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1. Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee/Hallie Durand

Holly November 2013

A new book titled, CATCH THE COOKIE has hit the bookshelves written by Hallie Durand, a.k.a. Agent Holly McGhee and illustrated by David Small. I have the book and can truthfully say it is a very fun picture book. I scanned in a few interior shots and Holly sent a picture of the real Marshall to add to the interview questions. I also added a quick blurb to whet your appetite:

Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It’s sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!

I wanted to know more about the book and Holly, so below is the interview I had with her. If you want to read more about David Small and read about the process of creating the book cover for CATCH THE COOKIE, he was featured this past Saturday on Illustrator Saturday - definitely worth reading. Here’s Hallie/Holly:

Most people know you as Holly McGhee. Why did you decide to write under another name?

A: On that first submission especially, I needed to know whether my writing could speak for itself, in no way connected to me as an agent—could I get published just because an editor and publisher believed in my work? I’ve kept with a pen name to separate my writing from agenting, though at this point it’s not a secret that I’m Holly McGhee & Hallie Durand.

When did you start writing your latest book, Catch That Cookie!? 

A: I started Catch That Cookie! in earnest over the Christmas holidays of 2011. My son Marshall had been a preschool student of Mrs. Gray’s (the teacher in my book) in the fall of 2009, and he had gone on a gingerbread hunt at school. He’d come home with a recipe for gingerbread men, and he was obsessed with making the cookies. He kept nagging me, and so I finally borrowed the cookie cutters from Mrs. Gray and we made them for our class picnic in June of 2010, in ninety-degree heat. We put them in the van to bring to the picnic, and then Marshall started locking the van doors. I realized he thought the cookies would escape, ha ha ha ha! I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to know what Mrs. Gray had done in class to make Marshall believe those G-men could escape. So I interviewed Mrs. Gray and that inspired my picture book.

Marsh with his G-Man August 2014

How did it find a home at Dial?

A: When I finally had a draft that I liked, I shared it with my agent, Elena Giovinazzo, who sent it out to editors. Lauri Hornik and Kate Harrison at Dial made an offer.

Catch That Cookie!, with ribbon

Were you the one who chose David Small to illustrate the book?

A: No, that was my editor, Kate Harrison, and the art director Lily Malcom. I couldn’t be happier about the choice—not only is David my client but he is one of my very close friends. (I was nervous he would turn it down though, and thrilled that he liked it—he’s picky!)

cookieinterior74

How long did it take David to do the illustrations?

A: He started early in 2013 and finished that fall. I sent him a picture of Mrs. Gray to inspire him and also pictures of Marshall, Avery, and Henry, who all appear in the book (they were Marshall’s classmates).

cookieinterior75
Do you plan any book signings or other marketing things now that the book is sold?

A: Yes, David and I are doing a little mini tour to celebrate both the book and our friendship. I am going out to Kalamazoo, Michigan on September 10 and we are doing one appearance for adults at the Kalamazoo Library and one for kids at the Book Bug, and then he’s coming back with me to Maplewood, NJ. We’ll have a big gingerbread hunt with Mrs. Gray at the Maplewood Library on September 13, and an event for writers and artists (together with Anna Kang and Chris Weyant of You Are (Not) Small and Richard Morris of This Is a Moose) on the 14th. We’re going to talk about collaboration. Then we’ll have an appearance at our local bookstore on the 15th as well as a private event for the preschool four year olds (all at Words, Maplewood). David will share some of his drawing secrets. I’ll have more details for you soon.

When did you write your first book and what was the title?

A: In 2007 I wrote my first chapter book / novel, Dessert First, and I wrote two more books in that series. Dessert First was published in 2009, Just Desserts in 2010, and No Room for Dessert in 2011, all illustrated by the amazing French artist Christine Davenier.

dessertfirst

Were you an editor at that time?

A: Nope, I had been an agent for nine years already (though I’ve never stopped being an editor really—as an agent I’m often the first set of eyes on a manuscript, helping polish it enough to be acquired).

How did the idea come to you?

A: It started at a dinner with one of my best friends at the River Run Café in NYC. We ordered dessert to share, and as always I angled the plate so that the best part of the dessert “happened” to be directly in front of me. My friend had had enough of my bad behavior and she said, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE BEST PART OF THE DESSERT?” And I, with nowhere to hide, said, “Because I thought I was getting away with it.” That honesty marked a turning point in our friendship. A few years later, we were sharing a slice of Iced Lemon Cake at lunch, reminiscing about our fateful evening at the River Run. And that very evening, on NJ Transit, Dessert Schneider barged into my life and wouldn’t be quiet till I wrote her story. I’d never experienced anything like that—she was really bossy!

How did that book get published?

A: It was multiply submitted, under my pen name, and was acquired in a two-book deal.

dessertsJust

It looks like most of your books have a food element. Is that because you like to bake?

A: Funny you bring this up, because it hasn’t been intentional. Food has been a continuing thread throughout my life, and as a kid I always went grocery shopping with my dad (we still like to go together when we can); we like to see what new products there are on the shelves and what’s on sale. I was the New York State 4-H Bread champion (not kidding!) as a seventeen year old—baking bread was something to do in an otherwise pretty boring summer in farm country, so I went for it, baking bread every day for the entire two months that school was out. Cooking and baking are relaxing for me like nothing else, and when I’m not writing, I’m usually in the kitchen. I even like chopping leeks, just as thin as I can get them without slicing off my thumb in the process . . .

Headless G-Man

Do you feel that writing your own books helps you relate better with your writer clients?

A: I think my writers and artists appreciate that I understand what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling in a way that you only know if you are a writer or artist yourself. We talk . . . a lot.

cookie riser

When I heard David Small and Kate DiCamillo speak at SCBWI conferences, it sounded like you were not only a great agent, but a great critique partner for them.

Over the years, there’s a trust that builds, and with David and Kate and most of my clients, I’m a gatekeeper; they can share work with me before anybody else sees it, and they know that if I’m willing to share it with the world, I believe in it.

cookieend

Why did you decide to leave HarperCollins to open a literary agency?

A: I’d been an executive editor for six years, and I had developed my own taste in books. I’d begun to believe that if I loved reading a book, maybe somebody else in the world would too. And so I was ready to set out of my own after a time, especially when some of the projects I tried to acquire were rejected by an acquisitions board. I wanted to succeed or fail based on my own taste.

What was your biggest success as a literary agent?

A: Biggest successes can run the gamut. There are the seven-figure deals with film rights and foreign licenses sold simultaneously, and there are the original books by new authors that become franchises, with television and live-stage deals coming along the way. But there are also the smaller deals that come with huge personal satisfaction, such as bringing a beloved book back into print decades after first publication, or placing that book I’ve always believed in, months after first submission. I think the biggest fun is finding an editor who loves a book, acquires it, and publishes it well, whether it’s snapped up in a pre-empt an hour after submission or acquired after months of waiting. They all matter.

On top of that, the feeling of comraderie I have with my colleagues is one I cherish–we root for each other and have a fabulous time together. That matters too.

Hallie, catching a cookie NYC August 2014

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers from an author’s point–of-view?

~Be discerning but don’t be precious about your work.

~Take your work as far as you can on your own before showing it; your agent only gets a first read once.

~Let your work speak for itself—no need to tell your agent how much your neighbors and other writer friends love it first; that can set unrealistic expectations before that first read.

~Go to your laptop or drawing board every day. It’s easier to stay with the story you’re trying to write or illustrate than it is to reintroduce yourself after an absence.

~Think about a problem you are having with your book right before you go to sleep, and keep a pencil and notepad by your bedside table; you might get an answer during the night or first thing in the morning (it happens!).

~Don’t worry about how many books you have published / are publishing; Robert McCloskey did seven in his lifetime.

~Don’t get obsessed with Amazon rankings, etc. The secret is that a bad ranking will make you feel worse and a good ranking or review won’t make you feel much better.

~As long as you can say to yourself, when you’re looking back at your work, I did the best I was capable of at that time in my life, you’ll be a bit more impervious to negative comments. But make sure you can say that before your book goes out into the world.

