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MasterClass, an internet educational platform, will host a contest for aspiring writers to collaborate with bestselling author James Patterson. This competition will only be open to students who enroll in Patterson’s MasterClass writing course.
Patterson gave this statement in the press release: “There are a lot of people who have the talent, but haven’t been shown the door to walk through. I’ve been surprised and impressed by the passion, devotion and talent of my students. They inspired me to want to help guide one of them through the publishing process. I’m looking forward to reading the submissions that are skillful, fast-paced and unpredictable.”
The submission deadline has been set for March 22 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Patterson will select the winning co-author on May 24. Contestants who are chosen as semifinalists and finalists will also receive a cash prize. Follow this link to learn more information and read up on all the rules.
According to The Associated Press, Asher (pictured, via) has finished a contemporary romance novel entitled What Light. He drew inspiration to write this story “after reading about a family in Oregon with a Christmas tree lot.”
This young adult book will be Asher’s “first solo work of fiction in nearly a decade.” The publication date has been scheduled for Oct. 11. (via The New York Times)
Members of the cast include James Franco, Chris Cooper, Josh Duhamel, Lucy Fry, Sarah Gadon, and Cherry Jones. Franco’s character embarks on a time-traveling quest to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint at Scholastic, will publish a hardcover book based on the special rehearsal edition script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. The release has been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on July 31; fans will recognize that this significant date is both Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. Pottermore will publish the eBook edition.
Here’s more from the press release: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.”
Terpsichore Johnson is thrilled when her family is chosen for the Depression-era program that would transport 202 families from northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan all the way to Alaska to be self-sufficient farmers. She had always loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, and now she was going to have a chance to be a pioneer, just like Laura Ingalls.
She hadn’t realized, though, just what pioneering would mean – giving up inside plumbing, electricity, and even libraries! Worse yet, fumbled management of the project leaves some families in tents as the first snow falls.
Despite challenges, Terpsichore comes to love Alaska. Her mother, however, still misses their home in Wisconsin. What could Terpsichore do to make her mother love Alaska like she does? She hatches a plan that involves a giant pumpkin and a recipe for Jellied Moose Nose.
What drew you to this story?
When I think of the Depression, I think of the dust bowl, college-educated men selling pencils on the street corner, and lines at the soup kitchen. I never realized that New Deal programs extended up to Alaska until my son moved to Palmer, Alaska and bought a rustic cabin on the outskirts of town next to a potato field.
I’ve always liked old houses, and in researching the history of the early days of Palmer, I discovered transcriptions of interviews of old-timers who had moved up with the program in 1935. What a trove of first-hand accounts! If other people also hadn’t heard about the history of the Palmer Colony, maybe I should write a book about it. I couldn’t use all the incidents they described, but I combined many of them and assigned them to my fictional Terpsichore and her new friends.
Palmer tent city
What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?
I love the AHA! moments when I find just the right info to connect the dots between previously known facts. Or to discover new info about historic characters I thought I knew. For instance, who knew that Will Rogers and his pilot, Wiley Post spent one of their last days visiting the Palmer Colony before crashing near Barrow, Alaska?
What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?
The other oddest incident I ran across also involved a moose. A grave was dug the day before a funeral and during the night, a moose fell into it. The graveside service had to be delayed until the attendees figured out how to get the moose out of the hole. I wish I’d figured out a way to include that incident into the book!
I’ve always been charmed by your writing cabin. Could you tell us a little about it?
My writer’s shack started out as a wood shed – cement foundation with sturdy posts at the corners to support a roof. It’s one of the nicest spots on our get-away property on San Juan Island. Facing one direction, there’s a sliver of a view through the trees of Mosquito Pass. Facing the opposite direction, there’s a view of Garrison Bay and English Camp, established during the mid-1800’s when English and Americans were trying to decide which country owned the island.
Those views were too good to waste on a wood shed, so I asked my husband if I could claim it as my writing spot. I thought we’d just close in the sides with plywood and run an electrical wire out, but my husband found salvaged, leaded-glass windows for the view sides and had a small door custom made.
