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1. A Visit with Don Tate …


Author-illustrator Don Tate, who visited 7-Imp for breakfast back in 2011, is back today to talk about his upcoming picture books. As it turns out, I had an opportunity to do one of those so-called cover reveals for his book Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton of Chapel Hill, which will be on shelves from Peachtree in the Fall. (Yes, FALL! I know. Seems so far away.) And then it turned into an opportunity to ask him about the book (I read an early PDF version) and to show some spreads from it, and I’m all for that. Even better. To boot, Don is even sharing some images from another forthcoming book, written by Chris Barton, called The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans), which I believe will be on shelves in April. So you’ll see that below too.

Poet is the story of George Moses Horton, the first African American poet to be published in the South. Horton’s story is a remarkable one, and Don talks a bit below about why. Let’s get right to it, especially so that we can see more of his art.

I thank him for visiting.

Jules: Can you talk a bit about your research for this one?

Don: I had so much fun researching Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton. It was like putting together a puzzle. The first piece of the puzzle began with a simple “budget line,” as they say in the newspaper business: George Moses Horton was an enslaved poet in North Carolina, who became the first African American to be published in the South. Many poems protested slavery. In order to complete the puzzle, I did a lot of research.

“George loved words. …”
(Click to enlarge)

I began by reading Horton’s own autobiography. It’s a very short but detailed account of his life that was published as a prefix in his second book, The Poetical Works of George M. Horton. The book was published in 1845. The archaic language was tough to understand.

Here’s a sample (which is in the public domain):

…Nevertheless did I persevere with an indefatigable resolution, at the risk of success. But ah! the oppositions with which I contended are too tedious to relate, but not too formidable to surmount; and I verily believe that those obstacles had an auspicious tendency to waft me, as on pacific gales, above the storms of envy and the calumniating scourge of emulation, from which literary imagination often sinks beneath its dignity, and instruction languishes at the shrine of vanity. I reached the threatening heights of literature, and braved in a manner the clouds of disgust which reared in thunders under my feet. …


“Then George found an old spelling book. It was tattered and some pages were missing, but it was enough to get him started. …”
(Click to enlarge)

“… George was now a full-time writer, but he was still not a free man.”
(Click to enlarge)

So first I had some deciphering to do. One of my best resources came from a researcher at the University of North Carolina’s Wilson’s Special Collections Library. I can’t emphasize how much researchers there helped me to tell this story. I’d ask a question, and they’d return an abundance of information and sources — about Horton’s life; the clothes people wore; images of the old campus; literacy in slave communities. I had way more information than needed, but it gave me the confidence to tell an accurate story. I also consulted with the Chapel Hill Historical Society and the North Carolina Museum of History, and I studied the poetry from his three books: The Poetical Works, The Hope of Liberty, and Naked Genius.

(Click to enlarge)

“Now it was too dangerous for George to write poems that protested slavery.
But he didn’t stop writing altogether. …”

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Did you learn anything that surprised you?

Don: Yes. As mentioned in my Author’s Note, George Horton’s life and the things he accomplished as an enslaved man totally surprised me. Horton was likely the best paid poet of his Southern contemporaries, black or white. He made enough money from his poetry to pay his master for his time, which allowed him to live at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a full-time writer. He published two books while enslaved and delivered two commencement speeches to graduates. All of this happened a time when African-American literacy was discouraged, devalued, even outlawed. George’s life was full of surprises.

Don: “This was a sample image used to sell the dummy. I sketched the entire book roughly — but painted this one piece. In the end, I decided to go with a less polished-looking style. I felt the loose watercolor and line worked better.”
(Click to enlarge)

There was another thing that surprised me. Slavery was a peculiar institution, to say the least. But I was surprised to learn that many slave owners in North Carolina viewed their slaves as family members. Is that strange or what? Slaves were considered the property of their masters. They performed day-long, back-breaking work for no pay. Their diet was typically poor and their clothing inadequate. They could be whipped or even killed by their masters for any reason and with no recourse. Some way to treat a family member, huh?

Don: “Originally to be our title page image. But I realized much later that this image would not have been accurate. While George did work alongside his mother, singing songs in a tobacco field, he would have been a toddler. I scrapped this image.”
(Click to enlarge)

Don: “This was another title page sketch. Again, the tobacco field was not accurate.”
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: I like in your closing Author’s Note that you talk about why you wanted to do this book — that you once were adamant about focusing on “contemporary stories relevant to young readers today,” especially given that “whenever the topic of black history came up, it was always in relation to slavery, about how black people were once the property of white people ….” Yet you were moved to tell this story anyway. Can you talk a bit here about why?

Don: As a young child, I was often embarrassed when the topic of slavery came up at school. There were many reasons for that, but mainly it seemed that when it came to the history of African Americans, slavery was the only thing ever mentioned. White kids sometimes made jokes about slavery. Black kids insulted each other by saying mean things like: “You look like Kunta Kente,” who was a character from the movie Roots. If someone got called Kunta, a fight was on! That’s sad when you consider what Kunta Kente went through in his lifetime. He was actually a hero.

Don: “This was the original opening illustration for the book. However, I questioned the race of the church congregation. Would George have worshipped with an all-black congregation? Or would he have worshiped together with the whites, but separate? Both scenarios could have been possible; we just don’t know. One of my sources, a curator at the Historic Hope Plantation in North Carolina. advised going with the all-black congregation. North Carolina had one of the largest free black populations in the colonies. It was more likely that he was inspired at church services
while hearing a free black preacher read the Bible.”

(Click to enlarge)

Because of those negative childhood memories, when I first got into the publishing industry, I promised myself that I would not illustrate stories about slavery, that I’d focus on telling other stories of my people. So what changed all of that? It was a journey.

I’m a dad and husband. I’m a provider. First and foremost, it’s my job to earn a living for my family. If I was going to become a published author, I figured that writing stories about apples didn’t make sense if oranges were in higher demand. Know what I mean? So for my first book, I wrote a story about a former slave who became a famed folk artist. I could have written a story about a contemporary African American child who . . . I don’t know, enjoys skateboarding and playing basketball. Which one do you think would have sold quicker?

Don: “This was one of my favorite images from my original book dummy. It portrays a couple reading one of George Horton’s love poems. We decided to nix this one,
opting to show George reciting a poem while a student wrote it out.”

(Click to enlarge)

But here’s the thing: When I wrote that first book, It Jes’ Happened [art here at 7-Imp], and I studied the narratives of other enslaved African American people, I fell in love with their stories of resilience. Slavery, civil rights, “issue” books? Why not? My people have overcome mountainous obstacles. These are stories that everyone can appreciate and relate to — not only African American children. Inspired, I decided that I wanted to focus my career on telling these important stories.

Hope’s Gift (Penguin, 2012), written by Kelly Starling Lyons, was another in that journey for me. It’s the fictionalized story of an enslaved family. The book celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Next up is a story that I illustrated, written by Chris Barton. It is called The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans). It tells the story of a young man who in ten years went from teenage field hand to United States Congressman. The story is set during slavery and ends during Reconstruction, the era following the Civil War.

This book also presented many challenges. Reconstruction, which promised bright opportunities, was often a dangerous and deadly time for African Americans, who were basically reenslaved under new laws. Chris Barton dealt with the challenging subject matter honestly, and so did I. Some of the images in the book, like a KKK church-burning and others will generate a lot of discussion. Here are a few images from The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.

(Click to enlarge)

“… Fellow former slaves reveled in the promises of freedom –
family, faith, free labor, land, education.
John Roy wanted to be part of that.”

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

“… Back home, white terrorists burned black schools and black churches.
They armed themselves on Election Day to keep blacks away.
They even committed murder.”

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What’s next for you?

Don: A lot! Currently I’m illustrating a second book for Chris Barton called Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Stream of Ideas (Charlesbridge, 2016). It’s the story of the creator of the Super Soaker squirt gun. I’m also creating thumbnail sketches for a book written by Michael Mahin called . . . get ready for it: Stalebread Charlie and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band (Penguin, TBD). Whew! I thought I’d never be able to remember that name. But guess what? I can’t forget it! Next up is another book that I wrote that I’m not ready to talk about. It will be published by Charlesbridge and is out to my editor. I expect revision notes soon. I’m very excited about that project.

* * * * * * *

All images here are used by permission of Don Tate, and the illustrations from Poet are used by permission of Peachtree.

