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1. Classic MG Discussion: The Girl with the Silver Eyes

Layla: So glad we read The Girl with the Silver Eyes together! This was one of my favorites as a kid – my memory of finding it in a used bookstore and looking at the cover is very, very strong, because it was an instant hit with me. (Old cover was awesome, you all! Katie looked like such a badass!) I wanted silver eyes and telekinesis as a kid and I think tried to move some books with my mind like Matilda a few times but to no avail. Wendy: One of my enduring favorites, too! I was so sure that if I just concentrated hard enough, maybe I’d find my untapped powers. Alas. Kim: I was totally new to this book! This is very much something I would have loved as a kid. I adored the TV show The Secret World of Alex Mack and this is sort of related in that a... Read more »

The post Classic MG Discussion: The Girl with the Silver Eyes appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. Blog Vacay!

suitcase-468445_1280

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Well, folks, summer is just about over. Vacations are wrapping up, kids are either back in school or getting ready to go back, parents are rejoicing…

This summer has been nuts for Angela and me, as you may know if you’ve heard us twitching and whimpering on Facebook. It’s a good nuts, since good things are happening, but…nuts, all the same. We’re working hard on our One Stop For Writers product, getting it nice and pretty and ready to launch in just over 5 weeks. But now we’re needing to take a leetle break. Angela is now an INTERNATIONAL SPEAKER, since she’s presenting at the RWA National Conference in Australia, and I’m in the process of moving my family from Florida to New York. Neither of us are going to be reliably online for the next week, so we’ve decided to declare a blog vacay. We’re going to take a week off to focus on what needs doing, and we’ll be back on September 5th with a new Emotional Wounds Thesaurus entry. 

In the meantime, whatever’s going on for you all, make the most of it. Enjoy the weather. Step away from the desk and get some fresh air. Spend time with the fam. And we’ll see you next week.

The post Blog Vacay! appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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3. 2016 Tomie dePaola Award Prompt

 

One of the biggest and most important challenges the Children’s Book Illustrator faces, over and over again, is the UNIQUE VISUALIZATION of the MAIN CHARACTER.

 

So often, I have seen illustrators resort to generic depictions of the star of the story–too “designed,” too ordinary, too much like characters already seen in media, especially on TV and video games.

 

The assignment is simply to illustrate a moment from the following passage from Philip Pullman’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” from FAIRY TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM (Viking, 2012).  (You may want to read the entire story.  It is an excellent book.)

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was so sweet and kind that everyone loved her. Her grandmother, who loved her more than anyone, gave her a little cap made of red velvet, which suited her so well that she wanted to wear it all the time. Because of that everyone took to calling her Little Red Riding Hood.

 

One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’

 

‘I’ll do everything right, don’t worry,’ said Little Red Riding Hood, and kissed her mother goodbye.

 

Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.

 

Your task is to make me “FALL IN LOVE” with your illustration and especially with Red Riding Hood.  I want to “meet her” for the first time.

 

This is NOT EASY!  The deadline is tight (on purpose).

 

The specs are:

            B & W, Limited Color, or Full Color

            8” x 8”

            DO NOT LEAVE SPACE FOR TYPE.

            Any Medium

            Due at SCBWI by December 1, 2015.

            No late submissions will be considered.

 

Best of luck and good work.  And, as I’ve been saying a lot lately, “COURAGE!”

 

tom

 

           

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4. KidLit Author Events Aug. 25-Sept. 1

We have a quiet week to slip into the back to school routine, but there are a few things coming up that you may want to either mark on your calendars or go ahead and register. An event I am particularly excited about is a one-day workshop:

DISNEY FAIRIES: TINK, NORTH OF NEVERLANDThe Essentials Workshop for Fiction Writers

with Kimberly Morris

Kimberly Morris is the author of over 60 books for children and young adults, many of them for popular series including Disney Fairies, That’s So Raven, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Animorphs, Sweet Valley, and Generation Girl. Her credits include read-aloud stories for the Muppets, Muppet Babies, and Fraggle Rock, and animated television scripts for the classic ThunderCats.

THAT'S SO RAVEN: BE MINEANIMORPHS: THE ARRIVALSWEET VALLEY TWINS: THE HAUNTED BURIAL GROUNDMARY KATE & ASHLEY SWEET 16: CALIFORNIA DREAMSMOLLY IN THE MIDDLE

This workshop is for writers of any genre of fiction; chapter books, middle grade, young adult and adult. You can read an interview with Kimberly about her writing career on the blog, 7 Magic Islands. This workshop is limited to 40 people, so don’t wait to register. I’ve already booked my spot! Go here for more information and to register.

Another event on the horizon is the Houston Writer’s Guild conference for self-publishing writers, INDIEPALOOZA. Registration is open! Registration is also open for the Houston Bay Area RWA Starfish Conference, and SCBWI Brazos Valley’s Connections and Craft: Novel Workshop.

And if you haven’t gotten your ticket to see Rick Riordan on his MAGNUS CHASE Tour, call Blue Willow Bookshop right away to get your book and secure your seat!

Here’s this week’s event in Houston:

AUGUST 25, TUESDAY, 6:30-8:30 PMHouston Writers Guild
The Houston Writers’ Guild
Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd.
Julian Kindred: Growing the Architectural Writer: Helping “Plotters” Breathe Life into their Plots
Cost:$10 Members; $20 Nonmembers; $5 Students w/ID.

Writers tend to fall into one of two categories: gardeners and architects. The latter group is also called “plotters” for their meticulous plotting and careful structural setup. This workshop is for the second group, and will examine methods and techniques for helping these writers grow their characters into their plots so that they come to life and feel like more than pieces of the plot-machine.

 

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5. The Little Gardener + an interview with Emily Hughes (part i)

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughesby Emily Hughes (Flying Eye Books, 2015)

Friends, I am beyond awe with this conversation with Emily Hughes. If you aren’t familiar with her work yet, I guarantee you will fall in love with it, with her, with a storytelling brilliance that is out of this world. Here, she lets us know both where stories come from and why they do.

And a note, you’ll definitely want to click on all of these images to enjoy them at their full resolution.

Enjoy!

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes The Little Gardener by Emily HughesCan you talk about where this book came from? And what the process was like for its creation?

Lots of things were swimming around in my head when The Little Gardener was being made. 
I was back home rereading a book I love, The Growth of the Soil, about a simple self-sufficient man dealing with societal pressures that seem unnecessary. He was the symbol of The Little Gardener, he’s not the personality powerhouse Wild is, he is really just a symbol for the everyman, the underdog, you, me, (my brother thinks the 3rd world) our place as a human. It’s not about him, it’s about his vision, his hopes.

There are a lot more nuances to that, but that is what it is in a very small nutshell. 
The process for Gardener was an outpouring, I drew and drew and drew. Because the images are so dense it was a meditative book to make- almost like making a mandala. The story process took a while, but with the images I worked on steadily through, and luckily they worked out with little drafting. That isn’t the usual, but this one felt natural to make, intuitive.

brainstorm001 gardeny 1

Why do you think your stories are best suited to the form of the picture book? What can you do in this form that you might not be able to in another?

If you look at my bedroom, my backpack, my email inbox, my general manner, you would be able to figure out a good deal about me. Totally scatter-brained.

It is an affliction that makes it tricky to get work done in general.  What makes children’s books an appealing medium for me is that there is text to dance with. There is the written skeleton to adhere to- oftentimes my stories have layers that I have built up depending on where I am or what I’ve been thinking of while I work. There is not just one story being told in The Little Gardener. Having text keeps my brain focused when there are other ideas floating about. Because I also draw, I am able to tell the other story lines as well- they are quieter, but are still present for others to interpret if they have patience. It is a good compromise for me.

Narrative has always been an interest, I think telling stories is what I like to do- so the things I’d compare it to would be film, theater, animation, etc. I like doing illustrations for picture books because it’s 2D and doesn’t move. However, if you are really invested you can move them within your head and expand it’s boundaries to a world you truly are interacting with.The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

One of my favorite things is the cola can that says MADE IN HILO, HI on it. I know that’s where your roots are, and I wonder how that home has shown up in the work that you do? Or if there are other easter-egg-y things that you stick in your work?

