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1. Limited Edition T-shirt: Sometimes You Have To Be Your Own Hero and You Are Stronger Than You Know

If you’ve read my books or interviews about me, you’ll know that I write about strong-girl (and emotionally strong boy), and that I draw deeply on my own trauma and healing. I had to save myself over and over again until I was finally safe, and I had to draw on my own strength to survive. I believe we are often much stronger than we think we are, and sometimes we don’t know just how strong we are until we’re faced with painful situations where we have to draw on our own strength to cope.

STAINED comes out in paperback on May 11! To celebrate, I’m releasing these limited edition T-shirts and hoodies. One quote is on the front, and one on the back. They’re available for pre-order now.

cheryl-rainfield-tshirt-front

cheryl-rainfield-tshirt-back

You ARE strong. Remind yourself or let someone you love know you believe in them.

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2. Cartoon …. Leave AAP

कार्टून … आप छोडो झाडू आम आदमी पार्टी में बवंडर की स्थिति है लेकिन पार्टी के मुखिया अरविंद केजरीवाल दिल्ली से 2,140.9 किलोमीटर दूर बेंगलुरु में प्राकृतिक इलाज करवा रहे हैं। केजरीवाल पार्टी में मचे घमासान से बेफिक्र हैं। बेंगलुरु में केजरीवाल ने खुद को खबरों और राजनीति की दुनिया से दूर रखा है। यह … Continue reading Cartoon …. Leave AAP

The post Cartoon …. Leave AAP appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. INDIA”s DAUGHTER

कुछ दिनों पहले INDIA”s DAUGHTER देखी थी..पूरी तो नही देख पाई पर जितनी देखी उसमे निर्भया का दोस्त जोकि उसके साथ बस मे सवार था उसके बारे मे कुछ नही देखा. मन में विचार आया कि शायद डोक्यूमैंटरी के आखिरी मे उसका बाईट होगा.पर कल नेट पर सर्च करते हुए उसी Avanindra Pandey जोकि बस … Continue reading INDIA”s DAUGHTER

The post INDIA”s DAUGHTER appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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4. Article …. Drive

Drive …. कुछ देर पहले एक मोटरसाईकिल वाला अपनी बाईक को एक किनारे पर लगा कर मोबाईल पर बात कर रहा था. बहां से तीन लडकियां जा रही थी उसे देख कर मुंह पर हाथ रख कर हसंने लगी और बोलने लगी ये बदलने चले हैं समाज को … by chance मैं वही खडी थी.. … Continue reading Article …. Drive

The post Article …. Drive appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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5. How to Become a Traditionally Published Author

First off, I have a disclaimer. I wrote "TRADITIONALLY" up there because I currently have no idea how to be a self-published author. I'm sure someday I will know how to be a self-published author, but I am honestly:

1. Not organized enough to be a self-published author
2. Way too cheap to hire people to edit, copy edit, design, and market. Seriously. I am so cheap that I am having a hard time justifying conditioner even though my hair is currently a tangled mess. I also need a haircut. But again. I am cheap. It's kind of a problem. I grew up super poor so I always worry about running out of money. Being a writer for a living has not helped with this issue.

Sigh.

Back on Track: Also, I think a lot of the steps are similar because whether or not you are a tradionally published author or a self-published author you have to write a book. Right?

The Steps.

1. You Have to Want It


Seriously. You have to want to be published enough to devote time to it.
Talking about writing does not equal wanting it.
Writing words down somewhere?
That equals wanting it.

2. You Have to Write

Words have to make their way onto a computer or a notebook or something. You can't publish The Book of Awesome without writing The Book of Awesome.

3. You Have to Read

Reading is studying. We learn the craft by immersing ourselves in the tools of the craft. That means stories and sentences. Words are just symbols of images and objects and actions. It's cool to see how other authors use those symbols, arrange them, pick them out. That's how we learn! Repeat after me: Learning is fun.

4. Do Not Freak Out That You Suck

Everyone sucks. Everyone is brilliant. And almost everyone thinks that they suck and that they are brilliant and that they suck. It's like a cycle. You can't get hung up on how good The Book of Awesome is ESPECIALLY on the first draft. You just have to write and write and write until you get to the end of the first draft because that's where the fun starts.

5. Global Revision is Awesome

No. I am not lying. Revision really is awesome. It's like making a collage. You cut things up, add things in, smell some ModPodge and laquer that whole thing up into something beautiful, something with layer and meaning, something that makes sense. Revision is what saves us all from the suck that is our first draft, and if you think about it as putting a puzzle together or solving THE MYSTERY THAT IS YOUR PLOT or THE MYSTERY OF HOW TO MAKE EVERYONE NOT HATE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER, it's super fun.

Revision is not about hating yourself. Revision is about loving your story enough to step up and make it shine.

6. Line Edits

Okay. Line edits are where I pretend I'm one of those writers that are in movies. You know the kind, right? They worry over every word. They hook-up an IV line of scotch because they use the word "cringe" 87 times in a 1,000 word poem. That sort of thing. Line edits are like when you pretend to be an evil editor, red-lining words out, deleteing images, and all that stuff. It's kind of hot in a sadistic way.

7. Write a Query

This is the part where I used to cry. That's because the writing side of awesome has suddenly turned into the business side of getting noticed. I am a flamboyant person when out in the world, but I am sooooo super shy and soooo horrifying self-deprecating. Like I have a hard time admitting to the fact that I am a best-selling author because it seems braggy to me. I know. I have issues.

Anyway, I hate this part but it is super necessary to getting published.