Would you answer differently with your agent’s hat on?

A: No, but some of these things I only know from being a writer, inside information J.

Holly, thanks for answering the interview questions. I will remind people when they might be able to see you in September. It was such great fun to share the picture of your son with everyone. It looks like David really captured his looks and personality.

Best of Luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

PS: Remember to check back next Friday to read the four first pages critiqued by Holly.


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Book Tour, Editor & Agent Info, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, Author Hallie Durand, Catch the Cookie, Illustrator David Small

9 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee/Hallie Durand, last added: 8/25/2014
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2. Professional Writer Checklist and The Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Howdy, folks! Summertime, and I'm off to watch the Houston Astros take down the Toronto Blue Jays. This is one of those high stakes, nation vs. nation games.

I'm still  celebrating the book tour. I'm running a giveaway with my book tour, and I hope that you will consider entering. It's in the sidebar. Win a signed copy of the book and $100 gift certificate to Cavender's.

I offer the professional writer checklist.  Lots of people want to be professional writers. I'm going to hand out the game plan. Here are ten steps to professional writer .

1. Write every day.  Yes, professional writers must write. (I usually write 2- 4 hours a day, five days a week.)
2. Create an office.  Professionals have offices
3. Take all paying gigs. This one comes with a commandment. Thou shalt not sneer at any paying gig  like menus, tweets, content farms, technical manuals, wfh, basal readers, etc.." Anyone who looks down on this stuff is not a professional, he or she is a hobbyist.
4. Make specific, achievable long term and short term goals.
5. Network with your peers regularly. (Critique groups, conferences, professional organizations, etc.)
6. Join the social media circus. (website, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers, tumblr, etc...)
7. Keep accurate financial records.
8. Buy some business cards.
9. Invest in a printer that can spit mega pages in a short period of time. (Weird, but needed.)
10. Profess you are a professional writer to anyone who asks. (Never belittle yourself, not in self talk, not to others.)

Ta-da, you are a professional writer.  The doodle and quote are at the end.


Here is the tour schedule!
July 28
Elva'a Profile! -- Shooting Stars Reviews - http://ow.ly/zSd3d 

July 29:
The PLUMB CRAZY playlist -- Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://ow.ly/zSdHS  
You can listen to it on Youtube-- http://ow.ly/zSdHS!
Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog -  http://ow.ly/zSeo9 -

July 30:
Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Review! Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ  

July 31:
Author Interviews Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2 

August 1:
Author's Writing Journey! - My Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q  
The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! -  Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN  

August 4:
Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com 

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review

Here is a doodle!  "Roses"


And a quote for your pocket:
A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it. Alistair Cooke

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3. Books – Events: Ettlinger – Ventressca – S.E. Green

Below are three books that I think you might be interested in knowing about. All three are giving-a-way a signed copy. Anyone who leaves a comment is automatically entered. You will get an additional entry for each or the following: Blog, reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook. Deadline: May 22nd, 2014.

s is for Sea glassCover600

Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger remind beach lovers of all ages of the many reasons we’re drawn to the shore in this picture book published by Sleep Bear Press.

The tickle of sand on the bottom of bare feet … the taste of salt from a spray of water … the rumble-roar as waves come ashore. These are just a few of the many sensory experiences a day at the beach can bring. S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet uses a variety of poetry forms such as free verse, haiku, and ode in this celebration of the beach and seaside life.

dorissigning

If you can’t visit one of the book events, you can purchase an autographed book here to read at the beach or when you wish you were at the beach.  It would also make a great gift for that friend with the beach house you love to visit.

pandemic
It is normal for high school to be a painful and confusing time, but Liliana’s circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn, doomsayer, but her situation isn’t about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Liliana’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak—her father in D.C. covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey—Liliana’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Liliana does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Liliana is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest.

Yvonne Ventresca debut YA novel, PANDEMIC published by Sky Pony Press is out and getting good reviews:

“This is an engrossing apocalyptic story, told through Lil’s eyes and newsfeeds as her neighborhood, then the East Coast, and finally the entire U.S. buckles to its knees as the pandemic spreads. . . . Themes of friendship and coming together in a crisis carry the novel.” —School Library Journal

booklaunch

You’re invited to join Yvonne in celebrating the release of her debut young adult novel, Pandemic. There will be wine and cheese, cake, and some giveaways. Yvonne will be reading a passage from her new book and signing copies. For more information about the book, please visit www.YvonneVentresca.com

Don’t miss the party!

Killer Instinct

S.E. Green’s debut YA thriller has hit the market this week. Kirkus Reviews writes, “A zippy, gripping psychological drama.”

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. After-school job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why? Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals and delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder, but with each visceral rush, the line of self-control blurs. And when a young preschool teacher goes missing—and returns in pieces—Lane gets a little too excited about tracking down “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer who has come to her hometown.

As she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her own past, Lane realizes she is no longer invisible or safe. Especially after the Decapitator contacts her directly. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…

S. E. Green was raised in Tennessee, but now calls North Florida home. KILLER INSTINCT is her debut young adult thriller. Find her on the web at http://www.segreen.net, on Twitter @Shan_E_Green, Tumblr under segreenauthor, or on her Facebook Fan Page. Here are some answers to questions that you might have.

Q: How old were you when you started writing?

A: Late twenties. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer. Go figure.

Q: How did you pitch this book?

A: A teen girl version of Dexter meets the high stakes danger and mystery of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Q: Who published this book?

A: My agent Jenny Bent placed it with Simon Pulse.

Q: Why do you write under two names?

A: S. E. Green is the dark, thriller side of me. Shannon Greenland is the romantic, adventurous side.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: The second book of this YA thriller series.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book, Book Tour, Interview, Picture Book, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Doris Ettlinger, Jenny Bent, S.E. Green, Yvonne Ventresca

3 Comments on Books – Events: Ettlinger – Ventressca – S.E. Green, last added: 5/7/2014
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4. I Started a Small Press (and Then Things Got Weird)

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The author in repose.

BY J DAVID OSBORNE

I tried retail for a while, and that was fun, in the way that puking on yourself at a family gathering is fun: you have a story. After a time, though, it stops being a story you laugh at and starts being one that you cry over. Usually into a beer. Next came moving furniture. For a time, that was good, physical work. I genuinely enjoyed it. And the stories I heard there, man, the meat of my second novel is mostly that. My imagination’s not that good. But then here comes nature and that heavy time and all of a sudden my back is in ruins and I got sick of carrying marble armoires up three flights of stairs. Then came restaurant work. That was fun.

Through all of this, I wrote. My first novel dropped in that weird interim before I started the moving job, when I was living in my car. The second hit and I was getting these royalty checks, but aside from the first one (which paid my rent), it wasn’t paying my rent. It hit me: “I’ve gotta find a way to make a living off of words or I’m going to die.”

I’ve been a fan of crime fiction since before I can remember. It started with Ellroy. I read White Jazz and threw my hands up and hollered. You can say this much with so little? I was hooked. I got the classics in, then I got voracious with it: Mosely, Sallis, Willeford, Pelecanos, Westlake, Parker, on and on.

I loved the opportunity crime fiction presented to peer into the human condition, and the (usually) clipped, no-bullshit delivery. What I didn’t like were the formulas, the staunch sexism, the rampant racism. I really wanted to carve something out that could represent everything that makes crime fiction beautiful, minus the stuff that made me cringe. That, and I didn’t want to sell hot dogs anymore.

I gathered a nice group of brilliant writers, who for whatever reason decided to hook me up with some manuscripts. I started a Kickstarter (pause for groans) in which I detailed five books my new indie press would put out, and—wonder of wonders—people thought it looked cool. I got the money and I was off to the races.

Sort of.

The books were edited and designed and off to the printers. They dropped, and then there I was. Floating.

There were many times I’d go out to my porch and smoke a cigarette and my house would shake as the trains rolled by out across the road, and I’d wonder what I could do to actually get people to look at these titles, to pick them up. I’d gotten a massively talented artist (Matthew Revert

) to do all of the covers for them, and they really popped. I’d sent out some review copies to places I thought would dig them.

