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<<May 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: AWARDS, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,836
26. Fun Home the musical gets 12 Tony Award nominations


The Tony Awards nominations are out today, honoring the best on Broadway, and Fun Home tied for most nominations with 12 (An American in Paris also got 12.) The musical, based on the Alison Bechdel graphic novel, was nominated for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Director, Best Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris), Best Actress in a Musical (Beth Malone), three in the Best Featured Actress category ( Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs,) Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Orchestration.

I was lucky enough to see this last week, and its deserving of every honor it gets, a truly mesmerizing and heartbreaking night of theater. If I had to pick one performance to call out it would be 12 year old Sydney Lucas, who is simply astonishing as Small Allison. Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her family life, family secrets, coming out and dealing with the past has achieved a cultural significance that no graphic novel save Maus has ever come close to.


Bechdel drew a brief but powerful coda to the Fun Home experience as a webcomic for Vulture.

And the NY Times profiles her and the strange experience of seeing your life turned into a musical::

“She is a curious human being, and she’s curious about herself most of all,” Ms. Malone said of Ms. Bechdel. “Even her look is all about telling the truth — no ornamentation, nothing pretty. She hates lies — lies and embellishments are what got her dad killed.”

Ms. Bechdel has no formal role in creating the musical, but checks in often, answers questions by email and offers the periodic note. She asked them to change one sentence, to make clear that her father, a fastidious home restorer and antiques collector, had used real William Morris wallpaper, and not an imitation.



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27. Why the ‘Adventure Time’ Peabody Award is Important for Animation

Is the Peabody Awards the only prestigious awards event that actually 'gets' animation?

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28. Triangle Award Winners Revealed

The 27th annual Triangle Awards, which celebrates the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published in 2014, were revealed in New York last week.

“Mr. Loverman” by Bernardine Evaristo (Akashic Books) won The Ferro-Grumley Award for lesbian and gay fiction which honors the memory of authors Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley“For Today I Am a Boy” by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) took The Publishing Triangle’s newest literary award, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.

“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: 40 Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith” by Barbara Smith (SUNY Press) won the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction. “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” by Robert Beachy (Alfred A. Knopf) won the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction.

“The New Testament” by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press) won The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. “Last Psalm at Sea Level” by Meg Day (Barrow Street Press) won the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry.

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MAY is a busy month of appearances, theater, and a big exhibition.  I look forward to seeing you if you're in the area. EXHIBIT! The big news this month is the opening of SERIOUSLY SILLY: THE ART & WHIMSY OF MO WILLEMS at the HIGH MUSEUM in Atlanta, GA opening on MAY 23 and running through January of 2016.   The exhibit is based on the 2013 solo show at the Eric Carle Museum, with added

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30. Daytime Emmy Awards Hail King Julien

Animation projects created for Internet television dominated the 42nd annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

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31. Yiyun Li Wins The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015

Short Story AwardYiyun Li has been named the winner of the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2015. For this accomplishment, Li will receive £30,000 in prize money which is “the world’s richest prize for a single short story.”

Li has become the first female winner in the award’s history. She beat out five other writers on the short list with her piece, “A Sheltered Woman.” The New Yorker published it back in March 2014.

Li gave a statement in the press release about the inspiration behind her story: “A couple years ago, while rummaging through old things, I found a notebook that I had bought at a garage sale in Iowa City when I first came to America—I had paid five cents for it. The notebook was in a good shape; though it remained unused. A character occurred to me: she paid a dime and asked if there was a second notebook so she did not have to have the change back. Such greed, the character said, laughing at herself. From that moment on I knew I had a story.’

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32. 2015 Laing Prize


Each year, the University of Chicago Press,  awards the Gordon J. Laing Prize to “the faculty author, editor or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction.” Originated in 1963, the Prize was named after a former general editor of the Press, whose commitment to extraordinary scholarship helped establish UCP as one of the country’s premier university presses. Conferred by a vote from the Board of University Publications and celebrated earlier this week, the 2015 Laing Prize was awarded to Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, professor of history at the University of Chicago, and associate professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City, for his book I Speak the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer’s presented the award at a ceremony earlier this week. From the Press’s official citation:

From art to city planning, from epidemiology to poetry, I Speak of the City challenges the conventional wisdom about Mexico City, investigating the city and the turn-of-the-century world to which it belonged. By engaging with the rise of modernism and the cultural experiences of such personalities as Hart Crane, Mina Loy and Diego Rivera, I Speak of the City will find an enthusiastic audience across the disciplines.

While accepting the award, Tenorio-Trillo noted his fear that the book would ever find a publisher:

His colleague, Prof. Emilio Kouri, told him to try the University of Chicago Press. “He said they do not normally publish Latin American history, but they publish what you do: history and thinking,” said Tenorio-Trillo. And so the manuscript was sent to Press Executive Editor Douglas Mitchell to review.

“My books in Spanish sometimes are catalogued as history, sometimes as essays, closer to literature. I was truly surprised to learn of this very prestigious prize. I do not know if my work has finally reached the maturity to deserve such a prize or if I have luckily arrived to the intellectual milieu where the idiosyncratic nature of my work is considered a true intellectual contribution. With or without prizes, it’s been a privilege to work here and to collaborate with the University of Chicago Press,” he added.

In addition to the Laing Prize, I Speak of the City was awarded the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians and the Bolton-Johnson Prize Honorable Mention Award from the American Historical Association.

To read more about the book, click here.

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33. 2015 Eisner Award Nominees Announced

Eisner LogoThe nominees for the 2015 Eisner Awards were just announced.

Below, we’ve posted the complete list of nominees. Named after comic book pioneer Will Eisner, the awards “highlight the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today.”

