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26. PEN American Center to Auction Off Special Annotated Books From 61 Authors

61 authors and 14 artists have made annotations to some of their most beloved works for the First Editions/Second Thoughts (FEST) auction. The funds from this venture will benefit the PEN American Center.

The writers added in features to first edition copies of their books such as notes, essays, sketches, photos, and letters to the reader. The artists had a choice of re-making either a monograph or an important art piece.

All of the artwork and annotated books will be put on public display at Christie’s New York starting November 17th. The auction itself will take place on December 2nd.

The New York Times has an exclucisve video starring Robert A. Caro, Paul Auster, and Jane Smiley who talk about the experience of re-reading their own books (embedded above). Click here to watch another video for more details about the auction event.

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27. Rockers write: Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy Page, Billy Idol, Scott Ian, and Joe Perry

MickFleetwoodcoverRollicking, rowdy, and introspective, five big rockers record their memoirs and reminiscences in big books this season.

Mick Fleetwood’s Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac (Little, Brown), shares his life as a drummer and bandleader and sheds new light on Fleetwood Mac’s raucous history and his lifelong friend John McVie. In the New York Post, Larry Getlen said, “”In his new memoir, Fleetwood documents his wild life, including how the creation of 1977′s Rumours, one of the best-selling albums of all time, almost drove the band insane.”

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page (Genesis) is a photographic autobiography. Jimmy Page has chosen hundreds of photographs from his career as a celebrated guitarist: from a schoolboy with a “Rockabilly” forelock through his extensive work as a session musician; including The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, ARMS, The Firm, Outrider, Coverdale & Page and Page & Plant; playing with Roy Harper and The Black Crowes; collaborating with P. Diddy, and performing with Leona Lewis at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In his autobiography Dancing with Myself (Touchstone), Billy Idol is candid, brash, and lively. He says, “I am hopelessly divided between the dark and the good, the rebel and the saint, the sex maniac and the monk, the poet and the priest, the demagogue and the populist. Pen to paper, I’ve put it all down, every bit from the heart. I’m going out on a limb here, so watch my back.”

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian brings us the fast-paced, funny, and revealing I’m the Man (Da Capo). He includes tales from first hearing Kiss on the radio, backstage with Metallica, and the complete history of Anthrax, to interviewing Ozzy Osbourne for “The Rock Show” while dressed as Gene Simmons (and going undetected), marrying Meatloaf’s daughter, singer-songwriter Pearl Aday, becoming a fully functioning adult, and more. And, as Newsday’s David Criblez points out, his memoir comes with a comic book in the center.

JoePerrycover,jpegIn Rocks (Simon & Schuster), Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry paints an insider’s portrait of the rock-and-roll family, featuring everyone from Steven Tyler and Jimmy Page to Alice Cooper, Bette Midler to Chuck Berry, John Belushi to Al Hirschfeld. He takes us behind the scenes at unbelievable moments such as his appearance with Tyler in the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (they act out the murders of Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees). Jimmy Page said of Rocks: “Rocking Joe Perry ‘rocks’ again!”

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28. Invisible boundaries and social media - C.J. Busby

A few weeks ago, a young American first-time author, Kathleen Hale, unleashed a bit of a social media storm by publishing a piece in The Guardian about the increasingly vexed online relationship between authors and bloggers. The article (here) which ran in the Saturday magazine, detailed how she became obsessed by one of her online critics, a blogger called Blythe Harris. When Hale engaged with Blythe's criticism's of her book (despite the many, many warnings she received that authors should not answer back to bad reviews), Blythe and many of her fellow bloggers apparently turned on her and Hale found herself labelled a BBA - a badly behaved author. For Hale (and I should emphasise that we only get Hale's perspective on what happened here), Blythe was wilfully malicious, ruining the reception of her book, and using her clique of friends and fellow bloggers to trash Hale's reputation. In return, Hale details her own increasing obsession with Blythe - an obsession which rapidly moved from what she termed 'light stalking' (gathering any and every detail she could from Blythe's online presence) to what by any standards is just plain stalking - using subterfuge to gain access to Blythe's real-life identity, workplace address and home address.



It's a sorry tale, and I'm not going to rehash the Hale case here, but it did make me think about the business of social media, writers, bloggers and boundaries. Authors, as Hale notes, are encouraged to get online and have a social media presence, but their natural audience, book bloggers and fans, seem quite often to resent authors turning up on their turf and, as they see it, throwing their weight around. A while ago, as a bit of a newbie author, I brushed up against a similar controversy when I noticed an online discussion on a book blogger's site about one of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.



I'm a bit of a fan of this series, and was interested to see that the author had stopped by and commented, explaining where some of the features the blogger was discussing had come from in the writing process. It was (I thought) a perfectly polite contribution, and not in the least critical of her analysis, simply adding a bit of background information. But it caused an immediate storm, in which I was very slightly caught up, having added a comment of my own about the strange ways the writing process worked. For some of the following commentators, writers were simply not welcome on a book blogging site - they were guilty of abusing the power they had as authors to dominate a space that was not for them. Book blogs and fan sites should be considered a space for fans and book lovers to freely express themselves and not somewhere authors should feel free to gatecrash.

It was all resolved fairly amicably - Ben Aaronovitch backed down with a bit of grumbling, and I apologised profusely for being new to all this and not understanding the rules of the game. But the Hale article did bring this experience back to me.