Still waiting to hear back from most of those places.

I got tired of sitting on my hands. I took the books and grabbed a friend and hit the road. We went from Oklahoma to Wichita to Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise to Seattle to Portland to Sacramento out to the Bay to Los Angeles to El Paso. We performed in punk squats and abandoned warehouses and bookstores and back alleys. At one performance we lit a mannequin head on fire while I paced the floor with paint on my feet, tracing a chalk outline of an eye, rambling about a cyclops. At another I read the audience the end of my first novel and ripped out each page and burned it as I went. Though I didn’t sell copies at every stop, I talked to as many people as I could about the books. And I noticed an uptick. We live in an age of social media noise and rampant void screaming. There’s only one way to get things going, especially if you live in Oklahoma: you have to get out there and talk to people.

You have to ask them to dance.

There are other things you have to remember, too. Running a small press, it’s important to utilize social media, despite my prior assertion that it’s a dying medium. You have to be a person online, first. I see folks every day, inviting me to their “book releases,” which are really just Amazon launches of e-books. That’s annoying. You’re more likely to see me posting pictures of my dog, or complaining about how I could really go for a cigarette (quitting is tough, but, hey! nine days) than you are to see me talking about the books or writing or editing. The first reason is that places like Facebook and my blog are my escapes. The second is that you just turn into a spambot and fade into the background, and good luck swimming out of that lagoon.

Another thing: finances. Be careful. Keep your receipts. Where I live, there are crazy tax breaks for small businesses. Make sure you know exactly what you owe your authors. If you don’t pay them right, everyone will know, and you will be ostracized. And rightly so.

On the topic of writers: they are, for the most part, a funny bunch. They care about this stuff. So they’ll have things to fix, last-minute requests, bizarre neuroses. You have to learn to bend, to understand that your voice is not the voice. And if they want changes, you make them. Mark Twain once said that a novel is never finished, only abandoned, and I think that’s true, but Broken River authors abandon their children with a packed lunch (complete with smiley face note written on napkin), surplus army jacket, mace, a Swiss Army knife, and one of those flashlights you put on your head. And a ‘mommy loves you’ and a peck on the cheek. God love them for that. They care. And you have to, as well. If you don’t, well … you know.

I’m not a father so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’m assuming there’s a feeling you get when you hold a baby for the first time. Does it get real? I figure it gets real, then. When you spend months and months eating tuna from a can and pecking at a keyboard and making sure the kerning and keeping and hyphens and headers look right in InDesign, and then you send it to a printer and they send you copies and they are physical, real objects, resting there, looking up at you, you can almost see these big blue cartoon eyes, these helpless things that need you. So, you start to feel an obligation.

When you start a small press, you lack resources, usually. And that should make you hungry. You need to provide for these babies. Your authors, they spent years writing these things, invested their lives into them. Now here they are. Your responsibility. You’ll want to quit, lord I know you will, because the whole thing is so big, like pressing your body up against the edge of everything. But you have to get out there, you have to keep your mind right, and you have to make people sit up and take notice. You didn’t pull a sword out of a stone; no one ordained you the Chosen One. You chose you. It’s your responsibility. So go do it. If you love something, take that big Christmas dinner in your heart and break it down into MREs and dish it out to every person you meet, in small, manageable doses. They’ll feel it. They’ll know you’re down.

And then, you ask them to dance.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

brb

J David Osborne lives in Oklahoma with his wife and dog. He’s the author of two novels, a freelance editor and the editor-in-chief of Broken River Books. Please query at jdavidosborne@gmail.com.

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5. Visiting Publishers

A writing friend told me that she once scored a book deal after touring a publishing house and being told by her tour guide what the publisher was looking for in children’s books. I doubt this happens much since most book publishers are in New York and not all of them give tours, but any opportunity a writer has to network with publishers can’t hurt.

I was fortunate to be able to visit one of my publishers, Royal Fireworks Press, in New York this summer. The press had purchased and published three of my books after discovering my work in the slush pile. (Submissions that come to a publisher without the aid of  an agent or any special contact are said to “go through the slush pile.”) After I’d sold each book, I spoke with the staff over the telephone and through e-mails, but until this summer, I had never met any of the staff in person. Tom Kemnitz, the president of the company, spoke with me in his office for about an hour and gave me a tour of the plant, showing me the book publishing process.

Tom Kemnitz and Ronica Stromberg at Royal Fireworks Press in New York.

It  Tom Kemnitz and Ronica Stromberg at Royal Fireworks Press, the publisher of her books A Shadow in the Dark, Living It Up to Live It Down, and The Glass Inheritance.

I enjoyed seeing the inner workings of a small press and having the chance to speak about the market for my own books. And Tom did give me some good tips, one of which would be helpful to anyone considering submitting to this publisher:  Royal Fireworks Press is no longer publishing much science fiction. The press primarily publishes nonfiction, but in the fiction line, the acquisitions team is mainly seeking historical fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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6. Tour Schedule Fall 2013

Happy back-to-school season! I'm gearing up for a very exciting fall, where I'll be visiting with students and educators in seventeen states. Whenever I can, I hold public events during my travels. Below is where you can find me in the next few months. Perhaps I'll see you there?





September 5, 5 PM- Slidell, LA- St. Tammany Parish Library- Slidell Branch Library

September 22, Brooklyn, NY- Brooklyn Book Festival

October 5, 10 AM- Chapel Hill, NC- University of North Carolina Steinfirst Lecture

October 11, 6:30 PM- Providence, RI- RISD's Entrepreneur Mindshare Keynote

October 12, 2 PM- Providence, RI- RISD READS Children's Book Reading and Signing

October 19, 9 AM- Providence, RI- Rhode Island Festival of Children's Books and Authors

October 23, 12 PM- Green Bay, WI- Wisconsin Library Association Author Luncheon Series

November 2, 8:30PM - 12:30 PM- Chestnut Hill, MA - The Foundation for Children's Books 

November 10, 10 AM- Storrs, CT- Connecticut Children's Book Fair

November 17, 9 AM- Hartford, CT- Rising to the Challenge- American Association of School Libraries Author Breakfast

November 21, 4:30 PM- Boston, MA- National Counsel of Teachers of English Conference:
Elementary Section Get-Together

November 22, Boston, MA- National Counsel of Teachers of English Conference: 12-1 Platypus Police Squad signing at HarperCollins Children's Books, 1-2 signing Lunch Lady at Random House Children's Books




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7. Hologram JJK to appear in Steamboat Springs, CO at Book Feast this Friday at 7:30 pm!



Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, CO is hosting Book Feast and is Skyping with a whole mess of authors, including myself. I'll be live on Friday at 7:30 and will be on hand to discuss my process with the audience, as well as take questions. Autographed books will be available for purchase at the event.

Check out all of the info here!

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8. Find me in Minneapolis this Saturday at the Target Children's book Festival!



Hey gang! I'll be flying out to Minneapolis to give a reading at the Target Children's Book Festival! I'm excited to meet all of the readers out there and doodle in their books!

I'm on at 12:35 pm. It all goes down at Hyland Lake Park Reserve. All of the information, including the the stage lineup, can be found here!

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9. LL8 Book Tour — odds are, I'm coming to a town near you!



Sept 18: 
LL8 Virtual Comics Workshop - tune in from across the country to make a collaborative comic!

Sept 22: 
Steward, NE
Plum Creek Literary Festival

Sept 23 @ 3 pm: 
Washington D.C. 
National Book Festival 

Oct 7 @ 2:30 pm: 
Athens, GA
Westabou Festival

Oct 14 @ 10:30 am: 
New York, NY
New York Comic Con

Oct 27-28: 
Austin, TX
Texas Book Festival

Dec 12: 
Holyoke, MA 
Barnes & Noble, benefit for Northeast Center for Youth and Families




The annual Children's Illustration Exhibit at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA will run from November 1-January 31, with an opening reception on November 11 from 4-6 pm. 

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10. Discarded Dreams Book Tour. Siqueiros Mural ATIC. On-Line Floricanto

Late Breaking News

Memorial Honors Frank Sifuentes, QEPD

Last Tuesday, La Bloga published a hail and farewell message to Frank Sifuentes. Frank did not have the time to read it. He died on Monday, the day prior. 