Those who are taking part in this year’s judging panel include bookseller Carr DeAngelo, librarian Richard Graham, writer Sean Howe, educator Susan Kirtley, Comic-Con International committee member Ron McFee, and writer Maggie Thompson. The winners will be revealed at a gala ceremony during this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Best Short Story

  • \"Beginning’s End\" by Rina Ayuyang
  • \"Corpse on the Imjin!\" by Peter Kuper, in Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World
  • \"Rule Number One\" by Lee Bermejo, in Batman Black and White #3
  • \"The Sound of One Hand Clapping\" by Max Landis & Jock, in Adventures of Superman #14
  • \"When the Darkness Presses\" by Emily Carroll

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

  • Astro City #16: \"Wish I May\" by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson
  • Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
  • Madman in Your Face 3D Special by Mike Allred
  • Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1
  • The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

Best Continuing Series

  • Astro City by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson
  • Bandette by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover
  • Hawkeye by Matt Fraction & David Aja
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  • Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour
  • The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, & Stefano Gaudiano

Best Limited Series

  • Daredevil: Road Warrior by Mark Waid & Peter Krause
  • Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez
  • The Multiversity by Grant Morrison et al.
  • The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin
  • The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III

Best New Series

  • The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
  • Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen
  • Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Rocket Raccoon by Skottie Young
  • The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)

  • BirdCatDog by Lee Nordling & Meritxell Bosch
  • A Cat Named Tim And Other Stories by John Martz
  • Hello Kitty, Hello 40: A Celebration in 40 Stories edited by Traci N. Todd & Elizabeth Kawasaki
  • Mermin, Book 3: Deep Dives by Joey Weiser
  • The Zoo Box by Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)

  • Batman Li’l Gotham, vol. 2 by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin & Benjamin Dewey
  • Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse by Art Baltazar & Franco

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • Doomboy by Tony Sandoval
  • The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley
  • Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen
  • Meteor Men by Jeff Parker & Sandy Jarrell
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew
  • The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple

Best Humor Publication

  • The Complete Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson
  • Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. by Jim Benton
  • Groo vs. Conan by Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, & Tom Yeates
  • Rocket Raccoon by Skottie Young
  • Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber

Best Digital/Web Comic

  • Bandette by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover
  • Failing Sky by Dax Tran-Caffee
  • The Last Mechanical Monster by Brian Fies
  • Nimona by Noelle Stephenson
  • The Private Eye by Brian Vaughan & Marcos Martin

Best Anthology

  • In the Dark: A Horror Anthology edited by Rachel Deering
  • Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens
  • Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It edited by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, & Graham Kolbeins
  • Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World edited by Monte Beauchamp
  • To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark

Best Reality-Based Work

  • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
  • Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, by MariNaomi
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2 by Ed Piskor
  • Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale
  • To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark

Best Graphic Album—New

  • The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
  • Here by Richard McGuire
  • Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
  • The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
  • Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

  • Dave Dorman’s Wasted Lands Omnibus
  • How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis
  • Jim by Jim Woodring
  • Sock Monkey Treasury by Tony Millionaire
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips (at least 20 years old)

  • Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo edited by Alexander Braun
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan: The Sunday Comics, 1933–1935 by Hal Foster and edited by Brendan Wright
  • Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition by Tove Jansson and edited by Tom Devlin
  • Pogo, vol. 3: Evidence to the Contrary by Walt Kelly and edited by Carolyn Kelly & Eric Reynolds
  • Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, vols. 5-6 by Floyd Gottfredson and edited by David Gerstein & Gary Groth

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)

  • The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set edited by Gary Groth with Mike Catron
  • Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition edited by Scott Dunbier
  • Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn by Carl Barks and edited by Gary Groth
  • Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Son by Don Rosa and edited by David Gerstein
  • Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics, vols. 1–2 edited by Daniel Herman
  • Witzend, by Wallace Wood et al., edited by Gary Groth with Mike Catron

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

  • Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
  • Blacksad: Amarillo by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido
  • Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn by Hugo Pratt
  • Jaybird by Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen
  • The Leaning Girl by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

  • All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Takeshi Obata & yoshitoshi ABe
  • In Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno
  • Master Keaton, vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, & Takashi Nagasaki
  • One-Punch Man by One & Yusuke Murata
  • Showa 1939–1943 and Showa 1944–1953: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki
  • Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosada & Yu

Best Writer

  • Jason Aaron, Original Sin, Thor, Men of Wrath, Southern Bastards
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick, Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly
  • Grant Morrison, The Multiversity, Annihilator
  • Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Private Eye
  • G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel
  • Gene Luen Yang, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Shadow Hero

Best Writer/Artist

  • Sergio Aragonés, Sergio Aragonés Funnies, Groo vs. Conan
  • Charles Burns, Sugar Skull
  • Stephen Collins, The Giant Beard That Was Evil
  • Richard McGuire, Here
  • Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist
  • Raina Telgemeier, Sisters

Best Penciller/Inker

  • Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel
  • Mike Allred, Silver Surfer, Madman in Your Face 3D Special
  • Frank Quitely, Multiversity
  • François Schuiten, The Leaning Girl
  • Fiona Staples, Saga
  • Babs Tarr, Batgirl

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

  • Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen, Jaybird
  • Colleen Coover, Bandette
  • Mike Del Mundo, Elektra
  • Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad: Amarillo
  • J. H. Williams III, The Sandman: Overture

Best Cover Artist

  • Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics Darwyn Cooke Month Variant Covers
  • Mike Del Mundo, Elektra, X-Men: Legacy, A+X, Dexter, Dexter Down Under
  • Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, The Twilight Zone, Django/Zorro, X-Files
  • Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, The Wicked + The Divine, Ms. Marvel
  • Phil Noto, Black Widow
  • Alex Ross, Astro City, Batman 66: The Lost Episode, Batman 66 Meets Green Hornet

Best Coloring

  • Laura Allred, Silver Surfer, Madman in Your Face 3D Special
  • Nelson Daniel, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, Judge Dredd, Wild Blue Yonder
  • Lovern Kindzierski, The Graveyard Book, vols. 1-2
  • Matthew Petz, The Leg
  • Dave Stewart, Hellboy in Hell, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Baltimore, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, Shaolin Cowboy, Aliens: Fire and Stone, DHP
  • Matthew Wilson, Adventures of Superman, The Wicked + The Divine, Daredevil, Thor