A query is a letter to an agent or publisher telling them why he or she wants you and your book. It's like speed dating in 300 words or less and you don't get to wear a cute skirt or lick your lips or anything.

Queryshark is the best resource for this. It's Janet Reid's site. She's an agent. queryshark.blogspot.com

8. Hello? Hello? We Should Be a Couple

Now that you have a query letter, you have to start searching for an agent. An agent represents you and your book, helps you find a home for your book, negotiates contracts, rights and takes about 15% of your earnnings as his or her agent pay. You want an agent who loves your work, tolerates you, that you feel respected by, that communicates with you, that advocates for you.

Basically, you want your agent to be kick ass in a way that doesn't intimidate you but instead compliments you.

Remember to keep track of what agents you send stuff to! Also, do not stalk them.

Just like there are good cops and bad cops, good cheese and bad cheese, there are good agents and bad agents.
A nice place to sort through them is pred-ed.com, which is Preditors and Editors.

A good way to find them is agentquery.com

9. Shove Your Baby Out the Door

Now that you have:
1. A book
2. A query letter
3. Agents to send it to

You have to shove your book baby out into the big world. Do that.

Remember to:
1. Follow the agents' guidelines about how many pages of your book that they want with the query letter.
2. Not seem like a stalker, but seem like you know a little something about the agent's other clients, or likes.
3. Be detail oriented. Follow all those guidelines about submissions that the agent has posted out there. Really. This is not the time to be a quirky cupcake by writing YOU WANT ME AND YOU KNOW IT WE BELONG TOGETHER as teh subject line in your email query.

10. Wait Forever

You will probably have to wait forever to hear anything from your potential Best Agent in the World about the Book of Awesome. This is normal. This is annoying. Try not to stress. Realize that when you do stress it is normal to stress.

Write while you wait.

11. Accept What Happens

Sometimes your Book of Awesome will not find a Best Agent in the World. This does not mean you suck. Repeat after me: I do not suck.

It just means what then?

It means nothing, honestly. Publishing is weird and slow and subjective. A book nobody notices can become a international bestseller in a couple years.

So... if everyone says no, you must just keep writing. Query a little more, but in the meantime write another book. If you want to write as a career, you have to treat it as a career, and keep producing words, refining your craft, practicing your trade. If you are already working on other Books of Awesome, it makes it much easier to deal with Book One of Awesome being rejected.

If an agent asks for a FULL, this means she wants to see the whole entire Book One of Awesome. Send it. If they like it they will probably call you. Try to be cool about this. It will be hard.

If an agent asks for a full, calls, and then offers to represent you...

1. Do a happy dance.
2. Do the happy dance silently so the agent doesn't hear whooping noises.
3. Tell them you'd like a little time to think about it.
4. Think about it or at least pretend to.
5. Keep dancing.
6. Accept offer.
7. If you have queries out to other agents, send them a quick note saying you've accepted representation somewhere else and thank them for their time and consideration.
8. Dance more.
9. Wait while your agent send out Book of Awesome to publishers.
10. Try not to stress. This is called Being on Sub (submission) and it is super stressful.
11. Keep writing.
12. If you get an offer from a publisher - Boom! You are golden. Your agent will craft that offer with you and - Booyah. You are traditionally published.

Please remember to be nice throughout the whole process. It's stressful. Life is stressful, but try to be kind even when you are in the pits of rejection despair. It's super important.

Yay! Good luck!

I will try to write more blogs about writing instead of just posting pictures of my dogs and snow, but posting pictures of my dogs and snow is so much more fun. Less helpful though, I know. 

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6. Pay attention to the good in your life. You may have more than you realize.

pay-attention-good-20141220_124224-450Pay attention to the good in your life. You may have more than you realize.

It’s easy to pay attention to the painful moments, the hard things, the things that bring you down. They grab our attention, grip us tightly, tear at us. And sometimes, especially if we’ve had a lot of pain, abuse, or trauma in our lives, it can be hard to notice the good things that happen. The little things and the big things that all add up to help us appreciate being alive.

The hug from a friend. The friendly lick from a cat or dog. The smile from a stranger. Someone telling us they appreciate our work. Someone telling us we have a nice smile. Laughing with friends. Good food. Finding that book we want. Reading a good book. Time with friends.

I’m going to try to make an effort to focus more on the good in my life–and I hope you’ll join me.


This can be a hard time of year for many people, so I thought I’d post more positive messages for people again–selfies along with the messages, so people can see the person (and author) behind the message. I think it helps make it more personal and real.

I will try to post photos most days of December for you all. Let me know if you like this idea. :)

And if you like this post, if it speaks to you, I hope you’ll share it with others. You can see them on all www.CherylRainfield.com/blog

#cherylrainfield #YAwriter #YAlit #writer #iReadYA #YAsaves #booklover #bookworm #booknerdigan #quote #inspiration #authorquote #writerlife

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7. A Writer’s Dream from Venice, Italy

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I’m just waking up on Giudecca Island to a volley of sights and sounds – a deliverance from the cathartic, but brooding history of Rome, from where we just came. Here, in Venice, I imagine I’m in a living painting, and an artist, with his paintbrush in hand, captures me peeking out my window – just now at the Hilton Molino Stucky, his studio across the way.

Outside, I hear the echoing serenade of tolling church bells, which I can pinpoint with my own eyes, to various steeples throughout the city that traipse along the river. Splashing waves steadily rise and fall onto green and blue algae-covered seawalls, looming directly below me, while power boats dot the landscape like steed on an aqua-colored field, gliding in various directions through the water carrying townspeople and holiday tourists about the city. And, in the foggy haze, we’re graced with this omnipotent view – and it occurs to me, I must be Dickens’ modern Venice in his “Italian Dream.”