Tempus fugit que no?

Frank's long-time friend, Jesus Treviño, has compiled a memorial including messages from all five of Frank's friends, and a video. Click the links to Frank's spoken word recordings at the USC digital library and Nuestrafamilia.

http://latinopia.com/latino-history/latinopia-hero-frank-sifuentes/

QEPD, Frank.


Michael Sedano

Over there, across a couple of blinded-by-the-light grey roofs and assorted HVAC ducts, underneath the canopy, all old and faded. Behold the remains of América Tropical, a mural painted on a Los Angeles wall by David Alfaro Siqueiros 80 years ago and whitewashed shortly thereafter.

"In a way, the whitewashing preserved it," one docent avers, pointing to the richer coloring at the right, a section that had been whitewashed earlier by disillusioned patrons whose vision of tropical America included lovely colorful people and happy native dancing girls.

What America got from el maestro is an undulating jungle surrounding a native nailed to a double cross upon whose crown perches a fierce eagle. ¡Ajua! 

The mural also signals the benefits of painting on wall substrates. Nelson Rockefeller jackhammered a Diego Rivera fresco off the walls of that arts patron's building in Manhattan. In El Lay, where easy solutions prevail, city powers tagged the wall with their own gang color. 


The mural, the only publicly accessible Siqueiros mural in the United States, is conserved. Numerous visitors ask about preservation, or repainting. The mural, whitewashed and exposed to ample ultaviolence by its south-facing wall, has faded past the point of ever being more than what it is.

A Getty-led conservation team  has managed to remove the obscuring layer of paint and some tar stains, and has protected what remains from further degradation now that it once again finds the sun and elements. Black and white fotos exist of the mural, making impossible any ill-conceived wild hair notion to repaint.


Visitors to the observation platform must simply marvel at what that wall once said in its own voice. Downstairs, in the interpretive center, a trio of Siqueiros' muralist descendants--Barbara Carrasco, Wayne Healy, John Valadez--recreate America Tropical in grand scale, reproducing those B&W frames taken back in 1932.



Opening day packed the space shoulder-to-shoulder. Such heavy demand must account for the elevator being out of service on my second visit. Access to the viewing deck, without that elevator, is restricted to able-bodied gente. 

The spectacular corn mural in the stairwell is the compensation for stressed knees. Below, Angelica Garcia, a principal in a Fontana tax firm, takes a breather for a snapshot with her daughter.


ATIC adds an important cultural dimension to school field trips to the birthplace of Los Angeles. I visited in 4th grade around '54. The place remains largely unchanged, a single file of curio and dulces-selling puestos down a cobbled pasillo flanked by restaurants, mid-scale boutiques, and recuerdos. ATIC fills a space midway down the street, next door where my primos' shop, Casa de Sousa, used to sell quality artifacts and espresso.


Thelma Reyna Reviews Pat Mora's Borders

La Bloga friend and guest columnist Thelma Reyna continues with her exploration of classic works by Chicanas, a project Thelma's engaged in conjunction with Latinopia. The multifaceted Latinopia features historical and historic video features picked from filmmaker Jesus Treviños exhaustive archive of the movimiento, along with coverage of art, food, music, literature; la cultura en general.

Among the beauties of reassessing classic works is the likelihood of introducing readers new to these seminal expressions, to foundation literature that has influenced what they read today. Beginning at the beginning helps develop an informed critical understanding of everything read.

Among the classics Dr. Reyna has reviewed are House on Mango Street, Nilda, Loving In the War Years. Latinopia currently features Thelma's appreciation of Pat Mora's poetry collection, Borders.

Her book goes on to evoke and explore borders large and small, known and unknown, old and new, faint and glaring. The poet draws on her lifetime of living on and near borders, beginning with her birth in El Paso, Texas, her home for most of her life before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Mora has straddled the border between cultures and languages, has navigated the “like” and “unlike” for her entire life. As her book depicts, borders can be cruel or innocuous, but they ultimately reveal us to ourselves.

Cruel Borders of Hardship

Her book is filled with snapshots of people from all walks of life, people identifiable for their hardships as much as for their triumphs. Mora starts with the famous pioneering author and university leader, Tomás Rivera, whose hands “knew about the harvest,/ tasted the laborer’s sweat” but also “gathered books at city dumps

You can read Thelma Reyna's full review at Latinopia here. The classics series also features polymath Luis Torres, who reviews male writers, with Thelma Reyna covering women writers. La Bloga encourages gente to visit Latinopia's literary cornucopia.

Count on La Bloga to continue our de vez en cuando reviews of the old stuff, too. You can join in as a reader, or a guest columnist. For comments and questions, click the Comments link below, and be sure to subscribe to your comment to receive reader comments.


The Closet of Discarded Dreams Book Tour Makes Pasadena Stop


Author Rudy Garcia joined a handful of guests--writers and artists--in Pasadena to talk books, science fiction fantasy writing, Rudy's novel, and the upcoming Latino Book & Family Festival. 

Hugo Garcia tells J. Michael Walker and
Alfredo Lascano about La Dolce Vita.
One aspiring novelist arrived early, expressly to quiz Rudy on the mechanics of getting his first book published.

Garcia replied with the classic question, "what's your book about, in 25 words or less?"

Rudy stopped the novice around the 800th word. The lessons from pro to beginner: know your own stuff and get it written, then worry about the rights.

Rudy Garcia noted the rarity of Chicana Chicano science fiction and fantasy titles, making The Closet of Discarded Dreams a pleasingly unique opportunity for scifi readership, but uniqueness an obstacle to publisher decision-making.

Discussion ranged widely across writers, titles, and story lines, then divagated to revolutionary new waves in film, and authenticity in historical fiction, and other genres.


Discussion segued into an ideal moment for Rudy to take the floor and read two passages he selected that illustrate his book's surreal exposition and the author's ability to write funny.


Short story writer and poet Angel Guerrero basks in the ambiente of good friends, new friends, good reading and listening. Then cracks up at one of Rudy's funny passages.




Painter, cartographer, portratist, J. Michael Walker absorbs the performance from his artist's eye.


Novelist Sandra Ramos O'Briant observes as Jesus Treviño documents Rudy Garcia's reading in this living room setting. Treviño will showcase the reading in a future Latinopia.

Beyond the reading at Casa Sedano, Rudy appeared at Tia Chucha's Open Mic on Friday, the LB&FF, then a reading at Tia Chucha's Sunday afternoon. The Closet of Discarded Dreams heads to a science fiction writers conference in Colorado then San Antonio.

Banned Book Update

Still banned.

No big news out of Tucson. Vote like Freedom depends on it, because it does. Give Obama a Democratic Congress and let the nation see the return of bipartisanship to government. Give the GOP power and they will ban more books, just as a beginning.




On-Line Floricanto Mid-October 2012
Avotcja, Sharon Elliott, Tara Evonne Trudell, Andrea Mauk, Tom Sheldon

ALGO DE TI, Avotcja
The Fence, Sharon Elliott
Dual Citizenship, Tara Evonne Trudell
Second Story, Andrea Mauk
Columbus through tiny eyes, Tom Sheldon



ALGO DE TI
by Avotcja

Tu pelo,
Abrazando su propia negrura
Como el color de medianoche en la manígua
Tu ser,
Un cuento vestido en sabiduría anciana
Una sabiduría agridulce
Sabiduría con sabor a colores de miles de flores
Bestial y arrogante
Una seda desenvoltura
A la vez inmóvil, pero misteriosa
Y como la noche de luna
Esclava de nadie
Eternamente libre como el viento
¿Y Otoño?
Siempre hay otoño,
Riendo, llorando, y bailando
En la negrura de tus ojos Indios
Tus ojos sabios
Tus ojos orgullosos
Tus pies ya caminaron por unos miles de siglos
En las tierras de tres continentes
Por los sueños de los afortunados
Por las pesadillas de los que nos engañan
Y porque tu eres quien eres tu,
Crecen las flores donde caminaste
Los Dioses me dicen
Que tu piel tiene el sabor de miel salvaje
Mientras que el viento canta tu nombre
Como yo ..… como yo
Y tu eres el color de amor
El color Moreno
El color prieto
El color Indio
El color de mi felicidad
El color de amor ….. eres tu

