonder if they ever glanced at the cover.

Uncle Shelby’s ABZs by Shel Silverstein

I like to think most folks already know this one, but there’s a possibility that they don’t.  My favorite section is still, “G is for Gigolo”.  Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves summarizes the book nicely here.

There are others out there, of course.  These were just the first that came to my mind.


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24. Five Questions — WEEK 2

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Another great week of asking some very talented folk, 5 Questions! Check out the interviews:

5 Questions with Jeffrey Brown @ Ghost in the Machine

5 Questions with Cecil Castellucci @ Winter Haven Books

5 Question with Frank Cammuso @ Reading ABC

Work process, music, and ice cream: 5 Questions with Hope Larson @ the Book Wars

Threatening Tower of books and more! 5 Questions with Eric Orchard @ Alice Marvels

5 Questions with Jellaby author Kean Soo @ Genuine Cupcakes

Nick Magazine, space, milkshakes, kids’ comics 5 Questions with Dave Roman @ the Frog Queen!

Coming up this week: Gene Luen Yang, Nathan Hale, John Allison, Maris Wicks,
Jenni and Matt Holm, Craig Thompson, and Chris Schweizer!













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25. Using Twitter to Gain Exposure as a Writer

Hi everyone, today we have A.J. Walkley with us, offering a window into how Twitter can help writers with exposure. We all know that as more choose writing as a career path,  finding ways to become better known on the other side of the keyboard is something we all need to think about. A.J. has had some great success doing this, and is here to show us how. FleuronNo matter what type of writer you are – a fledgling just starting out; self-published; indie published; repped or unrepped; or those who’ve beaten the odds and stepped over the line into traditional publishing – you know just how important exposure to the industry is to find success. Without taking a leap, risking your pride, and putting your writing out there, you can never get to that next rung on the ladder. Fortunately for us all, there are a multitude of opportunities to get that needed exposure today; all you need to do is sign online for many of them to open up to you. One area alone with many chances to take advantage of is the fast-moving social media platform of Twitter.

Fiction contests are popular across Twitter and allow authors to hatch new ideas seen by the most influential agents and editors out there, without all the stress of a query letter. I first heard about #TwitterFiction Festival, for one, a few months ago when my literary agency posted about a contest related to the event. Writers of all calibers have the opportunity to submit a fiction idea that can be written in tweet-form. Along with 20-25 bestselling authors who are featured during the five-day virtual writing festival annually, 20-25 lesser known writers are chosen as well.

I decided to enter the challenge with a crime novel idea that had been percolating in my mind for the better part of a year. An esteemed panel of judges from across the industry, including editors from some of the biggest publishing houses, would be critiquing submissions. But in the overwhelming flood of entries that pour through news feeds in contests like this, how could I stand out from the crowd? How could I be noticed?

I decided a fiction story told on Twitter just wasn’t enough. So I shaped the story to be told from two Twitter accounts – a detective and a killer – and included multimedia aspects like photos, fake news clippings, and video footage. It must have stood out: I received a congratulatory email at the beginning of April saying I’d made it into the final round of submissions. I am one of 22 featured authors chosen to showcase my idea in specific time slots with many in the publishing industry watching.

#TwitterFiction Festival is a tremendous opportunity for writers for several reasons, the first being the eyes you get your writing in front of from the get-go. A panel of judges from across the publishing industry choose the official participants; 2015 saw judges from Quirk Books; Little, Brown and Company; Avon Books, HarperCollins; Simon & Schuster; Hachette Book Group; Grove Atlantic; Penguin Random House; and St. Martin’s Press. On top of those esteemed entities, this year, for the second year in a row, the Association of American Publishers and Penguin Random House are presenting the event.

A contest like this forces authors to stretch the limits of their creativity, too. I had never tried to parse a novel or storyline into 140 characters before. Including visuals in both photo and video form, along with my words, was an even greater challenge, and my “book” has certainly benefited from it.

While I was one of the chosen featured authors, anyone on Twitter can craft and Tweet short fiction using #twitterfiction throughout the festival. It’s a fantastic way to showcase wild and exciting stories in a format that’s rarely been seen before. The only limit is your creativity.

This particular writing opportunity is not the only Twitter-based contest out there, either. You’ve probably heard of #PitMad (Pitch Madness), where authors craft a 140-character pitch to agents and editors for the chance to gain a full manuscript request. The Women’s Fiction Writing Association has another contest using the hashtag #WFPitch. #SFFPitch is a great contest for showcasing science fiction and fantasy ideas. You can also always find an abundance of agents tweeting under the hashtag #AskAgent if you’re trying to learn what agents do and do not want to see.

The best part about these contests is that, even though each may only list a few featured judges, you can be guaranteed there are hundreds of eyes from the publishing industry refreshing their Twitter feeds throughout the day in hopes of finding your next amazing idea and requesting to read.

AJ Join me on Twitter Tuesday, May 12th from 2am-3am EST (you bring the coffee, I’ll bring the entertainment!) and Friday, May 15th from 9pm-10pm EST for my two featured time slots where I’ll be presenting my new crime novel, the identicals, and see what the festival is all about.

I’ll be tweeting from @DetectiveEGibbs and @brandedailor, and retweeting from my personal account, @ajwalkley, as the story unfolds May 11-15, 2015.

Thank you so much to Angela Ackerman for the opportunity to contribute to Writers Helping Writers! If you’re planning to participate and share your own #twitterfiction throughout the festival, please let me know on Twitter so I can watch your story unfold, too!

Subscribe to A.J. Walkley’s Twitter list and follow her #TwitterFiction crime story with ease: https://twitter.com/AJWalkley/lists/the-identicals1

A.J. Walkley on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJWalkley

Website: http://ajwalkley.com/

Will you be watching #TwitterFiction unfold, or have you participated in #PitMad or another Twitter contest? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

PSSST! Don’t forget, we’ll be putting up our first entry for the Emotional Wound Thesaurus this Saturday. See you then! 

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