Best Lettering

  • Joe Caramagna, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil
  • Todd Klein, Fables, The Sandman: Overture, The Unwritten; Nemo: The Roses of Berlin
  • Max, Vapor
  • Jack Morelli, Afterlife with Archie, Archie, Betty and Veronica, etc.
  • Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Alter Ego edited by Roy Thomas
  • Comic Book Creator edited by Jon B. Cooke
  • Comic Book Resources edited by Jonah Weiland
  • Comics Alliance edited by Andy Khouri, Caleb Goellner, Andrew Wheeler, & Joe Hughes
  • tcj.com edited by Dan Nadel & Timothy Hodler

Best Comics-Related Book

  • Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (4 vols.) edited by M. Keith Booker
  • Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton by Greg Sadowski
  • Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, vol. 3 by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell
  • What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck by Michael Alexander Kahn & Richard Samuel West
  • 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen by Roy Thomas & Josh Baker

Best Scholarly/Academic Work

  • American Comics, Literary Theory, and Religion: The Superhero Afterlife by A. David Lewis
  • Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics by Andrew Hoberek
  • Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books by Michael Barrier
  • Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews edited by Sarah Lightman
  • The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay by Thierry Smolderen, tr. by Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen
  • Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay by Katherine Roeder

Best Publication Design

  • Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios
  • The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set designed by Tony Ong
  • Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream designed by Jim Rugg
  • Street View designed by Pascal Rabate
  • Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo designed by Anna Tina Kessler

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34. Emily Bitto Wins The Stella Prize

Author Emily Bitto has won the 2015 Stella Prize for her debut novel “The Strays.” The prize includes a $50,000 purse.

The prize is open to works of both fiction and nonfiction by Australian women. The award was announced at a in ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“Emily Bitto’s debut novel The Strays is about families, art, isolation, class, childhood, friendship, and the power of the past. It’s both moving and sophisticated; both well researched and original; both intellectually engaging and emotionally gripping …,” stated Kerryn Goldsworthy, chair of the 2015 Stella Prize judging panel.

“As a debut novelist, I cannot even begin to quantify the benefits this award will bring. I am incredibly grateful to the Stella board, the judging panel, and the generous donors who have contributed the prize money,” stated Bitto of her win. “In its three years of existence, the Stella Prize has had a huge impact on the Australian literary landscape and has initiated a vital dialogue about gender within the public domain.”

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35. Alan Shapiro: Pulitzer Prize finalist


Hearty congratulations to Alan Shapiro, whose collection of poems Reel to Reel was recently shortlisted for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Shapiro, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published twelve volumes of poetry, and has previously been nominated for both the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize. The Pulitzer Prize citation commended Reel to Reel‘s “finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse.” The book, written with Shapiro’s recognizably graceful, abstracting, and subtle minimalism, was one of two finalists, along with Arthur Sze’s Compass Rose; Gregory Pardlo’s Digest won the award.

From the jacket copy for Reel to Reel:

Reel to Reel, Alan Shapiro’s twelfth collection of poetry, moves outward from the intimate spaces of family and romantic life to embrace not only the human realm of politics and culture but also the natural world, and even the outer spaces of the cosmos itself. In language richly nuanced yet accessible, these poems inhabit and explore fundamental questions of existence, such as time, mortality, consciousness, and matter. How did we get here? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do we live fully and lovingly as conscious creatures in an unconscious universe with no ultimate purpose or destination beyond returning to the abyss that spawned us? Shapiro brings his humor, imaginative intensity, characteristic syntactical energy, and generous heart to bear on these ultimate mysteries. In ways few poets have done, he writes from a premodern, primal sense of wonder about our postmodern world.

“Family Bed,” on the book’s poems:

My sister first and then my brother woke
Inside the house they dreamed, and so the dream
House, which, in my dream, was the house in which
I found them now, was vanishing as they woke,
Was swallowing itself the way the picture did
Inside the switched off television screen.
It was the nightmare picture of them sleeping
As if alive beside me in the last
Room left to us, the nightmare of the picture
Suddenly collapsing on the screen
Into the tick and crackle of the shriveling
Abyss they were being sucked away into
By having wakened, while I, alone now,
Clung to the screen of sleeping in the not
Yet undreamt bedroom they no longer dreamed.

To read more about Reel to Reel, or to view more of the author’s books published by the University of Chicago Press, click here.

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36. Adam Zyglis wins Pulitzer Prize for Cartooning


The Pulitzers, awarded for excellence in journalism, were announced yesterday, and the winner for cartooning was Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News. Finalists were Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher of the Baltimore Sun and Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins), of Daily Kos. (On her FB page Columbia U librarian Karen Green revealed she was one of the judges for the category.) You can see some more of Zyglis’s work here.

As usual, WaPo’s Michael Cavna was on the scene for the first interview:

“Hearing I’d won was surreal,” Zyglis tells The Post’s Comic Riffs this afternoon, shortly after receiving the news. “I was working in a corner of the newsroom, and suddenly, people started shouting and coming up and hugging me.”

Perhaps Zyglis, who’s in his 30s, pretty youthful for a Pulitzer winner, should not have been so surprised. In recent years he won the Berryman Award, was a finalist for a Reuben, was named the 2015 recipient of the Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning With a Conscience and was a runner–up for the National Headliner Award. Given all that it would be more surreal if he HADN’T won.


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37. 2015 Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists: Free Samples

nypl logoThe New York Public Library has revealed the finalists for the 2015 Young Lions Fiction Award. We’ve created another literary mixtape linking to free samples of all the nominated novels.

Here’s more from the press release: “The Young Lions Fiction Award is given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or collection of short stories.  Each year, five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians.”

The winner will be announced during a ceremony which will be held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on April 27th. This year’s panel of judges include The Twelve Tribes of Hattie novelist Ayana Mathis, New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead, and Once the Shore: Stories author Paul Yoon.

15th Annual Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists

The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

What Ends by Andrew Ladd

10:04 by Ben Lerner

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38. All the Light We Cannot See Wins 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

pulitzerprizeThe 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners were revealed at a ceremony in New York today.