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU
by Avotcja

Your hair,
Embracing its own blackness
Like the color of a jungle midnight
Your being,
A story dressed in ancient wisdom
A bittersweet wisdom
Wisdom that
Tastes like the colors of thousands of flowers
Arrogant & wild
A smooth flowing freedom
That's at the same time stubborn, but mysterious
And like the moonlight
A slave of nobody
Infinitely free just like the wind
And Autumn?
Autumn is always laughing, crying & dancing
In the blackness of your Indian eyes
Your wise eyes
Your proud eyes
Your feet have walked
Through thousands of centuries
On the lands of three continents
Through the dreams of the fortunate
Through the nightmares of those who deceive us
And because you are who you are,
Wherever you’ve walked flowers grow
The Gods tell me,
That your skin tastes like wild honey
While even the wind sings your name
And so do I ….. so do I
And you are the color of love
The color brown
Very dark brown
A dark red Indian brown
The color of my happiness
You ….. are the color of love!



The Fence
by Sharon Elliott

sin vergüenza

Germany pulled theirs down
artifact of Nazis
with joy
celebration
Berlin united
pieces of brick
and stone
now inhabit the globe
in memory
of tyranny overcome

we
construct new fences
of wire and steel
to keep out ciudadanos
los que son
dueños de esta tierra
quienes que nos dieron
una bienvenida de corazón
nos cuidaron
nos regalaron una cama para acostarnos
nos alimentaron
con maíz y amor compartido

y que hicimos nosotros?
what did we do?
we accepted their gracious gifts
then stole their land
pushed them off
enslaved them
and their children
treated them as interlopers
in their own home

now we build fences
to keep them away
from what is rightly theirs

what hardened our hearts
blinded our eyes
withered our souls

money is a simple answer
privilege and power
more complex
yet the
foundation of those fences
bears more scrutiny

es una pobreza de alma
corazones sin sangre
como podemos vivir así
sin lo que alimenta a uno o el otro

tear those fences down
stand in our humanity
wield sledgehammers
wire cutters
bulldozers
machetes
y en un solo golpe
tear those fences down

until we do
we will not be whole
we will continue to be ghosts
fragmented spirits
alone
disconnected
and afraid



Dual Citizenship
by Tara Evonne Trudell

Answers lie
when their truths
don't add up
whitewashing politicians
diluting
intelligent thoughts
puppet shows
debating
who's in control
slandering smiles
blinding white
control
Americans hanging on
to every word
taking their minds
off humanity
the wanting
of righteous law
breaking politics
playing ping pong
hitting hard
manipulating tactics
of manifest destiny
corporate sponsors
running the game
monopolizing
earth
colonizing
brown
people backed up
against
invisible walls
guns drawn
border agents
playing warfare
targeting migrants
killing softly
our song
500 years
of proving
we belong
to our earth
erasing their borders
in sand
willing breaths
we fall
before we stand
in barrios
in canyons
in homes
uniting
dual citizenship
past
their make believe
land
their misleading debate
loudly continues on
in a world
our spirits
do not belong.



Second Story
by Andrea Mauk

No matter where you live,
you exist on top of a
failed, conquered civilization.
You walk upon footsteps of buried wisdom,
upon people who understood
the whispers of the winds,
the nutritional medicinal value of
each plant and
the reason to respect each animal,
upon 'pagan' engineers, architects and astronomers
who learned the formulas taught
by the sun and moon and stars.

You walk on the skulls of those
sacrificed in ceremonies
we will never fully understand,
you guffaw at their Gods and
their nectars and their dances
as you marvel at the
modern technology that
distracts you away from the fact
that our planet, our earth,
our way of life is spinning out of control,
and you are standing on top of
land grabbed without regard to
the wisdom of civilizations
who may have understood
our existence
better
than we.



Columbus through tiny eyes
by Tom Sheldon

sister Marie taught us about an Italian sailor
who shaved every day and carried a bible
he brought us pork n beans
warm blankets n fry bread
he brought farmers and soldiers
and discovered us
bringing Original sin and horses n dogs too
all on ships sent to aid the white man’s domination of Mother earth...
Is it entirely appropriate that this most auspicious day, be a day of mourning, ashes and weeping.


bios
ALGO DE TI by Avotcja
The Fence by Sharon Elliott
Dual Citizenship by Tara Evonne Trudell
Second Story by Andrea Mauk
Columbus through tiny eyes by Tom Sheldon


Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story.
Website: www.Avotcja.org Email: mailto:LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com


Born and raised in Seattle, Sharon Elliott has written since childhood. Four years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Ecuador laid the foundation for her activism. As an initiated Lukumi priest, she has learned about her ancestral Scottish history, reinforcing her belief that borders are created by men, enforcing them is simply wrong.LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com



Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. Her production company, Dancing Horse Media Group, is currently in pre-production of her independent film, “Beautiful Dreamer,” based on her original screenplay and manuscript, and along with her partners, is producing a unique cookbook that blends healthful recipes with poetry and prose.

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11. TODAY'S REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN OF COLOR


A message from Claudia D. Hernandez



Dear Friends,

I am launching my very first Indiegogo effort to fund my latest project: TODAY'S REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN OF COLOR Book and Photography Exhibit

I NEED YOUR SUPPORT to cover costs such as book editor, art designer, exhibit costs and book publication which will be given as a GIFT to every young girl who attends the exhibit

The deadline to back this project is December 9th!
The date and the location of the exhibit is pending. Most likely, it will be next year, mid year.Please, watch my video and then click on the pink button that says "Contribute now" and donate $1

Share the video with your friends and family to help spread the word. 
Please forward this email to your friends and organizations that you know might help. Thank you for supporting education and community through the arts!

Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/258398?a=1644733



The Closet of Discarded Dreams

Texas Book Tour
 Oct. 25-31, 2012


Bloguero Rudy Ch. Garcia will be visiting Texas. Come and discover the Closet of Discarded Dreams. 

HOUSTON
River Oaks Bookstore
Friday Oct. 26, 2012 5:00 – 7:00pm
3270 Westheimer
Live on-air interview on Tony Diaz’s Nuestra Palabra –
Latino Writers Having Their Say, KPFT 90.1fm, Tue. Oct 23, 7:30pm CST
SAN ANTONIO
Southwest Workers Union
Sun. Oct. 28 3:00
1416 E. Commerce
The Twig Book Shop
Sun. Oct 28 5:00
@ The Pearl Brewery
Palo Alto College Guadalupe Hall #119
Tuesday Oct. 30 12:50
1400 W. Villaret Blvd.
Great Day SA interview
on daytime TV program, KENS5 in San Anto
Sun. Oct. 28 beginning at 12:00 noon.


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12. Bible Detective: A Puzzle Search Book by Peter Martin

5 stars Bible Detective: A Puzzle Search Book Peter Martin Lion Children's Books 48 Pages   Ages: 4+ .............. ……………………. Are  you a super sleuth? Have you got an eagle eye?  Back Cover:  This book is a treasure trove of fabulously detailed pictures from the world of the Bible. You’ll have hours of fun trying to [...]

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13. Opportunity! Jerry Spinelli’s Northeast Hokey Pokey Book Tour

I know so many people love Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, especially if they have met them. Below is Jerry’s schedule for his HOKEY POKEY Book Tour. You will notice Jerry and Eileen are going to be together in PA and then Jerry goes off to DC, PA, MA, and NY. If you live in any of those areas, you might even want to let the teachers you know of the opportunity. They are always e-mailing me to see if I can get Jerry to visit their school. They might like the chance to ask him in person.

jerryevents4blog

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book Stores, Book Tour, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity Tagged: Book Tour, Eileen Spinelli, Hokey Pokey, Jake & Lily, Jerry Spinelli

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14. I Haiku You – Win A Book

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week.  I thought I would remind you of Betsy Synder’s new book, I HAIKU YOU and give you a chance to win a copy of her book.  It is simple.  Just Tweet and link to this post and leave a comment letting me know.  All names will be placed in a box and a name announced on Feb. 14th.  Random House will send the winner I HAIKU BABY directly to your address.

betsyhaiku

BETSY SNYDER_HEADSHOT_1_LOBetsy is and author and illustrator, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday December 1st.  You can click her to see her books and illustrations, but today I have asked Betsy some questions about I HAIKU YOU and the road the book has taken her down.