What both examples make clear, I think, is that engaging in discussion with other people on social media is now the easiest thing in the world to do, but that it's also potentially perilous - what seems to be a simple opening gambit in a conversation can quickly become a reason for several people you've never met to decide they hate you. And thinking about why this is, made me realise that it's partly about the lack of social clues we have online.

Picture this: an author walks into a cafe, orders a coffee, and then realises that at the table next to him are six women, clearly friends, all discussing why they don't really like his new book. He would have to be completely mad or utterly self-obsessed to lean across and say, "Excuse me, ladies, that point you've just made is very interesting, but as the author, I'd have to say you've misunderstood my intention...." More likely, he'd hide behind a newspaper, or slink out. It's not his place to push into a group which is clearly bounded by longstanding interactions and mutual exchange of opinions. On the web, though, it's hard to see those boundaries, easier to think this is a discussion open to anyone who happens to wander past.

We've probably all had the experience of adding comments on a forum discussion, only to have what we've said utterly ignored as the next commentator simply replies to the one before you, and the next one carries on as if you never said anything. It feels like a snub (it is a snub) - but if this were real life, the group discussing this burning issue would be that bunch of students who always occupy the table in the corner of the canteen, looking daggers at anyone who even thinks about sitting next to them - and we wouldn't be in the least surprised if they ignored our comment. (We'd almost certainly never make it in the first place.)

Would you interrupt the conversation?

As social animals, we have built up over generations the ability to detect the smallest social clues about other people and groups around us. The kinds of interaction we engage in with other people are largely determined by our previous interactions with them, their status as friends or family or work colleagues. Even with total strangers we can use visible clues like dress, body language, expression, context, to judge what is or isn't appropriate. All these help us to 'see' the boundaries that we would be transgressing and the trouble we could be causing if we were to be, for example, inappropriately intimate or aggressive or opinionated.

The trouble with social media is these clues are just not there. We've only had access to this multitude of potential conversations with strangers  for a very short time, and people appear on it as little more than speech. Speech which is devoid of accents, of voice, of clues about who this person is. It's like wandering in a dark fog, listening to many voices all talking at random - but the people behind the voices are invisible. So we have to make guesses about what kinds of people they are, and whether we are gatecrashing through an invisible boundary, or striking up a conversation with someone genuinely interested in talking to us.

Those speaking to each other on a forum, a blog, on Goodreads, can appear as simply a bunch of individuals interested in the same topic, a bunch of reasonable, open individuals who would welcome a newcomer to their midst. Sometimes that is exactly what they are. But sometimes, the invisible boundaries are as fierce as barbed wire, and we cross them at our peril.

The way invisible boundaries are so difficult to negotiate sometimes makes me want to give up on all forms of online interaction. Like Liz Kessler, who posted recently about social media on ABBA (here), I have considered just ditching all of it in favour of interactions in real life only. But, in the end, I don't, because so far I've managed to negotiate those boundaries more or less unscathed, and in the process I've 'met' some really brilliant people (some of whom I've gone on to really meet).

The fact is, most people on social media ARE open, engaged, reasonable and friendly, and, if you transgress an invisible boundary, they are usually polite enough to just inform you gently that you're in the wrong place. But I do think it's important to be aware that just because those boundaries are invisible, doesn't mean they are not there - and when you find a clear notice that says "Authors (or whoever) are Not Welcome Beyond this Point", it probably pays to respect it.




C.J. Busby writes funny, fast-paced fantasy for children aged 7-12. Her latest books, Dragon Amber, is published by Templar.

www.cjbusby.co.uk

@ceciliabusby







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29. KidLit Author Events Nov. 5-10

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We have another crowded weekend, with several events happening Saturday, including opportunities at writing conferences. Good luck to all who are toiling away on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)!

November 5, Wednesday, 7:00 PM MORTAL HEART by Robin LaFevers
Blue Willow Bookshop
Robin La Fevers, YA Author

In MORTAL HEART (Harcourt Brace and Company), the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever’s NYT bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

November 6, Thursday, 4:00-6:00 PM TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ by Kathy Duval; illustrated by Adam McCauley
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
Kathy Duval, PB Author

Picture book author Kathy Duval will be reading and signing at St. Vincent’s Family Night. In TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (Hyperion/Disney) aliens have landed on Willy’s farm and they’re not leaving without a square dance and a square meal! So fire up that grill, lay on the barbeque sauce and snatch up that fiddle. Told in verse, this rollicking story puts a twist on the typical encounter with the third kind.

Kathy will also be appearing for this special story time:
November 7, Friday, 4:00 PM
Barnes & Noble, River Oaks
Kathy Duval, PB Author

November 8, Saturday, 9:00 AM-4:30 PM Sarah Cortez, Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters
Houston Writers’ Guild Conference
Hilton Houston Westchase
Price: $50 members/$60 nonmembers/$30 student members

All-day workshop: How to Finish Your Novel with Sarah Cortez. Daunted by characters who won’t cooperate inside your plot? Foiled by narrative arcs that don’t end, lost their tension or, worse yet, fail to deliver reader satisfaction?  Come to the Houston Writers Guild, November Fall Mini-Conference session conducted by award-winning teacher/writer/editor Sarah Cortez to learn tips used by professional novelists in these exact situations and more.