Good spotting! Hawaii is always present in my work. I left home for university in England when I was 17, and at that time I was eager for new experiences. Nevertheless, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I miss the Big Island always. Drawing things from home is indulgent for me- it is time spent reminiscing, it is a means for me to keep connected, grounded.

The cola can was initially modelled after a local company- Hawaiian Sun. The label looks nothing like the original (and I used the non-existent ‘cola’ because I thought it would be easier to translate), but the sun made a symbolic appearance. Those cans are always around- refreshments after soccer games, trips to the beach, the park with cousins. It reminds me of happy outings. I’ll add this bit to my advertising resume…

The house that the humans live in is based on my family home. It’s a plantation-style house that my Grandmother grew up in, as my siblings and I have also done. It’s a special place.

homesweethawaii

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

In the scene where the gardener is chasing away the snails, there’s a ‘rubber slipper’ (you guys would call it ‘flip flop’- Hawaii’s preferred footwear of choice) strewn about. It even has the ‘Locals’ tag on it which is the same kind you get at the grocery store. There’s lots of little things from home hidden. I like having the sentimentality there, even if it’s for my own benefit.

It seems like the girl in Wild and this little gardener have some sensibilities in common, like the hope and comfort in this un-tapped-into nature. Are there big-picture-stories you are drawn to creating, both in text and in art?

There are a lot of stories I’d like to tell. I think I start off with a general character and theme and it evolves- the writing is the last part, I think the feeling needs to be understood first. 
In my journal these are a few themes I’d written that I want to explore:

Does ‘evil’ exist? Really?


You can, will, should feel every horrible emotion and that’s fine


Kindness trumps all


Looks vs Expectations


It’s all chance for me I think- I might read something, or watch something, or sit blankly staring at the wall even, and most times it is nothing but a murmur. But once in a good while something speaks up.

As for Wild and Gardener, nature serves as a backdrop because it is an ideal to be in sync within our most natural of habitats. Something we all still strive for- a place where we’re needed.  Wild is about acceptance and tolerance, issues I was trying to practice myself. Gardener was about keeping hope alive when I was faltering with my own.

They are stories coming from a place of trying to understand, rather than a place where it is understood.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes

Carter, here.

You guys. I keep reading these answers over and over and feel like it’s such a gift to get this glimpse into a storyteller’s heart. Because Emily is fascinating and brilliant and our conversation gave me so much to wrestle with and enjoy, there’s more! Come back tomorrow for the second part. More pictures, more process, more book love.

Whatever you do, get your hands on this book as soon as you can, for hope and home and heart.

Huge thanks to both Emily and Tucker Stone at Flying Eye Books for the images in this post!

ch

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6. The Importance of Psychological Development in Character Growth

I learn so much from every thesaurus that we write. If there’s one thing I’ve gleaned from our Negative and Positive Trait Thesaurus books, along with our current Emotional Wounds Thesaurus, is that, like real people, each character is different. Some may be similar, but every one is uniquely individual. Many factors affect who a character is, but one we’ve never really explored is psychological development.

Now, I’m no psychologist. But Maria Grace is. And that’s why I’m super excited that she’s offered to shed some light on this subject, which I believe is going to be hugely important in helping us write our characters realistically and consistently…

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Photo Credit: Mátyás Varga @ Creative Commons

As writers, we struggle to get our characters right. We examine personality types and create dossiers trying to figure out what makes them tick, but there’s another factor we need to consider: the impact of psychological development.

Why Worry About Development?

Development explains how people who are similar can respond very differently to the same experience. Writers Helping Writers features a phenomenal Character Wound Thesaurus exploring various painful experiences that might affect a character. Developmental differences can help explain how two characters who experience the same wound might have totally different responses.

Let’s imagine three co-workers in a bar after a rough day at work. They’re the same gender and are close in age, education, personal history, and personality type.

“What a jerk!” Alpha slumped against the bar. “I’m there for eight freaking hours, and all the boss does is complain! Nothing I do is good enough for him!”

Bravo leaned forward. “He’s under pressure to meet his own goals. He does a better job than you give him credit for.”

“That’s easy for you to say. He likes you. That’s why he gives you comp time when you need it and blows me off when I ask for the same thing.”

“Maybe that’s because I meet all my quotas.” Bravo glanced at Charlie.

“You’d think he’d be willing to cut the little guy a break once in a while.” Alpha shoved an empty glass aside. “Must be nice to sit back and let us do all the work while he rakes in the money.”

“Help me out here, Charlie,” said Bravo. “Maybe you can explain it better than I can.”

“My opinion will probably just complicate things,” Charlie said. “But since you asked…I think boss-man is fair about the whole time off thing. He tries pretty hard to work with everyone; I’ve noticed that at his mentoring sessions. If you want to get to know him better, attending one of those sessions might help. And sure, he can get pretty touchy at times, but he’s going through a lot with his kid. Everybody needs to be ‘cut a little break once in awhile’—even the boss.”

Alpha shook her head. “You always have an excuse for him. Why don’t you take my side for once?”

“And this is why I keep my opinions to myself,” Charlie said with a shrug. “On that note, I’m calling it a night.”

Once the door closed behind Charlie, Alpha reached for a second beer. “I just don’t get Charlie. It doesn’t seem like we’re even looking at the same situation, ya know?”

Even though these characters are the same age, it’s pretty easy to picture Alpha as the youngest in the group and Charlie as the oldest. Why? Because developmentally, Alpha is at the earliest stage in the group and Charlie is at the most advanced.

So Which One is My Character?

Understanding where your characters are developmentally is the beginning to writing them consistently and creating realistic arcs for their growth and development. Consider these questions about your character:

  • Which motto is your character most likely to endorse?
    1. Don’t get caught.
    2. All for one and one for all!
    3. Everything is complicated.
  • How is your character mostly likely to respond to the statement that his/her gender is superior?
    1. I’m not supposed to agree, but we all know it’s true.
    2. The genders are absolutely equal.
    3. On the whole, men tend to be better at some things, and women are better than others. But individuals are all so different…
  • Which statement is most likely to appear on your character’s Facebook wall?
    1. I don’t care who I offend—I’m going to tell it like it is.
    2. We may all look a little different, but all true members of our group will agree that…
    3. These issues are so complicated; no side has a monopoly on the truth.
  • What kind of friend would your character most likely enjoy spending time with?
    1. Someone more interested in having fun than worrying about the consequences.
    2. Someone who would fit in with his/her current group of friends.
    3. Someone who challenges him/her to see a different point of view.

If the answers for your character would mostly be As, he/she is in the early developmental stage, like Alpha. Mostly B answers would indicate a middle-stage character like Beta. Cs would pair your character with Charlie, at the most advanced stage of development. Answers split between A and B or B and C suggest a character that is in transition between stages. Answers split between A and C or all three possibilities suggest an inconsistent character who might not come across as very realistic to readers.

Writing Convincing Characters

Determining our characters’ developmental level is a good first step toward writing them realistically. Next, we need to know what each of these levels looks like, so we’ll know how our characters will respond and the best way to help them grow.

Early-Stage Characters Like Alpha

  • sound a great deal like perpetual teenagers.
  • understand rules but live primarily by their main mantra: Don’t Get Caught
  • have shallow relationships.
  • don’t engage in self-criticism or self-reflection.
  • may perceive hardships and wounds as unfair personal attacks.

Notes about Alpha Characters:

  • A character can stay at this level of development their entire lives. Prime examples of this are Homer Simpson and Archie Bunker.
  • Rejecting a group or being rejected by one may impede their growth.
  • Avoid having a more mature character lecture them, since they need to come to their own ‘ah-ha’ moment.
  • To help them grow, 
    • allow them to get caught breaking the rules and feel the consequences, or let them observe others getting caught acting selfishly and feeling the results.
    • allow them to observe others getting what they want by following the “rules” and caring for other people.
    • have them join a group, perhaps unwillingly, and learn the value of belonging.
    • give them friends who seek to include them and exert positive “peer group pressure”.