1 Comments on A Visit with Don Tate …, last added: 1/26/2015
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2. Interview and Giveaway: Karen Ranney, Author of In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams

 [Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Karen! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Karen Ranney] She never gave up.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Karen Ranney] In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams is the story of a woman who had always loved a man, but allowed her pride to get in the way. Once she returned home, older, wiser, and a little damaged, she realized that her past was a huge barrier to happiness. Lennox must never know what she’d done.


Lennox, on the other hand, had never stopped loving Glynis. The only problem now was to figure out who the woman who’d returned to Scotland really was: the girl he’d loved or a creature with secrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Karen Ranney] My books always start with the characters. I read something fascinating about Mississippi paddle wheelers being built in Scotland. That led to the story of an enterprising ship builder and Lennox popped into my mind fully formed. Immediately after he was born, Glynis scampered up, dressed in a soiled pinafore and scowling at me. She was only seven at the time and had already claimed Lennox as her own.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Karen Ranney] The sense of connection I felt. I knew what the next book would be, and the third. It’s as if they were jigsaw pieces all laid out in front of me. I love when that happens.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Karen Ranney] Being correct about shipbuilding and iron hulled ships. Jeepers, I had to read lots of books. Just like any research, you have to learn enough to know what to write, but not too much that it bores the reader. I dislike info dumps and try not to do it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Karen Ranney] My Way

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Karen Ranney] My sunglasses

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Karen Ranney] My coffee cup, my dog’s kibble egg, and my DayRunner.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Karen Ranney] This is going to sound odd, but no one. It’s taken years for me to feel comfy in my own skin. I don’t want to screw that up by being anyone else for a day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Karen Ranney] Burn for Me: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews

Black Water: a Jane Yellowrock Collection by Faith Hunter

How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by the New Skete Monks

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Karen Ranney] I’m reading or exercising or being Flash the Wonder Pooch’s companion in crime. I don’t feel right saying owner, because I’m sure he feels like he owns me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Karen Ranney] The Warm Fuzzies Newsletter: http://karenranney.com/subscribe-warm-fuzzies-newsletter/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterKarenRanney
Website: http://karenranney.com
Email: karen@karenranney.com

In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams
The MacIain Trilogy #1

By: Karen Ranney

Releasing January 27th, 2015

Avon Romance


New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s first novel in a brand-new series spins the intriguing story of a beautiful widow and a devilishly handsome shipbuilder…

Seven years have passed since Glynis MacIain made the foolish mistake of declaring her love to Lennox Cameron, only to have him stare at her dumbfounded. Heartbroken, she accepted the proposal of a diplomat and moved to America, where she played the role of a dutiful wife among Washington’s elite. Now a widow, Glynis is back in Scotland. Though Lennox can still unravel her with just one glance, Glynis is no longer the naïve girl Lennox knew and vows to resist him.

With the American Civil War raging, shipbuilder Lennox Cameron must complete a sleek new blockade runner for the Confederate Navy. He cannot afford any distractions, especially the one woman he’s always loved. Glynis’s cool demeanor tempts him to prove to her what a terrible mistake she made seven years ago.

As the war casts its long shadow across the ocean, will a secret from Glynis’s past destroy any chance for a future between the two star-crossed lovers?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/in-your-widest-scottish-dreams-by-karen.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22046610-in-your-wildest-scottish-dreams?from_search=true

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K53D3HE?tag=karerann-20

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-your-wildest-scottish-dreams-karen-ranney/1119565608?ean=9780062337474

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-your-wildest-scottish-dreams/id874639413?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/in-your-wild-scottish-dreams/yVJcJ_1O4EuKbDR8vd7wZQ

Author Info

Karen Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: https://www.facebook.com/WriterKarenRanney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterKarenRanney

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Karen_Ranney

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/68758.Karen_Ranney

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“You’ve come home,” Lennox said.

Glynis wanted to pull away but stood still. Precipitous gestures could be misunderstood. Better to allow him to hold her hand than cause a scene, especially when whispers swirled around them.

“It’s the MacIain girl, home after all these years.”

“Wasn’t there some scandal about her?” 

“Is this the first time she’s been seen in public?”  

Were people recalling those times she followed after Lennox as a child? At five years old she marked him as hers. As a young woman she was prepared to tell him she adored him.  

Foolish Glynis.  

He must not affect her. She wouldn’t allow it. She was no longer nineteen and desperately in love.  

“Why didn’t you come home sooner?” he asked now, still holding her hand. 

Instead of answering, she only smiled. The diplomatic ranks did not value honesty and so she became adroit at sidestepping it. 

He still smelled of wood and the ocean. Whenever anyone said the word “ship” or she tasted a brine filled breeze, he would appear in her memory with a twinkle in his eye.  

The hint of beard showing on this important occasion wasn’t due to any sloth on his part. He had to shave more than once a day to eliminate a shadow appearing on his cheeks and chin. 

“I think God wants me to have facial hair,” he said to her. “But God and I are going to disagree.” 

He was a foot taller than she was, dressed in black evening wear accentuating his shoulders and height. All his life he’d worked hard and it showed in the breadth of his chest and muscled legs. Something about him, though, hinted at power and always had. In a crowded room people sought him out the way they looked to leaders and confident men.   

Lennox Cameron resembled a prince and a devastating Highlander and he’d been the hero of most of her childish dreams. 

No longer, however. Too much had happened in the intervening years. 

The post Interview and Giveaway: Karen Ranney, Author of In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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3. Finding Spring with Carin Berger

In Finding Spring, a little bear named Maurice strikes off on his own in search of Spring, instead of hibernating. It is a story about seeking and about the magic of discovery. It is about those empowering childhood adventures that I remember so vividly – those moments of exploration without an adult supervising. It is also about the elusiveness of that which we seek and the happy accidental discoveries along the way.”

* * *

This morning over at Kirkus, I chat with author-illustrator Carin Berger about her new picture book, Finding Spring (out on shelves next week). Carin has actually already visited 7-Imp to talk about the book, over a year ago, but more on that next week — when she’ll share a bit of art from the book over here.

That Q&A at Kirkus will be here later this morning.

Until tomorrow …

* * * * * * *

Photo of Carin used with her permission.

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4. Sharon Draper on Stella by Starlight

sharon m. draper

In the January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, editor Martha Parravano talked to Sharon M. Draper about her new intermediate novel Stella by Starlight. Read the full review here.

Martha V. Parravano: Have you ever tried to write by starlight?

Sharon M. Draper: I’ve marveled at the moon — the phases intrigue me — but I’ve never written anything while outside on a starry night. But I’m sure that those images eventually evolved into words in a story. All natural events inspire me — freshly fallen snow and thunderstorms and the changing of leaves in the fall — but the starlight and the moon I left to Stella. They belong to her.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Sharon Draper on Stella by Starlight appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Graphic Novels for Kids: A Year in Review

I like comics.  I like ‘em a lot.  Always have, and as a librarian I’ve watched with interest the changing mores in my profession concerning their presence in a library setting.  Who has two thumbs and a copy of Seduction of the Innocent on her bedroom bookshelf?  This guy, that’s who!

So with the turn of the new year it seemed like a good idea to check in with the folks at First Second, Macmillan’s graphic novel wing, to see what they thought of comics in 2014/15.  Speaking with me today are Gina Gagliano (Associate Marketing and Publicity Manager) and Mark Siegel (Editorial Director).

Betsy Bird: Let’s talk about the state of graphic novels for kids today.  First off, how was First Second’s 2014 year?

Gina Gagliano: Really good!  We started off the year winning the LA Times Book Prize for Young Adults for Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints– the first time a graphic novel has ever won that award – and things have just gotten better from there, with wonderful books throughout the year.

Mark Siegel:  The First Second collection continues to grow in all three age categories, but this year our youngest readers are getting some new treats—a line of picture books. They’re closer to the conventional picture book format, but they’re from proven comics creators, and will often feature some of the styling of the graphic novel. And I’m very pleased to say, there are more coming. First off we presented Ben Hatke’s Julia’s House for Lost Creatures which was wonderfully received. And the first of the Anna Banana books, called Sleep Tight, Anna Banana—a delicious, hilarious, adorable new character who will bring laughs to bedtime reading. They’re by Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal, an exceptional mother and son team from France, where these are national bestsellers. The next one comes out this year, in 2015, and is called Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion. Try it on a child sometime, the howling laughter should speak for itself.