“All the Light We Cannot See” (Scribner) by Anthony Doerr has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt) by Elizabeth Kolbert won the prize for General Nonfiction.

“Between Riverside and Crazy” by Stephen Adly Guirgis took the award for Drama. “Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People” (Hill and Wang) by Elizabeth A. Fenn won the Pulitzer for History.

“The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe” (Random House) by David I. Kertzer won the Biography award. “Digest” (Four Way Books) by Gregory Pardlo won the Poetry award.

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39. The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez wins LA Times Book Prize


The LA Times Book Prizes were awarded over the weekend and the graphic novel prize went to The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez. This is fitting since the story, although denied a ton of traditional comics awards, is actually a timeless masterpiece. And as the Times put it, Hernandez is “one of Southern California’s signature artists,” with his work exploring so many aspects of SoCal life, from Latino culture to punk culture. Bravo.

The nominees were :

• Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir,Bloomsbury
*** • Jaime Hernandez, The Love Bunglers, Fantagraphics
• Mana Neyestani, An Iranian Metamorphosis, Uncivilized Books
• Olivier Schrauwen, Arsène Schrauwen, Fantagraphics
• Mariko Tamaki (Author), Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), This One Summer, First Second

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40. Winners Announced For The Los Angeles Times 35th Annual Book Prize

la times book prize logoThe Los Angeles Times hosted its 35th Annual Book Prizes ceremony over the weekend.

Book critic David L. Ulin hosted the event at at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium. Some of the presenters throughout the evening included Hope LarsonAisha Saeed, and Matt Pearce.

World’s End author T.C. Boyle received the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and Reading Rainbow star LeVar Burton took The Innovator’s Award. We’ve got the entire list of winners after the jump.

The 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winners

  • Biography: Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (Viking)
  • Current Interest: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner)
  • Fiction: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press)
  • Graphic Novel/Comics: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)
  • History: The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking)
  • Mystery/Thriller: Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
  • Science & Technology: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt & Co.)
  • Young Adult Literature: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children’s Books)

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41. Phil Lord and Chris Miller Honored with 2015 Texas Avery Award

The directors of "The Lego Movie" were honored for their achievements in the field of animation.

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42. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Alexandra Tyle-Annen

We were ecstatic when we found out that we would be receiving funding for Teen Tech Week.   We were able to plan a variety of programs that focused on programming, photography/video, and robotics.   Our goals were to:

  1. Reach teens that have little or no technology skills
  2. Grow the skill level of teens that already have a strong technology skills
  3. Have teen(s) assist with programming.

A local teen happened to be a tech wizard and helped plan and teach a few of the programs!  He was able to connect with the teen participants and many of the younger teens were in awe of his knowledge.  He was a great asset to the program and a huge reason the programs were so successful!

We were able to purchase a GoPro (along with accessories), Cubelets, and littleBits.  Along with classes, we held drop in sessions for teens to play creatively with the tools on their own.   We also encourage the teens to use the GoPro during the other programs to create videos of their projects and learning experiences.

It is truly amazing to see how all of the teens were able to quickly grasp most of the concepts.  They were able to understand everything from how numbers flow through Cubelets to drawing shapes and creating games with python!  They were able to manipulate the code we produced as a class to put a personal twist on the projects.  The most popular programs were the GoPro class and the Python 101 classes.

Due to the number of participants and the number of tools we needed to create small groups to work together on their projects. It was a great opportunity for the teens to work as a team.   Having them work in teams encouraged discussion and a new level of creativity!

We were surprised that most of the teens that participated in Teen Tech Week were not from our core group of library teens. A few of them have increased their library usage and are becoming familiar faces.   An almost equal amount of girls and boys attended the programs.

The library is planning on providing additional technology based off the teens’ suggestions and interests.  It is important to us that we find a way to have the Cubelets, littleBits, and GoPro available for teen use within the library.  We are currently reviewing different options on how to do so.

Alexandra Tyle-Annen is the Adult/Teen Services Manager for the Homer Township Public Library in Homer Glen, IL.

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43. PEN Literary Awards Shortlist Revealed

The PEN American Center has revealed the shortlists and judges for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards.

The shortlist for the debut fiction category, which carries a $25,000 prize includes: “The UnAmericans” by Molly Antopol (W. W. Norton & Company); “Ruby” by Cynthia Bond (Hogarth); Redeployment by Phil Klay (Penguin Press); “The Dog” by Jack Livings (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and “Love Me Back” by Merritt Tierce (Doubleday). Judges for the category include: Caroline Fraser, Katie Kitamura, Paul La Farge, and Victor LaValle.

Follow this link to see the shortlists in every category.

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44. X. J. Kennedy Wins Poets & Writers Poetry Prize

Poet X. J. Kennedy has won the ninth annual Jackson Poetry Prize, an award given by Poets & Writers to honor exceptional American poets. The prize includes a $50,000 purse.

A panel of three judges chose Kennedy. The panel included the poets Heather McHugh, Vijay Seshadri, and Rosanna Warren.

“X. J. Kennedy’s forms are perennial, his rhetoric is at once elaborate and immediate, and his language and diction are always of the American moment,” explained the panel in a statement about their decision. “He translates the human predicament into poetry perfectly balancing wit, savagery, and compassion. His subtly dissonant rhymes and side-stepping meters carry us through the realms of puzzlement and sorrow to an intimated grace. The size of his poems is small but their scope is vast.”

Poets & Writers will host a reading and reception in honor of Kennedy in May in New York City.


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45. NCS announces Reuben Award Divisional Nominees


And, following the announcement that Roz Chast, Hilary Price and Stephen Pastis were up for THE Reuben, the nominees in the divisional awards have been announced by the National Cartoonists Society. The comics division has some new faces, led by Babs Tarr , who, it must be said, has had a meteoric, and well deserved, rise in the comics world. And the This One Summer juggernaut continues with a nod for Jillian Tamaki in the graphic novel category. The webcomics categories also show real diversity in format and esthetic since the category was initiated. GOOD STUFF.