November 8, Saturday, 9:00 AM.-4:30 PM Jodell Sadler, Literary Agent
A& M United Methodist Church, College Station
SCBWI Workshop with Agent Jodell Sadler
Cost: $125 for SCBWI members, $150 for non-members

Pick up the Pace!—A Workshop with Agent Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary: Story pacing can make the difference between a “nice try” rejection and a publishable manuscript. Whether you’re working on page turns in a 500-word picture book or end-of-chapter cliff-hangers in a 50,000-word novel, Jodell Sadler has tips and tools to help pick up the pace. Join SCBWI Brazos Valley for a day-long workshop focused on pacing and strong writing skills. Register through the event website.

November 8, Saturday, 10:00 AM-Noon
Maud Marks Library (1815 Westgreen Blvd, Katy
Katy Kritique Group and The Space City Scribes
Writing Workshop—Nuts and Bolts of Indie Publishing

Join the writers of the Katy Kritique Group and The Space City Scribes for a free workshop! They’ll help those wanting to independently publish and will provide information on sales channels, covers, editing, marketing and more.

November 8, Saturday, 10:00 AM- NOON, & Sunday, November 9, 2:00-4:00 PM Teen and Middle Grade Authors
Larry J. Ringer Library, College Station
Teen & Middle Grade Authors Event

Teen and tween aspiring authors and adult authors who write for teen and middle grade audiences, talk about their books and about other teen and middle grade fiction, book signings. More info about this event here.

November 8, Saturday, NOON #HASHTAGGED by Kimberly Hix Trant
Barnes & Noble, College Station
Kimberly Hix Trant, YA Author

Join KBB to celebrate the release of Kimberly Hix Trant’s first book #HASHTAGGED (Tate). #hashtagged is a chilling new science fiction novel about a daughter’s journey through her father’s past and into a frightening future. This future is something that Oliver Smith has seen firsthand and for which he has been preparing his daughter, Madeline. After Ollie’s death, Maddy must follow a trail of secrets that leads her into the arms of her first love, Jagger, the only person that can truly help her fight against a future world governed by artificial intelligence.

November 8, Saturday, 2:00-4:00 PM SPACE CTY 6, Anthology
Katy Budget Books
Multi-Author Event

Space City Scribes, an author collective of Houston indie authors, introduce their new anthology, SPACE CITY 6: HOUSTON STORIES FROM THE WEIRD TO THE WONDERFUL, a collection of short stories with a Houston flair.

Attending YA/MG/PB authors: Monica Shaughnessy , Mandy Broughton, Ellen Leventhal, Ellen Rothberg, Artemis Greenleaf, and Kaleigh Castle Maguire.

November 10, Monday, 5:00 PM EVERBLAZE by Shannon Messenger
Blue Willow Bookshop
Shannon Messenger, MG Author

Shannon Messenger will discuss and sign EVERBLAZE, the third book in the KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES series.

Sophie Foster is ready to fight back. Her talents are getting stronger, and with the elusive Black Swan group ignoring her calls for help, she’s determined to find her kidnappers—before they come after her again. But a daring mistake leaves her world teetering on the edge of war, and causes many to fear that she has finally gone too far. And the deeper Sophie searches, the farther the conspiracy stretches, proving that her most dangerous enemy might be closer than she realizes.

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30. Launch of Stewart Home's new novel

Launch of Stewart Home's new novel The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones (Test Centre) on Thursday 6 November 2014 at 6.30pm, at The Function Room, Upstairs at The Cock Tavern, 23 Phoenix Road, London NW1 1HB.

This is also the final opportunity to see Stewart Home & Chris Dorley Brown's current exhibition The Age of Anti-Ageing at The Function Room.

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31. Author Kimberley Griffiths Little on Magical Realism

I love that term, Magical Realism. Magical Realism added to a story brings to mind all sorts of delicious and unusual story twists, whether delightful, creepy, or just plain enchanting in a unique and unexpected way. Unexpected being the key term here.

In today’s climate of publishing, especially the children’s and young adult realm where vampires, werewolves, fairies and mermaids have been the staple for a decade now, a reader might say that any book with a supernatural twist falls under the category of “magical realism”. You might even put ghosts into that category, as well as super-powers, or creatures raised from the dead; zombies, the undead, etc.

I beg to differ. Magical Realism was coined several decades ago, but began to be more widely used in the 1990s to describe a certain type of book that hadn’t been published very much before. Up until that point, bookstores and libraries were filled with well-defined categories such as, “Contemporary” “Mystery”, “Romance”, “Western”, “Science-Fiction”, etc.

Definition of “Magical Realism”:

A story where the author creates a very normal, regular world, populated with ordinary, regular people (no Vampires or Centaurs, Klingons or Doctor Octopus) but adding a touch—mind you, just a touch—of something surreal, fantastic or bizarre that turns the story upside down while staying very much grounded in our normal, regular world setting. Magical Realism is added as an element, NOT in huge doses—but often that one magical realism element turns an otherwise regular story into something entirely different because it affects the characters and the plot in such a unique way. That one element brings an edge or slant that doesn’t line up quite right with the real world. Instead of looking at the story straight on, it makes the reader look at things in a whole different light—where the story bats its eyelashes and looks askance, perhaps almost coy—which can also help the reader understand the truths of the story in an entirely different way. This is not your average contemporary Young Adult novel or Middle-Grade story.