It’s only 7 feet by 8 feet, but it has all I need. I have a flat door held up by sawhorses for a desk, two lights, and a plug-in for an electrical heater so I can use it year-round. It’s about 30 paces from the house and another cup of tea.
What are you working on next?
My next book will be based on the Pig War, which took place on San Juan Island.
Enter to win your own copy of SWEET HOME ALASKA below. The contest closes Wednesday, February 17. US residents only, please.
Carole Estby Dagg also wrote the middle-grade historical novel The Year We Were Famous. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lived in Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. She has degrees in sociology, library science, and accounting. Her real-life adventures include tiptoeing through King Tut’s tomb, sand boarding the dunes of western Australia, riding a camel among the Great Pyramids, paddling with Manta rays in Moorea, and smelling the penguins in the Falkland Islands. She is married with two children, two grandchildren, a husband, and a bossy cat who supervises her work. She splits her writing time between her study in Everett, Washington, and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island.
Marie Ferrarella has signed a six-figure deal with Harlequin. She plans to write twelve novels.
Patience Bloom, a senior editor, managed this acquisition project. She will edit all of Ferrarella’s manuscripts.
Here’s more from the press release: “Ferrarella will craft two contemporary romance series for Harlequin—Matchmaking Mamas for Harlequin Special Edition and Cavanaugh Justice for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. The first title in the deal, The Case of the Stolen Heart follows a widow who finds a second chance at love with a police officer who was present at her late husband’s crime scene. The Case of the Stolen Heart is set to be published in Fall 2016.”
Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.
To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.
The next session of the Pen Parentis literary salon will feature four writers: Jonathan Galassi, Tia Williams, Emma McLaughlin, and Nicola Kraus. Hear them on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Hotel Andaz starting 7 p.m. (New York, NY)
Steve Light will celebrate the launch of his new children’s book, Swap!, at Books of Wonder. Join in on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (New York, NY)
Yann Martel will discuss and sign copies of his newest novel, The Highest Mountains of Portugal, at McNally Jackson. Meet him on Saturday, Feb. 13 starting 5 p.m. (New York, NY)
Daniel Lazar, a literary agent at Writers House, negotiated this deal on Pastis’ behalf. The publisher has scheduled the release date for September 27.
Here’s more from the press release: “The most important thing to know about Timmy’s fifth memoir to date is: this book was never meant to EXIST. No one needs to know the details. Just know this: There’s a Merry, a Larry, a missing tooth, and a teachers’ strike that is crippling Timmy Failure’s academic future. Worst of all, Timmy is banned from detective work. It’s a conspiracy of buffoons.”
Prior to his passing, Pratchett resided in this English town for more than two decades. So far, the petition has drawn more than 7,000 signatures.
Some of the supporters behind this project include Pratchett’s family and Pratchett’s longtime friendNeil Gaiman. BBC News reports that “a spokeswoman for the family said he would ‘undoubtedly’ have found the amusement ‘in almost any statue.'” Gaiman wrote a post about this venture on Facebook and encouraged his followers to sign the petition.
Ishmael Beah has signed a deal with the Penguin Random House imprint, Riverhead Books. He plans to write a novel and a memoir.
According to the press release, the novel, entitled The Lively Skeletons of Every Season, “presents the riveting story of five young people living as an ad hoc family in an abandoned airplane in an unnamed African country, attempting to understand its colonized past and to navigate its rapidly shifting future.” The memoir, Beah’s second, will chronicle his “transition to life in America” following his move from Sierra Leone.
Rebecca Saletan, a vice president and editorial director at the imprint, will edit both of Beah’s manuscripts. At this point in time, the publisher has not announced the release dates for either of these projects. (Photo Credit: John Madere)
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Jan. 31, 2016–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #2 in Young Adult) The Siren by Kiera Cass: “Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger…but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?” (Jan. 2016)
(Debuted at #9 in Children’s Illustrated) Ollie’s Valentine by Olivier Dunrea: “Ollie is looking. Looking for a valentine. Gossie, Gertie, Peedie, and BooBoo all have valentines, but Ollie wonders who will be his. His search leads him to a special valentine of his very own—a surprise for Ollie and readers!” (Dec. 2015)
(Debuted at #10 in Hardcover Fiction) The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson: “The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.” (Jan. 2016)
Johanna Basford, a Scottish artist, has signed a deal with Penguin Random House to create two new coloring books for adults. Book one, entitled Magical Jungle, will be released in August 2016 and book two, entitled Johanna’s Christmas, will follow in October 2016.
