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's middle school novels are a huge hit at Emerson--kids find them funny, relatable, and engaging. Patterson has long been committed to inspiring kids to read -- I'm a big fan of his Read, Kiddo, Read
website and the way he uses his notoriety and success to champion all sorts of reading for kids.
"Here's a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don't act on: the more kids read, the better readers they become. The best way to get kids reading more is to give them books they'll gobble up... Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited."
We Can Get Our Kids Reading
by James Patterson
Patterson has just announced a tremendous opportunity he's offering to schools across the US: he's pledged $1.5 million to give to school libraries
through a partnership with Scholastic. Please share this news with your school librarians, principals and teachers!
Today I'd like to celebrate his newest book: Public School Superhero. I'm excited about this because so many of my 4th and 5th graders ask for funny books and adventure books. They will love the comics that are sprinkled throughout this. And I'm so happy to see the main character is an African American boy.
Public School Superhero
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
illustrations by Cory Thomas
Little, Brown, 2015
read chapters 1-5 online
Your local library
Publisher summary: Kenny Wright is a kid with a secret identity. In his mind, he's Stainlezz Steel, super-powered defender of the weak. In reality, he's a chess club devotee known as a "Grandma's Boy," a label that makes him an easy target for bullies. Kenny wants to bring a little more Steel to the real world, but the question is: can he recognize his own true strength before peer pressure forces him to make the worst choice of his life?Kirkus
review: Kenny's dreams of superpowered heroics provide a respite from his tough school. Kenny Wright loves his grandma, chess and superheroes. Less loved is his school, an overcrowded, underfunded cinderblock straight out of the fourth season of The Wire. A string of peculiar circumstances puts Kenny in the position of teaching his enemy, Ray-Ray, how to play chess, but this crummy state of affairs may be just what Kenny needs right now. ... A smart and kind story topped with just the right amount of social justice. (see full review
)James Patterson Reads Prize Pack Giveaway
Make it through middle school with James Patterson! Enter for a chance to win copies of:
- Public School Superhero
- I Funny
- Treasure Hunters
- House of Robots
Fill out the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends a Rafflecopter giveaway
This book giveaway is open to participants in the US only. Prizing & samples courtesy of Little, Brown and Company. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, First Second. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
By: Chris Barton
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Chris Barton
, Don Tate
, Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival
, San Antonio Book Festival
, Texas Library Association
, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
, Add a tag
This month, at least one subscriber to my Bartography Express newsletter — maybe more! — will win a copy of my new brand-new book.
To celebrate next week’s publication of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (illustrated by Don Tate, and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), the children’s department staffers at Austin’s BookPeople came up with several questions for me to answer. I hope you enjoy my answers as much as I appreciate their questions.
If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for the giveaway next week. Good luck!
By Ann Angel
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
Right about the time I pitched my first anthology, a writer friend said she’d hate that sort of work.
“It would be so time-consuming to read all those stories,” she said. “I can’t imagine having to edit all that content and you’ll have to write all that front and back matter and it will take away from your own writing.”
Even thought everything she said is true, I love
editing anthologies. The reading can sometimes feel overwhelming and selecting stories is time consuming; editing requires right-brained analytic work and lots and lots of analyzing and thinking and rethinking.
While editing anthologies takes huge chunks of time away from personal writing time, there are so many good reasons to take them on.
Anthologies provide diverse viewpoints on a single topic, and they provide broad and unexpected stories in a single volume.
The best reason I choose to edit an anthology is that I get to take a topic that has far reaching consequences and bring a varied perspectives into the world of young adults. This varied perspective provides young adults the benefit of observing a variety of responses to a single concept while also helping them figure out how they might think about and respond to the concept themselves.
That wider view is what motivated me to take on media’s perspective of beauty with my first anthology, Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty
More recently, after volunteering at a writing workshop for survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, I was motivated to take on the idea that secrets shape who we are and who we will become in the anthology Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves
The best part of reading stories for this project was to realize the many layers of secrets. It appears some secrets can be innocent while others hold us hostage to the person whose secret we share. Secrets can be playful and funny or dark and dangerous.
I had expected some of the stories of secrets to show that keeping secrets can shame us into permanent silence.
But I was delighted to receive funny and sweet stories. Cynthia Leitich Smith
wrote about an angel falling in love with her tale of Josh in “Cupid’s Beaux.” Although the humor was a bit darker, Ron Koertge
’s “Call Me” developed the California voice of a wild teen girl who hides a slew of secret boyfriends from one another.
In contrast, I was heartbroken by the story of a girl who hides her mother’s hording in “The We-Are-Like-Everybody-Else Game” by Ellen Wittlinger
. Other heartbreaks portraying the power of our secrets can be found in Louise Hawes
’ “When We Were Wild” and Kerry Cohen
’s “Partial Reinforcement.”
I learned the power of reporting a secret to protect a friend in “A Thousand Words,” from Varian Johnson
. Chris Lynch
’s “Lucky Buoy” showed that the darkest secret’s power is diminished if you reveal it to just one person who cares, while Mary Ann Rodman
’s “Easter” was a sensitive portrayal of a teen choosing to keep the secret of adoption for his baby boy.
Another reason I like editing anthologies is that each call for stories allows me to glimpse inside each writer’s diverse creative process around a singular topic or similar concept.
While writers might all begin heading toward a similar plot problem, I’ve observed that the most cliché idea takes on a new un-clichéd life through distinct characters or in the way the story is set and carried out.
For instance, two writers might take on a secret surrounding sexuality, but the story takes on new life if it’s set in a fantastical world which occurs in Katie Moran’s “Little Wolf and the Iron Pin” as well as in Zoe Marriott
’s “Storm Clouds Fleeing from the Wind.”
Other times writers push the envelope on a story so that readers get a glimpse inside the most dysfunctional—and well hidden--moments in a family which is what E.M. Kokie
did with her story “Quick Change,” Kekla Magoon
accomplished in “For a Moment Underground,” and J.L. Powers
did in “A Crossroads.”