I love me some edgy, contemporary stories and read them a lot. I also read, and have read, widely in the paranormal and supernatural or dystopian genres. But those are not stories using Magical Realism in the Classic sense. Often readers, including teachers and librarians get Magical Realism and the Fantasy genre mixed up.

A Case Study:

I had a librarian classify my 2013 novel, When the Butterflies Came as Fantasy. But I’m sorry to say, she’s mistaken. My novel takes place in the very real world of a small town in Louisiana about a girl who has grown up on an old plantation (family home since before the Civil War). She’s got ordinary family and friends with quirks and foibles and problems. Her grandmother is a research scientist on another very real world location, an island in Micronesia. My MC is dealing with her grandmother’s recent and unexpected death, her mother’s depression, her bratty, annoying blue-haired older sister, and a touch of OCD she deals with in an effort to bring some sort of order into an otherwise disconcerting life. One aspect of the story that is not *quite* real (or is it?) concerns the unusual species of butterflies Tara Doucet’s grandmother is researching. These beautiful butterflies appear to possess extraordinary characteristics—maybe even magical. But the cultures of both Louisiana and Micronesia as well as the story’s characters are very much grounded in reality.

Here’s another great link defining Magical Realism.

Adult Magical Realism:

Reaching into the depths of my often fuzzy mind, I would have to say that the very first book I read that contained magical realism was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, a novel that celebrated its 21th birthday this last September and is still selling well in hardcover as well as paperback, audio, and Kindle. Esquivel mischievously appropriates the techniques of magical realism to make her heroine of the story, Tita’s, contact with food sensual, emotional, and often explosive. Love, food, and magical recipes in a kitchen where the other characters’ emotions and fate are determined by the emotions of the cook. If Tita’s sad while cooking, then everybody who eats her food is melancholy and weeping. If Tita is happy while preparing a wedding feast, then her dinner guests are joyful. The magical realism element in a novel that is otherwise the story about the generations of a family on a hacienda in Mexico brings out a fresh way of looking at life and relationships. And it’s done brilliantly.

A few years later, we got the scrumptious novel, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, performing similar dreamlike plot twists through a chocolate confectioner who works her magic on an unsuspecting French village and their trials and loves and relationships.

Hmm, all this food talk is making me hungry. (*Takes break to pop a few chocolate truffles*).

What About Time Travel?

I personally believe that time travel books could fall into a sub-genre of magical realism. You may agree to disagree, but time travel books are grounded completely in an ordinary and historical world with historically based events, but then turn the story upside down by throwing their characters into a vastly different time period from their own where they must often cope with explosive events and try to get back home in one piece.

Last Example: Such is my book, The Last Snake Runner where a contemporary teenage boy of the Snake Clan ends up in 1599 in the middle of a war—trying to stay alive while fighting next to his ancestors during a 3-day battle and meeting a girl that he can’t bear to leave—while at the same time knowing he can’t remain in 1599 but has to get back to the future somehow. The events of The Last Snake Runner are based on actual events in a very real place and time period, but the time travel as well as the visions my main character has could be called Magical Realism.

My novel, The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2010) is grounded in the very real but often spooky world of the Louisiana bayous with its murky waters and hidden alligators. The story is about a family in crisis and where almost everyone is hiding a secret. A Cajun folk healer, or a traiteur, gives Livie, the main character, a nine-knotted healing string that will help wake her mamma from a life-threatening coma. The traiteur sends Livie on a journey to forgive and heal her relationship with her mother—even though Mamma is unaware in a coma in the living room. Guilt and secrets and sisters underpin this story about family and forgiveness—but the ending has a bit of magical realism built in. How else could a nine-knotted healing string strung with tokens and memories of Mamma be otherwise? (Can a tiny mustard seed of faith really move mountains? That is Magical Realism at its grandest!)

Other Magical Realism titles:

NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes
TANGLE OF KNOTS by Lisa Graff
NIGHTINGALE’S NEST by Nikki Loftin
A SNICKER OF MAGIC by Natalie Lloyd
BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX by Laurel Snyder
BREADCRUMBS by Ann Ursu
PRACTICAL MAGIC by Alice Hoffman (Adult novel)
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Adult novel)

*****

Kimberley Griffiths Little is the award-winning author of middle-grade books with Scholastic, The Healing Spell (Whitney Award winner), Circle of Secrets, When the Butterflies Came, and the newly released The Time of the Fireflies (July, 2014). The first book in her Young Adult trilogy, FORBIDDEN, debuted yesterday with Harpercollins. Kimberley once survived a night in a haunted castle tower room in Scotland, makes way too many cookies when she’s revising, and the best book trailers in the universe – for reals! Check them out on Youtube and/or her website: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com

Kimberley’s Links:

WEBSITE:  kimberleygriffithslittle.com
BLOG:  KimberlyGriffithsLittle.blogspot.com
TWITTER:  @KimberleyGLittl
FACEBOOK:  Kimberly Griffiths Little
GOODREADS:  Kimberley_Griffiths_Little
YOUTUBE:  KimberleyLittle1
Amazon List of Books

 

The post Author Kimberley Griffiths Little on Magical Realism appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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32. Eric Smith Reveals Cover For ‘Inked’

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Author Eric Smith and designer Jenny Zemanek revealed the cover for Smith’s book, Inked, on the Publishing Crawl blog. We’ve embedded the full image above—what do you think?