Winners will be announced at the annual NCS banquet during the annual meeting.

Editorial Cartoons
Clay Bennett
Michael Ramirez
Jen Sorensen

Newspaper Illustration
Anton Emdin
Glen LeLievre
Ed Murawinski

Feature Animation

Paul Felix (production designer: “Big Hero 6”)
Tomm Moore (Director: “Song of the Sea”)
Isao Takahata (Director: “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”)

TV Animation

Mark Ackland (Storyboards- “The Void” : “Wander Over Yonder)
Patrick McHale (Creator “Over the Garden Wall”)
Kyle Menke (storyboards- “Star Wars” parody episode “Phineas and Ferb”)

Newspaper Panels
Dave Blazek (Loose Parts)
Mark Parisi (Off the Mark)
Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange)

Gag Cartoons

Liza Donnelly
Benjamin Schwartz
Edward Steed

Advertising/Product Illustration
Kevin Kallaugher
Ed Steckley
Dave Whammond

Greeting Cards

Gary McCoy
Glenn McCoy
Maria Scrivan

Comic Books
Jason Latour (Southern Bastards)
Babs Tarr (Batgirl)
J.H. Williams III (The Sandman Overture)

Graphic Novel
Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother)
Mike Maihak (Cleopatra in Space)
Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer)


Magazine Illustration
Ray Alma
Anton Emdin
Tom Richmond (above)

Online – Long Form
Vince Dorse (The Untold Tales of Bigfoot)
Mike Norton (Battlepug)
Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent)

Online – Short Form
Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots)
Jonathan Lemon (Rabbits Against Magic)
Rich Powell (Wide Open)

Book Illustration

Marla Frazee “The Farmer and the Clown”
Yasmeen Ismail “Time for Bed, Fred”
Shaun Tan “Rules of Summer”

Newspaper Comic Strips
Brian Basset (Red and Rover)
Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine)
Glenn McCoy (The Duplex)

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46. Meet Our New Visions Award Finalists: Part II

Last month we announced the six finalists for our 2015 New Visions Award. The Award recognizes a middle grade or young adult novel in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres by an unpublished author of color (our first New Visions Award winner, Ink and Ashes, will be released this June!).

As our award committee gets to know the finalists through their novels, we wanted to give our blog readers a chance to get to know these talented writers as well. We asked each finalist some questions. Here are answers from our first two finalists, Grace Rowe and Andrea Wang.

Below, authors Shipla Kamat and Rishonda Anthony answer:

Shilpa Kamat thumbnailShilpa Kamat, “Fallen Branches”

Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.

My novel is narrated by a teen named Shloka. Her voice jumped out at me one day when I was free writing during a spare moment in a parked car, and I knew she would have to keep talking until her story was told.

Shloka’s name means “song,” but she’s shy about singing. One of her mothers is of South Asian descent and the other traces her history to early immigrants who came to the town in Northern California where her family lives. When someone is killed in their seemingly peaceful neighborhood, Shloka finds herself working in secret with her friend Dilly to solve the mystery of what happened–something she’s sure is not quite what everyone else believes…

What advice would you give your younger self about writing?

Trust yourself and finish your projects. They don’t have to perfectly match your vision. In fact, they probably won’t. You don’t have to limit yourself to just one project at a time, but follow through. Take risks.

You’re already your harshest critic; learn to be an ally to your art as well. Choose to bring your writing to life rather than stifling it under the weight of your fears and expectations.

No matter how fantastical, ground your writing in real emotions and the interpersonal dynamics you witness or experience. Represent a broad range of people and centralize the communities and experiences you understand best. Be vulnerable. Let your characters have faults and forgive them, whether the other characters forgive them or not.

Rather than limiting yourself to the consciousness of current times, write with a sense of possibility. Take for granted that the seeds of positive social change will take root and come to fruition and write beyond that.

What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?

Although some aspects of my creative writing process are pre-meditated, I don’t always know what turn a story will take or what its characters will say.

This, to me, is what differentiates creative from analytical writing. Analytical writing is relentlessly driven by a point; creative writing is inspired and emergent. While a poem or a novel may be tempered by the frontal lobes, its source lies elsewhere. It may wind up dancing aside from an initial course and taking another. I see it as my job to respect this process and allow space for it while occasionally pruning or uprooting and replanting paragraphs.

To keep myself motivated while working on one major projects, I kept a daily log of my word count and tracked the amount written. With another project, I abandoned this method entirely, occasionally checking progress on the number of pages but no longer needing a sense of production to drive me. I have no tolerance for outlines, but I am comfortable artistically representing goals or documenting completed projects–drawing the petals of a flower to write in, for instance. To successfully keep myself organized, there need to be wild elements and vibrant colors.

As for writers’ block, in my experience, it manifests as either anxiety or forcing. Whether caused by an impending deadline or a desire to plow through a portion of writing so that I can build a bridge to another, forcing kills the dynamism necessary for artistic expression. If I recognize that I am forcing, I step outside or hum or dance or stand on my head–whatever it takes to make myself relaxed and present.

Similar approaches can help to alleviate anxiety, but when I am anxious, I may distract myself endlessly or find other chores to busy myself with. On my most difficult days, I can’t manage to write until I am so tired I’m ready to sleep. Then I relax enough to channel another chapter or two.

Writing demands the cracking of idealized image, and that can be as disquieting as it is enlivening. It requires a deep intimacy with oneself, a revelation of one’s mind to others, that may be deeply uncomfortable. The cure for my writers’ block is to sit with this discomfort and work my way into it, whether in a direct or roundabout way, until the truth emerges.

Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?

When I was in middle school, my Social Studies teacher announced that we were predominantly studying white men because they were the ones who shaped the course of history. My Language Arts teacher vehemently declared that “man” can be used not merely to describe a man but all of humankind.