BB: Yes indeed.  Julia’s House for Lost Creatures appeared on NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list for 2014 as well.  Now First Second has been around since 2006.  What are some of the changes in the graphic novel industry that you’ve noticed since your debut?  How has First Second itself changed?

GG: I just spent a day visiting bookstores in the New York City area, and one of the changes I noticed is that graphic novels are everywhere!  When First Second started publishing books, most stores didn’t have a graphic novel section – or if they did, it would be for literary comics for adults.  Now, most stores also have a separate comics section specifically for kids.  That’s a pretty big change!

First Second has changed a lot in that time, too!  We’ve got different staff, different offices, and new books and authors every year.  But our core values of quality, thoughtfulness, and originality haven’t changed, and they’re things we hope will never change about :01.

BB: Considering how popular comics are with kids, why aren’t we seeing more graphic novel imprints at the other big publishers?  What’s the reluctance?

GG: Even though a dedicated graphic novel imprint may not be right for every publisher, it’s clear that all the major publishers are including graphic novels in their lists in some way.  And with First Second, Graphix, Abrams Comic Arts, and Toon, there are definitely some comics imprints making a name for themselves out there!

That said, graphic novels can really be a challenge to acquire, edit, print, market, and sell if you don’t have a staff that appreciates and understands the format.  It’s really wonderful to have Macmillan’s support behind us here!

BB: What does First Second have in store next year?

GG: Lots!  You’ll be seeing new books from George O’Connor, Andi Watson, Jay Hosler, Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, Gene Luen Yang, Ben Hatke, Maris Wicks, and many other awesome authors and illustrators.  We’re going to be publishing twenty-two graphic novels, which is our all-time high number so far.  It’s going to be a year filled with great stories and amazing artwork!

MS: Among our young titles, there are a great many goodies! The second of the Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents… is coming! And after Macbeth it’s now Romeo and Juliet. If instead of his Stratford-on-Avon troupe Shakespeare had had the cast of the Muppet Show to work with—you’d get something like this.

Then there’s another continuing series—our bestselling adventures of Claudette, by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado. Giants Beware! came first, and introduced us to a lovable, thrilling little world.  Dragons Beware! confirms that this is indeed a whole world young readers will never tire of returning to—and that Aguirre and Rosado are superb storytellers, creating something for the ages.

And wait there’s more! Gene Luen Yang has many a juicy surprise up his sleeve, and here’s the next: Secret Coders, with art by Mike Holmes! It’s a brand new fantasy series which also happens to teach computer coding… Something like a Hogwarts for coders!

Just to mention one more (and there’s still more, besides) is a very special offering from Ben Hatke: Little Robot. After the award-winning Zita Spacegirl trilogy and his Julia’s House for Lost Creatures picture book, Ben’s new work is in a new style, and it’s exciting and tender and magical, and continues to reveal an A-list author at the top of his game.

BB: So where do you see the future of comics and graphic novels going?

GG: I think the future of comics and graphic novels is more of them, everywhere!  With the positive reception that we’re seeing for the format, I know that lots of people are being inspired to sell them, teach them, read them, and even create them.  Soon the day will come where no one will have to ask, ‘A graphic novel?  What’s that?’


2 Comments on Graphic Novels for Kids: A Year in Review, last added: 1/21/2015
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6. Greg McLeod On ’365′ and Why He Animated One Second A Day For A Whole Year

Cartoon Brew speaks to director Greg McLeod about "365," a new short with an unusual concept.

0 Comments on Greg McLeod On ’365′ and Why He Animated One Second A Day For A Whole Year as of 1/18/2015 7:13:00 AM
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7. Fuse #8 TV: Victoria Jamieson!

I didn’t really plan it this way, but this week is basically just wall to wall videos of me yammering till the cows come home.  Fortunately, in the case of the latest episode of Fuse #8 TV I’m at least joined by the lovely and infinitely talented graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson.

In this, the latest of my video series, I decide to take you guys on a tour of a castle.  A castle chock FULL of children’s literature.  Don’t believe me?  Then prepare to be amazed.

After that I sit down with Ms. Jamieson and we discuss Roller Girl, an all new graphic novel that combines the fun and personal relationships you might find in a Raina Telgemeier comic with the fury and glory of a roller derby match.

Many thanks to the good people at Penguin Young Readers for letting me speak with Ms. Jamieson.  You can find her book Roller Girl on your shelves March 10th.  And you can find full episodes of Fuse #8 TV here.


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8. A Peek at Pat Cummings’ Process

Early thumbnail
(Click to enlarge)


Pat: “This is the scene when Beauty has returned home, overstayed her visit, and has
a bad dream about the Beast dying in the castle garden, because she’s broken her promise. The round symbol repeated on the base of her bed is her family motif that I wanted to suggest one of the west African Adinkra symbols.”

(Click to enlarge)


I’m following up today at 7-Imp with some art from H. Chuku Lee’s Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by Pat Cummings and published by Amistad/HarperCollins earlier in 2014. I talked with them both at Kirkus last week (here) about this book, and as always, I wanted to be sure to share some images from it. I thank Pat for sharing some final art, as well as for including some early thumbnails and other preliminary images (plus a bit of explanation as to what the images are).

Enjoy. …


Pat’s Initial Thumbnails for the Opening Spread
(Click each to enlarge):



Experimenting with Medium
(Click each to enlarge):


Pat: “Initially, I thought I’d do the art in black and white [pencil],
referencing the Cocteau film.” (See last week’s Q&A for an explanation.)

Pat: “I planned to use color in the way that
old photos were retouched with pastels.”

Pat: “Then I thought I’d try to do the book digitally.”

Final version in watercolor, gouache, and pencil


Some Final Spreads
(Click each to enlarge):


Pat: “The architecture of the Beast’s castle is based on buildings by the Dogon tribe in Mali, West Africa. I tried to add windows and elements that would suggest eyes or fangs but what I realllllly wanted to do was to make the handrail on the stairs a serpent. I had painted it that way, scales and all, and it got nixed as too scary. Much later, after I had finished the book, I saw an image in a book about Cocteau that showed a serpent-handled stairway I think he used in another movie.”

Pat: “This is the first time the Beast appears in full. He’s often depicted as a boar or a lion-like creature, but I wanted him to look more human — like the prince he was,
but after a run-in with a bad fairy.”

Pat: “On Beauty’s return to the castle, she can’t find the Beast, so she wanders from room to room, morning till evening, looking for him. One of the elements that resonated with me in the Cocteau film was the use of objects like candle sconces to show that Beauty was constantly surrounded by unseen attendants.
She was always being watched.”

* * * * * * *

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Copyright © 2014 by H. Chuku Lee. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Pat Cummings. Published by Amistad/HarperCollins, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Pat Cummings.

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9. How to Promote Your Work Like a Pro

Writer's Digest February 2015Now more than ever before, there are so many things we can do to promote our books, articles, stories, essays, services, and other creative works and skills—regardless of whether we’re self-published, traditionally published, or even not-yet-published. Bookstore and library events remain staples, of course, as do reviews, mentions and bylines in prominent media. But add to the mix blog tours, home pages, social networking sites, free promos, cheap promos, paid placements, Web ads, print ads, Goodreads giveaways, email lists, indie author coalitions, and the myriad services claiming to increase “discoverability,” and one thing becomes clear:

You can’t do them all.

And even if you could, who would want to? Just reading that list is enough to make even a savvy marketer’s head spin.

What you need is a strategy—one that’s developed through a solid understanding of what makes the best sense for you and your work, while allowing flexibility to bend with the changing winds.

I don’t need to tell you that self-promotion and platform building are important. In a reader survey we conducted in 2014, 61 percent of respondents listed “to learn how to promote myself and my work” as one of the primary reasons they read Writer’s Digest magazine, and 45 percent of readers requested even more coverage of the topic.

The February 2015 Writer’s Digest delivers. It’s our best and most up-to-date resource on how to promote your work—and it’s hot off the press and on newsstands now. Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at what’s inside.

Keys to a Successful Promotional Strategy

In creating this issue, first, we identified two key areas worth focusing on: your author website (essential for scribes of all stripes, from freelancer to novelist, from beginner to multi-published author) and Goodreads (a must for book authors in particular). We enlisted experts to deconstruct what you need to know to make the most of each medium. Digital media pro Jane Friedman’s “Your Author Website 101” and bestselling hybrid author Michael J. Sullivan’s “Get in Good With Goodreads” are comprehensive guides ripe for earmarking, highlighting, and referencing again and again. Whether you’re just starting to investigate how to promote a book or you are looking to create a Web presence that will be the foundation of your career, these articles are a great place to start.