Middle-stage characters like Bravo

  • seem rather normal, because this is the level of development for most adults.
  • know that
    • stereotypes don’t paint a complete picture.
    • rules aren’t everything.
    • rights and fairness are important.
  • understand individual differences.
  • value fulfilling their responsibilities to others.
  • emerge from a wounding experience
    • understanding others better.
    • seeing how they might have also been at fault.

Notes about Bravo Characters:

  • Remember that only a few characters will grow completely beyond this level. To do this, Bravo characters
    • will benefit from opportunities to embrace ideas and people who are very different from themselves.
    • need deep, long term relationships.
    • need to take on responsibility for others, such as parenting a child or caring for a dependent elder.

Advanced-Stage Characters like Charlie

  • are relatively uncommon.
  • understand the complexities of people, situations, and relationships.
  • are very tolerant of differences.
  • recognize and meet their own needs without apology or anger.
  • value relationships while retaining a sense of identity within and apart from their relationships with others.
  • respond to wounds philosophically, seeing them as a chance to grow.

Unique Challenges For Characters Like Charlie:

  • Others don’t usually “get” them.
  • While they’re often recognized as wise and well balanced, they can be socially isolated.
  • They may
    • experience depression due to being misunderstood.
    • get frustrated and feel powerless in the face of petty squabbles and conflicts.

Characters, regardless of their personality types, will behave consistently within their developmental levels. To grow and change, a character has to experience something important; ideally that’s what our plots are about. Applying these developmental perspectives to our characters can help us better predict how they will react to the obstacles we throw at them, as well as allowing us to plan realistically for their growth and development.

author 7_2014Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16 year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development ,and counseling—none of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.

She blogs at Random Bits of Fascinationmainly about her fascination with Regency era history and its role in her fiction. Her newest novel, Wholly Unconnected to Me, was released in May of 2015. Science fiction and fantasy projects are also currently in the works. Her fiction and nonfiction books are available at all major online booksellers.

You can follow Maria Grace on Twitter  and like or friend her on Facebook.

The post The Importance of Psychological Development in Character Growth appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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7. Setting the Stage with Tech

The Summer Reading program this season has had a special place in the children’s department’s heart as we unanimously chose to go with a Lights! Camera! Action theme. We are a group of cineastes and Broadway enthusiasts, and were hoping to share our love of the big screen and stage to inspire some upcoming filmmakers, set designers, and makeup artists.

Looking back on our programming this summer, technology had a huge presence in providing kids with an opportunity to explore various ways of storytelling and performance. Perhaps you can also add to your programming repertoire!

IMG_0826

Mini-movie Makers program during Summer Reading.

Using the TableTop Moviemaking set, mini-movie makers built their own set to develop a scene or entire film depending on the length of the class. The studio is easy to assemble and we asked each group to develop their own scenes with the included characters and props. LED lights can also be used to adjust lighting for mood and effect. Once everyone was ready to film we took iPads and book easels to set the stage for filming. Book easels are always a thrifty way to encourage a steady camera. The kit comes with iPad and iPhone holders depending on the desired device.

For filming one can use either the iMovie app, or the Camera app on the iPad for quick recording and easy editing. There’s also the option to make a stop-motion project, which would call for using the  iMotion app, most favored among our librarians. This class was part of Tween Make Week which is a collaboration with the teen librarian and the participants ranged in age from 10 to 14.

Young animators can learn the basics of the art form through the Easy Studio app. This app is a versatile tool which can be used as an intro to animation, and I have seen both early elementary students and tweens engaged in using Easy Studio. Using basic shapes and colors, there are several exercises that kids can complete for them to learn how to animate using the shapes provided. This app can also be used as a precursor to any stop-motion activity because it has the creators capturing each object movement and ultimately pulling them together for the final animation.

Another clever animation app, ABCya! Animate, can also be used for a wide audience in the library. A simple taste of animation, users are able to add their illustrations frame by frame and adjust their projects with editing tools. They will also learn new vocabulary such as design to scale, foreground, and background.

IMG_0690

Stage Makeup 101

There are several movie makeup camps and classes for stage F/X, but who ever thought all the tutorials you need could be found online. One of our librarians, Krishna Grady, has always wanted to teach a stage makeup class in the library. Using her theatre background and love for tech, Krishna grabbed some foundation, brushes, and the iPads to give kids their own personal makeup studios. Using a Mirror app, and pulling up some YouTube application videos, the kids were able to transform themselves into senior citizens and loved every minute of it! End scene.

Any new tech programming that you wish to share from Summer Reading?

Claire Moore is a member of the Digital Content Task Force. She is also Head of Children and Teen Services at Darien Library in Connecticut. You can reach Claire at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

Visit the Digital Media Resources page to find out more about navigating your way through the evolving digital landscape.

The post Setting the Stage with Tech appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Emotional Wounds: Being Trapped in a Collapsed Building

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.

Characters, 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.

collapseNOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

BEING TRAPPED IN A COLLAPSED BUILDING

Examples:

  • In the aftermath of a tornado
  • When supports shift after an earthquake
  • When living within a building slated for demolition
  • As a condemned building’s floor or ceiling gives way while one is inside
  • Because one is inside during a house fire
  • After an explosion caused by a gas line breach
  • As it was not structurally sound due to age and decay
  • After a terrorist attack
  • Because one’s building was poorly constructed

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: physiological needs, safety and security

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

  • My life could end at any moment, so why waste time doing things I don’t want to do or be responsible?
  • People are reckless and not to be trusted (if a man-caused collapse)
  • I am not safe anywhere
  • I need to eradicate all sin from my life or this will happen again (if prone to extreme religious ideology)
  • People are inherently lazy and irresponsible (if collapse was due to human error)

Positive Attributes That May Result: alert, appreciative, cautious, generous, humble, inspirational, kind, nurturing, patient, perceptive, philosophical, proactive, protective, spiritual, unselfish, uninhibited

Negative Traits That May Result: compulsive, cowardly, fanatical, humorless, inhibited, martyr, paranoid, pessimistic, withdrawn, worrywart

Resulting Fears:

  • fear of enclosed spaces
  • fear of storms or earthquakes (if extreme weather was a factor)
  • fear of being underground
  • fear of not being able to breathe
  • fear of basements, parkades, tunnels and other underground areas
  • fear of elevators
  • fear of the dark

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • Avoiding buildings that remind one of the  event
  • refusing to go down into a basement or below ground apartment
  • keeping tabs on the weather (if weather was a factor)
  • Always carrying a phone that is fully charged
  • Panic attacks when in a MRI machine or other enclosed space
  • Refusing to enter an elevator
  • Suggesting activities with friends that are outdoors or in wide-open spaces
  • Feeling safer outside than inside
  • Carrying an inhaler in case of respiratory distress (panic attacks & anxiety)
  • Learning about building structure so one can identify signs of stress
  • Leaving doors open when in a room
  • Preferring to not close blinds or curtains so one can see outside

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

 

Image: Antranias@pixabay

The post Emotional Wounds: Being Trapped in a Collapsed Building appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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9. 5 Tips for Success as a Self-Published Author

We are so excited to have Susan Kaye Quinn here today, and the topic is very appropriate. Why do you ask? Because Susan is a great success as an indie-published author. She was a frontrunner in many ways for young adult authors taking the SP leap, and every step of the way has sought to understand the online landscape so she could share that information with other writers looking to shorten their learning curve when it came to all things indie. Finally with pressure from her many, many fans, she started putting all this practical and time-tested knowledge into a book on self publishing. Now she has two books on the topic, and both are must-haves for anyone choosing this route.  And gosh, I haven’t even gotten started on all her fiction books, but I better stop now before I turn this introduction into a post on how awesome Sue is. Besides, I believe in showing, not telling, and as you read on, you’ll see her amazing-ness in action!

 Can you spot the self-published titles?

Hint: they all are.

(Caveat: A.G. Riddle started out indie but is now published through Amazon’s 47North imprint along with Marko Kloos)

The truth is that self-published titles now regularly top the charts – if not outright dominate them. Successful self-published titles have great covers and lots of fervent fans – often the only way to distinguish them from traditionally published titles is the publisher listing in the description (and the price – indie titles are usually less than $5.99 for single titles).

How do you become one of these successful indie authors? Hard work, luck, and educating yourself about how the indie marketplace works.