Back in December Betsy told us that all four of the books she has written so far have been with Random House.  She had the idea for “Haiku Baby” floating around in her head for quite a while when her agent told her of an opportunity at Random House.  She jumped on that opportunity and took the time she needed to get it on paper and sent it to an editor at Random House. She worked up some additional book ideas at the same time, which turned her first writing venture into a 3-book (now 5-book) contract with Random House.

I HAIKU YOU_BUTTERFLIES

What did you do to help launch I Haiku You when it came out on December 26th?

Books that are marketed for Valentine’s Day come out right after Christmas so stores can start promoting them right away. I shared news of the Dec. 26 book release with Twitter, Facebook and blog followers, but most people aren’t ready to think about Valentine’s Day in late December. For this reason, it worked better to time “I Haiku you” book launch events closer to Valentine’s Day. The big push has just begun for my promotion efforts and will continue through mid-February.

Did you make a plan for how to market the book before it hit the book shelves?

Yes, I worked with my publicist at Random House to determine what our joint efforts would be. One thing we decided on was a week-long blog tour in early February. My publicist helped coordinate all the blog stops and arrange a schedule for me. And since “I Haiku You” is a good book for any time of year, not JUST Valentine’s Day, we’re also planning to do another wave of promotion in April for poetry month. Stay tuned!

What types of things have you done since?

For my local book launch party, I teamed up with my friend Susan Reagan, who has a new Valentine’s book out called “Tweet Hearts” (also Random House). We held a special “Valentine Story Time” for both our books at a friend’s flower and gift shop called the Urban Orchid. We had fun crafts and sweet treats—I even made my own haiku fortune cookies as party favors! Susan and I will also be signing books together at a Cleveland-area boutique called Banyon Tree for the Tremont Art Walk this Fri., Feb. 8. And all this week I’m doing a multi-stop blog tour with all kinds of Q/A’s, guest posts and even some book giveaways—this is my second stop on the tour route!

I see you have a book trailer. How did you come up with how the trailer would be laid out?

Fortunately my husband is a motion graphics artist, so he was able to help. Jeff and I brainstormed ideas together and discussed the best approach. I chose the music and prepared the art files, and Jeff did the animation. My niece Ava even did the “Who do YOU haiku?” voice-over at the end. It was a true family effort!

What other blogs are on your book tour?

www.thechildrensbookreview.com

www.uskidsmags.com

www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

www.nerdybookclub.wordpress.com

www.mrschureads.blogspot.com (Watch. Connect. Read.)

www.sharpread.wordpress.com 

(sorry if I’m leaving anyone out, but that’s the most current list I have)

Have you set up any school visits to help promote the book?  If so, how did you start and plan this process?

I do have a school visit this May that is part of a special book event called Claire’s Day. You can read all about it at www.clairesday.org. I initially made a contact for this event while I was a presenter at an annual SCBWI conference (Northern Ohio).

Balancing time for making new books with promoting my existing titles is always a challenge, so I haven’t been able to organize more school visits yet. But that is something I would love to find more time for in the future. Connecting with kids, teachers and parents is one of the best parts of my job—I learn so much with every experience.

Do you have any stats on how the book is selling?

I’ve been having so much fun promoting the new book that I haven’t even checked yet!

I HAIKU YOU_ART_FRIENDS

Betsy, wishing you the best of luck with your new book and thanks for making it so much fun by letting me give-a-way a book.

Don’t miss out on leaving a comment and having a chance to win a copy of I Haiku You.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Tour, Contest, opportunity, Picture Book Tagged: Betsy Snyder, Blog Book Tour, I Haiku You, Random House

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15. Kindergarten library card party -- your public library should take on this awesome program





Roseville Public Library in Minnesota holds a "graduation ceremony" for Kindergartners who are getting their first library cards. It's awesome! Impossibly cute and the kids are filled with so much pride. And of course it reinforces the privilege of having a card! I was honored to be invited out to speak at the event.  Here I am with the incredible group (minus Ann) who made it all happen!





You should totally bring such a program to your community! 

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16. Traveling and Voice: Some Thoughts on Finding My Place

Speaking to the COSMO group in Columbia, MO

Speaking to the COSMO group in Columbia, MO

Today, I have a few things to share with you about Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg: a story about my recent “book tour” :) , a story from someone who bought the book, and a quick lesson on VOICE, one of the 6 + 1 traits of writing–so let’s go!

Going On a Book Tour
Last week, my good friend, who is just like a mother-in-law to me (that’s a story for another post!), Pamela Anderson from Columbia, MO invited me to stay at her house with my two-year-old and speak to her COSMO group (diabetes research) and Pachyderms (the first club ever in the U.S.) and then organized a breakfast for me of old friends–all to promote my book. My husband came, too, and the trip was a huge success! I was worried about my talk because I was used to speaking to either groups of writers, teachers, or kids; but I tied the story of taking 11 years for my book to be published (FIVE after I signed the contract) to never giving up and following your dreams. People seemed to really relate to it, even if they weren’t writers because when I finished talking, there was actually a line to buy a copy of my book! I met the most interesting and nice people–one woman was almost 90-years-old and had been researching her family on the Trail of Tears for over 30 years. Her determination and spirit made my trip. The breakfast with old friends was so great, and my two-year-old came to that–I was a little worried about this, as she is not in the “patient” stage. But even she was so good and ATE, too. (You mothers of toddlers know what an accomplishment this is.)

I am so thankful to Pamela Anderson (the retired air traffic controller, not the actress) for organizing AND my husband Rick and my good, good friend Michelle Pfeiffer (I swear–I have a friend named Pamela Anderson and Michelle Pfeiffer–both married last names!) for helping me with KB!

Final Finding My Place CoverA Cool, Heartwarming Story
My mom’s friend, Bobette, bought a book for her grandson, Gavin. He is in fifth grade. My mom and Bobette have been friends for longer than I’ve been alive (not telling you how long that is!); and I’ve met Gavin before, but he lives in a different state–so I don’t know him well. Anyway, as the sweet kid that he is, he took my book to his fifth grade teacher and said that he HAD to read if for independent reading because this was written by a family friend. The teacher was reluctant–this is understandable because she has NO IDEA who I am–but agreed to read the book to see what she thought. (What an awesome teacher!) After she finished reading it, she agreed Gavin could read it, and even better–she put my book on her reading list. WOW! Thank you!

A Lesson in Voice: 6 + 1 Traits of Writing

This is a quick lesson you can do with ANY book, not just Finding My Place. But it works better with novel length books. traits-logo

1. Once you and your students have read at least half of the book, they should be familiar with the main characters’ voices. For example, in Finding My Place, students should be able to recognize Anna, Sara, James, Mrs. Franklin, and possibly Dr. Franklin and Stuart, too.

2. Review what VOICE is. This is such a hard concept for children to understand–there is an overall voice to the book, which is Anna’s in FMP, but then each character also has their own voice. Voice is the way the words sound together, and authors have their own distinct voice. For example, you can easily tell the difference between my book and one written by Mark Twain! (HA!)

3. Each student should have a piece of paper, numbered 1-10. You, the teacher (or students can take turns doing it to) or parent, read a line or two from FMP–it could be Anna’s narrative or dialogue OR dialogue from one of the main characters. Then ask students to write down whose VOICE they think that is.

4. After revealing the correct answers, discuss with students how they knew that Mrs. Franklin said what she did or that it was Anna speaking–what is different about the VOICE?

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17. Meltdown ● March 30th ● Who will take the stage in 2013?


The 2013 Meltdown shall soon be upon us!

My better half and me.