In observing how different writers’ work their minds around a problem, and in closely observing how they craft action and scene around the concept, it shouldn’t be a surprise that each writer brings his or her own sensibility to a story, almost always turning it into an intensely personal experience that resonates with readers.
One of the most pleasant surprised about this anthology was seeing the cover for the first time. Created by collage artist Wayne Brezinka
, this cover made me tear up over the rich and layered depiction of our secret stories.
This anthology also demonstrated the power of sharing our gifts and secrets. The teaching authors included were asked to invite one past student to submit a story for possible selection.
In the end, the selected story is the heartbreaking tale of a girl who parents her own mother and protects her little sister from a family secret. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase the image of a teenager dancing a slow waltz to Meatloaf
songs with her drunken mother. While erica l. kaufman’s “Three-Four Time” may be one of her first publications, watch for this talented writer’s future work, as it won’t be her last.
Finally, I wrote a story based upon an idea that came out of the workshop that spawned this anthology. “We Were Together” looks at what happens when a boy loves girls too much. I have to admit I was seriously pleased when one of Candlewick’s editors responded that it’s refreshing to read something from the jerk’s perspective.
I hope you find each story refreshing, emotionally resonant and a great joy to read.Cynsational NotesAnn Angel
loves the world of young adults and writes both fiction and nonfiction for this group. She is the author of the 2011 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing
(Abrams, 2010) among many other biographies.
Her most recent biography, for younger audiences, is Adopted Like Me, My Book of Adopted Heroes
(Kingsley, 2013). Previously, she served as contributing editor for the anthology Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty
A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults
, Ann directs the English Graduate Program and teaches writing at Mount Mary University
in Milwaukee where she lives with her family. She was drawn to this idea of Things I’ll Never Say because she believes that the secret self is often the true self.Cynsational Giveaway
Enter to win a copy of Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves
by Ann Angel
(Candlewick, 2015). Publisher sponsored. U.S. only. From the promotional copy:Fifteen top young-adult authors let us in on provocative secrets in a fascinating collection that will have readers talking.
A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you’ll tell and what you won’t? The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|Jean's children, John and Jane|
By Jean Reagan
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
Many years ago in a writing class, Kathi Appelt
said, “Write from the hole in your heart.”
At the time, I had just received sketches for my first picture book, Always My Brother
, illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill
(Tilbury House 2009).
This story about sibling loss is told from the perspective of the surviving sister, and it mirrors our own family tragedy.
Of course, I connected with Kathi’s wise words immediately. But she challenged us to tap this "hole in our heart" for all of our writing, not just for stories about devastating trauma.
Fast forward: Two hundred rejections later, my books, How to Babysit a Grandpa
and How to Babysit a Grandma
, both illustrated by Lee Wildish
(Knopf, 2012, 2014 respectively), made the NYT bestseller list. And now, a third book in this How-To series, How to Surprise a Dad
, is out.
A sibling pair advises, "Shhhhhh. If you want to surprise a dad, you have to be tricky."
Then after tips on How-to-Hide-this-Book, they share everyday surprises you can "make, do, or find."
Finally, they instruct the reader on how to pull off a big, special day surprise, including what to do if a dad gets suspicious.
I'm thrilled the publisher embraced my request for a racially-diverse family. (And, yes, once again, Lee Wildish's illustrations steal the show.)
Race or ethnicity is not pertinent to the story, but I wanted to question the "assumption of white."
So, how is Kathi's advice relevant to silly, funny books like these?
I've come to believe her challenge is even more compelling. Humor, without heart, is empty. Shallow humor is merely a one-line joke that doesn't beg repeating or re-reading. The characters don't resonate on first encounter, and you don't carry them with you after closing the book.
|Jean with her sister, Katherine Pate|
The "hole in your heart" needn't be a fresh, gaping wound.
Rather, tap childhood worries, fears, and longings that still linger. Did you feel left out? Unnoticed?
As a shy child who struggled to learn to read, I have a lifetime of material. And I was (still am) an expert worrywart to boot.
No doubt you also have plenty to mine from your childhood as a powerless, tender soul.
What about the specific hole created by the death of my son, John?
Well, I make sure every book I write has glimpses of him. Including him is a gift to myself, my family, and hopefully to my readers as it helps to deepen the humor.
When John was five he asked if jails had carpeting because he didn't want "the bad guys to skin their knees if they fell down." This kind of tenderness I strive to portray in my books, especially in my silly ones.
There are three more books in production in my How-to series. Hopefully they will also convey humor with heart.
Thank you, Kathi, for your sound advice so many years ago.Cynsational NotesJean Reagan
was born in Alabama but spent most of her childhood in Japan. She now lives in Salt Lake City with her husband. In the summers, they serve as wilderness volunteers in Grand Teton National Park, living without electricity or running water.
|At the ranger cabin|
Enter to win one of five copies of How to Surprise a Dad
by Jean Reagan (Knopf, 2015). From the promotional copy: So you want to surprise your dad? You’re in luck! The pages of this book are full of tips on how to become a super dad surpriser, including tips for things you can make, do, or find—just for your dad.
Be sure to read up on:
- Yummy treats and presents for a dad
- What to do if he starts getting suspicious
- How to prepare for the big moment (where to hide everyone, and how to practice whispering “Surprise!”)
From the author-illustrator team behind the New York Times bestsellers How to Babysit a Grandpa and How to Babysit a Grandma comes an adorable, funny, surprising celebration of dads!
Publisher sponsored. U.S. only.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Announcing the winner of our second Commenting Challenge!
Rockin' The Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries- From Joan of Arc to Malcom XAdd to Goodreads
About the Book: We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries.
After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world.
Rockin’ the Boat tells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts — including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke — from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well.
As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history — a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.
You know what I always think is weird? History is not my favorite subject (sorry GreenBeanSexy Man history teacher!) I found it interesting enough but never anything I wanted to keep researching or read about in my free time. Yet I'm a sucker for books that give interesting tidbits and facts about cool people and events in history. I'm not sure why. Maybe it makes history a bit more engaging? Maybe I can handle the small snippets? I'm not sure. But even if you have readers who may snub their nose at a history book, they should still give Rockin' the Boat a chance.