Both Smith and Zemanek sat for a chat to talk about the creative process for this jacket; click here to read the interview. Bloomsbury Spark will release the book on January 20, 2015.

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33. Tom Hanks Types a Book of Short Stories

TomHanksHeadshotGiven his affinity for typewriters and his collection of favorite models, including a Hermes 2000, a 1930s Remington, and a midcentury Royal, we imagine Tom Hanks tapped out first drafts for the book he just sold to Alfred A. Knopf. Images of his typewriters inspired a series of short stories.

According to the New York Times: “’The stories are not about the typewriters themselves, but rather the stories are something that might have been written on one of them,’ Mr. Hanks said in a statement released by Knopf on Monday.”

In September, Hanks shared the origin story for his typewriter love with NPR’s Audie Cornish, “I ended up just having them around because they’re beautiful works of art, and I ended up collecting them from every ridiculous source possible. It really kicked off probably when I had a little excess cash. But better to spend it on $50 typewriters than some of the other things you can blow show-business money on.”

He also discussed with Cornish how using a typewriter changes the writing process:

“It makes me work a little slower, and when you work a little slower, you work a little bit more accurately. … I like operating a little bit slower. Typing on an actual typewriter on paper is only a softer version of chiseling words into stone.”

Hanks’ book of short stories follows the release in August of his writing app, Hanx Writer, which simulates a typewriter keyboard and action, and his 2013 New York Times op-ed, “I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?”

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34. Blank on Blank Creates the ‘Maya Angelou On Con Men’ Video

The Blank on Blank organization has created an animated video starring I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings memoirist Maya Angelou. The video embedded above features an unheard interview that took place in 1970 between the late author and Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction writer Louis “Studs” Terkel. In the past, the producers behind this YouTube channel made pieces about Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak and Infinite Jest novelist David Foster Wallace.

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35. Celebrating Picture Books!

We all have cherished picture books, the ones read to us, the ones we read to others: Madeline, Green Eggs and Ham, This is Not My Hat, The Hungry Caterpillar, The Lion & the Mouse, Good Dog, Carl

November is Picture Book Month, so prepare to read, reminisce, and revel in the stunning richness and variety of picture books.

Now in its third year, Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book, founded by author and storyteller Dianne de Las Casas. Co-founders Katie Davis, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin helped build it into a worldwide event.

Partners in the initiative include the Children’s Book Council, Reading is Fundamental, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Scholastic, Better World Books, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), Friends of Tennessee Libraries, and others.

For a page of fun ways to celebrate picture books this November, visit Picture Book Month’s Celebrate! Page, here.

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36. Neil Gaiman Shares 4 Tips For Reading Stories to Kids

Neil Gaiman & Lorenzo MattottiOver the weekend, writer Neil Gaiman and artist Lorenzo Mattotti appeared together at the New York City independent bookstore McNally Jackson to promote Hansel & Gretel. At the event, Gaiman read an excerpt from the story in front of an audience that included a plethora of both adults and kids.

Gaiman is no stranger to presenting stories to children being both a father and a Newbery Medal winner. During the Q&A session, he offered some guidance for reading stories to young people.

Below, we’ve collected some of his advice. Do you have any further recommendations to add?

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37. Gretchen Rubin Reveals Cover For ‘Better Than Before’

better_front_FINAL.indd

Gretchen Rubin has revealed the cover for her forthcoming nonfiction title, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. We’ve embedded the full image above—what do you think?

With this book, Rubin ponders on the question “how can we make good habits and break bad ones?” Crown, an imprint at Penguin Random House, has scheduled the publication date for March 17, 2015.

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38. What Darcy Says About Starting Novels

In 2009 I attended Darcy Pattison’s Novel Revision Retreat through SCBWI’s Louisiana chapter and have returned to her revision workbook, NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, again and again.

Remembering Darcy’s work had helped me in the past, I decided to read her latest, START YOUR NOVEL, before National Novel Writing Month last year. At just under 100 pages, this quick read offered enough structure and direction to help me think through ideas and get me going on my first draft.

Darcy opens her book by stating everything a first chapter must accomplish:

  • grab the reader’s attention
  • ground the reader in the setting
  • intrigue the reader with a character
  • give the reader a puzzle to solve
  • set the pace

The first chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book. The first sentence builds on the first page, which builds on the first chapter. And to grab an editor’s attention, all three must shine.

In order to produce that strong first chapter, an author must lay some groundwork. Darcy suggests taking a story idea and brainstorming possible scenes. To decide what kind of story structure might work best, she points readers to the “29 Plot Templates”. Here readers will find brief overviews of standard story structures: the quest, the escape, the underdog, to name a few. “Each plot pattern…require[s] a different set of scenes, emotions, and motivations.” The approach an author takes will affect how possible scenes play out.

Darcy then discusses protagonists with one key element in mind: the character’s pain. “What is the character most afraid of; what could make the character hurt the most? Of course, you must make your character face this very thing.” With the protagonist’s pain pinpointed (and the things she must face to bring about change), the beginnings of the character’s arc emerges.

Adding these three elements together — scene ideas + plot pattern + character arc — equips an author to begin a first draft.

Because I hadn’t yet committed hours and hours to writing at this point, there was plenty of freedom to play with my ideas: adding scenes, deleting them, changing a character’s motivation or the type of story I wanted to tell. As someone who’s written a few books and many more “trunk manuscripts,” I appreciated this experimental phase. It’s something I need to do more of before my drafting begins.