It's hard to believe that this March 30th will be the 5th year for The River's Music Meltdown and Book Bash. Or, as it's known for short—MELTDOWN! When my wife Gina and I moved to the Pioneer Valley, we knew we wanted to get involved with our new community and we wasted no time doing so. We always loved the events that I had attended for Punk Farm, where music was incorporated into readings, and saw a big hole in our author-saturated town of Northampton: NO book festival! We floated the idea for a day where authors and kids' musicians would swap stage time to our new friends Bill Childs and Monte Belmonte, DJs at the local radio station. Next thing you knew, we were teaming up and the first Meltdown was staged in 2009!

Since its inception, we have brought Grace Lin, Jon Scieszka, Jeanne Birdsall, Jeff Mack, Jef Czekaj, Diane deGroat, Mo Willems, Timothy Basil Ering, Anna Alter, Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Scott Fischer, John Bemelmans Marciano, Eric Wight and Lisa Yee to the stage! We love that the kids in our neighborhood have had the opportunity to see all of these authors!

And now that we're in our 5th year, our oldest daughter is four and will truly enjoy this year's Meltdown! She was all of three months during the first staging of this event!

Our girls helped us make a display for our local library!


Much credit needs to go to WRSI The River. They do all of the heavy lifting to make Meltdown something that can happen. There are a lot of finances that go behind an event like this and their hard work allows Gina and I to program the author side without worrying about permits, etc.

So who do we have line up this year? Here's who you will see on Saturday, March 30th!

Please note that Meltdown is moving this year! We've outgrown our previous space and will now be at Smith Vocational High School, located at 80 Locust St!

10:40 AM
This guy.

We really had to pull some strings for this one. But seriously, we kind of did. My publisher will be releasing LL #9 a few weeks early exclusively for Meltdown 2013. So if you want to read LL and the Video Game Villain before the rest of the country, this is your chance!



11:40 am
Angela DiTerlizzi!

Our copy of Ang's Say What? is already dog-eared. We can never read it just once, as the girls insist on repeated readings. Which is fine by us, this book ROCKS!




12:40 pm
Matthew McElligott!

Matthew's books are a huge hit with our girls. (Do you see a theme here? Our daughters seem to be running the show...) Even Aliens Need Snacks is a sequel to Matt's equally hilarious Even Monsters Need Haircuts



1:40 pm

Judy Schachner!

Skippyjon Jones, everyone's favorite kitty-boy who thinks he's a Chihuahua, will be represented at Meltdown 2013! These books are crazy popular, and crazy fun, as is Judy!  Our daughter runs around the house dressed as Skippyjon. Esta un cabeza de loco. My Spanish is rusty. I need to go read more Sippyjon Jones books... 





2:40 pm
Tony DiTerlizzi


But wait! There's more DiTerlizzi to be had! Tony's books range from picture books (G is for One Gzonk gets our girls giggling) to chapter books (T's new WandLa series will keep you at the edge of your seats and inspire your imaginations!). We can't wait to see what T will conjure up on the Meltdown stage!





Not only do all of these authors write superlative books, but they also put on fantastic shows. That's a big part of what we look for in Meltdown authors—stage presence! You'll never be disappointed by who we invite to read, they're all stahs!

And of course, Bill Childs has another fantastic line up of musicians. Be sure to check the official Meltdown page for more info! www.rivermeltdown.com

1 Comments on Meltdown ● March 30th ● Who will take the stage in 2013?, last added: 4/7/2013
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18. Interview with Debut Author Tori Corn

toricropped290I met Tori years ago at one of the first events I put on as Regional Advisor of the New Jersey Chapter of the SCBWI. I got to see the effort that Tori put into her books and making sure her work was seen by editors and agents.  She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency and was one of their first clients.

Tori’s interest in children’s books began when her daughter was born. She fell in love with picture books after spending countless hours at the library reading to her daughter. By the time her sons were born, she was inspired to write her own stories and quickly became hooked on writing. She also studied picture book illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Tori joined New Jersey SCBWI and attended writing conferences where she learned the ins and outs of the publishing industry.  Writing and illustrating children’s books became an unexpected, exciting second career for her. She has expanded her writing for children of all ages and is currently working on a historical fiction novel.

PenelopeHer debut picture book, What Will It Be, Penelope? hits the book shelves on June 4th.

You can meet Tori Corn (author)and Dannielle Ceccolini (illustrator) at The Corner Bookstore tonight to celebrate the publication of What Will It Be, Penelope?

Wednesday, May 22nd – 6:00 p.m.

RSVP: (212) 831-3554 or cornerbook@aol.com

Here are a few questions I asked Tori that I thought you might be interested in reading:

Can you tell us about your journey with What Will It Be, Penelope?

Watching children try and decide what flavor ice cream they wanted is what inspired me to write the story. Sometimes my youngest son would hold up the line at the Mr. Softee ice cream truck! Of course there’s a bit of me in the story. I’ve been known to take forever to decide something silly like which soap to buy at Target! Penelope was the first picture book I wrote that wasn’t written in rhyme. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many versions there are!

How long ago did you write What’s Will It Be, Penelope?

It’s hard to say. I wrote the first version about seven years ago but I put it aside and didn’t look at it for years. It was way too long, around 850 words, which is a common mistake for picture book writers who are just learning their craft.  It took me a while to figure out how to tell a story in only 500 to 600 words.

Did you do revisions? 

Did I do revisions? All I did was revisions! And once I sold the manuscript, I still had to do more revisions!

What did it feel like to sign that first contract? 

It was a really special day for me, especially since I’d been envisioning the moment for such a long time.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sky Pony Press? 

Sky Pony is a wonderful publisher.(I’m not biased.) Launched in fall of 2011, it’s the children’s book imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Their list includes picture books, middle grade, young adult, educational books and reissues of some well-loved classics. Since their first list in Fall 2011, Sky Pony now has over 100 books in print. I feel so blessed to have Penelope on that list. Next year, I’ll have another picture book called Dixie Wants an Allergy on the list too. What I love about Sky Pony is that they make decisions quickly and are capable of producing their books in record time. I signed my contract in Jan 2012 and I was holding a copy of my book in my hands in May 2013! Amazing.

Did you have any input into choosing the illustrator?

No I didn’t, but I’m glad that Sky Pony chose Danielle Ceccolini to do the illustrations for What Will It Be Penelope?  In general, the publisher chooses the illustrator, not the author.

Do you ever think you will try your hand in illustrating one of your books? 

Yes! I was an art major at SyracuseUniversity. I love to draw and paint!  As a matter of fact, I illustrated the cover for my website. You can probably tell by looking at it that I was a textile designer because of the textures and the prints on my character’s clothing.

I took picture book illustration classes at The School of visual Arts and began working on a book dummy for my picture book called Sometimes I Wake in the Middle of the Night. Hopefully I’ll finish illustrating it someday. And you never know, maybe I’ll write and illustrate a story about the mice on my website! www.toricorn.com

Do you have any other books on the horizon?

I’ve written eight picture books and I’m currently working on a historical fiction novel.

What types of things have you done to help get prepared for your book launch? 

Well, for one thing, I had a website developed.  I’ve also purchased some cute Penelope giveaways to give to kids after I’ve read my book during school visits. I’m hoping the children will go home and ask their parents to buy my book and these items will help them remember the name of my book!

Do you have any words of wisdom to share that would help unpublished writers? 

The most important advice I can give writers is to be thoughtful when deciding who to send their manuscripts to. This cuts down on the amount of (and type of ) reject letters you get. For instance, I only sent my manuscripts to editors and agents that I met at SCBWI conferences and I didn’t send them to everyone, only those whom I felt were seriously interested in my stories. That way, I only received encouraging reject letters! Most of them had excellent editorial comments so instead of feeling bad, I actually felt  inspired to work harder to improve my manuscript.

My second piece of advice is for writers to envision their books getting published. That’s really important. Someone once told me to “Stay on the road and keep looking forward” which is what I did. I think it’s also important to join a writing group so you can have your manuscripts critiqued often and learn what other authors are doing right and wrong.   And remember, if a few people are saying the same thing, you should listen. That said, always stay true to yourself.