Here are FIVE TIPS to get you started. For a full run-down on how to launch your indie author career, see my Indie Author Survival Guide (Second Edition now available). To take your indie author career to the next level, check out the second book in the series, For Love or Money: Crafting an Indie Author Career. The two books are meant to be used in tandem.

TIP #1: Study the Bestsellers – In both craft and business, studying successful people will help you discern the ingredients of success. Always be striving to take your craft up a level – by craft I mean storytelling, not just the way you string words together. Because as much as we like to disparage that poorly written erotica book at the top of the charts, I guarantee that good stories well told actually do sell. (Alternatively, if you want to chase the latest trend, that’s possible now  – there’s no sin in giving readers more of what they want, but it’s nowhere near as easy as you think.) As far as business, look who is selling in your genre and what they did to get there. Don’t follow what people say – look at what they actually do. The actions of successful people often fly in the face of conventional wisdom. (I welcome you to look at my own path to success as well as many other indie authors – often the most successful are not the ones offering advice about it! #yesIseetheirony )

TIP #2: Be a Professional – Don’t dabble. Don’t dip your toe into indie publishing with a short story that’s not going to sell. Go full cannon-ball jump into the pond with professional covers, formatting, editing, the works. Make sure your novel can comfortably sit in the top 100 of your category. This will require up-front investment, but most books can be well-published for under $1000 – and I know of no other legit business you can start for that little money invested. Don’t skimp. (Note: on the other hand, don’t throw money away on a $3000 cover that will be hard to recoup; be sensible.)

TIP #3: Launch With a Series – You don’t have to pre-write an entire trilogy and release the books one month apart… but that’s an option now, with indie publishing. If you can write a novel in six months, you could publish the first book, then write and publish Books 2 and 3 within a year. I’ve seen both models be successful (note: don’t wait more than six months between books). Make the commitment to quickly build a backlist and get books into readers’ hands. Delivering three connected novels to readers within a year is a strong way to launch a career (note: I’m talking novels here, not novellas or short stories or serials – those are fun, but not career-launchers).

TIP #4: Launch in Amazon then Go Wide –  There’s a lot to learn in indie publishing, so staying focused can be key to staying on track – plus launching a new series in the Kindle Unlimited system gives new authors/new series a boost in visibility. Use this to get your footing. Then, when you’ve established your brand as an author, you can expand to the other retailers (Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play). You’ll be a veteran at that point and in a good position to weigh the pros and cons of exclusivity vs. reach.

TIP #5: Never Stop Writing – the single most important thing you can do in your career is write the next book. Generating new IP (Intellectual Property) is the one thing only you can do – the rest can be outsourced. It’s tempting to get bogged down in all the latest and greatest changes in the industry, but the biggest lever you can pull to move sales is to launch a new book. Or an entirely new series. You want to study the bestsellers, but always remember: your biggest asset is your uniqueness. Make sure you’re continually feeding your creativity, reaching for that next level with your work, bringing out the fullest expression of your abilities. Spend the bulk of your time doing creative work – reading, writing, watching movies, taking workshops, using craft books to boost your skills, exploring new forms, learning how to write faster… whatever works for you to elevate your craft and increase your enjoyment of writing. This is the creative life you want, yes?

I really should have started with TIP #0: Decide What Mountain You Want To Climb – I have an entire section in my Indie Author Survival Guide about making a Mission Statement so that you know you’re climbing the right hill before you set off in dogged pursuit of the success you think you want.

Knowing what will make you happy, then having a plan to get there? That’s the only key to success you actually need.

p.s. if all of this terrifies you, I understand. Truly. Watch this webinar on facing your fears and don’t let that hold you back.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the Mindajck Saga and the Debt Collector serial (as well as other speculative fiction works) and has been indie publishing since 2011. She’s not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: she’s one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. The Indie Author Survival Guide and For Love or Money are based on her experience in self-publishing fiction. They are guides to help her fellow writer-friends take their own leaps into the wild (and wonderful) world of indie publishing… and not only survive, but thrive.
Facebook | Tumblr | Website | All of Susan’s Fiction

For Love or Money: Crafting an Indie Author Career
Grab one of Sue’s fiction books:
Open Minds (Mindjack #1) for FREE
The Legacy Human (Singularity #1) ON SALE for 99cents

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11. Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Being Mugged

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.

Characters, 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.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

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Photo Credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho @ CC

Definition: to attack unexpectedly, often with intent to rob

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: safety and security, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

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

  • I must be weak—an easy target.
  • If I’m vigilant, I can keep this from happening again.
  • I will never feel safe again.
  • No one is trustworthy.
  • I can’t trust the kind of person (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.) who did this to me.
  • The authorities aren’t able to protect anyone.

Positive Attributes That May Result: alert, appreciative, cautious, disciplined, observant, private

Negative Traits That May Result: addictive, confrontational, cynical, hostile, humorless, inhibited, irrational, martyr, needy, nervous, paranoid, reckless, suspicious, temperamental, uncommunicative, violent, volatile, withdrawn

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of the dark
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of becoming a victim again
  • A generalized fear of the kind of place where the mugging happened (alleys, parks, parking lots, etc.)
  • Fear that something similar will befall one’s loved ones

Possible Habits That May Emerge: 

  • Not venturing out after dark
  • Never going anywhere alone
  • Becoming over-protective with loved ones
  • Working out excessively in an effort to become stronger
  • Taking self-defense classes
  • Becoming obsessed with security (getting a house alarm, a dog, a gun, etc.)
  • Always being on the alert
  • Suspecting all strangers of ill will
  • Becoming prejudiced against the kind of person one was victimized by
  • Vigilantism
  • Becoming confrontational or hostile in an effort to prove that one isn’t weak
  • Resentment towards the police force
  • Drinking or using drugs 
  • Appreciating one’s blessings more; feeling that one was given a second chance

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

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12. Only One Day Left! Audrey Press End of Summer Book Sale!!

book sale

Summer is slowly winding down and thoughts are turning to the upcoming school year and reads that will take us into (and through) the colder months ahead. Instead of being sad to see summer go, I choose to Celebrate! And what better way to do it than with an End of Summer Audrey Press Book Sale. For only one more day, readers can get a great deal on two of my most popular books. But don’t delay; this super special sale ends TOMORROW (August 14, 2015)!

First up The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook: The Simple Step-by-Step guide to creating a Waldorf-inspired #homeschool. And for a limited time, this best-selling book by Donna Ashton, The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook is now only $17.95 until August 14th, 2015 !

Waldorf Homeschool Handbook

Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale until August 14th! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!”

A Year in the Secret Garden

Two great children’s books-Your choice, $17.95 each!

The post Only One Day Left! Audrey Press End of Summer Book Sale!! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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13. Comic Book Club — Help Please!

Creative commons - free us superhero images

Creative commons – free use superhero images

I am writing this blog post hoping for a little help.

My school has a very active after school program, and I am proposing starting a Comic Book Club. The audience will be quite young —  most likely 1st and 2nd graders.  I have quite a few ideas for the sessions, but I also know that students aged 6 and 7 are consuming media at home that varies widely in content.  Part of my charge as a school librarian, is keeping kids in a range (content and ability wise) that is close to grade level.

I have the tried and trues down like the Toon Books, Babymouse and Squish, Starwars as well as Tiny Titans. I am learning more about superheroes myself, and am hoping you all can pitch in with some ideas for superhero series that are in synch with students of this age.

I appreciate any insights you may have, and thank the many of you that share your fantastic programs on this blog and beyond so that we aren’t constantly starting from scratch!

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14. “Xpresso Reads” Offers a Great Review of THE FALL

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I was recently directed to a very impressive blog named Xpresso Reads, and happily discovered a positive review by Amy of my upcoming book, The Fall (September).

TheFall

The money quote:

“I didn’t realize the emotional impact this book had on me until the very last sentence when it brought tears to my eyes. This was a heartbreaking and beautiful story about friendship, bullying, and the aftermath of all of it.”

I encourage you to click madly right here to grok the review in fullness.

Thanks, Amy!

XpressoReadsNewHeaderJenni12

Footnote: In the comments section, I came across a number of readers who mentioned the plethora of books these days about suicide and bullying. I felt compelled to add my thoughts to that discussion, and I might as well share them here.