I consider myself a “plotster” (or “planster”, as Darcy would say) — someone who doesn’t fully plot a story but also doesn’t fly by the seat of her pants. Darcy says her approach might feel overly rigid to pantsters or too loosey-goosey to plotters. For me, her system felt like the perfect fit.

“The function of a first draft is to find your story. The function of the next few drafts is to find the best way to tell that story.”

To that end, Darcy spends much of her book showing authors how to experiment with different approaches, such as the type of sentence structures an author can use to start a book. Darcy identifies twelve types of opening sentences, gives examples of each, and then tries each type for her own novel-in-progress. In studying her opening from different angles, she shows readers what might best work for their own book.

The one thing I can count on when starting a new manuscript is the feeling I’ve never written a book before. Each of my stories has to find its own way. As I planned and then drafted during NaNoWriMo, START YOUR NOVEL was an invaluable guide.

The post What Darcy Says About Starting Novels appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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39. I.N.J. Culbard: ‘I do take the story apart and reconstruct it again…’

I.N.J CulbardHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

We sat down with comics creator I.N.J. Culbard to discuss his new graphic novel, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Culbard adapted the story from H.P. Lovecraft’s novel. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: Back in 2004 I was enrolled in The New Recruits programme set up by Dark Horse comics. I had two stories appear in an anthology there and a short while after that, 2000AD publisher Rebellion published a short strip of mine called “Monsters in The Megazine.” Following the work I did there I got in contact with artist D’Israeli, who put me in contact with a long time collaborator of his, Ian Edginton.

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40. Gene Luen Yang Acts as an Editor For His Brother-in-Law’s First Comic

Gene YangWhat does it take to create comics? Award winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang has been collaborating with his brother-in-law Luke to help him create his first comic book.

Gene has been offering guidance, suggesting exercises, and essentially acting as an editor for Luke. The collaborators decided to chronicle the process on Gene’s blog “so other folks could see what the development of a comics creator looks like.”

Thus far, three episodes have been posted. Gene’s own editor Mark Siegel, the editorial director of First Second Books, chimed in with a tip in the comments section of the first post. We’ve collected three pieces of advice below so that other writers can glean from Gene’s wisdom.

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41. Straight From the Source: J. Anderson Coats on Writing Historical Fiction

J. Anderson Coats is the author of historical fiction for young adults that routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and petty vandalism perpetrated by badly-behaved young people.  Her first YA novel, THE WICKED AND THE JUST, was one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection.  It also won the 2013 Scandiuzzi Children’s Book award (the Washington State Book Award for teens).

How long do you typically research before beginning to draft? At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

The answer is, maddeningly, it depends.

With W/J, I had an advantage when it came to research. I was the kind of unbalanced teenager that had research interests, so I was deep in the DA section of the library* by the time I was thirteen. So most of the background content I had going in. If I ever were to write about lumberjacks or samurai or galley slaves, I’d have to do a lot more research up front. But as long as I’m in the medieval or early-modern British Isles, I’m off to the races.

Basically I write along until I encounter a detail I either 1) don’t know or 2) am not sure of. Then I make an educated guess and put the affected content in [brackets] and look it all up at the end (or when I’m stuck and need to justify taking a break, whichever comes first).

What sorts of decisions have you had to make about “muddy” historical figures or events in order for your book to work?

One of the most significant challenges for W/J was a scarcity of pre-rebellion primary source material concerning Edwardian planted towns, since a lot of the records kept by English authorities in Caernarvon were lost in the rebellion itself. The rebels were aiming for the tax records, but everything else went up too. (There’s a lot of stuff on the castles and the minutiae their construction, but not on the towns themselves, although since W/J came out, this book was published.)

I had to approach the problem creatively, researching other towns founded by Edward I in other places, general medieval urban culture, and the North Wales planted towns in later ages when the records are better. When you’re a writer of historical fiction, you’re part garbage collector, part treasure hunter, part psychologist and part microfilm wrestler.

Why is historical fiction important?

I’m not sure how it’s important in a cosmic sense, but here’s why it’s important to me.

There are budding teenage history geeks out there, and I want to be on the front lines of handing them books that let them know they’re correct that history is in fact awesome. And that they’re not alone in thinking so.

There are kids who don’t think much of history because all they’ve ever had to judge it by is “social studies.” I want to hand them real stories about real people who feel familiar, who have the capacity to be cruel and kind and stupid and thoughtful and loving and vindictive just like we all do.

There are kids who might like history if it was more real. Or maybe it’s not so much that I want kids to like history, but to understand that it’s not as foreign or irrelevant as they think. I can’t unindoctrinate them, but I can hand them a story that doesn’t pull any punches, that presents the past in all its corrupt, seamy glory, and let them decide for themselves.

How do you conduct your research?

I research iteratively, and I love to compile.

Mostly I use books and articles (it’s rare I find a good online resource), and I record all my research notes on the back sides of sheets of recycle paper I scavenge out of the bin. I write the title of the research book I’m working with at the top and number the sheets as I need to. Each book gets its own set of note-pages.

I go through books chapter by chapter and jot down individual pieces of evidence followed by its page number. For articles, I underline and annotate in the margins. If there are images, maps, charts or graphs, they get scanned/copied and the bibliographic information logged at the top.