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8. If you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo (or any time) keep going!

writing-20141124_111949

If you’re writing a novel, you have something you want–or maybe need–to say. Something that’s important to you. Keep going! Keep writing, listening to your heart and letting the words flow from your heart to your fingertips, and out into your pen or your keyboard.

When you’re writing a first draft (or editing a second or fifth or tenth draft), there’s often a point about mid-way or three-quarters of the way through when you start to feel exhaustion from working so hard, or you may even start doubting your work. But don’t listen to that. You have something you need to say. Something that will matter to other people. So keep writing. Keep letting the words spill out onto the page. Someday, that novel may reach other people and change their lives for the better. Someday, your words may help others know that they’re not alone, or things can get better, or they may just help someone else escape from something painful in their life for a while and gain a little good feeling.

So keep going. Don’t stop now. You can do it!

Love from a fellow book lover and writer.

PS

This was my first year taking part in #NaNoWriMo (though I’ve written and published 6 books), and I LOVED it.

I love writing quickly. I always write first drafts of my books quickly; I think it keeps me firmly in my writing mode, where I’m deeply connected to my creativity, inner voice, and what I need to say, rather than my editor mode, where I’m looking at the language and content and picking it apart to make it stronger and better. I think first drafts are meant to be written quickly, so we stay in the hearts and minds of our characters and the writing. At least, that’s what works best for me.

So whether you normally write quickly or not, #NaNoWriMo may be the perfect time to jump into writing flat-out fast, getting all the words out on the page before the editor in your head chimes in. The perfect time to keep the words flowing forward.

Write what you want, what you need. Enjoy it! And if you reach your 50,000-word goal for #NaNoWriMo this year, take heart in seeing “winner” pop up after you validate your manuscript, or watching the video of other writers cheering and clapping you on. Writing can be such a solitary endeavor; I wish we always had “winner” pop up and a cheering crowd for every new book and every new draft we completed. But we can imagine our own cheerleaders, or let our friends know and celebrate with them.

Keep writing. Enjoy the process. You can do this!

And then take a well-deserved break. I know I am. (smiling)

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9. My Writing Process

I am participating in a themed blog hop with my publisher Helping Hands Press (myhelpinghandspress.com). The theme this month is, as the title suggests, my writing process. That is a very open-ended topic on which I probably have too much to say.
I am thinking where to start, doing the usual – stare out the window until the right word pops into my scattered brain. That’s it. That’s my writing process. I randomly wait until some thought stumbles through the blank slate of my mind and I hurriedly write it before it escapes.


Oh wait. That’s only a fraction of how I write. Sometimes, I actually have solid ideas, well-plotted with themes and even a little style. Maybe that’s my writing process? I compose a sturdy outline. There are plot points along the way, like the map of a family road trip with all the tourist traps circled in red. I know where the story starts and know where it ends. Along the journey, I make sure to visit the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or the live mermaids of Weeki Wachee. I do, of course, allow extra drive time for any serendipitous side trips.


The thing that occurs to me is that we writers all have our own process. We each have things that work best, our own traditions and superstitions even. We all have our own style. That is a good thing because every reader has their own style too. We will never run out of stories as long as we never run out of readers.
Now, if I can only add something of substance to this post. Some of the best advice I ever received on writing was to develop my Point of View. That doesn’t mean readers want to know my opinion on anything (probably more the opposite). What it means is that I had to decide who is telling the story and make that connection with the reader.  It does not mean to write in the first person tense. Even in third person, you have to have POV. You have to choose one character to tell the story. Show the world through that character’s eyes and reveal that character’s inner thoughts and desires. Then the reader only knows what the character knows, which can help build tension or create surprises. The reader can rise and fall with a character that way.


I could go on for a while about this, list countless examples of good and bad. I could cite specifics in my own books. I don’t want to bore anybody, so I’ll bring it to a close.
In summary, writing, for me, is a passion. We each live out that passion in our own way. I happen to love every minute of it.



Mark currently resides in Florida with his wife and four children. He has achieved some success as a Kindle Best Seller and having one of his short stories selected as a winner in the Florida Writer’s Association Short Story Collection.
Growing up in Kansas, Mark graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences and received his Bachelor’s in Film from the University of Kansas.
Mark has written numerous novels, screenplays, short stories and digital series. He has geared his young adult fantasy series, The Empyrical Tales, for the classroom and explored his spirituality, writing both with his father and daughter. Inspirational stories with positive messages are his goal with everything he writes.

Find me on Facebook and Twitter

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10. The Collective Experiences That Become a Drama

What would I do if I did not tell my stories? I might be “asleep” in life.  But even in sleep my stories dance in my mind. They wait. They hear my “voice.” That “voice” is a part of them. Where soul and chance meet, in their midst are cinematic images. They must be given an account in […]

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11. Need a boost in your writing or editing? Check out Holly Lisle’s books and courses.

If you’re looking for some good writing technique books or online courses, I highly recommend Holly Lisle’s books and courses. I have her Create a Character Clinic, Create a Plot Clinic, and How to Write Page-Turning Scenes, and I’m seriously looking at her How to Revise Your Novel online workshop. Her books and courses are easy to understand and relate to, written in a conversational, approachable style, and full of useful information with an understanding of psychology and emotional depth and layers. She has a fresh way of presenting material, and it’s based on her years of experience writing and editing fiction (she has more than 23 novels published). I think I can always learn to make my writing better, deeper, more powerful…so I’m glad when I find more that helps my work. I hope these’ll help you, too!