So, um, here goes:

Hi, Amy. Thank you for the thoughtful review of my book, THE FALL. Just a little background here. When I wrote BYSTANDER in 2009, it was the right book at the right time — just before the issue blew up on the national media and the politicians got involved. Funding in schools, educators forced to address the issue, etc. To my surprise, I had stumbled upon an “it” topic.

In my visits to schools around the country, I was often asked about a sequel. I had no plans for one, not wired that way. But a few things started to happen in my mind. One, I saw the vilification of “the bully” and it didn’t easily jive with my perceptions. In most cases, I don’t actually believe in “the bully” per say; I understand “bullying” as a verb, a behavior, rather than as a label to stick on young person. So I began to think that if I ever approached the topic again, that’s where I wanted to go — from the perspective of a so-called bully. I wanted to write about it with sympathy and compassion, rather than finger-pointing and easy admonition. At the same time, I read some heartbreaking news reports about suicides, children who had been abused on social media, and so on. That’s how I came to write this book.

It is uncomfortable for me to feel like this book is part of a tidal wave of books on the topic. That’s never been how I’ve operated my career. My hope is that the first-person journal format brings something fresh and vital to the conversation.

Again, thank you for reading the book.

My best,

James Preller

While you’re here, some other recent review quotes about The Fall:

 “Readers will put this puzzle together, eager to see whether Sam ultimately accepts his role in Morgan’s death, and wanting to see the whole story of what one person could have, and should have, done for Morgan. Pair this with Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007).” — Booklist.

“Told through journal entries, Preller’s latest novel expertly captures the protagonist’s voice, complete with all of its sarcasm, indifference, and, at the same time, genuine remorse.” — School Library Journal.

“With its timely, important message and engaging prose style, Sam’s journal ought to find a large readership.” (Fiction. 10-16) — Kirkus.

 

 

 

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15. Middle Eastern & North African Heritage Month-Sophia’s Journal

This week marked the kick off the Middle Eastern & North African Heritage month over at Multicultural Kid Blogs​. If you have a moment, swing by to see my intro post and review of some of the giveaway books from Wisdom Tales Press​ & Tuttle Publishing​.
Over the years I have written numerous blog posts at JIAB about all of the wonderful Middle Eastern books available to families. But one in particular I would like to revisit.

Daybreak Press and Global Bookstore  was one of our Platinum Sponsors and this fine organization offered up a really cleverly written book called Sophia’s Journey by Najiyah Diana Maxfield.

Daybreak Press

Daybreak Press was established in 2014 and is the publishing arm of Rabata, an international organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change and the revival of the female voice in scholarship.
Daybreak Press Global Bookshop and Gathering Space in St Paul, Minnesota is designed to further this message by providing a unique variety of titles that promote the exploration and understanding of issues from across the world, from social justice, to women’s issues, to spirituality and religion, through fiction and non-fiction publications, and to provide a safe and comfortable space for people to do so.

Sophia’s Journal is for middle school and above readers.

“Her cell phone is dead and she has no idea where she is. After a bad fall in the river, 16 year-old Sophia suddenly finds herself in nineteenth century Kansas. She struggles to adjust to new food, new entertainment and a new family. She is still a twenty-first century Muslim girl, though, so slavery is intolerable and the way Native Americans are treated is unacceptable. Sophia copes the best she can as she tries to understand how she got there, how she can help those she’s met, and if she will ever get back.Sophia’s Journal is a fresh take on a pivotal moment in American history. Filled with adventure, romance and self-discovery, it offers a glimpse into a world half-forgotten, from a vantage point like no other.”-Sophia’s Journal

Sophia_s_Journal_Final_large

Sophia’s Journal does a very fine job of weaving, yes… weaving… as in the weaving a story based on the parts of the past and the realities of modern-day life. It all starts with a 21st century Muslim teenager, Sophia, who experiences a bad fall into a river. This dramatic tumble sends her back to the year 1857 and all the details and issues that are a part of that era. This beautifully written book looks at the idea of race, religion, and bigotry from a multi-century view. This enchanting story gives us a front row seat and a glimpse into pivotal moments of American history as well as what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the 21st century.

Sophia struggles to get used to new foods (and some times the lack of food) new entertainment such as knitting and a new family. Sophia also gets a first-hand view of slavery and the life of the Native Americans in the year 1857. The characters in the story are well-developed and the sense of adventure and self discovery are greatly inspiring.

One of the things that really struck me as I read this book is that it dispels the “over there” mentally that we can so easily become a participant in. For example: “Muslims are those people ‘over there’…….” and the real life fact that they oftentimes viewed as the enemy. This myth is dispelled as author Najiyah Diana Maxfield intersperses the daily rhythms and gentle practices of the world’s Muslims into this thoughtful coming-of-age tale. This is later reflected when the slave William is also a Muslim from Africa.

In Sophia’s Journal, Sophia needs to deal with the ideas of slavery, slave owners and the abolition movement as well as the poor view and treatment of Native Americans. There is even a mention or two of the suffragette movement. We could so easily say, that happened “then” and doesn’t concern us “now.” Not so. These topics are still very much alive today and currently continue to unfold.

I greatly admire this book and recommend it. First because is gives a positive light to both teenagers and Muslims. Secondly because it is a well written story that is so captivating that I couldn’t put it down.

Something To Do

In the back of Sophia’s Journal are a couple of wonderful recipes as well as two glossaries. One for the 1850’s and the other of Arabic terms commonly used by Muslims around the world.

For our “Something to Do” we are going to create a Time Traveler’s Journal where we will write notes about our explorations into 1850’s Kansas as well as Islam.

Take a blank sheet or journal, pens, photos that you have printed off the computer and some glue and create a beautiful Common Book Journal about your journey into the world of Sophia.

A Look into Slavery

slave-kids

Slavery in America began in 1607 and continued until 1865. These links tell you more about this controversial but for a long time legal practice.

Here are some great book resources as well.

A Look at the Native Americans of Kansas

kansas

Kansas, a word readily recognizable as derived from the Native American tribal name Kansa, or “Wind People,” is a state possessing a rich Native American heritage.

The land we now call Kansas had been home to many Native American tribes. The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita are tribes that are considered native to present day Kansas.

To learn more about the traditions of the Kansas Plains Native Americans I found Big Orrin’s website to have many facts geared towards children.

To learn more about these tribes and the history of the region please have a look here.

A Look into Prairie Life in Kansas

pioneerwomen

Here’s a good look at life on the Kansas prairie in 1850.

Want to know more about Sod Houses and how to build them ? Have a look here.

A fun reading history book list about the prairies.

A Look at Islam

Islam is a world religion practiced by 1.7 billion people. PBS has put together this fact sheet about muslims and the religion of Islam and here’s another look from CNN.

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Another way to meet your world is through literature. Multicultural Children’s Books Day is such a celebration which has created a vast resource of multicultural books and authors on our website.

Multicultural Children Book Resources

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End of Summer Audrey Press Book Sale!!

Summer is slowly winding down and thoughts are turning to the upcoming school year and reads that will take us into (and through) the colder months ahead. Instead of being sad to see summer go, I choose to Celebrate! And what better way to do it than with an End of Summer Audrey Press Book Sale. For two weeks only readers can get a great deal on two of my most popular books. But don’t delay; this super special sale ends August 14, 2015!

book sale

First up The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook: The Simple Step-by-Step guide to creating a Waldorf-inspired #homeschool. And for a limited time, this best-selling book by Donna Ashton, The Waldorf #Homeschool Handbook is now only $17.95 until August 14th, 2015 ! http://amzn.to/1OhTfoT

Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale until August 14th ! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” http://amzn.to/1DTVnuX

Two great children’s books-Your choice, $17.95 each!

 

The post Middle Eastern & North African Heritage Month-Sophia’s Journal appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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16. Author Pays Tribute to His Legendary Coach Bob Timmons

By Grant Overstake My wife Claire and I are remembering the life of legendary KU Track and Field Coach Bob Timmons, who died August 4 at age 91. Our lives were touched deeply by Timmie, who warmly welcomed us when … Continue reading

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17. Interview with Heather Demetrios: Serialized Novels, Social Media, and The Lexie Project

Hello everyone, Hannah here!