There are 50 people profiled in the book. Some are well known and others are not. Each section is short and they can be read in order (chronologically) or you can jump around and read about whoever you're interested in that moment. Pictures and clever captions add to the lighthearted appeal of the book.
Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below!
-One entry per person
-Ends March 30
Contest thanks to Zest Books!
Are you ready for our second Commenting Challenge? Check out this prize from the Highlights Foundation!
By: Wendy Darling,
Two months ago, I was invited to attend a lunch to meet author Sabaa Tahir and to watch the filming of the trailer for her book An Ember in the Ashes. The shoot took place here in Los Angeles, and while I’ve been on location before as a film publicist, this was the first time I’ve ever walked into a studio filled with smoke! It was a dark, moody setting that suited the book perfectly, since the story follows an orphan named Laia who risks her life to save her brother Darin, who’s held captive by a brutal empire. The actress who played Laia was friendly and chatty, and she showed us the tattoo painted on her shoulder. It’s an important and serious part of the book, so it was cool to see the attention to detail in the make-up and costumes. The Kommandant was small, blonde, and totally badass... Read more »
The post An Ember in the Ashes: trailer feature + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
by Teri Terry
Have you seen this banner here, there and everywhere today? It is the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt: and this is what it is, how it came about, who is involved, and what we hope to achieve.
A few months ago I was reading an article published in the UK about YA books that seemed to focus rather hard on books published in other countries.Well...one other country in particular: the US.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for CynsationsMelody Maysonet
is the first time author of A Work of Art
(Merit, 2015)(author blog
). From the promotional copy:Tera is seventeen, shy, and artistically gifted. Her hero and mentor is her father, a famous graphic artist who also protects her from her depressed, overly critical mother. But Tera’s universe is turned upside down the day the police arrest her father for an unspeakable crime. Tera desperately wants to believe his arrest is a mistake, and since her mother is no help at all, Tera goes into action, searching for legal counsel and sacrificing her future at art school to help him. But under the surface of her attempts at rescue, there are rifts in Tera’s memories that make her wonder: Could he be guilty? In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how best to approach “edgy” behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?
The main character in my novel is a seventeen-year-old girl named Tera. During the course of the novel, she has sex for the first time, experiments with drugs, and nearly gets caught up in a threesome—all while dealing with stifled memories of sexual abuse by her father (who, by the way, has been arrested for a sexual crime).
For a YA book, it doesn’t get much edgier than that.
My first attempts at writing the abuse scenes only touched the surface of what Tera went through. In the back of my mind, I was constantly aware of a teenage audience. How far could I go before I crossed a line? At the same time, I had to recall my first sexual experiences and my own experiments with drugs. I couldn’t help wondering what my friends and family would think of me.
And then I took a writing workshop taught by Jamie Morris and Joyce Sweeney
. I remember Jamie talking about how we had to explore the depths of our psyches and go deep within ourselves to find what’s raw. I remember Joyce saying how every one of us has a story that only we could tell—and if we say to ourselves, “I’m never going to write about that,” then maybe that’s what we need to be writing.
|Writers are readers.|
It was during this workshop that I wrote my first flashback chapter, where nine-year-old Tera is being photographed by her father in a way that no child should ever be photographed.
During the workshop, we all read aloud what we had written. My hands literally shook as I read my piece. I got choked up while I was reading, and when I was done, I wanted to bawl. That’s when I knew I’d nailed it.
After that, I still worried that my book would be deemed inappropriate for teens, but reading Crank
by Ellen Hopkins
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) and Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 1999) helped alleviate those fears. So did finding an agent who believed in the story and an editor who wanted to publish it.
More recently, I got another form of validation when I attended a workshop led by Andrew Karre, then editorial director of Lerner Publishing Group (now at Dutton). His topic? “Don’t Overthink Audience.” According to Karre, we shouldn’t write for readers of a certain age.
Instead, we should write about characters of a certain age—because if you write a good story, the audience will sort itself out.
As a contemporary fiction writer, how did you find the voice of your first-person protagonist? Did you do character exercises? Did you make an effort to listen to how young people talk? Did you simply free your inner kid or adolescent? And, if it seemed to come by magic, how would you suggest others tap into that power in their own writing?
When I started writing A Work of Art, finding the right voice was the thing I struggled with most.
Maybe that’s because my novel was originally intended for an adult audience. My early drafts were in third person, and my main character was nineteen.
|Comments on voice|
When my critique group convinced me that my story might be more relevant if I made the main character younger, I took their advice and changed Tera’s age to seventeen.
Pretty soon, I discovered that writing from a seventeen-year-old’s point-of view is a lot harder than it seems—at least it was for me. After all, I hadn’t been in high school for more than twenty-five years. My son was still in single digits. And no matter how many teen conversations I eavesdropped on, my character’s voice wasn’t ringing true.
I tried imitating the sarcastic teenage voice that popped up in so much YA fiction, but it came off sounding unnatural. I also tried capturing my inner teen, and although that helped, I still found myself slipping into the voice of a forty-something-year-old woman.
The whole time I was trying to pin down my character’s voice, my critique group kept telling me that my protagonist felt distant and maybe I should write the book in first person.
I resisted, mostly because I’d already written and rewritten the first hundred pages and I couldn’t stomach the thought of rewriting them yet again. (Yeah, I know.) Finally, though, I took their advice and wrote my next chapter in first person.
Wow, what a difference! So I finished the draft in first person and then went back to the first hundred pages. Converting from third person to first person was a lot harder than changing all the “she’s” to “I’s.” Suddenly phrases like: “I gazed at my father’s painting” sounded way too adult.
Somehow, I needed to completely immerse myself in the head of a teenage girl.
That’s when I started reading as much young-adult fiction as I could get my hands on.
Two books that broke something open in me were Ellen's Crank
by Gary Paulsen
(Macmillan, 1986). There are others, but these two books in particular transported me into the heads of much younger people and I found myself studying how the authors did it.