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12. Writer, Wrestler, Stutterer, Spy: Finding Your Voice as a Writer

Megan McDonald, author of that beloved Judy Moody series and more, shares with us some stories of her life and career.

Megan tells us about growing up the youngest of five sisters and gives a delightful anecdote concerning one her favorite books growing up, a wrestler and rabies (and for those of you not here you can read the story IF you have a Horn Book subscription and get the awesome issue that's the recent HARRIET THE SPY anniversary/tribute issue! Or borrow it online...)

It's Harriet that started Megan on her path to being a writer and finding her own voice at the ripe old age of eight. But then she lost that voice for a while...

Read the Horn Book link before you look at the image below, which Martha Brockenbrough found and is making me include, the wrestler Bruno Sanmartino.



After some traumatic college writing courses and lots of self doubt, Megan began finding her own voice again, which happened to be that of eight-year-old Megan. Megan shares a Jung quote with us: No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you listen to your own voice, unknown friends will come and seek you.

And that's when she started finding those characters like Judy and Stink and Amanda Frankenstien.

What it's like to work with editor Mary Lee Donovan: "With every book she helps me to see the true story in that mess of first drafts... and second...  and third drafts. She helps me see through the fog to the story in my heart.



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13. New Website Address for Danette Haworth!

Hello all!

Somehow, my dot com domain name got swiped a few weeks ago. I'm trying to get the dot com address back, but now Danette Haworth is dot net website!

Yay! I'm back online!

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14. Website Down, The Mouse, and School Visits

Hello all! It's another dreary day here in the Sunshine State. I like to tell people we have only two seasons: hot, and hot and rainy. Do not visit THE MOUSE in summer! You'll likely be drenched to the bone, then frozen by the AC. (That's when they swap you out for an aminatron, ala Stepford Wives). And when it's not raining, the heat and the humidity will press you right down to a smear on the concrete, which The Mouse's minions will wipe up and dispose of before anyone notices you're missing.

Now to the subject at hand: My website is down. This is a problem for me because I wanted to update my school visit schedule. Because I don't know how soon the site will be back up, I wanted to let you know I have begun to book visits for next school year. Twenty-minute Skype visits are free to groups who've read my work. If you'd like me to visit in person, I have a variety of presentations and I also provide writing workshops for students who want to polish or publish their work.

If you're interested in having me visit, send me a message! My email address is dhaworthbooks at yahoo dot com.

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15. I am now on Wattpad…

with the first chapters of SCARS, STAINED, and HUNTED up for you to read. Also some poems.

http://www.wattpad.com/user/CherylRainfield

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16. Comic: Starving Writer, Sort Of

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17. Comic: Death and the Writer

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18. Interview With Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Calvin Innes

Its Author Interview Thursday! Woohoo! Ladies and Gentlemen I’d like to let you in on a secret.Calvin Innes I’ve been trying for the last 5 months to get today’s featured guest in the hot seat. I met him at the London Book Fair in April and have had the privilege to have him critique my work and he’s offered useful advice to help improve my writing and publishing efforts. He’s worked with the best of the best and founded a successful publishing company in the North of England. Do you remember my interviews with Stuart Reid and Beth Dexter-Smith? Well, they’re successful authors at his publishing firm. Books published by his company, My Little Big Town can be found in the big bookstores in the UK and could soon be coming to a bookstore near you. He has a lot to share with us today, so without further ado, please join me in welcoming Calvin Innes.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the publishing world?

I’ve been an illustrator and designer for about twelve years, having worked for loads of companies all over the world including Cadbury’s, Nestle, Sony, RSPB, The Brownies, Girl Guides on all sorts of different projects. I’ve story-boarded TV commercials, I’ve worked on advertising for the Smurfs Movie and Slush Puppies, I’ve designed toys and games as well as illustrating books and comics. Basically if it’s drawing, I’ve probably done it at some point. It was working for other publishers that lead me to set up My Little Big Town. I became disheartened with some of he work I was getting (it was all a little sickly sweet for my taste) and wanted to set up a company that published fun, silly, quirky children’s books.

 

What can a reader expect when they get a book published by My Little Big Town?

My Little Big Town Books

We publish books that are written and illustrated with children in mind. Many publishers target the parents (they are the ones who actually buy the books after all) but My Little Big Town works hard to create books that children really WANT to read. They are often disgusting, scary, silly books. We like to take risks when it comes to our titles and pride ourselves on publishing fun books, with great authors behind them.

 

What is your first love: writing or Illustrating?

Illustrating. It’s hard to explain but for me illustration is just who I am. It’s what I’ve always done and would do it whether I was doing it for a living or not. Writing is kind of the same but if I absolutely HAD to choose one or the other it would be illustration.

 

Who has been an inspiration to you in your journey as a writer/illustrator and what do you love about their work?Calvin Innes Monster

The two biggest influences for me happen to be children’s literature’s greatest team. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. Roald Dahl is in my opinion the best there ever has been or ever will be. He just had a way of writing that worked perfectly for children’s books. He understood on a wonderful level how children think and see the world. Quentin Blake has the same talent with illustration. He draws how children think. His illustrations are free and loose and energetic and exciting. He doesn’t worry about making mistakes or getting everything precise, it’s more about how the illustration makes you feel. They’re always fun. As a duo they had something very special.

 

People talk a lot about writer’s block. Is there something similar in an illustrator’s world and what do you do to overcome it?