The teachers were preempting challenges to those conventions, but no one can out-shout the truth: people are hungry for narratives that have been repressed throughout history. During the past two decades, the social histories of slaves, women, low-income people, indigenous communities, immigrants, and others who were not part of the elite have been increasingly sought after and have even entered courses of study in some mainstream schools.

In college, I recognized that unless I was told otherwise, if I had to imagine a character in a book, I would imagine a white person. This flattening of imagination is detrimental to everyone; when mythical imagination is constrained to the worldviews of only a fragment of humanity, literature fails to realize its potential for developing empathy for a broad range of others and an awareness of human experience.

If there are people who choose to focus on works by a specific group of authors for a period of time, I imagine that they are struggling to broaden their imaginations to include, centralize, and normalize the experiences of those who are rarely represented. For instance, if people decide to read only foreign novels for a year, they may broaden an insular lens into a more global one. As long as no group is being permanently written off, no author permanently clumped into a single category, I see no harm.

What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript, and why?

When I was a young adult myself, I enjoyed Cynthia Voigt’s work; A Solitary Blue, for instance, explored painful family relationships while rooting the characters in the natural world. I also enjoyed a number of other novels, primarily in the science fiction and fantasy genre, but I have not revisited most of them as an adult.

As for the mystery genre, a novel I remember liking as a child was The Westing Game, and a novel I enjoyed as an adult was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The latter left me with a lovely image of someone’s sitting at the bottom of a dry well to think.

Rishonda Anthony thumbnailRishonda Anthony, “Seraphim”

Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.

Cassandra Rose is a former child prodigy who won dozens of trivia contests, spelling bees, and brain bowls as a girl. After having a psychotic breakdown at the age of 12, she spent the next 5 years being home schooled in solitude. Now at 17, Cassandra is socially starved and desperate to fit in. But when she enrolls in a small private college, her past comes back to haunt her.

There are some autobiographical aspects in Cassandra’s character, which I believe is probably true for every author’s first book. In the case of Cassandra, I took them to the extreme. I was not a child prodigy who had a nervous breakdown, merely a gifted kid with anxiety issues. When I enrolled in a school rather similar to Cassandra’s college (in terms of size and atmosphere), I spent my entire first semester either alone in my room or going home on the weekend. This is where I formed the idea of a girl who is not an outcast due to social awkwardness, but because of a dark secret.

What advice would you give your younger self about writing?

First, don’t major in English. I’ve always loved books and have wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl (cliché, I know). But then I spent two college semesters analyzing deeper meanings and themes in genius level books. It gave me a complex, because I thought that if I couldn’t write anything as good as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Grapes of Wrath then there was no point in writing at all. Reading stopped being fun, and then writing became a chore rather than an escape. Even after I switched majors, it took a couple of years for me rediscover my love of writing.

Secondly, find a writing group! I’m the kind of writer who works well with a deadline, and when I’m writing a draft, my critique partners expect 10 pages a week, every week, from me. If I was writing for myself, I would procrastinate for years (see the third piece of advice). In addition, as part of the millennial generation, I crave instant gratification. Having someone review my work and give me feedback goes a long way towards motivating me to finish a project. All budding writers should check their local meetup.com and see if there is a writer’s group in their area. If not, consider creating one.

Third, keep at it! I started writing Seraphim when I was roughly Cassandra’s age. The story hasn’t changed much, but years of losing both faith and motivation quickly turned into more than a decade with nothing but a few vague chapters to show for it. I didn’t start seriously writing the story until I was in my late twenties, and only then when I found a writing group to support me.

What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?

I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Both Seraphim and my latest novel started out as NaNoWriMo “Brain dumps” that got poured into a word document at a rate of about 2000 words a day. The 50,000 word result is always a mess, but at least it’s on paper. After that, I spend the next six months editing that work into a proper draft.

The best technique to get past writers block is to stop reading. I’m a big reader (I know the location of every library in my city and have subscriptions with Audible, Amazon Prime, and Forgotten Books) and I believe that no one can be a serious writer unless they are also a serious reader. But when I can’t write, usually it’s because the books (yes, plural) I’m reading are hurting the process. For example, the author’s style might rub off on me, and I’ll unknowingly change a character or my voice. Then I’ll start to struggle, because the book doesn’t sound quite right, and I’m not sure why. Or I might come across an idea that I really like, and then decide to put something similar in my book. Suddenly I’m trying to add an alien into a book about witchcraft, or trying to create an entire fantasy realm for a story that really doesn’t need it. That’s a recipe for instant writer’s block. Forcing myself to step away from other people’s work and focus on my own (usually for no more than a week or two) gets me out of most ruts.

Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?

In doing research to answer this question, actually had to face the uncomfortable fact that that there are very few authors of color sitting on my bookshelf (as you will see in the next question). This was not intentional, as I certainly want to read more diverse authors, but considering that publishing is still a very white business (white authors are more likely to get published and more likely to get coverage for their books), these stories don’t just fall into my lap.

However, I do believe in the power of the free market, and I think that if more people buy books by diverse authors, publishers will start putting out more books by diverse authors. For me, it involves deliberately seeking out books written by authors of color and including those books in my usual reading rotation. Despite this, I don’t think I would go so far as to cut out all white male authors. Ninety percent of the books are read are adult Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and Horror and there aren’t many authors of color who write in those genres. But one day, I’d like to count my name among those authors.

What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript, and why?  

In Young Adult, I’m a fan of Susan’s Ee’s Penryn & the End of Days series and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. As for fantasy, I love Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. When it comes to the pinch of horror I like to put in every story, I have to recognize Joe Hill, and his father Stephen King, who I grew up reading and who wrote the first 1000 plus page book I ever read (It, age 15).

 Meet Our New Visions Finalists: Part I

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47. Distinguished and Diverse at #alaac15

2015 ALA Annual Conference

2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco (image courtesy of ALA)

ALSC and the ALSC Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force announced the theme and speakers for the 2015 ALSC preconference program. This program takes place 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The program, entitled “Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books,” will spotlight 2015 Honor Book recipients for the Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Pura Belpré, Sibert and Geisel awards. The keynote speaker for the program is K.T. Horning, and there will be a panel facilitated by Judy Freeman.