As I wrote and revised A Work of Art
, I never stopped studying voice, whether through reading YA fiction, taking workshops, or eavesdropping on teen conversations. I knew I’d made progress, but I still felt that voice was my weakest area.
While I was still revising, an editor from a YA publishing house critiqued my first chapter. The editor went through his checklist, commenting on dialogue, plot, point-of-view…
When he got to voice, I braced myself for the worst.
“The voice comes through strongly,” he told me.
Really? Did he just say that?
A few months later, another editor told me the voice was “great.” And while both of these editors passed on publishing my book, they gave me two things I very much needed: the confidence to keep going, and the drive to keep learning.Cynsational Giveaway
Enter to win one of three copies of A Work of Art
by Melody Maysonet
(Merit, 2015). Author sponsored. U.S. only.a Rafflecopter giveaway
By: Wendy Darling,
We only need to tell you one thing about Rachel Hartman’s books and it should pretty much tell you whether you’d be interested in it. DRAGONS. *waits* Are you stampeding to the bookstore? Or are you overly cautious and need further persuading? Here, have a look at Kim’s rave review of Shadow Scale, the second book in the author’s Seraphina duology. Both she and K. have praised the world-building, characters, and romance in this series–as well as the spectacular craftsmanship of the writing. Hartman’s words are exquisite. Her imagination is expansive. Her world is detailed and fascinating. She has created laws, and religion, and a history. She has built architecture, painted landscapes, and constructed streets and alleyways. She has peopled her world with characters of different shades — from rebels to teachers, musicians to politicians, royalty, knights, outcasts and lovers. ~ K.’s Seraphina review Kim also asked Rachel Hartman a... Read more »
The post Shadow Scale: Q&A with Rachel Hartman + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
By: Sally Matheny,
by Sally Matheny
The Good Book
Usually, I only write book reviews. But when I was contacted about reviewing a silent, one-hour long, evangelistic movie, I was intrigued enough to say yes. How does one write a review of The Good Book, which contains no dialogue? First, allow me to tell you what it’s not. It’s not, thank goodness, based on the abominations written by Peter Gomes or Anthony Grayling, both who wrote material contrary to God’s Holy Word and slapped the words, the good book in their titles. Produced and written by Fred and Sharon Wilharm, this award-winning movie, The Good Book, “received the Dove Foundation’s highest award of five doves.” I’m one of those people who greatly considers the dove seals when selecting movies.
The Good Book begins with a young boy’s tragic experience of a house fire. He eventually ends up at a homeless camp and that’s where the “main character,” a small, New Testament Bible, is introduced.
The boy’s story ends but the journey of the little, red Bible continues. Fourteen people come in contact with the Bible. Some reject it; others allow God to speak to them through it. As their lives transform, some write their names inside the cover of the Bible, before passing it along to others. Believers and non-believers will find someone to identify with in the movie. But like the real world, everything isn’t all neat and tidy. There are plenty of surprises in the film. The characters you think will cling to God’s Word don’t always do so. When you’re thinking here comes trouble, they’re actually blessings. The story moves at an attention-grabbing pace and just as you’re wondering whose life will be changed next, BAM, you’re hit with a powerful, gut-wrenching ending. But just as God always does, he takes what we view as an ending, and begins anew. The movie ends with a vision of hope. This is a film that leaves a lasting impression…something you’re pondering over for days. Hopefully, it points you to the only truly good book, God’s Holy Word,
and changes your life forever.
|The Good Book |
It amazes me how the Wilharms, actors, and cast produced such a huge message without saying a word. And did it with excellence.
I highly recommend this movie for ages 12 and up. You can find it at Lifeway, Family Christian, ChristianBookDistributors.com and other locations. Check out the GoodBookMoviewebsite to watch movie trailers and read more about it.
Here's your chance to win a free copy of the DVD! For each person who leaves a comment on the blog, we will write their names down and put them in the honest hat. (Trust me, it’s an honest hat.) We’ll shake them up and randomly draw a name and announce the winner Saturday, March 21.
Inside the cover of the DVD, I've placed a note card. I'm hoping people will write their first name on it before passing the movie along to others. Just like the little Bible in the film, let's see where God takes this movie. Leave a comment below to enter the drawing.
New Slicers, we have a challenge for you!
|Ilsa vs. The White Rabbit (Not Part of the Dream)|
By Ilsa J. Bick
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
I had this weird dream last night.
I’m in an office of some sort and there are all these old Star Trek books
lying around that someone’s packing away.
Thing is, I know they’re not my Trek books because Spock
’s on every cover, and I never wrote a Spock-centered book or story.
Yet I was positive I’d written every single one.
So, as these books are being sealed into boxes, someone—I don’t know who—says to me, “No, you can’t have any. We’re getting rid of these.”
Then I woke myself up and couldn’t get back to sleep. So now I’m here, caffeinating and writing this all down for you.
Now, you don’t need to be a navel-gazing shrink to get the gist.
First off, Nimoy’s death
was big news. For a lot of people, his passing marked the end of an era.
I will be honest; I wasn’t devastated. I was sad and his death made me feel very old. You can’t imagine the number of kids these days that have no idea when it comes to Spock or Kirk
. But Spock wasn’t the character I really fixated on, and so while I enjoyed the triumvirate of Kirk-Spock-McCoy
. . . I haven’t been in deep mourning.
goes, that’ll be a different story, I suspect.
Then, too, I’ve been cleaning out my kids’ rooms, purging toys, stuffed animals, books, comics, clothes . . . all that junk your kids leave behind for you to deal with when they move out. I’ve made more trips to Goodwill than you can imagine, and that was only for one kid’s room. The other still remains—and then there’s the horror show of their bathroom.
(A true story: the eldest comes home from grad school for a visit. Spills hair wax gunk all over the inside of her vanity cabinet. Doesn’t tell me. Skips town. Fast forward a half year, and I open the vanity to discover the moral equivalent of the La Brea tar pits, only now not only is this stuff permanently bonded to the vanity, so are bars of soap, a hair dryer, a couple combs. A razor. I still can’t quite decide if this last was the kid worrying I might kill her, or dropping a hint.)