The first project will blossoms, tropical plants, and monkeys. The second project will feature snowflakes, gingerbread houses, and wrapped gifts.
Basford (pictured, via) gave this statement in the press release: “I’m so excited to be working on two new books this year with Penguin Random House. It’s the biggest honor to have my inky imagined worlds brought to life by colorists around the globe, a chance to collaborate with literally millions of people! I create books so they can make masterpieces.”
Author Lili Anolik thinks that readers have gotten Joan Didion all wrong.
In a piece in Vanity Fair this month, she argues that Didion’s rise as an icon is “not just wrong, egregiously wrong, wrong to the point of blasphemy.” Check it out:
I’m talking about the canonization of Didion, Didion as St. Joan, Didion as Our Mother of Sorrows. Didion is not, let me repeat, not a holy figure, nor is she a maternal one. She’s cool-eyed and cold-blooded, and that coolness and coldness—chilling, of course, but also bracing—is the source of her fascination as much as her artistry is; the source of her glamour too, and her seductiveness, because she is seductive, deeply. What she is is a femme fatale, and irresistible. She’s our kiss of death, yet we open our mouths, kiss back.
Paul Morley has landed a deal with the Simon & Schuster imprint, Gallery Books. The music journalist plans to write a biography profiling the lateDavid Bowie.
Bowie (pictured, via), a beloved actor and rock star, passed on earlier this year. Morley’s book, entitled The Age of Bowie, will be released in late 2016.
Here’s more from The New York Times: “In addition to chronicling the prime of the rock legend’s career, the biography will also detail the final year of his life, in which he kept his illness from public view while completing the album ‘Blackstar,’ which was released days before his death. Mr. Morley contributed his knowledge of Mr. Bowie to the 2013 exhibition ‘David Bowie Is…” at the Victoria & Albert Museum.” (via Flavorwire)
Marissa Meyer has landed a deal with the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She plans to write a young adult duology of graphic novels called Wires and Nerves.
Meyer (pictured, via) revealed in a blog post that she has had an aspiration to write a graphic novel since she was a teenager. The story takes place within the Lunar Chronicles universe; it will pick up after the events described in the fourth installment of the main series Winter.
The Washington Post reveals that Douglas Holgate will create the illustrations for this project. The first book will be released in January 2017.
Beloved poet and educator Francisco X. Alarcón passed away on January 15, 2016. Francisco was a prolific writer of poetry for children and adults. Born in California and raised in Mexico, Francisco’s poems explore his Chicano identity and celebrate the double joy of being a poet in two languages. His awards include multiple Pura Belpré Honors as well the Chicano Literary Prize and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His passing is a great loss to the world of Latino literature.
We asked some of the authors and artists who knew Francisco to share their memories of him:
Jorge Argueta, Author
I met Francisco X. Alarcón in the early 80’s, shortly after I arrived to San Francisco from El Salvador. Panchito was already a well known poet. He was a member of the Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade along with other poets, Alejandro Murguia (founder of the Brigade and current Poet Laureate of San Francisco), the current Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera, Jack Hirschman, Barbara Paschke and David Volpendesta.
I met Francisco at the place where most of us gathered, Café La Boheme in San Francisco’s Mission District. Francisco baptized this coffee house “The Cathredal of poetry.”
I traveled with Francisco four times to El Salvador, to participate in the Annual International Children’s Poetry Festival “Manyula.” Francisco was so happy to contribute. He shared with me the vision that through the gentle power of poetry we could help Salvadoran children and youth stay away from violence and have hope for a better future. Francisco did readings, lectures and poetry workshops for children, youth and teachers.