Yes, of course. I can sometimes stare at the drawing board for hours struggling to get something down on paper. When that does happen I tend to work on something else to just chill out and take my mind off it for a bit. I have quite an odd way of working where I usually have at least three or four illustrations on the go at any one time, side by side. These illustrations are usually vastly different. One might be a children’s book illustration while another might be quite a dark comic book illustration, another may be something quite technical. I have a very large desk/work space and have a drawing tablet and two drawing boards all side by side, allowing me to work in this way.

 

As a publisher, I imagine you must get a lot of manuscripts on your desk. What key elements make you stop and take notice in a manuscript?

It’s very hard to say. It has to be different and have something special, but exactly what that ‘special thing’ is… well, it’s not an exact science. I may like a general concept, or I may like a particular character, or even a style of writing. I’m always looking for that ‘something’ that gets my attention, but that something can often be very different things.

 

Can you take us behind the veil and explain the process from when you (or one of your authors) get an idea until it gets published and seats on a shelf in a local bookstore?

Calvin Innes with Beth Dexter-SmithIt’s a pretty long process… usually from us receiving the initial manuscript or story it’s about 12 to 18 months until it hits the shelves. In this time the book is edited, an illustrator is sought for the project and the illustration process begins. Marketing of the book begins a long time before it actually hits the shelves, often 6-8 months before. This is to allow time for the stores to stock the books, buyers to pre-order copies and for us to make sure as many retailers as possible have the book on their shelves (or websites). We make sure that the author and illustrator work closely together but the final decision on the style of illustrations is primarily based on the market and what we think will work for the book buyers. Once the book is edited, illustrated and ready we go ahead with an initial print-run, with numbers based heavily on pre-orders and potential sales. At the same time the book goes to print we are editing and producing the eBook versions across all formats as well as often producing interactive versions for tablet computers and phones.

 

How critical is marketing in the success of a book and what three marketing paths have proved the most successful for you?

Marketing is everything. You can produce the best book in the world but unless people know about it, they’re not going to buy it. The key to successfully marketing a book is to target ALL areas, from social media, to print advertising and real world promotion. In the past we have had great success with real world marketing including a launch campaign involving hundreds of pupils and dozens of schools across the UK through to photo-shoots with the New Zealand cricket team. The key is to spot these opportunities to gain exposure in interesting and original ways, then to pounce on them and make the most of those opportunities to gain newspaper/magazine space or radio and TV time. In the past we have successfully worked with thousands of pupils, hundreds of schools, gained national, regional and local newspaper, TV and radio coverage and we continue to promote our books in new and exciting ways. This year will see us launching books at haunted houses, we will be taking part in the World Porridge Championship and organizing a series of writing and illustration workshops across the UK and Scotland. It’s this variety and innovative way of marketing our books that has helped us establish ourselves in the industry.

 

What mistakes do authors make when they approach publishers that you have noticed?Calvin Innes Pink Elephant

There are a number of sure fire ways to get a submission rejected as far as I’m concerned. Firstly, not reading the terms and conditions. We have very clear guidelines on our website for authors wanting to submit manuscripts to us. There are a number of points, but they are very simple to follow. Not following them is the first mistake. (it’s always amazing how many people don’t follow the guidelines).

Sending in incomplete manuscripts or ‘ideas’ is never a good tactic. A good idea is pretty easy to come across. A good idea doesn’t however make a good author. We want to see that an author can actually write and develop their good ideas into great stories. Possibly the most frustrating submission we’ve ever received was an envelope stuffed with glitter. The person submitting the manuscript obviously thought that the idea would make them stand out, and it did… just not in a good way. After spending half an hour cleaning up glitter from the office floor we weren’t exactly in the best mood to read the new submission.

 

How do you handle bad reviews to any of your work?

If the bad reviews come in the ‘testing phase’, and it’s suitable to do so, we edit the books. All of our books are tested on children before publication to make sure they work, and appeal to as many people as possible. It’s how we built the business and it’s a key part of how we work. We genuinely value what children think of our books, so we listen and take action. Some bad reviews can always be expected after publication and to a certain extent it has to be taken on the chin. Not everyone is going to like all of our books all of the time, especially with the sorts of books that we publish. We like to take risks and publish books that other publishers may not always take on.Gorgeous George

If a number of bad reviews come in for a particular book then as a group we would sit down and figure out why, and where these reviews came from and what changes would need to be made to future publications to ensure the books were seen in a better light. We are a tight knit company who are passionate about producing high quality children’s books, and as such we take reviews very seriously. They are the best way to see what the public think of our titles, and are directly related to sales so we always take feedback seriously.

 

What were your favorite books growing up?

Anything by Roald Dahl. He was a genius when it came to children’s books. I have always been a huge horror and science fiction fan. The Riverworld series by Phillip Jose Falmer is my all time favorite set of science fiction stories. I have always loved anything scary too, from classics like Frankenstein and Dracula, to The Shining and Pet Cemetery.

 

What has been the craziest request/question a child has asked you at a school event?Calvin with Children

I always end my sessions with a question and answer session. Questions are always entertaining (and often nothing to do with books). Where did I get my trainers from? How tall am I? What’s my favorite food? are all questions I’ve had from kids. I often sketch whatever children want me to sketch too… just a quick scribble of whatever is shouted out. The strangest has to be a monster that had the head of a dragon, legs of a horse, ears of a lion, fifteen eyes, a snakes tongue and wings of a pigeon… that was a fun one to draw.

 

What is your favorite Disney/Pixar Movie and why?

I love loads of Disney/Pixar films and watch them again and again. For me though it has to be, Up! simply because it’s one of the best all round films ever made. From a storytelling point of view the first ten minutes of the film were amongst the best cinematic sequences, animated or otherwise, ever put together. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen that film.