So packing up stuff in the dream makes sense, too, because that’s what I’ve been doing.
But I also recognize that this is about me and writing and Egmont USA’s packing up and closing its doors. I didn’t know this, but when you close up an office, you purge everything: books, furniture, fixtures, the whole shebang everything. Nothing that you were or had can remain behind. You got to empty that place out and make like you were never there.
, if I were a shrink, I might point out the interesting parallels here between what Egmont’s doing and my sudden need to clean the kids’ rooms.)
It doesn’t take a genius—or navel-gazing shrink—to put together that I am feeling the impact of an end of an era. By now, everyone knows that Egmont Last Listers
’ story ends happily. We’ve got a new home, and I meant every single thing I said in my PW interview
Nonetheless, this has been a very hard year, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of months
coming to terms with how successfully—or not—I’ve navigated that, from my very first inklings that something serious was going down with Egmont USA and through my denial, my paralysis in terms of my writing, and all that.
(To be honest, I’m kind of sick of my unconscious and all this navel-gazing. When I was actively in practice, I remember complaining to my husband that I wished I could just react the way everyone else does without having to think through what it all means and how I’m really feeling, what’s really driving me. I mean, honestly, I’m as entitled to a good hissy fit as the next person.)
The problem is that old habits die hard. I’m talking navel-gazing now. This ages me, but it’s something that shrinks of a certain era did an awful lot. This was when psychoanalysis was in its hey-day. If you wanted to walk in Freud
’s mocs, you had to be analyzed yourself.
(This is, I’m sure, still the case today.)
For a little over three years, I spent fifty minutes, four times a week, staring at my analyst’s acoustical tile, listening to footsteps cross back and forth from the kitchen above, smelling whatever luscious meal my analyst would have later, saying the first thing that came to my mind, the whole nine yards.
I never finished the training for a variety of reasons, though the most pressing was I really wanted to buy a house and there was no way that would happen so long as I was funding my analyst’s vacations. So my analyst and I parted ways. She’s since died, but that woman taught me two invaluable and very simple lessons that, most of the time, I practice.
First off: pay attention to that prickle of uneasiness because it will save you from being eaten alive.
Second: Change is hard. Change makes people anxious, and it is the huge, hulking elephant of their anxiety that frequently keeps people from making changes they ought to. Instead, people substitute other emotions that help them feel more powerful and less helpless. For example, many people handle anxiety by getting angry, striking out, engaging in a whirlwind of activity and only circling around but never truly addressing the source of their distress.
To say that I’ve been incredibly anxious over the past year is an understatement. I have written elsewhere about everything that went down, from my first suspicions that something was up with Egmont USA to its dissolution and now our collective reprieve, and I won’t bore you with all that here. Suffice to say, though, that I never addressed my anxiety directly. For a girl who sees her analyst every day whenever she looks in the mirror, I did my best not to engage that part of me. I simply reacted with a lot of activity that, in the end, didn’t do me a ton of good.
So now The Dickens Mirror
(Egmont, 2015) is out in the wild, effectively bringing The Dark Passages
series to a close.
(Although a fan of the series and I got started on Twitter with the idea of spin-offs . . . like how cool would it be to actually write Tony’s book instead of only alluding to it. Or Rima’s? How about Bode’s, going along with him for the ride as he crawls through those black echoes in Vietnam? Yeah, I know: way cool.)
All my books are now with Lerner, and I am hugely relieved and happy to rejoin the Carolrhoda Lab family.
That means it’s time to take a breath, step back, and take stock of what I’ve learned in the interim. I don’t mean about what I did last year that didn’t help me. I’m talking about what I’ve learned in the past few months, ever since that phone call in late January when I learned that Egmont was kaput.
Well, here’s a biggie: no girl is an island. I know that’s clichéd. Doesn’t make it any less true.
You would’ve thought that someone who wrote in her acknowledgements that bringing a book into the world demands a village would have gotten this through her thick head. But I didn’t.
Another Last Lister, Matt Myklusch
, and I chatted about this recently
—this notion of writer and community—and he and I pretty much feel the same way. We’re hermits, or we’ve been that way.
I think that most writers are. In a way, you have to be because what are you really doing all day long? Right: you’re sitting in a room, by yourself, and writing about four walls.
(Okay, you can throw in a window or two. Plants. Maybe a couple cats.)
Yes, you take yourself away in your mind; you populate that room with characters. But at the end of the day, you are still talking about a relatively limited orbit, moving through a physical space about ten to twelve feet square, though that doesn’t take into account bathroom breaks, tea breaks, and the cats’ insistence that you open the damn can already. I leave the house every day to go to the gym and run an errand or two, if needed. But that’s it.
The thing is, I’ve never complained. I like being alone. I need the solitude. In fact, too much social media-ing around—checking the huge self-advertisement billboards that are Facebook and Twitter, for example—is liable to drive me a little crazy because I then sit there and wonder why the hell I’m not having as wonderful a time or as tenth as successful as this author or that.
There’s plenty of good research to suggest that too much of that isn’t good for folks either. Just think of that last sequence in “The Social Network,” where the Zuckerberg
character is fruitlessly refreshing and refreshing and refreshing . . .
I’m also kind of a shy person. I know; most people who meet me don’t think that at all. Three words: practice, practice, practice. Being a shrink has the side-benefit of teaching you how to be silent with other people while asking the right questions that get them talking.
When I was attached to a publishing house and its marketing purse, being reclusive wasn’t much of a problem. Sure, I shouldered a chunk of the marketing burden by doing blogs, maintaining a social media presence and all that.
(I know that other writers complain about that. But let’s get real. With so many houses feeling the squeeze and struggling to turn a profit—hello, mine folded?—they simply don’t have the resources to mount huge campaigns for everyone the way they might have in the past, and even then they were selective. Since I’ve known no other way, doing my share of the marketing is normal and no big deal.)
That is, when I had a house. When my novel wasn’t effectively coming out DOA.
Which is where what I’ve learned has come into play.