Then, we put a call out to the writing community asking for “Success Stories in Self-Promotion”—and we got them, in droves. Learn through the real-life trial and error of writers whose promotional efforts ultimately yielded impressive sales, further opportunities, and, in some cases, even agents and book deals.

Best of all, as those authors share their secrets and tips, you’ll notice one key takeaway that comes up again and again:

If they can do it, so can you.

Doing What Works for You

That underscores the point that in working to improve both our craft and our career, it can help for us writers to stick together—to use one another as the valuable resources we are. The February issue also features a WD Interview with Garth Stein, best known for his runaway bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain and his latest novel, A Sudden Light. Stein had more great insights than we had space to print, so in our online exclusive outtakes from the interview, he talks about how he came to co-found the literacy outreach group Seattle7Writers, and why every writer should have a writing friend.

The February 2015 Writer’s Digest is already getting some great buzz on Twitter, Facebook and blogs from other writers who likely share in the same platform and promotional challenges that you do. If you’re looking for fresh tips on how to promote your work—plus the usual doses of writing inspiration and craft advice we put into every issue of WD—you won’t want to miss it!

Happy Writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine
Follow me on Twitter @jessicastrawser.

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10. Seven Questions Over Shots with Nick Bruel


Author-illustrator Nick Bruel is serious about breakfast. When I ask him what pretend-breakfast-of choice we’ll pretend-have over pretend-coffee this morning, his answer is detailed (right after my own breakfast-lovin’ heart):

Choice? Well, the finest breakfast dish I ever had was an oatmeal crème brulee from a hotel somewhere in Miami. It was dessert; it was breakfast; it was oatmeal; it was sugary; it was delicious, and I’ve never had anything like it since. But my typical breakfast of choice is some nice, fresh, untoasted sourdough bread and a quality olive oil for dipping. I especially like a mushroom-roasted garlic oil that comes from a shop in Tarrytown, NY.

Years ago when I traveled in China, my favorite breakfast dish was what Westerners here call congee, which is a hot rice porridge accompanied by at least half a dozen small dishes filled with assorted items, like egg or pickle or vegetables. You scoop out some of the hot rice mush into your bowl and add whatever you feel like from the smaller dishes. If you do it right, it can be delightful.

I have a lot to say about breakfast. I like breakfast.

Nick’s Bad Kitty, one of children’s literature’s most refreshingly naughty characters, appeared ten years ago—”Bruel’s little black star is perhaps the hammiest, most expressive feline ever captured in watercolors,” wrote Kirkus at the character’s debut—and it’s safe to say things haven’t been the same for Bruel since. Bad Kitty’s adventures began with a picture book, which then turned into a bestselling chapter book series.

But Nick started out with picture books and returns to them, in part, this year with the release this month of A Wonderful Year (our purple friend above comes from this story), already the recipient of a handful of positive reviews, some starred.

Nick talks about that new book, and much more below, and I thank him for visiting. As you’ll read, we may have a few shots with our coffee. (What? I’m up for just about anything.)

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Nick: Both. So there.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)

Nick: Bad Kitty – blah, blah, blah. But I will give particular shout out to Bad Kitty: Drawn To Trouble and the upcoming Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day.

Who Is Melvin Bubble?

Bob and Otto, written by my father, Robert O. Bruel.

Little Red Bird.

The upcoming A Wonderful Year –- possibly my best book.



Jules: What is your usual medium?

Nick: Pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, and stress.

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

[Pictured left: The first-ever painting of Bad Kitty.]

Nick: The different challenges between making books for these particular age ranges have less to do with the illustrations and more with the writing. When writing picture books, I have to pace my story to fit into those exact 32 or 40 page measurements. When writing the chapter books, I can just go hog wild and keep writing the story until I think it’s done.

As for the art — interestingly, the picture books and the chapter books both take me an equal amount of time to illustrate. The picture books are much shorter but are painted in color. The Bad Kitty chapter books may all be illustrated monochromatically, but some of those beasts are as much as 160 pages long, almost all of them fully illustrated.

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Nick (pictured right in first grade): Until recently, we lived in bucolic Tarrytown, NY. Now we live in equally bucolic Briarcliff Manor, NY. And if that name sounds at all familiar, then, yes, the name of the insane asylum where all the mayhem takes place in the second season of American Horror Story is “Briarcliff Manor.”

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Nick: I worked at a children’s bookstore in NYC called Books Of Wonder for over seven years. The store’s still there. During my evenings, I spent all my time creating and selling cartoons to various magazines and trade journals. About halfway through my tenure at BOW, I began to combine my interests and create my own kid book manuscripts. A regular customer named Jennie Dunham was curious about my work and eventually became my agent. A former store manager named Schuyler Hooke recommended me to a friend of his, who happened to be the great Neal Porter, who had just started the then fledgling Roaring Brook. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Nick’s first book, published in 2004

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Nick: www.nickbruel.com. But Bad Kitty herself has a wonderful site my publisher Macmillan created at www.badkittybooks.com.

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

Nick: Because my books target a pretty wide age range, I get to talk to lots of different age groups. For the most part, I like to conduct an exercise on how to come up with story ideas, which I cater to each grade level. For 5th graders, I like to conduct what I call a “cartooning symposium” that’s really an exercise on overcoming writer’s block. When the rare opportunity arises for me to speak to middle schoolers, I like to give a talk on criticism and censorship.

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Nick: I will have five brand new titles that I’ve both written and illustrated coming out in 2015. Crazy, right? In January, the newest Bad Kitty chapter books comes out, which will be Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day, the first chapter book to feature Puppy.

In May will be some new Bad Kitty stuff. First, a picture/chapter/activity book titled Bad Kitty Makes Comics, my instruction manual on how kids can make their own comics with Bad Kitty and Strange Kitty as their guides.

At the same time will come the first Bad Kitty early readers, Bad Kitty Does Not Like Dogs and Bad Kitty Does Not Like Candy. These two books may represent the opening salvo of what may become the next Bad Kitty series.

Lastly, on the same day as the release of Puppy’s Big Day will come my first non-Bad Kitty book in many years, A Wonderful Year. [Some spreads are pictured below.] This concept behind this book came to me when I woke up one morning contemplating what I might have done if I was asked to do my own Nutshell Library. The book will be four short stories in one picture book, each story set in one of the seasons of the year. Each story will be independent of each other, but none of them could really exist without the other three. When kids ask me what my favorite book may be, I always tell them that I don’t have a favorite. And I don’t. But having said that, A Wonderful Year may indeed be my best book.


(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank Nick again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?


: My process is pretty similar for all of my books, but I’ll describe it specific to how I make the chapter books.

First I take a shower. Seriously. Some of my best ideas come to me while hot water is pouring onto my head. The shower is just a great place for me to focus my thoughts.

Once inspiration has hit me and I’ve dried off, I like to put all of my early thoughts on paper. These really will be random thoughts, and they may not even take a linear shape in the form of a story.

Rough drawing: Creating a page for the upcoming Bad Kitty Goes To The Vet,
to be released in January 2016

(Click to enlarge)

Once I do have a story in mind, I will go to the computer and type out a detailed outline. The typical Bad Kitty chapter book outline is around 5-6 pages, single spaced. I like to describe outlines as being like maps for the story itself. Every now and then, you like to get into a car knowing exactly where you’re going and how to get there — point A to point B to point C … and so on. But every now and then you get sidetracked or lost or just feel like going off-road for a bit. That’s okay. Most maps delineate multiple routes.

Next, I go back to pen and paper. I have to. Because my books are so heavily illustrated and because I firmly believe that illustrations tell a story just as much as words do, I start writing and sketching at the same time. This 160-page mess of hand-drawn and hand-written pages doesn’t even represent the manuscript because …

Kitty, penciled and inked
(Click to enlarge)

Next I take all of those loose sketches and make clean, penciled illustrations on hot pressed Arches watercolor pages. I use the hot pressed stuff after Jerry Pinkney suggested it to me, because the smooth texture works will with pen and ink. (This will not be the first big name I drop. Everyone can drink their first shot now.)