Recently, I have been contemplating what it means to serialize a novel. We wouldn’t have Charles Dickens without serial publishing – nearly all of his novels were serialized back in the day, when magazines published a chapter from stories like A Tale of Two Cities or Bleak House every week or month. Though we moved away from that form of novel publishing, websites like Wattpad have created a resurgence, particularly with YA stories.  Writers are able to publish one chapter or segment at a time and obtain reader input as the story progresses, quite possibly changing what the narrative may have otherwise been in a traditionally published format.

TheLexieProjectI was lucky enough to have Heather Demetrios, author of Something Real and I’ll Meet You There to name a few, answer some of my questions regarding her experiences with this form of publishing, based on her  serialized novel, The Lexie Project. If you’ve read Something Real by Heather then you’ll recognize some of the characters in The Lexie Project. Anyone considering launching a serialized or multi-platform project should take Heather’s answers to heart – she has put a lot of work and thought into the story and the social platform, and is ready and willing to share her lessons and expertise. Check out her interview below!

Me: First, tell us about The Lexie Project!

Heather: The Lexie Project is a young/new adult multi-platform story that is being written in real time with crowd sourcing. It’s a satirical look at reality TV and fame: think The Lizzie Bennet Diaries meets Clueless and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. My readers send me comments about what they hope Lexie will do in the future and I take that into consideration as I write. I also incorporate real life current events into the narrative, which takes it to unexpected and interesting places! I’m posting a chapter a week on Wattpad and on The Lexie Project website in addition to blogging as Lexie, tweeting as Lexie, and engaging with readers on Lexie’s other social media sites. I’ve hired an actress to play Lexie in videos and on Instagram. Lexie’s roommate is a YouTube star and so I’ve also hired another actress to play her and post videos. There’s even a podcast interview series with Lexie and “famed” celeb podcaster T.J. Maxxx. As you can see, the story very much incorporates our real life connection to social media and other forms of online media. All the social media and blogging is extra—the story reads as a complete novel on Wattpad itself, so for readers who don’t want to be online too much, they can still have full access to Lexie’s narrative.

Me: Something Real was traditionally published. The Lexie Project is a serialized web novel. What was it about a serial web platform that allowed you to tell this story in a way you couldn’t with traditional publishing?

Heather: I wanted the narrative to have the feel of reality TV and reflect the real-time life of a young celebrity. A novel takes lots of time to write and at least eighteen months between the time it sells and appears on bookshelves. Lexie is nineteen, very much enmeshed in our world of instant gratification fame. I wanted readers to get a sense of what her life is like, how she responds as things happen, whether that be an angry tweet using a hastag that is trending right now (like #SingleBecause) or selfie posted on Instagram. Lexie isn’t going to wait two or more years to tell you how she feels about something—she isn’t even going to wait an hour. In a way, we’ve all become our own biographers, curating our life story as we live it via our social media. Lexie’s doing the same.

Me: What should writers consider before choosing to serialize their own novels on a forum like Wattpad, versus attempting traditional or even self-publishing?

Heather: The first thing is that you don’t get paid writing a story this way and there’s no guarantee it will get picked up by a publisher down the road. Macmillan (my publisher for Lexie’s companion novel, Something Real) has been super supportive, but this project is not under contract with them—and I don’t know if it ever will be. I’m taking a risk here. Of course, I want the book to be published traditionally after I complete the online aspect of it. I think it has potential to do really well in that arena, as well. Not all readers are going to want to access Lexie’s story online. Plus, there’s the benefit of fun extras and editing and the other important things that go into a traditionally published, vetted book that readers who’ve already accessed Lexie online would like to have, as well. But I also see multi-platform storytelling as a part of publishing’s future and I want to get in on the ground level, be a maven of sorts.

Another major consideration writers should think about is the time a multi-platform project takes. Spoiler alert: it’s taking over my life. I currently have five books under traditional publishing contracts for which I receive advances to live off of. If I didn’t have those, I wouldn’t be doing this right now. Having those and Lexie…well, you can imagine how much sleep and free time I get.

Finally, your story has to work for a multi-platform project. Some stories aren’t best told this way. I mean, would you want to read M.T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing this way? No. But you might want to read Feed like this. I have plans for a multi-platform sci-fi, but it’s going to look very different from Lexie. And I have plans for other novels—both adult and young adult—that are only going to be found in book form. You’ve got to do right by your story and characters first and foremost. The rest is gravy.

Me:Do you think the fact that you have been traditionally published provided the foundation for this project? Or is this something you could have done without first being traditionally published?

Heather: Frankly, I think starting this way would be a waste of time for any writer who hopes to be traditionally published and make a living off of their words. You do hear stories about publishers picking up books by Wattpad writers with a huge following, but the return on that investment—from what I’ve heard—isn’t always paying off for the publisher. That’s not to say you can’t break into publishing this way—I just wouldn’t bank on it. I think the fact that I’m traditionally published gives me an immediate fan base and readership. But even for me, it’s slow going. That’s part of why you can access the story both on Wattpad and Lexie’s website (which is a Tumblr platform). I knew my adult readers weren’t really on Wattpad and wouldn’t be super keen on learning how to navigate yet another social media site.

Me: What is the most important thing you have learned from this process? The biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Heather: I’ve actually started a blog series called Lessons From Lexie, because I’m really interested in tracking this experience. It’s, as I often say, both the Wild West of storytelling and YA on crack. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s going to take five times as long to do it as you think it would. You have to be on point like nobody’s business. There are so many things outside the story to keep track of, so if you’re not careful, it can be very easy to let the writing get lazy or to just go with the easiest or most sensational plot choices. My biggest challenge, then, has been not losing sight of crafting Lexie with the same care and attention on all story levels as I do with my other books. So far, so good—but it’s a lot of work.

Me: Finally, If you could give a writer planning to serialize his/her novel one piece of advice, what would it be?

Heather: Plan as much as you can and never put any writing out there that isn’t stellar. Usually, my readers don’t get to see my work until it’s been looked at by loads of readers, copy-edited, and vetted by gate keepers and my agent. My books go through a writing and editorial process that takes years. The chapters I post for Lexie—since I’m crowd sourcing and incorporating current events—get less than seven days. When you work this way, you’re putting your first draft out there, no matter how many betas you have or how much you revise your weekly installment. That takes a lot of hubris. You need strong, solid craft and experience. You also need to be deeply grounded in your story and characters. I had a whole novel—Something Real—to get me to where I needed to be with Lexie. So there’s a lot that has to happen behind the scenes before you get online. Multi-platform storytelling is not for the faint of heart or anyone who isn’t a perfectionist—so be warned.

 

All of Heather’s advice and wisdom is spot-on, so I want to thank Heather for taking the time to talk to our readers about serial publishing and The Lexie Project! You can find more information about Heather and her books on her website, listed below, or read The Lexie Project on Wattpad. Let me know your thoughts below!

HeatherDemetriosAbout Heather: When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her other novels include Exquisite Captive, the first in the Dark Caravan Cycle fantasy series, I’ll Meet You There and the multi-platform serial novel, The Lexie Project. She is the founder of Live Your What, a project dedicated to creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. Find out more about Heather and her books at www.heatherdemetrios.com, or come hang out with her on Twitter (@HDemetrios) and any number of social media sites.

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18. Writer’s Key To Success: Make Your Own Luck (Case Study)

In 2012, I wrote a post at Janice Hardy’s blog, Fiction University. In it, I shared what I believed to be the key to success:

Making your own luck.

luckyHere’s an excerpt:

Make Your Own Luck.

Yes, that’s right. These four words hold the key to your success. Read them again, and cement them into your brain.

Each of us knows how to work hard at writing. We read, we study, we write. We join critique groups, network and find mentors. This is the biggest part of success. But often hard work alone isn’t enough. We can hang there on the cusp, feel the air vibrating with greatness. Yet it dangles just beyond our fingertips.

This is where we need to do something that many of us don’t like. Something that goes beyond our writerly, keyboard-between-me-and-you selves…move out of our comfort zone. We need to learn to Make Our Own Luck.