 

Most of the visitors to this blog live outside the United Kingdom. Where should they go or do when they visit the North of England where you’re based?

They should visit us at our new offices and stop by for a coffee on the balcony. We have a fantastic space complete with a ‘chill out zone’ (bean bags, computer games, TV and snacks). We’re also in the process of setting up an ‘art cafe’ and an art gallery on the bottom floor our building!

 

What can we expect from Calvin Innes and My Little Big Town in the next 12 months?The Bug Eating Man

Lots of fantastic new books, both printed and digital. We have ten new printed titles and over twenty digital titles being released over the next twelve months. We are also launching two new imprints, ‘Room 110′ which will be publishing comic books and graphic novels and ‘Last Door On the Left’ which will be publishing books for teens and adults, including our first non-fiction books. MLBT is also venturing into TV with My Little Big TV and Radio with the My Little Big Radio Show. It’s going to be a busy year.

 

What advice do you have for authors who have received multiple rejections from publishers and are at the brink of giving up?

Just keep going, it’s as simple as that. Even the best authors get rejected (often a lot). If you’re getting the same feedback or advice on how to improve again and again, don’t be too proud to take it. Even great writers improve over time and sometimes need to take a step back to assess themselves and their writing. Get feedback from people who aren’t related to you. Just because your kid’s like your book doesn’t mean other people will.

 

Wow! There’s just so much good stuff you’ve shared with us today Calvin, I’ll definitely be coming back to read this interview. I love what you said about Marketing being everything. While it’s a bit frustrating to see average or poorly written books sitting at the top of best-seller lists, the sad reality is that if a writer/publisher does not grasp the importance of marketing their books, then they could very well admit they’re pursuing a hobby and not a professional endeavor. You can discover the latest news and giveaways at Calvin’s firm by following them on Twitter at the link below

 

You can also discover all the books in his company’s catalog and all the wonderful authors at My Little Big Town by visiting the link below

 

1 Comments on Interview With Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Calvin Innes, last added: 9/15/2013
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19. Health Care for Writers

If you are self-employed, you are worried about health care. I know: I had surgery in July and it took six months to get all the bills cleared up.

The new Affordable Heatlth Care plan goes into effect in 2014, with enrollment beginning October, 2013, when self-employed persons can sign up for one of a tier of products. The Small Business Administration has just started a new website and blog about health care to help educate the public. Here are some places to start:


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20. What Next? 15 Questions to Help you Decide Your Next Writing Project



I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reader Copy of Chip and Dan Heath’s new book, DECISIVE: How to make better choices in Life and Work. You may know the Heath brothers from their previous books, SWITCH: How to Change Things When Change is Hard and MADE TO STICK: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. They are adept at taking massive amounts of research on topics with widespread appeal and distilling the information into something that can be used in daily life. In DECISIVE, they discuss decision-making and make it practical. Here, I have applied many of their ideas in a simple checklist: What manuscript should you write next?

Courtesy of the Heath Brothers amazing insights into the applicability of much research, these are practical ideas to help you make the best decision possible. If you want to know more, DECISIVE will be released on March 26, available now for pre-order.



You just wrote, “The End.” And you hit the SEND button. The manuscript is off to the editor.

What now? How do you decide on the next project?

Build a Career

An agent once asked this question: What is the next logical book for you in terms of building an audience that will support your career?

Do you see the criteria embedded in that question:

  • Build an audience
  • Support your career

Is that what you want? A career with a growing audience? Then, you probably need to stick with the genre of your first book, and turn out a second book that will appeal to the same audience. If you wrote a mystery and it sold well, write another mystery—different, better, but definitely appealing to the same audience.

But it may not be that easy. Maybe several genres interest you and you want to try something new. But that might risk your career, because you aren’t building a consistent following. How do you sort out all your ideas and commit to the next project? Here are 15 questions to ask yourself.

15 What Next Questions

  1. Don’t Get Trapped in Too Small a Framework. The decision is rarely one like this: Should I do Mss A or not? Instead, try to look at a range of options. Here are ideas that I have, A, B, C, D, and E. Which of these would appeal to the same audience as my first success?
  2. What else you could write in the same time period. If it takes you six months to write a novel, what else could you get written in that time period? What project deserves that time commitment?
  3. What if you couldn’t write the Mss you had planned to write next? What would you write then? For example, if you were planning a picture book biography of Shirley Temple and one was just published to great acclaim, maybe it’s not the best time for this story. So, pretend something similar just happened to your pet idea. What would you do then?

  4. Could you write the openings of several different manuscripts and THEN decide which one excites you the most? Multi-tracking sometimes allows the cream to rise.
  5. Look at the career of someone you admire and want to emulate. At a similar point in his/her career what was the next book published? Or, look at a musician or actor/actress and find parallels in their careers. For example, Sean Connery could have gotten stuck in the 007 role and never found his way to new projects. Instead, he has regularly “reinvented” himself by taking risky roles that led to an expanded career. Is it time for you to write that “breakout” book you’ve been planning?