The event will feature authors, illustrators and editors such as Cece Bell, Jacqueline Woodson, Lauren Castillo, Mary GrandPré, Candace Fleming, Yuyi Morales, Jillian Tamaki, Katherine Roy, John Parra, Patricia Hruby Powell, Mark Siegel, Christian Robinson, Jon Klassen and Melissa Sweet. More speakers will be announced soon.

This is the first year that such a preconference will be held. The charge of the Awards Preconference Pilot Program Task Force is “to develop content and the program for a half-day preconference that will feature 2015 ALSC-only award honorees.” Based on the success of this year’s preconference, ALSC may or may not choose to hold similar events in connection with upcoming Annual Conferences. ALSC members receive a special discount (use code: ALSC2015) on registration.

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48. Susana Ferreira Wins NYU’s Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award

Journalist Susana Ferreira has won New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s inaugural Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award.
The Carter Institute established the award last fall in remembrance of the late journalist Matthew Power. The $12,500 award is given “to a young journalist researching an important story that illuminates the human condition.” Ferreira spent four years in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she was a correspondent for Reuters and served as a freelancer for Time, CBC Radio, PRI’s \"The World,\" the Wall Street Journal, France 24, and the Guardian.

“Many inspired proposals were submitted to us, but hers was particularly original and stood out as the sort of thing Matt might have done,” stated Professor Ted Conover of the Carter Journalism Institute, a friend of Power’s who coordinated the judging. “We hope that funding this kind of work will help to keep his spirit alive.”

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49. At Literacy Partners Gala, Bestselling Authors Share Personal Stories

Barbara-Taylor2Liz Smith, the “patron saint of literacy,” was unable to host Tuesday night’s gala at Cipriani in New York for Literacy Partners, the organization she helped found in 1974. Though Smith felt under the weather, her fellow board of directors, as well as honorees Robert Thomson and Barbara Taylor Bradford (pictured, at right), along with writers Tom Brokaw and Ali Wentworth (pictured, below), aptly filled in for her. Resilience emerged as the recurring theme of the evening, much like Smith herself.

Literacy Partners student Matthew Brown represented one of the evening’s highlights. The 75-year-old detailed his lifelong struggle to read, which he overcame with the organization’s help. He then sang his own resounding rendition of the Sinatra hit, “My Way,” to a standing ovation.


Taylor Bradford received the Lizzie award for her devotion to literacy in the U.S. and the U.K. She spoke about her prolific writing career, starting at a regional newspaper in England. “I had a little bit of toughness, even at age 16,” she said. By age 20 she headed to Fleet Street, and never forgot the lessons of needing to answer the \"who, what, where, when and why’s.\"

Thomson was honored for his philanthropy and commitment to the literacy cause, and joked that he also wants “numeracy partners for fiscally challenged executives.” On a more serious note, he spoke about the challenges that those who can’t read face every day, when words become enemies, leading to social isolation. “No one among us can always find the right words. Cracking the code of language is crucial,” he added.

Thomson also piqued the audience’s curiosity by bringing a book to the stage that he said was Harper Lee’s much anticipated ‘prequel sequel’, though it turned out to be her bestseller, To Kill A Mockingbird. “I’ve read the manuscript, and I think it will resonate,” he told the crowd.

Brokaw and Wentworth read passages from their upcoming books, both due out later this spring. Wentworth’s tale, Happily Ali After, describes humorous scenes from her life based on well-known sayings. She disagrees with the famous Love Story quote about never having to say you’re sorry. “Love has always meant saying I’m sorry repeatedly,” she said. An example: when her family planned a trip to Spain but upon arrival at JFK airport discovered that their girls’ passports had expired.

Brokaw’s forthcoming memoir, A Lucky Life Interrupted, recounts his deeply personal journey battling multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable form of cancer. He spoke about first experiencing symptoms and then being diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic. “I went from the delusion of being ever young. It was a way of life that I couldn’t believe was slipping away from me,” he said. He ended on a more upbeat note now that his cancer is in remission, citing “renewable cycles of life.” The book concludes with these words: \"Life–what’s left–bring it on.”

(Photos courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency)

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50. Meet Our New Visions Award Finalists: Part III

Last month we announced the six finalists for our 2015 New Visions Award. The Award recognizes a middle grade or young adult novel in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres by an unpublished author of color (our first New Visions Award winner, Ink and Ashes, will be released this June!).

As our award committee gets to know the finalists through their novels, we wanted to give our blog readers a chance to get to know these talented writers as well. We asked each finalist some questions. In previous posts, we interviewed finalists Grace Rowe and Andrea Wang, and finalists Shilpa Kamat and Rishonda Anthony.

Below authors Yamile Saied Méndez and Axie Oh answser:

Yamile Mendez thumbnailYamile Saied Méndez, “On These Magic Shores”

Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.

 My main character is twelve-year old Minerva Soledad Madrid and she can’t wait to grow up. The oldest of three girls, she’s a Latina who speaks Spanish and who’s proud of her cultural heritage. Her parents are of Argentine descent, and her mom (who’s raising the girls by herself) teaches the girls the Argentine traditions she grew up with. She sings the lullabies of her childhood, and most importantly, she passes on her belief in the Peques (short for Pequeñitos, the Little Ones), the Argentine fairies, who follow their families as they move around the world. Because the family doesn’t have a support system, Minerva had to step up and be a second mother for her sisters while their mother works two jobs to make ends meet. Minerva wants to be the first Latina president of the United States. She’s determined and focused. She doesn’t believe in magic, but she wants to, oh how she wants to believe the fairies take care of her and her sisters while their mom is away! In the story, Minerva learns how to be a child again (kind of like a reverse Peter Pan) because magic is really all around us!

What advice would you give your younger self about writing?   Don’t pay attention to the inner editor!