I said in another post
that reaching out to bloggers for help feels weird, but not because I don’t like bloggers. I hate begging. It’s a humbling experience, and while it’s not the same at all, I can appreciate how humiliating it must be for a person who’s previously been able to take care of himself to be reduced to handouts, to going to other people and asking for help.
For me, asking for help is very hard. It’s not just about being shy. My parents drilled self-reliance into me from a very early age. To do any less is to fail in some way. So I’ve had to wade through a lot of feelings of personal failure—that I am somehow responsible for this, even though I had zero-zip-nada control over the situation.
My parents also taught me never to toot my own horn. That didn’t mean they didn’t want me to be competitive—they did—but if I did succeed, I should be quiet about it, not draw attention to myself. I shouldn’t become a target. I think I understand my parents’ history enough to know where that’s coming from, and I won’t bore you with that. But keeping a low profile while also being very driven has been my modus vivendi for my entire life.
So you can imagine how uncomfortable it is for me, this shy yet driven person, to suddenly be thrust into a lot of lookit-lookit-lookit me. Because that is, really, what marketing is all about.Shakespeare
wrote, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”
I’m not sure if that means misery loves company . . . but if it weren’t for us Last Listers banding together in our collective moment of need, no one would have heard of us, or our books.
As a group, we’ve become a community that may or may not stick together when this is all said and done, I don’t know.
On the other hand , I know that I’ve made “friends” I can count on to try and help because we’ve all been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
I have also learned that marketing is really, really hard work. I already understood that because I once had to write and/or do thirty-five—yes, you read that correctly; thirty-five—blogs and interviews in only a few weeks’ time. You don’t have a lot of time or energy left over to do other, really important things like write.
I also tend to be a bit of a pit bull when it comes to tasks. Others would use the word "obsessive." "Maniacal" also works. It’s just that I have a tough time not doing everything and this instant. Which means that even if I budget time for blogs or marketing, knowing I have to do either tends to weigh on and preoccupy me. Usually, I just break down and do the darned work already.
Yet that’s not necessarily a good strategy if you are truly going it alone as I kind of am at the moment. True, I do not have to worry about distribution.
But any marketing push will have to come from me, those bloggers who’ve been gracious enough to host me, and my fellow Last Listers’ willingness to lend a hand.
My hat’s off to self-published people who actually succeed (notice I said "succeed") because I don’t know how you do it. I know a lot of the more successful ones hire this stuff out and/or rejoin/enter traditional publishing because trying to shoulder everything is simply too exhausting.
Either way, learning how to do this well is something I must do because you never know if I’ll have to straddle this line again.
My parents, God bless them . . . they were wrong (or maybe I just misheard; this has been known to happen). But I’ve needed to unlearn some bad behaviors. So here is what I would say to myself if I were in their shoes; these are my takeaways.
Yes, Ilsa, be self-reliant but understand that it is okay to ask for help. Not only will people frequently surprise you with how willing they are to do so, you become more approachable as a person.
(Think of your fan’s reaction when you respond to an email, or a Facebook post. Think of the courage it took for your fan to press SEND.)
Yes, Ilsa, be humble. Success is fleeting and so is fame, and life turns on a dime.
Yet it’s okay to share good news. Just remember that nothing wears out a welcome faster than too much me-me-me. That is hard in this age where every social media platform can become and frequently is a billboard.
But, Ilsa, remember: do not ignore warning signs. If you’re uneasy, don’t get anxious. Get active. Suck it up and deal, but also recognize what’s out of your control and try not to obsess.Just do the best you can. If there’s something you can’t do well—marketing, per se—then learn. Don’t get crazy and fall into despair. Get competent.
Most importantly . . . Kid, do remember that you are not operating in a vacuum. Spending a lot of time alone is not the same as being alone. There is a community out there, happy to make your acquaintance.
You only have to be brave enough to try.
Cynsational NotesIlsa J. Bick
is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, surgeon wannabe, former Air Force major, and now an award-winning author of dozens of short stories and novels, including her critically acclaimed Ashes Trilogy
, Draw the Dark
, Drowning Instinct
, and The Sin-Eater’s Confession
, the first volume of her Dark Passages horror/fantasy duology, is currently long-listed for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a YA Novel. The sequel, The Dickens Mirror
, hit shelves on March 10.
Ilsa lives with her long-suffering husband and other furry creatures near a Hebrew cemetery in rural Wisconsin. One thing she loves about the neighbors: they’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon.
Drop by her website
for her Sunday's cake and Friday’s cocktail recipes as well as other assorted maunderings; or find her on Facebook
, Twitter (@ilsajbick
), or Instagram (@ilsajbick
See also Ila Bick and Community
by Matt Myklusch from The Other Side of the Story Podcast. Cynsational Giveaway
Enter to win The Dickens Mirror
by Ilsa J. Bick
(Egmont, 2015). Author sponsored. Eligibility: International.a Rafflecopter giveaway
This morning I’m participating in a blog tour and giveaway for Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Crime. This is the follow up to The Winner’s Curse, and you can learn more about the books here. You can follow the tour here. I also have a copy of The Winner’s Crime up for grabs, so enter below!
The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price. What would you pay too much for?
Time. I would pay any price for more time. More time to spend with my family and my friends, and more time to spend with my duppers and my horses. At the end of every day, there is one thing that I always run out of. There are only 24 hours in a day, a finite number that limits everything about our lives. But what if we had the ability to turn that limited resource into something a tiny bit more infinite? Yeah, I’d pay way too much for that.
How about you? What is something you would pay too much for?
Following your heart can be a crime
A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless?world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.?
This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.
Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
US addresses only, please
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The post What’s Your Winner’s Curse and Giveaway! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
By Tricia Springstubb
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
For years I’ve visited a small, Lake Erie island, a short ferry’s ride from the mainland. I go there in the summer or early autumn, when the water is still warm and the light golden.
Along with the other tourists, I walk the shore, drink the bad local wine, sigh over the sunsets.
Come the first hint of winter, though, I’m out of there, back to what the locals condescendingly call “the other side”.
But for years, every time I’d boarded the ferry, I wondered how it would be to stay on after the population shrinks to less than two hundred, tough-as-nails residents.