  • Looking over all the possible manuscripts and ideas—what has you the most excited? Which one are you scared to write—and therefore, will push you to write your best?
  • Ask the opposite question: if you have been writing mysteries, what if your next novel was a romance? Is this the time to make a switch or not? Can you carry any of your audience over to a new genre? Is there a way to work more romance into your next mystery, so the transition isn’t total, but pulls in readers from both genres?
  • Could you test new waters with a short story or a short ebook? Is there a way to TRY something new, without doing damage to your current audience? Once you decide on a new mss, you’ll have to commit wholeheartedly to write the best possible. But maybe you can take a couple weeks and try out a new market.
  • Are you too attached to the status-quo? Your publisher wants more and more of this one type story and you get paid. But somehow, you feel your passions are lessened. At what point do you need to shake up the status quo?
  • What would you tell your best writer friend to do in this situation?
  • What are you passionate about? What are your core values? Does Mss A or B or C or D allow you to express that passion better?
  • If you write this book and a year from now it fails(either not published or published to poor reviews), can you think why it would have failed to reach your audience?
  • If you write this book and it succeeds, can you discuss why it would make your readers excited about your work?
  • Do you set goals for your books? If this mystery doesn’t sell 10,000 copies, then I’ll try a different genre for my next project. Would a goal like that help you make the next career move?
  • Are there deadlines for this project, or can you create a deadline? You’ll devote six months to this fantasy story, and then, you must write your next mystery.
  • You have a choice to make and the choice will affect your future and your career as a writer. What will you write next? There are no right or wrong answers, only answers that please you. You’re in control. I know–that’s scary! But that’s another post.

    Hey, Chip and Dan–What will YOU write next?

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    21. Writer Britney Gullbrandsen





    Britney Gullbrandsen
    Writers Mirror: Welcome to Writers Mirror Britney Gullbrandsen!

    Britney: Thanks for having me! This is so fun!

    WM: Please tell us a little about Britney.

    Britney: Hmmm…this question always trips me up. What do I share?!
    · I’m 23 years old.
    · I have a two-and-a-half year old son.
    · I’m obsessed with Golden Spoon’s peanut butter cup fro yo (frozen yogurt.)
    · I’m a list maker. I have stacks and stacks of notebooks filled with all kinds of lists. To-do lists. Goals. Grocery lists. Lists of things I love. It’s kind of a problem.
    · I’m an only child.
    · I’m terrified of elevators. And I’ve been stuck in three of them.
    · I LOVE bright colors! They make me so happy! My last house had apple green walls, lime green walls, red walls, turquoise walls, bright orange walls, and a wall with bubblegum pink rectangles with orange in the middle. I know it sounds weird, but I promise it looked good!

    WM: Please tell us what you write.

    Britney: As a little girl, I wrote picture books. I’d write out the story (each line to a page), print them out, and illustrate them. In the fifth grade, I attempted a novel and got about halfway through before it was lost. I’m still devastated about that. When I got to junior high and high school, I started writing poetry and a few personal essays that I loved.
    Then came college. I majored in creative writing and spent time with poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, travel writing, and even took a course on writing the modern day fairy tale. I had so much fun!
    But somewhere along the way I learned that my passion was to write for children and young adults. I absolutely loved reading as a child and I want to help instill that love of reading in other children. My husband and I write picture books and middle grade together and I just started my first young adult novel on my own.

    WM: Where do you do most of your writing?

    Britney: On the couch or at the kitchen table. Boring, but it gets the job done!

    WM: Do you write on a lap top, a desk top, a tablet or long hand on notebook?

    Britney: A lap top! I can’t write longhand—my hand cramps up way too easily!

    WM: What inspires you to write?

    Britney: I gather most my inspiration from other art forms. In fact, most of my story ideas have stemmed from photographs, songs, and dances. A few years ago, a couple on So You Think You Can Dance performed the most powerful dance I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not even kidding. It made me cry. Immediately after the show I wrote a poem based on that dance.

    WM: What is your biggest distraction?

    Britney: My son. And my lists.

    WM: How do you handle it?

    Britney: I just make a schedule and try to stick to it. Some weeks are better than others, and obviously sometimes the distraction is necessary. If my son is sick, I’m not going to write that day. I’m going to cuddle with him on the couch. I do most of my writing once he’s in bed at night to try and limit the distractions.

    WM: What is your favorite writing food?

    Britney: I actually don’t eat while I write. Go ahead—call me crazy.

    WM: Why are you a writer?

    Britney: I’m a writer because I can’t stop writing. It’s a piece of me that I have to keep. It’s my way of trying to inspire others!

    WM: Where do you get your names for your characters?

    Britney: I love this question! I think a lot about my characters names. I brainstorm lists of names and narrow them down based on the personality of the character.
    For instance, in one of the books I wrote with my husband, we have four third grade boys. One is the super smart nerdy kid—Winston. Our big, strong kid is named Brock. Frankie is the smooth talker who always gets his way. And Loco is the crazy one. His name is actually Lawrence, but nobody calls him that. We just thought these names shared a piece of their personalities. Each name helps us picture the character.
    I’m also writing a young adult set in Denmark during World War II, so I did lots of research on common names in that time period and place. Then I chose the ones that seemed to fit my characters best.

    WM: Is there anything else you would like to share about your writing journey?

    Britney: I’ve been trying to immerse myself more in the writing community. I joined ANWA (American Night Writers Association) about a year-and-a-half ago and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) about six months ago. I’ve attended three writing conferences in the past year-and-a-half and plan to attend one or two more this year. I think it’s so important to make connections and continue your writing education and I’m trying to do both these things.

    WM: Do you have a website?

    Britney: Yes! Come visit me! I took a hiatus, and I’m just coming back. My blog is combined with my website.      http://www.britneygulbrandsen.com

    WM: Thank you sharing some of your writing journey with us Britney. Keep writing!

    Britney: Thank YOU! What fun questions!