It would be nice if Success would be decent enough to slide over an inch or two and meet us, but life doesn’t work like that. So we need to grab it. And how we do that is by filling in the blanks:

If I could ____, then it would help me succeed.

If I could catch the eye of an agent, then it would help me succeed.


If I could build up an audience online, then it would help me succeed.


If I could launch my book well, then it would help me succeed.

Whatever your “blank” is, instead of thinking that it’s too hard to do, or something out of your control, I want you to remember to Make Your Own Luck.  (Full article.)

I ran across this article on focusing on things we CAN do rather than stressing about things we have no control over, and as I reread it, it was like traveling back in time. We had just released The Emotion Thesaurus. I remember I was so…nervous and worried, I guess, but also determined. Nervous about how my first book would go, worried people would think I was some sort of fraud with no fiction books under my name, determined to do my very best to get over my self-doubt and launch the book well.

In the original article I talked about my fear of public speaking, but how I knew putting myself out there was an important step toward my future. So I had signed myself up to give a presentation at a local conference to follow through on making my own luck.

Now, it’s 2015. How has this idea of “making my own luck” worked out?

The Emotion Thesaurus

  • closing in on 85,000 sold (in English)
  • 2 foreign editions under contract, 1 more in the works

–Two more books published, The Positive Trait & Negative Trait Thesaurus, bringing sales up to 126,000. And then a free booklet, Emotion Amplifiers, adding another 14,000

–Becca & I forming a second company to launch One Stop For Writers creative brainstorming software on Oct. 7th, in partnership with one of the key developers of Scrivener

And that public speaking thing? Where did that go?

RWA get freshAn invitation to speak in Australia, of all places!

(And next year Becca will come to Canada as we have been invited to teach a workshop together, another cool milestone for us both.)

I am not listing any of this to say, Wow, look at me! I’m sharing this because I absolutely 100% assure you, THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT ME. I’m Joe Writer, just a girl with a keyboard. Like anyone else.

And if I can step outside my comfort zone and make my own luck, so can you. In fact I hope you are, right now. If not, I urge you to get out there and do something that scares you, something that challenges you to your core. Not only will you discover you are stronger than you thought, it will be good for you in the long run, and each small step forward leads to another, and another.

Where do you want to be in three years? Let me know so I can  cheer you on–I know you can do it. :)

Image 1: Belezza87 @ Pixabay

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20. Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Infertility

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.

Characters, 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.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

2213694217_d8a36b3f11_o

Courtesy: Daniel Lobo @ CC

Definition: Being unable to bear children, either with or without medical interventions.

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

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

  • I’m less or a man/woman because of this.
  • This is a punishment for something I’ve done in the past.
  • There must be some reason why I can’t have kids.
  • God knows I would be a bad parent; that’s why he won’t let me have kids.
  • People will pity me if they find out.
  • Without children, I’ll never be complete or fulfilled.
  • Why bother taking care of yourself if things like this are going to happen to you anyway?
  • I’m going to grow old and die alone, with no one to care for me.

Positive Attributes That May Result: discreet, empathetic, optimistic, patient, persistent, private, resourceful, 

Negative Traits That May Result: callous, cynical, evasive, irrational, jealous, martyr, needy, obsessive, pessimistic, resentful, temperamental, ungrateful, withdrawn 

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of growing old and being alone
  • Fear of one’s spouse dying
  • Fear of what others think
  • Fear that one is incapable of parenting or caring for others
  • Fear of other latent illnesses or conditions within one’s body
  • Fear that one will never find happiness or contentment

Possible Habits That May Emerge: 

  • Becoming obsessed with conceiving a child, regardless of the inconvenience or cost
  • Tirelessly researching and trying new or unusual fertility methods, treatments, and remedies
  • Becoming obsessed with one’s health
  • Lying to others about why one hasn’t had children
  • Struggling with depression
  • Self-medicating
  • Distancing oneself from couples with children
  • Throwing oneself into a job or hobby
  • Clinging to one’s spouse or parents out of fear of losing them and being alone
  • Avoiding children
  • Building relationships with other childless couples
  • Joining support groups

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

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21. Legacy of Kings: Review

Well, it looks like I missed the hype bus for this one. Legacy of Kings failed to engage me at the start and, unfortunately, the slow pace and predictable plot kept me from engaging throughout. This is a sort of “retelling” of the story of a young Alexander the Great, but with some minor fantastical element, namely magic. It’s like “history, but magic is real!” Awesome, right? Except when the characters are dryly drawn, the plot is ridiculously convenient, and there is nary a fresh twist or turn to be seen. Clocking in at past 450 pages, this book could easily have done with a good bit of editing. There are seven POV characters, so if multi-POV makes you dizzy this is not going to be your thing. I normally love multi POV, but not here. The voices stretched so thin, and are so very repetitive. I feel like this... Read more »

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23. Emotional Wounds: Overly Critical or Strict Parents

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.

Characters, 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.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

Overly Strict or Critical Parents

Examples:

  • Parents who restrict access to one’s peers and allow only friendships they approve of
  • Imposing strict rules for dress that allows no room for expression or exploration of identity
  • Demanding one adhere to specific behavior and manners at all times
  • Imposing a strict curfew that does not align with one’s peers
  • Refusing privileges that allow for freedom (e.g.: not allowing one to obtain a driver’s license)
  • Deploying punishments for poor academics or rule infractions
  • Choosing one’s hobbies and interests
  • Insisting one keep to a regimented schedule or attend approved activities even if one is not interested in
  • Withholding praise or affection for less than perfect output
  • Critiquing one’s actions and performances to ensure mistakes will not be made next time
  • Insisting one practice to become better in an approved hobby or skill area, or insist on instruction to speed up proficiency
  • Heaping praise on one’s rivals in order to motivate one into working harder
  • Demanding obedience

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’ll never be good enough
  • I am a huge disappointment
  • I will never succeed at anything
  • A person is good enough only if they are the best
  • Second place is the same as losing
  • I need to be less like me and more like X (someone else who one is compared to)
  • I need structure or my weakness will take over
  • It’s better others choose for me because I’d just screw it up if I made the decision
  • Often I deserve to be punished

Positive Attributes That May Result: ambitious, cooperative, courteous, disciplined, focused, humble, industrious, introverted, mature, obedient, organized, patient, perceptive, persistent, private, proper, resourceful, sensible, studious, talented, nuturing

Negative Traits That May Result: confrontational, cynical, evasive, indecisive, inhibited, insecure, needy, oversensitive, perfectionist, reckless, self-destructive, subservient, temperamental, withdrawn, workaholic

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of freedom
  • Fear of those who are in a position of power or influence
  • Fear of public speaking or performing
  • Fear of being on display, being watched/scrutinized
  • Fear of the future

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • lying to avoid punishment or sanctions
  • giving up before one starts
  • self-sabotage in order to get the disappointment of others over quickly
  • playing down one’s skills and talents
  • refusing to take a compliment, deflecting compliments, giving the credit to others
  • aggressively seeking every advantage
  • becoming a workaholic
  • exceeding all expectations as one’s goal
  • avoiding friendships as they weaken one’s focus
  • equating self-worth with accomplishment
  • living life and making choices based on what others believe one should do
  • overreacting when criticized
  • avoiding the limelight
  • needing to be in the limelight to prove to oneself that one is worthy
  • berating oneself when one performs less than optimally
  • being exceedingly strict (repeating the cycle) or exceedingly lax (breaking the cycle by over-compensating) with one’s own children

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

 

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24. Call for input: media mentorship

In March 2015, the ALSC Board of Directors adopted a white paper on Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth. The paper outlines how librarians are well suited to serve as media mentors, and discusses the importance of this role to our communities.

The ALSC Children and Technology Committee is working on an article for Children and Libraries. They would like to include several examples of how librarians are incorporating media mentorship into their roles.

What are you doing already? What do you have planned for the future? Are you doing programming? Having conversations with caregivers? Vetting digital media resources?

Please send any contributions to committee member Rachel Keeler at rachelnk@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for any and all input.

ALSC Children and Technology Committee

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25. The Quintessential Edition: If You Could Choose Only One Version of Your Favorite Classic Books . . .