I’d picture myself hunkering down in a cabin, reading and writing and feeding the wood stove, while outside the wind whipped and the waves crashed.
In my imagination I’d venture out to the island store, or the Sunday potluck at the VFW, where I’d trade news with my likewise sturdy, self-sufficient neighbors.
Oh, for that pure, that elemental life!
Or wait. Maybe I’d sit in my cabin besieged by pangs of loneliness. Maybe I’d feel trapped like a rat. Maybe the thought of walking into that VFW and seeing those same twenty faces would make me go stark, raving berserk.
An island is the perfect setting for a wishy-washy writer like me. I tend to avoid conflict, a useful trait in real life, but fatal in fiction.
Setting my story on an island forced me to deal, because there was nowhere for my characters to flee, no way to avoid action.
To up the stakes, I made my island, Moonpenny, smaller than the one I knew, and pushed it farther out into the great lake. I made the ferries quit running earlier in the year.
I made it more remote, but kept that mainland, with all it promised, tantalizingly in sight.
Islands! Writers have long recognized what fertile settings they are. Part of my fun was paying tribute to classics-- Anne of Green Gables
, Island of the Blue Dolphins
, Misty of Chincoteague
An island is a place apart, made for mystery, romance, testing of mettle. It’s a place that can feel cozy and secure, or wild and dangerous.
Moonpenny wasn’t easy to write. In truth, it was torture--but that’s a different post.
During all the wild-eyed, insomniac months (okay, years) I drafted and revised, only one thing remained constant: my setting. I felt the limestone under my feet, the lake air in my lungs. I stood on the edge of the swim hole in the old abandoned quarry, shivering at how deep and cold it was, and I lay in bed in a little house on the back shore, listening to the moan of the thawing lake.
That sense of place drew me back into the work again and again. I got to live on that island after all, and to see it from every point of view. I came to simultaneously love it and feel its limitations, the way all children, no matter where they grow up, feel about home.
After I’d finished the book, it was strange to go back and visit the real island. I kept seeing my characters--Flor and Sylvie, Joe and Jasper--from the corner of my eye, kept expecting them to appear on the beach or the lip of the quarry. I caught their voices, rising on the updrafts along with the seagulls.
This time, when I boarded the ferry back to the other side, part of me stayed behind.Cynsational Notes Moonpenny Island
(HarperCollins, 2015) is a Junior Library Guild selection and has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. Tricia is also the author of Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
, the first book in a new chapter book series (Candlewick, April 2015).Kelley's Island Gallery Cynsational Giveaway
Enter to win one of two signed copies of Moonpenny Island
by Tricia Springstubb
(HarperCollins, 2015). Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America.a Rafflecopter giveaway
This morning I have an excerpt from Ruth Cardello’s Tycoon Takedown. Check it out, and then enter for a chance to win a digital copy!
Exclusive Excerpt: Tycoon Takedown by Ruth Cardello
“I took the morning off, but I have a charity dinner I committed to before I knew you’d be here.” Charles told Melanie. “Attend it with me.”
“Like a date?”
He hugged her to his side. “Whatever you want to call it.”
Melanie stiffened against him. “I’d rather not. I didn’t bring anything suitable to wear to something like that.” She wasn’t sure she wanted to attend a public function with him.
In the dim light of the room, he looked down at her, his expression unreadable. “It’s a formal event, but I don’t care what you wear.”
He wouldn’t. His arrogance was part of what she found attractive about him. He didn’t give a damn what others thought of him. Still, she couldn’t help but test his limits. “Really? You’re okay if I go in jeans and my boots?”
He took her chin in his hand and turned her face so she’d have to meet his eyes. She couldn’t read them in the shadows.”Why are you angry?”
She tried to pull back from him, but he held her to his side. She didn’t want to admit it, but the idea of attending something with him intimidated her. She told herself she didn’t care what others through of her, but that wasn’t true. And this was his world. She didn’t need to be reminded that she didn’t belong in it. “I’m not one of your fancy New York girlfriends. I don’t wear makeup. My nails are chipped from hard work. What will your friends think of me?”
“These people aren’t my friends. I can’t promise you that no one will wonder why you chose jeans over a gown, but I can guarantee that none will have the nerve to say anything.”
“Because they’re too polite”
A hard expression darkened his face. “Because you’re mine.”
Excerpted with permission from Montlake Romance from Tycoon Takedown © 2015 by Ruth Cardello. All rights reserved.
Title: Tycoon Takedown
Author: Ruth Cardello
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Melanie Hanna has finally worked up the courage to travel to New York and tell an old flame that he’s the father of her young son. She’s done hiding and apologizing for her one impulsive night. When her best friend asks her brother to watch over Melanie, her emotional trip takes an unexpected and sizzling detour.
Charles Dery is at the top of his game, but all he can think about is bedding the woman he was asked to protect. When she’s almost killed, he takes what he’d been denying himself and discovers he’ll do anything to keep her—even break his own rules.
When it comes to love, two wrongs may just finally make a right.
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1BZHco6
Ruth Cardello was born the youngest of eleven children in a small city in northern Rhode Island. She lived in Boston, Paris, Orlando, and New York before coming full circle and moving back to Rhode Island, where she lives with her husband and three children. Before turning her attention to writing, Ruth was an educator for twenty years, eleven of which she spent as a kindergarten teacher. She is the author of eight previous novels, including Bedding the Billionaire, which was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Tycoon Takedown follows Taken, Not Spurred as the second book in the Lone Star Burn series.
Social Networking Links
Website – http://ruthcardello.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ruthcardello
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ruthiecardello
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4820876.Ruth_Cardello
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Release Date: 3/3/2015
Add to GoodreadsAbout the Book:
Did you know a gravy boat can change your life? Charlotte and Tobias Eggers do. After a prank on their terrible nanny involving gravy and tadpoles ends in a misunderstanding, Charlotte and Tobias's father packs them in the car, drives them to the desert, and leaves them outside of Witherwood Reform School. Before he can change his mind, a car accident leaves him with amnesia. Charlotte and Tobias have no choice but to enter Witherwood Reform School with is odd teachers, fierce animals, and unending chocolate pudding. But Witterwood is no ordinary school-the headmaster has perfected mind control. Can Charlotte and Tobias escape before it's too late?GreenBeanTeenQueen Says:
Obert Skye is a middle grade reader favorite at my library. He's a regular fixture at our local children's lit festival and he makes quite an impression on the kids. Each year I have a new group coming into the library asking for his books and eagerly wanting more. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Skye has a new series and it's one I know my fans will devour!