Once everything has been penciled, I scan all of the pages individually. Once scanned, I create a computer design file where I combine all of my words and pictures for submission, because THIS file will be the manuscript, the book dummy.

It all sounds like a complex process, but I have it so streamlined now that it all goes pretty smoothly.

Final art
(Click to enlarge)

Once my editor has give me the green light to finish the artwork, I outline all of my penciled pages with good ol’ fashioned crow quill pen (a Gilliott 1290, to be specific) and ink. After the ink’s dried, I paint everything except for Kitty in watercolor paints. Kitty, I paint with gouache. That’s because gouache is solid and opaque. I could never get that deep, even [the] black in Kitty, by painting her with watercolors. Also, painting her with a different medium helps her to stand out from her background.

Dummy of cover for first Bad Kitty book

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


: If you’ve ever seen the last scene of Blair Witch Project, then you’ve seen my studio office. I gave up a long time ago trying to be tidy with my workspace. It’s just a filthy mess of papers and loose paint tubes and pens and cat hair. All I need is one can of spilled motor oil, and I think I could apply to the government to label my office as a superfund site.

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?


: One guy that few people remember, but everyone should, is Jack Kent. He was one of the rare breed of children’s book creators who also had his own syndicated comic strip in the newspapers for years.

I remember his work well from when I was a kid and admire him greatly to this day, even though almost none of his books remain in print. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon I believe is still in print. But everyone should look in their libraries for Joey and Silly Goose and Socks For Supper to see what smart, simply-executed pictures look like. I would love to see his work re-discovered.

I’m also a great admirer of my good friend Jules Feiffer. (Take another shot.) His multi-faceted career in cartooning and children’s books and theatre and novels is the kind of career I would most like to emulate.

I honestly think that Bark, George is the closest thing we have to a perfect picture book in this generation.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Nick: This is a bit of a problem for me, because I’ve met a lot of my heroes already — not because of what I do now, but because of what I used to do. Working as a bookseller, like I did, gave me the opportunity to meet tons of great talent. I had several discussions with Shel Silverstein, who was a regular customer. (Take a shot.) I spoke at great length once with Maurice Sendak (shot). Lane Smith lived, literally, next door to the store. I’ve already met pretty much everyone. (You know what to do.) But a few more people do come to mind.

I’m a huge fan of Cynthia Rylant. I think her Mr. Putter and Tabby series is the finest “I Can Read” series out there for kids. I’ve met the illustrator, Arthur Howard, several times and told him as much. I think she really has the knack for writing for children, as evidenced by all of her marvelous books and series. I would love to sit and have lunch with her someday.

I owe a great deal to Lois Ehlert. When I was first writing Bad Kitty, I was stumped as to what to use for “x” in alphabet of vegetables that’s in that book. My last resort was to “borrow” what Ehlert did for her sublime Eating The Alphabet, which was to use “xigua.” I could not have completed that first Bad Kitty book without that filling in that one letter. I’ve often said that if I ever get the opportunity to meet Lois Ehlert, I owe her a nice box of chocolates.


Lastly, I’m going to cheat and invoke a deceased artist: Dick King-Smith. I was given the lovely opportunity to illustrate five of his shorter novels a few years ago. I leaped on this opportunity, because I really wanted to share cover credits with him. And I very much wanted these books to be an opportunity to meet him. But, alas, he died shortly after the final book, Clever Duck, came out. I do regret not having made more of an effort to contact him, if only by mail.

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Nick: When I’m writing, I can’t listen to ANYTHING. When writing, I need to be inside something as close to a sensory deprivation tank as I can get. Even the smallest distraction can really throw me off my game.

But when I’m illustrating, anything goes. My recent habit, oddly enough, has been to watch—but, really, listen to—Netflix. I love British mysteries, because they’re paced slowly, and you can listen to them like you would a radio drama and not feel like you’re missing anything. Poirot has been great. My most recent obsession has been Midsomer Murders. Good stuff!

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Nick: Even people who know me personally don’t necessarily know that I am half Chinese. My father is Belgian (hence, “Bruel”), but my mother was born in Shanghai. I don’t think my Chinese upbringing comes through in my work much. But it’s certainly a part of my personal life.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Nick: “What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?”

Oh, wait. Never mind.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Nick: “Roofer,” as in someone who builds and repairs roofs. There is just no elegant way to say that word out loud.

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Nick: “Republican.”

Did I just get myself into trouble?

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Nick: Solitude. I love my little family. But I also really love being alone.

Jules: What turns you off?

Nick: Interruptions.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Nick: “#@%&*!” I’ve used this word-that’s-not-really-a-word in several of my books. You’d be amazed by how many angry emails, judgmental blog posts, and outraged Amazon reviews I’ve received because of this “word.” They only encourage me to use it again and again. And I have.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Nick: My daughter’s laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Nick: My daughter’s complaints.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Nick: My wife Carina always says I could have been an actor. That might have been fun.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Nick: I’ve never been a waiter. I honestly don’t think it’s a job I could physically sustain. I feel the same way about cab drivers.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Nick: “Hi, Nick. Feel like another go around?”


All images are used by permission of Nick Bruel.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, copyright © 2009 Matt Phelan.

3 Comments on Seven Questions Over Shots with Nick Bruel, last added: 1/13/2015
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11. An Interview with Old School Mystery Author Greg Messel

Longtime BookBuzzr subscriber – Greg Messel’s books have been gradually creating a niche for themselves and finding a dedicated audience on Amazon. A reviewer recently wrote about his Sam Slater mystery novel, “I’ve read all three Sam Slater novels, and just finished San Francisco Secrets. Again, it was full of great San Francisco locations. great ‘bad guys’ and I enjoyed the story.”

Greg’s recent interview with Stu Taylor on Radio America gives a good overview of his latest book – Shadows in the Fog

Hi Greg, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Would you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Greg Messel

I’ve spent most of my adult life interested in writing, including a career in the newspaper business. I won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist and have contributed articles to various magazines. I retired from the corporate world and now live in South Jordan, Utah. I’m a widower and have three adult children who are married and have 11 grandchildren.

I’ve written eight novels including my new one “Shadows In The Fog” which is the fifth in a series of mysteries set in 1959 San Francisco. “Fog City Strangler,” “San Francisco Secrets,” “Deadly Plunge” are sequels to the first book in the series “Last of the Seals.” There are three more novels: “Sunbreaks,” “Expiation” and “The Illusion of Certainty.”

I’m currently working on my ninth novel–the sixth in the mystery series–“Cable Car Mystery”–which will be published in late 2015.

Why did you become a writer?

I worked for my high school newspaper and fell in love with writing. I won a couple of writing contests and then I began writing sports and movie reviews for my local hometown newspaper in Concord, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. I supported myself in high school and college writing. I didn’t start serious novel writing until I had the time after my retirement.

How do you go about your writing process? Is there a method to the way you produce your books? Do you use an editor? Do you work with beta readers?

I begin working on the outline of the story and putting together chapters. I don’t necessarily work in order. If I have an idea for a chapter I go ahead and write it and then weave it into the finished product. I first want to get the story out of my head and onto the paper. I then will spent a few months polishing it and sometimes making major changes. I then turn it over to an editor and we usually make three detailed passes at the manuscript, not only refining the grammar and sentence structure but also making changes in the plot.

How do you design your book covers?

I work with my publishing coach who has someone on his team who designs my covers. I receive a lot of compliments about the book covers. I think they are vital to attracting readers. Book covers give a real strong first impression. I think some book covers, particularly for some self published authors, really screams “Amateur.”

Whats the best part about your job as an author?

The actual writing and creating is wonderful. While you are writing you escape into a different world. It’s thrilling. I love to talk to people who have read the books and enjoyed them.

Whats the most tedious part about your profession?

Marketing is hard. I think most authors will tell you that whether they are self published or working for a publishing house. It is extremely difficult to get noticed in the fast paced new world of eBooks and a shrinking number of book stores. I sometimes smile to myself at eBooks titled something like “How To Write a Best Seller.” Generally it involves several thousand people giving you a few dollars to read your eBook. That’s how “they” write a best seller but I’m not sure it helps you. I’ve noticed that there are very few ground breaking ideas to market. It comes down to execution and maximizing the exposures for your book. That’s something that BookBuzzr helps provide.

Your book-trailers invoke a sense of nostalgia. How do you get these book-trailers made?

I have a contractor, I work with who specializes in trailers. He has done all the trailers on the Sam Slater mystery series. I love his work.