If I could send my younger self a message, it would be: follow you heart, write what you want to write, and trust your voice. I wrote my first story in the first grade, and looking for validation, I showed it to my uncle. Instead of the praise I expected, he told me a few things that didn’t work in his expert opinion. After that, I started writing with my inner editor reading over my shoulder, until I got to a point in which I wasn’t sure anyone would ever be interested in what I wanted to say. Don’t pay attention to the inner editor! Get the story out of your heart! There’s a lot of time to fix things during revision. Revision is your friend.

I also would say a big THANK YOU. My younger self was a little like Minerva: determined and persistent. I taught myself English at a young age, and I’m forever grateful to little Yamile for all the hard work. It’s paying off!

What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?

I wrote my first full novel during NaNoWriMo back in 2008. My goal was to win NaNo by writing 50,000 words in 24 days (I found out about National Novel Writing Month on November 6th, but I still reached my goal). Since then, I’ve learned to pour out my first draft on the page and then go back and revise. This has resulted in a lot of drafts that will never see the light of day, but it has also produced some powerful writing that came straight from my heart (like the NaNo in 2013, a few days after my mother passed away). I write every day, or at least, most days. Sometimes my ideas are born of a single word, or a person I see who makes me wonder about their lives. Sometimes the ideas simmer in my head and my heart for years, until I feel I ready to tell them. Right now I’m working on a story that was born about twelve years ago when I lived in Puerto Rico. I’ve learned that even if something I write isn’t ready for me to share with my critique group, it’s still an important piece of writing because it taught me what doesn’t work or what needs more depth. I love to do writing exercises from craft books like Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway et al, Steering the Craft, by Ursula Le Guin, and The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson. Even if not all of these exercises end up in my manuscript, I often find wonderful information about my characters (or myself) that helps me tell the story better.

Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?

First of all, I feel that people should read whatever they want to read without fear of mocking or teasing of any kind. I naturally gravitate toward books by authors of color because they tell stories that mirror my experience as a person of color too. As a child, I never remembered who wrote what. I loved Little Women and Heidi because I identified with Jo March and Heidi who lived with her grandpa. But as an adult and a writer, I want to learn from the masters how to tell the stories that inhabit my mind and my heart, and there’s no better way than to read their stories to know how to tell mine.

What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript? 

I have hundreds of favorite books, but in middle grade I love everything by Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia is my favorite), Gary D. Schmidt (Okay for Now), Shannon Hale (Princess Academy), Kelly Barnhill (The Witch’s Boy. Wow!), and Erin Bow (Pain Kate). I also love everything by Meg Medina (especially The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) and Julia Alvarez (the Tia Lola books are the best!), and of course Pam Muñoz Ryan (Esperanza Rising). But my favorite stories ever are fairy tales, from all over the world, and of course Peter Pan has a special place in my heart.

Axie Oh thumbnailAxie Oh, “The Amaterasu Project”

Tell us a little about the main character in your novel.

His name is Lee Jaewon (Koreans put their surnames before their given names). He’s 18-years-old. He’s a quiet, keep under the radar type of person, with a strong sense of loyalty and a distrust of hope. At the start of the book, he lives alone in a dingy apartment in Old Seoul (my future Korea is split between Old and Neo Seoul). He hasn’t spoken to his best friend in three years. He’s rejecting these mysterious envelopes full of cash, sent from his mother who he hasn’t seen since he was eight. I see him as a character with a very tired soul who longs to forgive everyone who’s hurt him in his life, yet doesn’t know how to begin, or even if it matters.

 Physically, he looks like Lee Jong Suk. If you don’t know who that is, well, you’re in for a treat: Google him! (He’s a South Korean actor).

What advice would you give your younger self about writing?

You are fabulous! Keep on doing what you’re doing! Okay, maybe that’s not advice. More like ego-boosting. But every teenager needs a good ego-boost now and then, especially when writing, which is literally pouring your soul onto a page.

What is your writing process? What techniques do you use to get past writer’s block?

My writing process is pretty linear. I outline heavily, with scene-setting and dialogue for some significant scenes that will appear in the novel. I do character and worldbuilding charts. I compile pictures/illustrations of places and people who inhabit the spirit of my characters. Then I go through the whole book, from the first chapter to the last, with heavy editing in between. Then of course more revisions. The last two steps are printing the whole book out and attacking it with a bunch of colorful pens. The more colors the better! And then reading the whole book out loud while recording it. THEN I send it to my beta readers and critique partners – this is the point where I can’t make it any better by myself. As for writer’s block, when I come up

As for writer’s block, when I come up against that particular wall, I always start with the spark that made me want to write the book in the first place. The characters. I go back to the sketches I wrote of the characters and add onto them, delving deeper into their backgrounds and psyches. And/or I’ll re-read scenes I’ve already written that contain the “voice” of the characters, which makes me fall in love with the characters all over again. It’s all about making myself believe in the characters so that I want to finish their story.

Recently, there’s been quite a lot of debate over the idea of readers who choose to take a break from books written by a certain group, such as white male authors. What’s your take on this?

The idea behind this, I believe – at least for avoiding white, male authors specifically – is that by avoiding this group, you will therefore seek out stories written by women, people of color or LGBT writers, enriching your perspective of the world, which is always a viable and recommended thing to do.

As a reader, I seek out stories with strong coming-of-age themes and themes of love, in all its shapes and forms. When I read, it’s about seeking these types of books in an inclusive setting.

What are your favorite books or writers in the same genre as your manuscript, and why?

Tough one because I haven’t read enough YA Sci-Fi to have particular favorites. I watch a lot of Sci-Fi dramas and anime (which heavily influenced my novel), but I don’t particularly have favorite books that are in the YA Sci-Fi genre. For example, one of my favorite anime/manga franchises is the Gundam franchise, which deals with futuristic societies, technological advancements and very human themes of love, hate, honor and betrayal.

Recently, I read the first two books in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series, which were pretty awesome – jam-packed with action and strong themes of what it means to be a hero.

On the opposite end of Sci-Fi, focusing more on character, I really love the quiet strength of Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars, a dystopic re-telling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, taking place on a futuristic Pacific Islands.

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