Thank you Tori for sharing your experience with us. Best of luck with the book. Stop by www.toricorn.com to see Tori’s new website.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Book Tour, inspiration, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: Danielle Ceccolini, Liza Royce Literary Agency, Tori Corn, What Will It Be Penelope?

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19. Missouri Mini Book Tour

I've spent the last week in Missouri doing six different author events. Here are some highlights (...the times I remembered to take my camera):
 Springfield, Missouri: The Library Center

I've never seen a library this amazing! There's a gift shop, coffee shop, gorgeous children's wing, and a variety of programs for all sorts of readers.
I did my Buckboards, Buffalo Chips, and Bloomers presentation, an interactive talk about the American Frontier.
 I also met blogging friend and librarian extraordinaire Sarah Bean Thompson, of Green Bean Teen Queen.
 Here I am taking a snooze while signing books.
Neosho, Missouri: book club

These colorful ladies are members of my mom's book club. Anyone remember my post about The Little Nippers, my mom's childhood club? Three Nippers are in this picture. My mother also enjoys napping while pictures are taken.

 Dad and Mom

12 Comments on Missouri Mini Book Tour, last added: 5/25/2012
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20. Summer Reading Events

While I stay mostly close to home and the coast, I do have a few book events in the summer months.



June 13, 6 p.m.: Providence, RI -  I'm beyond honored to be included in this exhibit: RISD ICONS: A Legacy of Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The show will run June 14-24.


June 16, 10:30 a.m.: Arlington, MA - Fox Branch Library


June 23, 1 p.m.: Newburyport, MA - The Book Rack


July 12, 11 a.m.: Lenox, MA - The Lenox Library



July 21, time TBA:  Somerville, MA - Epic event with Jef Czekaj at Arts Beat
It's HIP AND HOP and PUNK FARM! The Jay Z/Linkin Park mashup of kids' books!
It all happens at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square!


August 8, 3 p.m.: Framingham, MA - Framingham Public Library 



Hope to see you soon!
JJK



And if you are a public library in Northeastern Mass, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Gina at gina@studiojjk.com. She'd be happy to help set something up for you, as we spend our summer months in coastal New Hampshire! My presentation fits in perfectly with the Dream Big summer theme. Download a brochure here.

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21. Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Nancy I. Sanders

Today I have the pleasure of featuring Nancy Sanders and her newest book Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities.

Nancy is an amazing author of over 75 published books - see what I mean about being amazing.

Okay, let's get into it.

Featured Book:
Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
By Nancy I. Sanders
Author’s site: www.nancyisanders.com
Book’s site: www.FrederickDouglass.wordpress.com
Purchase the book on Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/7opjcn4

Book Synopsis
Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.
   
Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Nancy I. Sanders

Is this book suitable for classroom use?
Frederick Douglass for Kids is a great classroom resource in elementary, middle school, and high school classes on U.S. History! It’s the perfect tool for studying about the life and times of Frederick Douglass, abolitionists, the Civil War, and early civil rights leaders. It includes short biographies of key black leaders during the years before the Civil War. Its timeline of the influence of black troops during the Civil War features information never before found altogether in a children’s book. It takes facts typically only studied at the university level on this topic and presents them in a student-friendly format. It presents the life of this true American hero, Frederick Douglass, in an inspirational way to motivate students to take a stand for what they believe it and make a difference in their world just as Douglass did.

Are there any teaching resources available for use with this book?
I also write teaching resource books for Scholastic Teaching Resources, so I designed a teacher’s study guide to use with this book. These worksheets include chapter-by-chapter evaluation questions, a Civil War letter to write, a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the life of Frederick Douglass with Martin Luther King Jr., and more! You’ll find these free worksheets to download and print on the book’s website at:
www.frederickdouglass.wordpress.com/teachers-and-librarians/

I also designed a set of printable bookmarks to distribute to your stu

12 Comments on Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Children’s Author Nancy I. Sanders, last added: 6/14/2012
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22. Jef Czekaj on the radio and in person!



It's Jef Czekaj Week here at StudioJJK! On Wednesday at 5:40 pm EDT, tune into SiriusXM's Kids Place Live (channel 78) to here me interview Jef on The Book Report with JJK! Jef combined his love for turtles, rabbits and rap to create one of the most exciting new picture book series in Hip & Hop!


And then on Saturday, July 21st, come by ArtBeat in Somerveille, MA! Jef and I will share a stage and it will be a punk/rap KidLitPalooza with Punk Farm and Hip & Hop. We'll take the stage at 2 pm! If the heat doesn't melt your ice cream, the rock will!



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23. Something Fierce This Way Comes: Fall 2012 Fierce Reads Tour

Are you ready to read something fierce?

After the success of our spring 2012 Fierce Reads tour (read about it here in Publisher's Weekly!), we're back this fall with six NEW Fierce Reads authors for the tour, which also features three familiar faces.

 
Featuring  Ann Aguirre, Elizabeth Fama, Lish McBride and Marissa Meyer:

  • September 18: Changing Hands Bookstore in Pheonix, AZ
  • September 19: Tattered Cover in Denver, CO
  • September 20: Left Bank Books in St. Louis, MO (This stop also features author Jessica Brody!)
  • September 21: Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinatti, OH
  • September 22: Next Chapter Bookshop in Milwaukee, WI
  • September 23: Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NC (This stop will not feature author Marissa Meyer)

Featuring Gennifer Albin, Caragh O'Brien, Marie Rutkoski and Leigh Bardugo:


  • October 16: Lake Forest Bookstore in Lake Forest, IL
  • October 17: Politics & Prose at the Bethesda Library outside of Washington D.C.
  • October 18: Cover to Cover Bookstore in Columbus, OH
  • October 19: Square Books in Oxford, MS
  • October 20: Children's Book World in Haverford, PA
  • October 21: New York City (Exact location TBD!)

Learn more about the Fall 2012 Fierce Reads titles at MacTeenBooks.com, our sister blog and become a fan of Fierce Reads on Facebook for 

Go to our Fierce Reads Facebook page to RSVP to the stop closest to your hometown!


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24. Summer 2012 Fierce Reads Tour Recap

  

 

Fierce Reads was launched in June with a spectacular tour! Four debut authors went on the road, with special author guests joining them along the way. The Fierce Reads tour took the authors across the country to meet new fans.

The four debut author and their books were:

 

And they were joined at various stops by Marissa Meyer, Jessica Brody, Lish McBride, Ann Aguirre, and Caragh O'Brien.

Couldn't make it to any of the events? Well you're in luck! Lots of bloggers went to the events and wrote up some recaps!

June 5: Mrs. Nelson's in La Verne, CA

June 6: Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, CA

June 7: Books, Inc. in San Francisco, CA    

June 8: Kepler's in Menlo Park, CA

June 9: Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA

June 12: Provo City Library in Provo, UT

June 13: Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX

June 14: Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, IL

June 15: Schuler's Books in Lansing, MI

June 16: Barnes and Noble in Pensacola, FL

June 17: Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY

 

There will be a new Fierce Read Tour in the Fall, so be sure to check out the Fierce Reads Facebook Fan Page to see which authors will be coming and where/when.

And stay fierce!

 

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25. Meeting Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale was in town on Thursday, talking up her most recent book, THE PRINCESS ACADEMY: PALACE OF STONE. I never tire of hearing other authors talk about how they work, how they manage with children, writing, and life. It's very much an iron sharpens iron thing.

Shannon talked about getting ideas for stories daily (a story isn't one idea but many, she said), writing down those ideas, and coming back to them at a later date. She works on two books at once, turning to one when the other is in edits. A sitter comes to watch her four kids for three hours a day, five days a week, and she commits to 1,000 a day.

I felt a kinship with Shannon when she mentioned she's drawn to stories that are hard. If a story is easy, there really isn't anything to say. I'm in the midst of my own hard story, and hearing I'm not alone in this challenge was reassuring -- and fuel to help me finish my work.
 This girl in front of me was adorable. She'd worn out her first copy of THE PRINCESS ACADEMY, so she bought two more: one for regular reading and one for backup.

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