What are some of the activities that you do to promote and market your book?

I do virtual book tours and try to be active on Goodreads. I also used Twitter and Facebook to promote my books. I’ve had some book signings which are always a thrill. I’m very proud of my web page. Check it out at gregmessel.com

How does BookBuzzr help you with your book promotion?

It increases my contact with readers and potential readers. I’ve received messages from all over the United States and some from Canada. The contests seem to generate a lot of activity.

Note: Most of Greg’s books are set in San Francisco in the 1950’s. Check out this quiz created by Greg using BookBuzzr’s quiz-builder and test your knowledge about the history of this city.

Sorry, your browser does not support iframes. Click here to continue

If you are looking for a page turning whodunnit mystery, you can get a review copy of most of Greg’s books including his popular first book in the Sam Slater series – Last of the Seals here – http://www.freado.com/auction/4130/6124/last-of-the-seals

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12. Interview and Giveaway: An Affair Downstairs by Sherri Browning

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Sherri!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Sherri Browning] Curious, Creative, Witty, Determined, Indulgent.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about An Affair Downstairs?

[Sherri Browning] In Edwardian England, times are changing. Women have a little more freedom to make their own choices, and Lady Alice Emerson doesn’t want to bow to convention and get married. She develops an attraction to her sister’s estate agent and decides that she should have an affair. But despite his dark past, Logan Winthrop is a man of honor and Alice has a difficult time convincing him to go along with her plan.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Sherri Browning] My favorite scene isn’t actually between Alice and Logan. It’s when Alice turns to her Aunt Agatha for advice after creating a bit of a scandal with Logan, and Agatha’s own romantic history comes up. Aunt Agatha is one of my favorite scene-stealing characters, and one of her former suitors might surprise a few readers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Sherri Browning] What I enjoyed most might have been expanding on the relationship between sisters Sophia and Alice, and examining what sisters mean to us, how they can build us up, and how we manage to live with them sometimes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Sherri Browning] My credit cards. I love a little impulsive shopping, especially at bookstores.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Sherri Browning] My zebra striped coffee mug, a framed picture of me with best friends Kathleen Givens and Julia London, and Poppie, a doll I’ve had since childhood. She’s the Pillsbury Doughboy’s girlfriend and was a character in commercials with him back in the 70s.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Sherri Browning] When I write, I don’t snack. When I edit, I snack like a fiend. I love gummy bears and jelly beans, or carrots with hummus if I’m being healthy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Sherri Browning] I think I would be JK Rowling, just to know what it’s like to be that bestselling and adored. I would do interviews to recommend Sherri Browning’s books to all of her readers, and then call up Emma Watson and try to fix her up with my son. They would make such a cute couple.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Sherri Browning] Time travel. I would go back in time and try to save the life of a friend. If I succeeded or not, I could spend more time with that friend for the week. I really miss her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Sherri Browning] I love Julia London’s Cabot Sisters series. I’ve been enjoying Liane Moriarty’s books, too. I’m reading The Last Anniversary now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sherri Browning] Readers are always welcome to comment at my website, www.sherribrowningerwin.com, or email me at sherri@sherribrowningerwin.com. Also, I’m on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SherriBrowningErwin and Twitter @sherrierwin.

Title: An Affair Downstairs

Author: Sherri Browning

Series: Thornbrook Park

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8682-7

Pubdate: 1/6/2015

The attraction of the forbidden cannot be suppressed…

Lady Alice Emerson is entirely unsatisfied with the endless stream of boring suitors her family finds appropriate. She wants something more. Something daring. Something real. Each tiresome new suitor only serves to further inflame Lady Alice’s combustible attraction to Thornbrook Park’s rugged, manly estate manager, Logan Winthrop. Despite Logan’s stubborn attempts to avoid her, Lady Alice is irresistible, and so is the forbidden desire exploding between them…

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, don’t miss the fascinating Edwardian world of Thornbrook Park.

Sherri Browning writes historical and contemporary romance fiction, sometimes with a paranormal twist. She is the author of critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in western Massachusetts and Greater Detroit Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Find her online at www.sherribrowningerwin.com.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1t8sd3F

Apple: http://bit.ly/1yuHHT8

BAM: http://bit.ly/1uEa5Bz

B&N: http://bit.ly/1HreAq1

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1x5Uyc8

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1uEbg42

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview and Giveaway: An Affair Downstairs by Sherri Browning appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Jill Maxick of Prometheus Books: The Powells.com Interview

For decades, Prometheus Books has put out titles we both love and respect. Prometheus is the leading publisher in the United States of books on free thought, humanism, and atheism — as well as many more titles that serve to fire up the human mind. In fact, that almost seems to be the sole reason [...]

0 Comments on Jill Maxick of Prometheus Books: The Powells.com Interview as of 1/9/2015 8:56:00 PM
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14. A Chat with H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings …


These two. If I were only half as cool as they are …

Go see for yourself. That’s H. Chuku Lee (left) and Pat Cummings (right). We talk at Kirkus today about their 2014 picture book collaboration, Beauty and the Beast, which Chuku wrote and Pat illustrated. They’re a husband-and-wife team, and here’s hoping Chuku ends up writing more; this was his children’s book debut, though he has had a long and distinguished career in journalism. (Actually, he told me, though there wasn’t room for it in the Q&A over there, that he is developing several ideas for other stories, so that’s good news.)

Pat, as you’ll read over there, has illustrated over 30 books in her career and also teaches illustration at Pratt Institute. I’ve wanted to interview her for years now, and I really enjoyed this Q&A. Next week here at 7-Imp, she’ll share some art from the book.

The Q&A is here.

* * * * * * *

Photos of H. Chuku Lee and Pat Cummings used with their permission.

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15. Interview and Giveaway: Jessica Peterson, Author of The Millionaire Rogue


This morning Jessica Peterson stopped by for a chat, and she brought along a copy of her latest release for you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Jessica!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Jessica Peterson] Books, country music, romance, wine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Millionaire Rogue?

[Jessica Peterson] Sure!  This book was so much fun to write.  A couple of years ago I was researching the Hope Diamond and discovered it appeared, mysteriously, in 1812 London.  This was the spark for my HOPE DIAMOND TRILOGY.  How fun to set a trio of romances amidst the intrigue of a cursed diamond with a checkered past?  I couldn’t resist!

THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE follows banker Thomas Hope and debutante Sophia Blaise as they try – and fail! – to resist each other following the theft of a fifty-carat diamond from Hope’s ballroom.  I remember brainstorming an outline for MILLIONAIRE and being overwhelmed by how quickly – and strongly – the first few scenes came to me.  As a writer who often struggles with plot, it was such a thrill to have the pieces of Thomas and Sophia’s puzzle fall together like they did.  No book is easy to write, but writing these two characters, detailing their adventures, was really a joy.

I’d like to think Thomas is a somewhat quiet – but intense – hero.  I found him to be charming, adorable, and, like Sophia, irresistible.  He’s got a shady past (who doesn’t?), but there is something endearing about him – he always tries to do right by those he loves.

Sophia is a heroine after my own heart.  I think we all, at some point in our lives, struggle with disconnect between who we think we should be – what we should want, who we should be with – and who we really are.  Sophia is no exception; while she thinks she wants to marry a man with a title and castle, the man who really makes her happy has neither of those things.  I loved exploring this internal conflict