Years earlier he helped me organize the poems I would publish in my first children’s poetry book, A Movie in my Pillow. I will always be thankful to Francisco for his guidance and recommendations for this book. He truly loved El Salvador, its people, landscape and food.
One day on a break from the festival we walked the short distance from the library, where the festival is held to the San Salvador Cathedral to pay a visit to Monsignor Romero’s crypt (El Salvador’s beloved priest who was assassinated by right wing death squads in the 80’s). Francisco was deeply moved to see his tomb and wrote a poem about this special visit. He shed tears and said to me, “I understand why El Salvador must continue to struggle for justice.”
That evening a wonderful full moon shone in the Salvadoran sky. Francisco laughed with his loud magical smile and said, “Here even the moon is a pupusa*.”
*El Salvador’s most popular food – A round tortilla made with corn dough, stuffed with beans, cheese and other ingredients.
René Colato Laínez, Author
I first met Francisco X Alarcón through his children’s books in my bilingual classroom at Fernangeles Elementary School. All of my students were from Latino families. Most of them were born in the USA. The rest of the students were recent immigrants from Latin America. I loved to read Francisco’s books because in them my students could find their culture, traditions, and as Francisco said, “Their roots/ Sus raices.”
At that time, my students called me, “The Teacher Full of Stories/ El maestro lleno de cuentos”, because I was always telling stories and turning them into books for the classroom. Francisco’s books were a great inspiration to write my own stories.
I had the big opportunity to meet Francisco in person at the CABE Conference (California Association for Bilingual Education). I was so excited to meet him. He was my rock star writer! I shared with him and the other authors who were also signing books, Amada Irma
Perez and Juan Felipe Herrera, my desire to write books. Francisco told me to keep writing and one day perhaps I will be sitting and signing books with them too.
Those words inspired me to keep writing and submitting my manuscripts for publication. It was a challenge process to publish a book but I did it. Francisco was right! Now I was signing books next to him and other amazing authors.
In 2010 author Jorge Argueta funded a children poetry festival in my native country, El Salvador. As a Salvadoran children’s book author, Jorge invited me to participate in the poetry festival. Margarita Robleda and Francisco X Alarcón were the other two pillars for this amazing festival that we do every year in El Salvador. Many Salvadoran authors also joined us to create the International
Children’s Poetry Festival (Internacional Festival de Poesía Infantil).
Francisco loved El Salvador. During the civil war, he helped recent Salvadoran immigrants in San Francisco. Now, he was in El Salvador visiting and reading his books to children from different parts of the country.
We always had a great time in El Salvador reading our books, eating pupusas, taking pictures, walking around San Salvador, and swimming at the beach.
I will always remember him. Francisco X. Alarcón, descansa en paz amigo.
Maya Christina Gonzalez, Author and Illustrator
Maya wrote on her blog, “Francisco X. Alarcón let go of his body January 15. His passing is moving me very much. I am finishing drawings on our latest book together. A book of days. I look at spending the next few months very intimately sitting with Francisco as the arte unfolds. I am so sad.”
Watch Maya and Francisco talk about their work together:
Louise May, Editorial Director at Lee & Low
Francisco was a joyous force of nature with a generous spirit. His works for children radiate love and celebrate family, all kinds of families. I am always amazed at how his poems continue to delight and often catch you by surprise. We are proud to be the custodians of his children’s poetry collections so that generations to come may get to read his work. And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him. Always an experience!
C. Spike Trotman has signed a deal with First Second Books. He plans to create a biographical graphic novel profiling Josephine Baker.
Black Pearl will feature details on Baker’s rise to fame as an international entertainer, her love life, and her stance on politics. The publisher will release Black Pearl: The Graphic Life of Josephine Baker in 2018.
Trotman gave this statement about the project: “I’ve admired Josephine Baker since college, she’s symbolic of so much, to me. Triumph over adversity, for starters. Going your own way. And I’m eager to have a chance to paint a down-to-earth picture of her, one with a lot of truth to it.”