Charlotte and Tobias are pranksters and they're also very smart. They know to question things about their new school and they're determined to figure out the secrets of Witherwood. But what happens when the school gets the best of them and they get sucked in? And what happens when your father doesn't even remember that he's looking for you?Witherwood Reform Schoo
l is the first in a new series that is perfect for readers who enjoy their humor to be a little dark, their characters slightly mischievous, and mysteries with a side of suspense. Told in the vein of Lemony Snickett and Jason Segal's Nightmares
, readers who want something that's just a bit dark, just a tad creepy, and with a slight silliness will be sure to be lining up to get their hands on this one. There are plenty of questions remaining about this mysterious reform school so readers will be eagerly anticipating book two.Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher
Want to win a copy? Fill out the form below to enter!
One entry per person
US Address only
Contest ends March 10
Follow the Witherwood Reform School Tour!
By: Wendy Darling,
We have two fun things for you today–A Darker Shade of Magic prize pack and a quick visit from V.E. Schwab as part of the official blog tour! The book was just released this week and reviewed by Kim–I’m in the middle of the book myself and I can see why she lavished it such glowing praise. In the book, which takes place in multiple alternate universe Londons, one character observes, “No London is truly without magic.” Kim’s question for our stop on the official blog tour: What are the most magical parts of London to you? V.E. Schwab: I grew up wanting the world to be stranger than it was, and because of that, I’m inclined to look for—and see—the potential for the magical, the fantastical, the extraordinary everywhere I look. In alleys and doorways and in the seams between places—and in the case of ADSOM, between worlds—anywhere there’s... Read more »
The post A Darker Shade of Magic: Tour Stop + Giveaway (international) appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer
It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post. Next week I’ll have a new illustrated story for you, but today, just for fun I wanted to have a giveaway.
Enter to win your very own “Napping Fawn Print”.
To enter either comment on this post, or signup to receive these blog posts by email (over there on the left). You won’t get spammed or anything you’ll just get my blog posts in your email. If you are already signed up with your email just post a comment below so so I know you want to enter. You can sign up and post a comment if you want but you’ll only be entered once.
Don’t know what to comment? Just let me know which of my blog posts has been the most useful, or fun. That way I can make more of them.
Then after you’ve commented, or signed up follow this link to facebook and like or share or comment on the post.
You have until March 11, at 12:00pm to enter. The winner will be chosen at random next Thursday.
The post Napping Fawn Print Giveaway appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.
Are you ready for a Commenting Challenge? Check out this amazing prize!
Readers, last week I promised you an exclusive guest post from the authors of A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder (see my review here). Now, I'm thrilled to present their post. Giveaway details below. We were happy to agree to Joanne’s request to do a guest blog post about writing A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans. Since Larry and I met in journalism school at Marquette University, we decided to answer some traditional reporter-type questions for you. Who are we? Larry and I are married and children’s book writers. We’ve written well over 100 books, but until recently we wrote books separately. Larry usually writes novels, and I write poetry and picture books. What has changed? We fell in love with the idea of a dragon who has a pet human. We both were so charmed by our 3000-year old dragon, Miss Drake, and her 10-year old pet, feisty Winnie, we wanted to work on the book together. It is our first collaborative work. When do you write? Larry is a lark and writes in the morning. I am an owl and write best in the quiet of night. We talk about our work at lunch…often away from home with a picnic at the beach or enjoying a meal in town. It’s nice to take a break from writing, share problems we’re having, and get new ideas. We always end up writing notes on napkins and stuffing bits of scribbled paper tablecloths in our pockets. Where does the story take place and where do you write? We set the book in San Francisco because we both love the city. Larry was born there, we lived there for years, and we both think of it as a unique and rather magical place. When we moved away and looked for a home in Pacific Grove, we had two conditions. We needed two studies and lots of wall space for bookcases. We each have our own writing spots, computers, and our books nearby. How do two people write one book? I am sure there are many different ways to write together, but this seems to be ours. Larry writes the opening, we work on the overall plot, he writes some chapters, and I write others. We share what we’ve done and rewrite and edit all the parts till we are happy. Larry, as a novelist, has a much better understanding of plotting and dramatic arcs, etc. As a poet, I work on images and details and the emotional thrust of the book. So we each bring the elements we know best to the story.
Larry and I have lived together for 30 years. That most likely made this project easier to do. Earlier on we might have had some clashing of egos. But we do respect each other and treat each other kindly most of the time. I think we both kept our relationship in mind as we tussled a bit over plot points. In addition, we do laugh and tease a lot. The banter between Miss Drake and Winnie came quite naturally to us.
We both hope readers can see how much fun we had creating these two ever-so-different friends and that they will join us in seeing what Miss Drake and Winnie do in the future. There’s more magic to come!
Thank you so much, Joanne and Larry! I loved hearing about your process and especially how a novelist and a poet who are happily married can create magic together. I look forward to more adventures.
Readers, the authors have generously offered one signed hardcover copy for a giveaway. To enter, you must be a follower of this blog and you must leave a comment on this post. If you spread the word via Twitter or Facebook, please let me know and I'll give you extra chances for each mention. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only and will end at 10 pm EDT on Sunday March 22, 2015. Winner will be announced on Monday March 23. Good luck!
I tried to only listen to 10 chapters. Really, I did. BUT I COULDN'T CONTAIN MYSELF. This book, guys. It will rip your heart out and tear you to pieces, all while you're begging it for more.
If you're not sure about reading it, let me tell you I've read quite a few reviews that said that even though they didn't love the first one (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!), they're
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Meet the winner of our first Commenting Challenge!