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Jessica Peterson] It’s no secret that I love – LOVE! – writing kissing scenes.  There are a few of them in THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE; I’d have to say my favorite is the first kissing scene, when Thomas and Sophia are forced to kiss – only to discover that they like kissing each other very much.  They share another smooch later that night in the rain.  That scene is definitely a close second.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Jessica Peterson] The characters.  I really liked writing a softer hero this time around – he’s like the nice guy who also happens to be very handsome and very rich.  And Sophia was such a joy to visit with everyday.  They are so witty and so real to me; and they had quite a lot of fun together themselves.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Jessica Peterson] Yikes, that’s a good question.  My husband makes fun of me for having a car full of empty water bottles.  I have a phobia of being thirsty, I guess, because I take water with me EVERYWHERE.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Jessica Peterson] You’re in luck.  I just organized my office, so there’s nothing here to scare you.  I’ve got my planner, a cup of iced coffee, and a notebook filled to the brim with notes on book 3!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Jessica Peterson] Love this question.  I just got back from a trip to England, where my husband and I did a good bit of sightseeing in London.  Of all the things I saw, the thing that struck me most was a neck ruffle from the Elizabethan period.  I’d trade places with Queen Elizabeth I, just so I could see that neck ruffle in action.  I’m so curious what life was like back then – what people looked like, how bad their teeth were.  I’d love to meet Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe.  And I’d like to know if the food they ate was really as weird tasting as we think it is.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Jessica Peterson] I’d choose the power of being able to live in movies and TV shows.  Then I’d go live in THE HOLIDAY for a few days, followed by PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (the Keira Knightley version) and then, because I love Benedict Cumberbatch, SHERLOCK.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Jessica Peterson] I just finished Tessa Dare’s ANY DUCHESS WILL DO.  It was unbelievably good.  I also loved ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, LONGBOURN by Jo Baker, THE HOOK UP by Kristen Callihan, and Julie Anne Long’s IT HAPPENED ONE MIDNIGHT (can you tell I love romance?!).  All amazing reads.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jessica Peterson] I love to interact with readers, whether it’s via Goodreads, my Facebook page, my Twitter feed, or my blog.  Drop a line and say hello!  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8108644.Jessica_Peterson


Twitter: @JessicaPAuthor

Blog: http://jessicapeterson.com/blog/

Thanks, Julie, for having me!

About the book:

In an age of stately decorum, the Hope Diamond was a source of delicious intrigue—and a font of unimaginable adventure…
Though not of noble birth, Thomas Hope has a skill in banking that’s made him one of the richest, most trusted men in London. Still, he keeps his dubious past hidden. So when an old acquaintance calls on Hope to help acquire the infamous French Blue Diamond, he’s desperate to be discreet. He never expects that his biggest concern shouldn’t be losing his reputation, but his heart…
Sophia Blaise is determined to make a brilliant match with this season’s most eligible, most titled bachelor, but her true passion has been ignited by the incredible stories she hears while secretly transcribing the memoirs of a notorious Madam. After a night of clandestine writing ends with Sophia caught up in a scandalous adventure of her own—with an alluring banker—she begins to question whether she’s suited to the proper life she’s always known…
Caught up in a thrilling exploit and unexpected romance, Sophia must make a choice between what her head knows is safe and what her heart desperately desires, before both slip from her grasp forever…

About the Author:

Jessica Peterson began reading romance to escape the decidedly unromantic awkwardness of her teenage years. Having found solace in the likes of Rhett Butler and Mr. Darcy, it wasn’t long before she began creating tall, dark, and handsome heroes of her own.

A graduate of Duke University, Jessica worked at an investment bank before leaving to pursue her writerly dreams. She lives with her husband, the tall, dark, and handsome Mr. Peterson, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

US and Canadian addresses only, please.

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16. Bill Plympton on ‘Cheatin” and the Challenges of Making Indie Animation for Adults

"Why should kids be the only ones who get pleasure out of animation," says the revered indie animation director Bill Plympton. "It offends me that American animation is stereotyped this way."

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17. Interview and Giveaway: Chelsey Krause, Author of Can’t Always Get What You Want

Please give Chelsey Krause a warm welcome to the virtual offices!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Chelsey! Describe yourself in five words or less.

Eclectic. Funny. Organized. Creative. Capable.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

What if you found “the one,” and then lost him?

This story is about Sophie, an acute care nurse who loves the Rolling Stones. When her best friend bails on their plans to go to a concert together, Sophie ends up with an extra ticket, and (begrudgingly) gets stuck on a blind date.

Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. Now that he’s gone, Sophie finds herself in a life she never expected. 

As she realizes she’s falling for Brett, Sophie’s unresolved feelings for her first love resurface, and she has to choose between a life she thought she wanted, and the one she really needs.

I think of it as “P.S. I Love You” meets “Scrubs (TV series)” with a Rolling Stones sound track ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

This book was inspired by merging three separate ideas:

  1. A question: What if you found the one, and then lost him?

  2. A story: How my husband and I met.

  3. A song: My husband often singing the chorus of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.

Let me explain in further detail:

  1. This idea kept me up at night. There’d I’d be at 2 AM, staring up at the ceiling, I would have these visions of a young man and woman in love, and him dying of cancer. I didn’t know their names yet, or what type of cancer he had, or any other details. But I could feel a grief so powerful, so heart wrenching, that I’d literally ache for them.

I don’t know where this couple came from, but one night they just showed up in my thoughts, and I wondered what their backstory must be, and what happens to the girl after her one true love dies.

Then, I started reimagining my own life experiences (like giving Sophie a nursing career, like me), stories I’ve heard, or inventing new ones, and making it mesh with my “vision” until I had a solid story.

  1. My husband and I met in an unusual way (a blind date that I arranged myself), and I’ve always thought it would make a great scene in a book.

I changed the details a lot (the venue, the time of year, the band, the circumstances of how she ended up with an extra concert ticket), but Brett and Sophie meet in a very similar way that my husband and I met.

This may interest you… The scene where Sophie uses lipstick to write her phone number on an old receipt to give to the guy just standing there is REAL! I really did that, while I was waiting for mystery man (aka my future husband) to show up for our blind date. I didn’t originally put it in the manuscript, but a dear friend of mine who knows my “how we met story” suggested I put it in there.

  1. My husband will often (jokingly) sing the chorus of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when I say I want to do such and such, or go here and there. One day when he was singing this, the two above ideas merged with this one, and it all clicked in my head. The girl grieving for her first love would someday meet a new man on a blind date. She’d learn that you don’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.

And that’s that!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The flirtatious banter! It was SO fun to write. Ooh, and the awkward hospital scenes (which are based somewhat on my experiences as a nurse). I’d think about situations I’ve been in, and then ask myself, “How could that situation have been worse?”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

Coming up with a new career for Sophie. I wanted to give her a fulfilling job that would draw from her nursing back ground, and just couldn’t come up with a solution. I finally came up with something I loved after sitting down with a pen and paper, and drawing an idea web. The sort of thing they get you to do in fourth grade. Who knew something so simple could give me the answer I’d been anguishing over for months? lol

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

A toss-up between “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Raise a Little Hell” by Trooper. Such empowering messages!!!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

Lip gloss.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

  1. Eiffel tower figurine that my best friend brought back from Paris for me

  2. Toothbrush holder that I keep pens and scissors in

  3. A pile of notebooks, receipts, and index cards that have various bits of dialogue and scene ideas scribbled on them for the next book I’m working on ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

No one, to be honest! At times there are places I’d rather be (ex. somewhere warm and sunny, rather than shoveling my driveway in -40 degree weather), or things I’d rather be doing (ex. Sitting in Starbucks, rather than folding laundry). But in all honesty? I’m completely happy being me. I wouldn’t want to trade my life with anyone else (even for a day).

I admire the attitude Salvador Dali had:

“Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dali.”
? Salvador Dalí

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

Some Girls Do by Clodagh Murphy

  • I discovered this book earlier this year, and I love it to bits. If you enjoy love stories with a bit of an edge, and a lot of humor, then I recommend “Some Girls Do.” I’ve read it twice this year!

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

  • Emma Donoghue writes with such stunning clarity. I could literally feel what it was like to be a burlesque dancer, living in San Francisco in 1876, during the small pox epidemic.

Imperfectly Criminal by Mary Frame

  • This is the second book in Mary Frame’s “Imperfect” series and I could hardly put it down. I laughed, I cried, and marvelled at how Frame managed to create a romantic whodunnit story that was both funny and heartfelt.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

All sorts of things! Although lately, my spare time has been used up listening to “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcasts, and frittering time away on Pinterest ?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

Readers can email me directly at chelsey@chelseykrause.com

Or, they can connect with me on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChelseyKrauseAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8583948.Chelsey_Krause

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chachack2

I check all of my social media often, so feel free send me a message! I’ll also post updates on my Facebook and Twitter pages about upcoming book sales, guest posts, free excerpts, etc. so be sure to subscribe!

Can’t Always Get What You Want

By: Chelsey Krause

Releasing January 13th, 2015



Fans of Ruthie Knox, Rachel Gibson, and Molly O’Keefe will love this deeply romantic and uplifting debut novel about losing everything you thought you wanted—and getting exactly what you need.

Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones tribute-band concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date.

Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. In an instant, her whole life changed, and she forgot all about happily ever after.