BookendsBeginningsI think I’m getting the hang of this whole living-in-Evanston thing.  All moves take adjustment, but you know the one thing that makes a transition smoother?  Finding a great new bookstore.  I was wondering the streets of downtown Evanston when I saw this sign advertising a bookstore down an alley.  And while alley walking isn’t my usual way to go, having living in NYC for eleven years (a land, admittedly, without much in the way of ANY alleys) I was curious.  The sign advertised a bookstore called Bookends and Beginnings.  So I walked to it and discovered a marvelous little shop.  First and foremost it had a great Alice in Wonderland display, celebrating 150 years, and showing off some very cool foreign editions.  Then I took note of the fact that children’s books were meticulously scattered throughout the store.  Salsa by Jorge Argueta and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh was in the poetry section.  Migrant by Jose Manuel Mateo was in the current affairs.  But best, by far, was the children’s section.  There, tucked away in the back of the store, was the greatest collection of contemporary children’s book imports, translations, and foreign children’s books I’d ever seen sold to the public.  It was awe-inspiring.  Truly a work of a specialist.  Indeed, as I later learned, Ms. Nina Barrett was the one responsible for the translations while her husband Jeff Garrett specialized in the foreign children’s fare.  Seriously, check out their staff recommendations.

PeterPanAs I walked about in a daze I stumbled across an interesting item sitting at the front desk.  It wasn’t a title I’d run across on my librarian rounds, possibly because it could never work in a circulating collection.  Some of you may know my opinion of Peter Pan.  Which is to say, I don’t much care for it.  I like aspects of it, but the book itself contains one too many twee moments for this average gal.  Nonetheless, after spending less than 30 seconds in the presence of Peter Pan by Minalima I was enthralled.  The book takes the Peter Pan story and inserts little interactive elements along the way.  Reports and a fairy believer’s clap chart, maps and more (you can see some prints from the book here).  It was like the Griffin & Sabine of children’s literature.  And I wanted it.

It also got me to thinking.  Few of us have unending shelf space.  So when we go in for certain works of children’s literature we usually get just one version to suit our needs.  Sometimes we may have more than one, but at least one has to be there.  With that in mind, what is your perfect Quintessential Edition Collection?  If you could have only one version of any classic work of children’s literature, what would it be?  The question is a tricky one.  Not long ago when I sat and watched the speakers at the remarkable Where the Wild Books Are conference created by Etienne Delessert I watched an Italian scholar describe in detail a variety of different takes on Pinocchio by decade.  It was the kind of presentation that made clear to me that no matter what your favorite book, you’ll never be aware of all the various permutations out there.

Here is my own personal list.  Very personal, since the books listed here are an interesting mix of desire for the unqualified “best” illustrations, titles from my own childhood that made a lifelong impression, and books that I would like to use with my own kiddos.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

AliceWonderland4

The first thing you’re going to notice about my choices here today is that they tend towards the heavily illustrated, “and what is the use of a book . . . without pictures or conversations?“, a wiser woman than I once asked.  Few children’s books are illustrated and re-illustrated quite as often than Alice.  We all have our favorites, and this is mine.  I am aware of the “GAP Alice” moniker the Oxenbury version attained when it first was published, but I remain steadfast and true to it.  Few books are as perfect in child-friendliness than this (and yes, the text was never meant for the youngest of readers, but why quibble?).  By the way – this past summer in NYC I noticed that Alice was on a number of summer reading lists.  I decided to buy some extra copies of the book for the system.  I was then baffled to discover that it was remarkably difficult to buy a simple Alice book in large quantities.  Indeed, this edition that I love so much is out-of-print.  All the more reason to get it while you can.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis Carroll.  Illustrated by Michael Hague

LionWardrobe19

Now I assume that there simply must be more than one fully illustrated version of this book out there.  That said, this is the only one I’ve ever seen.  It’s also the version I grew up with as a child.  For a while there, Hague was the only game in town when it came to gorgeous, storytime ready, fully illustrated books for kids.  He did them all (and you may see his name appear on this list at least once or twice again) and wasn’t afraid to summon the ghost of Arthur Rackham to aid him in his endeavors.  This book in particular really solidified the story in my brain.  That shot of the statues in the White Witch’s garden?  *shudder*

Pinocchio, retold by Kate McMullen. Illustrated by Pascal LeMaitre

Pinocchio

Translation is a funny fickle fellow.  I don’t know that many Americans read their Pinocchio with an eye towards preserving Collodi’s cadences.  Instead, it’s his story, his weird weird weird weird story, that pulls us in.  Now I’ll be the first to admit that when this version of the tale came out I was skeptical.  It seems to combine an odd cartoonish style with an early chapter book format of a classic title.  How does THAT work, exactly?  But when I read it to my daughter, magic.  This was the first chapter book she had the patience to listen to front to finish.  It’s not hard to see why.  Originally serialized in newspapers, the story is episodic and odd.  The plot hops at a breakneck pace.  Characters die and come back to life without much rhyme or reason, and you simply accept it.  Add in LeMaitre’s illustrations, which give the story both its mischievousness and a kind of innocence as well, along with McMullen’s fun telling, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Illustrated by Lauren Child

 Pippi

Sort of a no-brainer, this one.  It’s big and beautiful (though they came out with a very workable paperback edition not too long ago).  Child’s art works so well with the storyline that you suspect she was very influenced by this book when she herself was a child.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch

 sarah-plain-and-tall-cover

No one said I couldn’t include versions of relatively recent children’s book illustrated in other countries to this list, of course.  Few Americans are familiar with this British edition of the beloved Newbery winner and more’s the pity.  I’m pretty much just going to refer you to the cover and leave it at that.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illustrated by Inga Moore

SecretGarden25

The other day I found myself describing the plot of A Secret Garden to my daughter.  She asked so many questions about it that at last I asked her if she wanted to see it for herself.  She did, so I was finally able to pull this version down off the shelf for her.  It’s my favorite, probably because it gives ample weight and attention to the garden itself.  Also, her sickly Colin is SUPER sickly.  That’s a kid who’s never felt sunshine on his skin, you betcha.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by Michael Hague

 WindWillows

Even more Rackham-esque than his Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.  When I was a child my mother had many of the more evocative pictures from this book framed and placed around our house.  If I’m not too much mistaken there may be one or two still hanging up around there somewhere.  I should note for purists that when she would read the book to me she would also show me the version penned by Winnie-the-Pooh artist Ernest Shepard, and I liked them fine.  They just weren’t as lush and amazing as Hague’s.  I mean, that Pan beats all other Pans out there (sorry, 1913 Paul Bransom edition).  This is a name dropping sidenote, but once I was in conversation with the late, great Brian Jacques and he mentioned he was doing the audiobook of The Wind in the Willows.  I asked if it was unabridged and would include “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” section.  A lifelong Willows fan, he answered strongly in the affirmative.  Of course it would!  Of course! How could I even doubt it?

 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Illustrated by Michael Hague

 WizardOz

Fans will note that for some odd reason Elizabeth Zwerger, Robert Ingpen, and some of the other bright lights of illustration have not been included here.  But when you select only one version of anything, that’s the price you pay (though I’m rather intrigued by the Ingpen version of this book, so if someone would like to, ah, send me a copy I might be willing to reconsider).  And yes, this is Hague’s third appearance on this list.  Like I said, a lot of these have to do with childhood affection.  That said, I really truly and honestly have never encountered a Wizard of Oz book to compare to this.  The full color map of Oz on the endpapers was killer, as was his interpretation of so many scenes.  It was Hague who showed me that the Wicked Witch of the West is never mentioned as having green skin at any time (and so his doesn’t).  I’m sure there are folks out there who love Denslow’s original art, but if L. Frank Baum’s wife was allowed to dislike it then so am I.

That’s all I can think of off the to of my head.  If you’ve versions of any of these that you’d like to defend, lay ’em on me.

By the way, should you be so inclined, my book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature (co-authored with Jules Danielson and Peter Sieruta) mentions one particular incident when a Caldecott winning author/illustrator had a chance to illustrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit but due to a miscommunication with Tolkien himself was told not to do so.  Can you name the artist?

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