    1 Comments on Writer Britney Gullbrandsen, last added: 4/8/2013
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    22. Guest Post - Lyra McKen Blog Tour

    Lyra McKen launches a new blog tour with us today. She has a little something to say about her chosen craft. It is a good message for any writer!

    But, I'm a Writer 


    I have made this the title of one of my boards on Pinterest, which is totally addictive by the way, because I think it adds up to the struggle writers have on a daily basis. That struggle is just believing in yourself.

    I have a mild panic attack when I upload to Amazon. I briefly think to myself that it isn’t good enough, it needs ten more beta reads, or a fourth edit, but I just have to let go…

    I have that struggle to believe in myself daily when I write a new chapter, or someone reads my book. I feel like I am just pretending to be good at writing and they are going to hate it. That nagging little voice in the back of my head says, "But, I'm a writer." This is when I snap out of it. I am a writer because I write. It's the same thing that happens when an editor sends me my work back covered in comments and corrections. "But, I'm a writer." I know they make it better, and my editors do an amazing job, but it still gives you that momentary what am I doing feeling.

    Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable is hard, your work is your baby and you are metaphorically feeding it to the wolves. I have learned a lot about the writing process over the year I have been working on it and I am beyond thrilled to have great friends and publishers that have helped me along the whole way.

    So when you find yourself knee deep in edits or someone gives you a two star review and you say, “But I’m a writer,” remember that we all struggle with the same feelings of inadequacy. You just have to suck it up and take out the ‘but.’ Declare it loud and believe in yourself.

    “I am a writer!”


    Lyra McKen (aka, Emily Walker) resides in the mountains of North Carolina. She lives on top of a mountain quite literally with her other half of nine years and her fur baby, Rebel. After a couple of jobs ghost writing for other successful authors she embarked on her own journey to write a novel.

    LYRA MCKEN’S LINKS:


    Zombified available on Kindle:



    0 Comments on Guest Post - Lyra McKen Blog Tour as of 3/15/2013 10:17:00 PM
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    23. Writing Links

    Why Older Readers Should Read Picture Books :: Literacy, Families and Learning

    8 Ways to Be a Happy Author :: Rachelle Gardner






    0 Comments on Writing Links as of 3/27/2013 8:59:00 AM
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    24. Poland: A Writer’s Vacation


    2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists

    Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg. See the Summer Lists Now!

    I just got home from ten days in Europe and I am ready to write. Why?
    Because getting out of my writing cave makes me bump up against people, against history, against emotional struggles.

    Belzec Death Camp Memorial

    Belzec Death Camp Memorial, Poland

    One place we visited is a memorial for the Belzec (Bee AWA zhek) Death Camp in eastern Poland, the first and worst of the Nazi camps which tried to exterminate Jews, gypsies and handicapped people. Over 600,000 people died here in 1941-1943. Then, the Germans flattened the camp and planted trees, in an attempt to hide what they had done.

    This is history and deep emotions rolled into one poignant visit. For example, there was only one survivor of the camp–only one!–and his stories are heartbreaking. One quote was from a young boy who had entered the gas chambers and was heard to cry out, “It’s dark, it’s dark. Mama, haven’t I been good?” His last words.

    For a writer to experience a sobering memorial something like this is to plumb the emotional depths to which a character might be forced to go.


    Barn Swallow Nest


    One place we stayed was a horse farm in eastern Poland and one morning I walked out with my camera to see what was around. Under the eaves of the horse barns were nest after nest of barn swallows. I like trying to find the small, hidden things to photograph, because as a writer, it reminds me to pay attention to the landscape, to notice the “telling details” that could make a story come alive.


    "Beware of Dog" in Polish

    I snapped this photo while we were stopped for a break along a country road. Writers need to remember that there are common emotions and thoughts across all languages and cultures, they are common to humanity. Fear of dogs is one of those things.


    Window in Zamosz, Poland


    And you can find beauty across the world, too, beauty in the common things of life such as a window.

    The trip was amazing: as a writer, the trip reminded me that stories are universal, that evoking emotions–both happy and sad–is universal, and that beauty is found in the common things of life.

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    25. Storing up LIFE to Write About Later


    START YOUR NOVEL

    Six Winning Steps Toward a Compelling Opening Line, Scene and Chapter
    Start Your Novel by Darcy Pattison
    • 29 Plot Templates
    • 2 Essential Writing Skills
    • 100 Examples of Opening Lines
    • 7 Weak Openings to Avoid
    • 4 Strong Openings to Use
    • 3 Assignments to Get Unstuck
    • 7 Problems to Resolve
    The Math adds up to one thing: a publishable manuscript. Download a sample chapter on your Kindle.

    This week, I have been Frederick. The classic children’s book talks about a mouse who watches all the other mice gather seeds and grains for the winter, storing them away for the cold days. Frederick is a gatherer, too, but he gathers the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feel of summer. When dreary days of winter come, Frederick is ready with poetry to remind the others that good days would come again.

    My daughter delivered her second son, my fourth grandchild this week, and I’ve concentrated on just living. On being a Frederick who soaks up life at it grandest and stores it in the depths of my heart to be brought out in a written form when needed.

    Here are some of the images of the week:

    Mr. GFR weighed in a 7 lbs, 20.5 inches.




    Big brother marched into the hospital and literally charmed the entire nursing staff. They were all hanging over the desk to get a look at his fedora and glasses.

    Mr. EIR stole the show from his little brother.



    And while the household slept, I took early morning walks, just rejoicing in the richness of our lives.

    Heron on the Lake on the day that GFR was just two days old.




    Sometimes, every once in a while, it’s good to be a Frederick! When is the last time you just lived and enjoyed the fullness of life?

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