After I work on a topic for a while, I’m able to compile my evidence into charts and tables or timelines for quick reference. I’m a big fan of spreadsheets, and I’m especially fond of my spreadsheet o’ swears. It cross-references rude, vulgar, and otherwise unsavory terms; when each one came into the language, its context, terms that are similar and/or related, and how it changed over time.

F’r instance, if I need someone to insult someone else’s parentage, I just need to look up a term I know was used and I’ll get all the rest, plus some idea whether it’s appropriate for the era. My other spreadsheets work this way too, but this is the one I use the most.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Medieval people were really pretty raunchy. A lot of people in the modern era have this impression that medieval people were straight-laced and humorless, either because their lives were hard or because religion played a central role in their world. This really isn’t true. They had a deep and abiding love of poop and fart jokes, and they adored what we would call slapstick humor. If people were getting hurt, they thought it was hilarious. Medieval people were also fans of wordplay, especially the double-entendre. They could make dirty puns like you wouldn’t believe.

* History. Particularly medieval history. Particularly medieval Welsh history.

The post Straight From the Source: J. Anderson Coats on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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42. PW names the 100 best books of 2014

PW_11_3_1Publishers Weekly today released its list of the 100 Best Books of 2014, for the first time including three translations among its top 10 books, which were written by Hassam Blasim, Elena Ferrante, Marlon James, Lorrie Moore, Joseph O’Neill, Héctor Tobar, Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Lawrence Wright, and Emmanuel Carrère.

The three translations include two works of fiction: The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Penguin), and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Europa). Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia by Emmanuel Carrère, is nonfiction translated from the French by John Lambert (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

“Every year when we put together our best books list, we understand why we’re in this business,” Publishers Weekly review editor Louisa Ermelino said. “It’s not just about the best books, but the fact that there are so many good books being published that we have to struggle to choose. We consider the game-changers, the brilliantly written pure entertainment, the clever, the well researched.”

Publishers Weekly’s selects for the best Young Adults books include: Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin, and Half Bad by Sally Green, among other titles.

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi and Redefining Girly by Melissa Atkins Wardy are two of its best Lifestyle books of 2014.

Marlon James, featured on PW’s cover, is author of A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead), a sweeping saga with the attempted assassination of Bob Marley at its center.

Descriptions of Publishers Weekly’s “100 Best Books of 2014” are available here.

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43. Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz: ‘As my mother always taught me, perfect is the enemy of good.’

CristinHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

We sat down with writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (pictured, via) to discuss her new biography, Dr Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. This book explores the life of Thomas Dent Mütter who is arguably one of the most eccentric medical innovators in history; his namesake museum in Philadelphia has long been considered a hot spot for horror fans. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: I had put together a proposal for my book, Dr Mütter’s Marvels, and friend of mine — who had very successfully sold his debut novel to Random House — asked if he could show it to his agent. I thanked him but explained how it likely wasn’t a good idea. That my weird and fairly grotesque book was very different than his pop culture-infused sci-fi novel, and therefore his agent likely wouldn’t be interested in my proposal. My friend said, “Cristin, if your friend who just sold his novel to Random House asks if he can show your proposal to his agent, that answer is Yes! Thank You! and that’s it.”

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44. Q & A with R. L. Stine

R. L. Stine, Goosebumps authorWith Halloween nigh, it’s only fitting to serve up a treat . . . a Q & A with the terrifyingly spooktacular R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series! Read to find out which Goosebumps character R. L. Stine is most like, his inspiration for Slappy, and more!

Q: How did you come up with Slappy’s character and the rhyme that brings him to life?

R.L Stine:  I’ve always been fascinated by puppets and dummies. When I was really young, maybe about three, my mother read the original Pinocchio to me, and it scared me to death. I think that’s where the idea of Slappy came from. When I write him, I want him to be so rude, he’s funny.

Q: Why did you decide on Goosebumps as the title of your book series?

R.L Stine: I liked the title Goosebumps because it is funny and scary at the same time, exactly what I try to do in the books. I’ve never been able to think of another title as perfect as that one.

Q: What would you do if you found yourself inside one of your books? Would you try to change the story or would you let it unfold?

R.L Stine: I think I would scream my head off—and run—like most of my characters. I would hate to be trapped in one of my books!

Q: Does anyone still call you “Jovial Bob?”

R.L Stine: No. Now I’m just scary. I haven’t been Jovial in years.

Q: Are any of your stories based on things that gave you nightmares as a kid?

R.L Stine: I was scared of a lot of things when I was a kid. I think that’s why I stayed in my room typing stories all the time. When I write my books now, I don’t remember specific things I was afraid of then. But I remember those feelings of fear and panic and try to bring them to my books.

Q: Do you go on book tours to other countries like Europe or Asia so that fans outside of the U.S. can meet you?

R.L Stine: I’ve been lucky to have done several wonderful book tours in other countries. I’ve done appearances and signings in London, Paris, and cities in Italy. My most memorable book tours were the ones in Australia and, most recently, China. I hope to travel to more countries soon.

Q: If you had to choose any character in any Goosebumps book to get its comeuppance from any Goosebumps monster, which character and which monster would you choose?

R.L Stine: Believe me, I don’t want to be a character in any of my books, and I don’t want to be a monster. I think I would least like to be the monster at Camp Jellyjam who was so smelly he died from his own smell!

Q: Which character from your Goosebumps books would you say is most like you and why?

R.L Stine: I guess I’m like the kid in The Blob that Ate Everything. He likes to sit at an old typewriter and write stories. And then he’s horrified when everything he writes comes true. I’d be horrified, too!

Q: What inspired you to write horror books?

R.L Stine: I’ve always enjoyed horror. When I was a kid, I read wonderful horror comics, like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. My brother and I used to go to a horror movie every Saturday afternoon. I think I enjoy writing horror for kids because it’s a chance to give them a chill—and a laugh—at the same time.

Q: Have you ever considered taking a fan’s idea and writing a Goosebumps story about it?

R.L Stine: I’ve never used a reader’s ideas. I enjoy thinking them up too much myself!

Photo Credit: Dan Nelken

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45. John Green Shoots a Behind-The-Scenes Video On the ‘Paper Towns’ Movie Set

John Green has shared a behind-the-scenes video for the Paper Towns film adaptation on the vlogbrothers YouTube channel. The young adult novelist is serving as one of the executive producers for this project.

In the video embedded above, Green introduces executive producer Isaac Klausner, director Jake Schreier, and actors Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair, and Justice Smith. Thus far, it has drawn more than 2,000 “likes” on Facebook.

Green has also posted several photos from the movie set on his Tumblr page. Paper Towns will hit theaters on June 19, 2015.

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46. Andi Watson: ‘Working hard and having fun hopefully go hand in hand…’

Andi WatsonHave you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers.

Throughout his career, cartoonist Andi Watson has written and illustrated dozens of comics and graphic novels. Right now, Watson is working on a spooky children’s story called Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: Because I’m a cartoonist, my first opportunity of being published came through physically mailing my mini-comics to publishers. Six months after sending them out a company called Slave Labor Graphics agreed to publish me. This was a good two decades ago when publishers would look at unsolicited submissions without needing to sign legal disclaimers. Having said that, after experiencing something of the book publishing world, it’s still an awful lot easier to make contact with graphic novel publishers than it is in the traditional prose world. Putting work online and attending cons is a good way to make contacts. As in all areas of work, it helps to know people.

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47. Your Name in Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, or Ken Follett’s Book

LiteraryAuctionAuthorsImageJust like Will Ferrell’s character in “Stranger Than Fiction,” you might find “yourself”—or your namesake, your avatar—spinning through a tale told by Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Ken Follett, Hanif Kureishi, Will Self, Alan Hollinghurst, Zadie Smith, Tracy Chevalier, Joanna Trollope, or another of the 17 authors participating in a fundraising event for the UK medical charity Freedom From Torture.

In this Literary Immortality Auction, participating authors have donated a character in a forthcoming work that will be named after auction winners.

Tracy Chevalier, author of the international bestseller The Girl with the Pearl Earring, said:

“I am holding open a place in my new novel for Mrs. (ideally a Mrs.) [your surname], a tough-talking landlady of a boarding house in 1850s Gold Rush-era San Francisco. The first thing she says to the hero is ‘No sick on my stairs. You vomit on my floors, you’re out.’ Is your name up to that?”

According the New York Times, Margaret Atwood is “offering the possibility of appearing either in the novel she is currently writing or in her retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest,’ to be published as a Vintage Books series in 2016.”

Bestselling author Ian McEwan (Atonement) said:

“Forget the promises of the world’s religions. This auction offers the genuine opportunity of an afterlife. More importantly, bidding in the Freedom from Torture auction will help support a crucial and noble cause. The rehabilitation of torture survivors cannot be accomplished without expertise, compassion, time—and your money.”

Freedom from Torture notes on its site: “Seekers of a literary afterlife can place their bids online from 6pm this evening,” so get going.

Click here for your bid for immortality.

The real-time episode of the auction will take place at The Royal Institute of Great Britain in London on November 20th.

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48. Dan Brown to Deliver the Penguin Annual Lecture

Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown will present this year’s Penguin Annual Lecture. His talk will focus on “codes, science, and religion.”

Brown (pictured, via) will give his speech for both the Penguin Random House and Penguin Random House India teams. The Times of India reports that “this is the first time that the lecture is being organised in two cities.”

Brown will visit New York City on November 10th and Mumbai on November 12th. According to The Hindu: “The seven previous lectures have been delivered by journalist and writer Thomas Friedman in 2007, diplomat and writer Chris Patten in 2008, Nobel Prize—winning economist Amartya Sen in 2009, historian Ramachandra Guha in 2010, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in 2011, former President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2012 and megastar Amitabh Bachchan last year.”

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49. John Green Talks About ‘Why We Need Diverse Books’

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green has become an advocate for the “We Need Diverse Books” organization. In the video embedded above, John Green talks about why he feels that diversity children’s and young adult stories are necessary.

Green credits two books written by African-American authors, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, for influencing him to appreciate literature. What do you think?

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50. R.L. Stine Writes a Scary Short Story On Twitter

1257831Goosebumps series author R.L. Stine wrote a scary story called “What’s In My Sandwich?” on Twitter.

Below, we’ve collected all the tweets that make up the short story in a Storify post embedded below—what do you think?

Tomorrow, Stine will unveil another short fiction piece entitled “Let’s Make a Trade” on Wattpad for the “The R.L. Stine Fill In The Fear Contest.” (via BuzzFeed)

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