But as she gets to know Brett, Sophie starts to wonder about the future for the first time. With a broken heart still clouding her mind, jumping into a new relationship feels impossible. When she’s in his arms, walking away feels even harder. Now Sophie faces an impossible choice: living in the past or choosing love in the here and now.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/cant-always-get-what-you-want-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23256189-can-t-always-get-what-you-want?from_search=true

Buy Links Amazon | Barnes | iBooks | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cant-Always-Get-What-Want-ebook/dp/B00NRQWAT8/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413206012&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=cant%27t+always+get+what+you+wan

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cant-always-get-what-you-want-chelsey-krause/1120377343?ean=9781101883624

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cant-always-get-what-you-want/id921351761?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/can-t-always-get-what-you-want

Author Info

I was born and raised in Canada, and live with my husband and two children. I’ve been a nurse since 2009. An essay I wrote on intercultural nursing has been published in a nursing anthology.

I love thrift shops, repurposing old junk and learning new belly dance moves. I can’t decide if my favorite movie is either “Bridget Jones’ Diary” or “Fight Club.”

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and in the spring of 2013, I finally sat down and wrote my first book. Now that that’s done, I’m working on my second.

I believe that the best way to become a great writer is to read.
A lot.

And then read some more.

I absolutely love books and would live at the library if they’d let me.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.chelseykrause.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChelseyKrauseAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chachack2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8583948.Chelsey_Krause

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 Book Seller eGift Card and Loveswept Mug & Tote)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18. Tomm Moore on ‘Song of the Sea,’ Reinventing 2D, and Dodging the Studio System

"I do think that animation can have a language of its own, rather than simply mimicking live action."

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19. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with David Roberts

photo taken by Lynn Roberts MaloneyI couldn’t let 2014 go by without posting this interview with British author-illustrator David Roberts. I’ve enjoyed his books over the years, but he also provided spot illustrations for Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, the book I wrote with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, which was released in August of this year (Candlewick Press). David filled our book with a set of very entertaining startled bunnies, one pictured above (it’s hard to pick a favorite, but she may be it), and he also did the cover art, the image at the very bottom of this Q&A.

So, it’s the very last day of the year, but I managed to get this interview in here just in time.

As you’ll read below, David has illustrated more than 150 books (picture books and beyond), some—but not all—originally published in the UK and then released here in the States, thanks to publishers like Abrams and Candlewick. I appreciate David taking the time to talk about his work this morning and share some art. For breakfast, he told me that every Friday he has breakfast at Joe’s Kitchen near where he lives in South London: poached eggs on brown toast with bacon and tomatoes. He also said he’d always make room for a Danish pastry, but I’m all about the toast this morning (with coffee, of course), even if it’s not Friday, so we’ll have that while we chat.

Without further ado, here’s David …

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

David: Both. I have written and illustrated two books and illustrated more than 150.

Illustration from Carolyn Crimi’s
Dear Tabby (HarperCollins, 2011)

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date? (If there are too many books to list here, please list your five most recent illustrated titles or the ones that are most prominent in your mind, for whatever reason.)


[Ed. Note: You can see a selected bibliography here at David’s site.]


David: “Me and Andrea enjoy our favourite cakes in Chez Snooty Pa Toot
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau

)” …
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: What is your usual medium?

David: Watercolour, ink, pen, pencil, crayon, pastel, anything that comes to hand.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

David: I have illustrated for very young children with books like Dirty Bertie, Jack and the Flumflum Tree, and The Troll. I’ve also illustrated for young adult readers with books like The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, the Tales of Terror series, and Tinder.

(Click each image to enlarge)

I’d say I never really think too hard about the age that the book is aimed at. It’s always the individual response to that piece of text, but the main difference would be that for picture books you are telling the story through the images, whereas for fiction it is more about creating an atmosphere.

Above: “Thirteen flaming vicars” from Tom Baker’s
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (Faber and Faber, 1999)


Illustration from Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

David: South London and Liverpool, my hometown.

Illustration from and cover of Andrea Beaty’s
Iggy Peck, Architect

(Abrams, 2007)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

David: Hated school, apart from art. Hair washer, shelf-stacker, egg-fryer, film extra, coffee-maker, milliner, fashion, illustrator, children’s books — Hooray! Got there in the end!

Illustration from and cover of Janet S. Wong’s
The Dumpster Diver

(Candlewick, 2007)

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

David: www.davidrobertsillustration.com; www.davidrobertsillustration.tumblr.com.

One of David’s old Christmas cards

Jules: If you do school visits, tell me what they’re like.

David: Very loud. Lots of “Urgh!” and “Yuck!” and “Blurgh!” and “Ew!’” and “Blah!” and ending with a triumphant “trump!”

The delinquent dogs from Jon Blake’s Stinky Finger’s House of Fun
(Hodder & Stoughton, 2005)

Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

David: I’m really excited to be doing a fourth fairy tale book with my sister (Lynn Roberts). We’ve collaborated on Cinderella: An Art Deco Love Story, Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairy Tale, and Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn [pictured below]. The new one will be our interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty story.


Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank David again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?


: I start by reading the text, and if it’s for a chapter book I will be looking for what I think will make an interesting illustration or scene to illustrate. Sometimes this might not necessarily be the most obvious.

Sketches and dummy images from Andrea Beaty’s
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau

(Abrams, September 2014)
(Click each to enlarge)

For a picture book, it’s working out the pagination, where the page turns should be, whether the text will be integrated in the image or kept separate, whether the text requires the illustration to tell more of the story than what is actually being said in the words. I’ll then plan the content, thinking very much about colour, composition, and style. I’ll usually get an image of how I want the book to look the first time I read the text. And although things can change slightly as I work through, often I stick to that original vision. I find inspiration from film, music, art, exhibitions, fabric, wallpaper, fashion. All of these can influence me in my work.

From Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau

(Click to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.


: I always used to work in a corner of my studio flat, but last year I moved and now have a whole room just to work from. One whole corner encompasses a floor-to-ceiling book case for all my own books and foreign editions, plus all the books I use for reference and inspiration. I then have a desk in front of a window to get the maximum light, which is always a complete chaotic mess. Behind me is a mirror, not because I’m vain but for working out facial expressions for my characters. I have lots of postcards, pictures, and objects — and a lovely grey plan chest to store all my paper and artwork. The walls are white and grey with grey carpet, and I have three maps on the wall of places that I’ve been to and adored — Scandinavia, Manhattan, and the Faroe Islands.

Cover art from the newest book in Alan MacDonald’s Angela Nicely series,
Puppy Love!

, coming in 2015

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?


: Actually, I wasn’t a very confident reader as a child and I really struggled with it, but I loved stories and my older brother used to read to me at night, so I would always fall asleep with images of Fantastic Mr. Fox or James and the Giant Peach.

David’s vision of Dahl’s Mister Unsworth

I also loved Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree and Wishing-Chair series. The first book I felt confident enough to read myself was the first book I ever bought and remains my favourite to this day. It’s called A Hole is To Dig, written by Ruth Krauss and beautifully illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

David: I would love to have a glass of wine ‘in spirit’ with Edward Gorey, Charles Keeping and Errol Le Cain. Living and not yet met is very difficult [to answer], as I’ve met so many of my heroes over the years.

Above: The Lepidoctor from Mick Jackson’s
Ten Sorry Tales (Faber and Faber, 2005)

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

David: Folk music is never far from my CD player, and The Roches, Sandy Denny, John Martyn, and Joni Mitchell are in constant rotation. I’ve been going through all of my Kate Bush albums, as I’ve just been to see her live performance (the first one in 35 years!). My recent new obsession is with Perfume Genius. I always work to music or the radio. My favourite channel is 6 Music on the BBC.

From Paul Fleischman’s The Dunderheads
(originally released in 2009 by Walker Books)

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

David: I went on a course to learn how to make Elizabethan ruffs.

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

David: Can you hula hoop?

And the answer is “Yes!”


* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

David: “Hooligan.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

David: “Dapper.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

David: Art, music, cake.

Jules: What turns you off?

David: Time.

Jules: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

David: “Oh, bother.”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

David: Walking on snow.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

David: My own voice!

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

David: Bee-keeping. (They turn the roses into gold.)

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

David: Chef.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

David: “I knew you were coming, so I’ve baked a cake.”


All images are used by permission of David Roberts.

Photo of David taken by Lynn Roberts Maloney.

WILD THINGS!. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Roberts. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, copyright © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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20. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Joshua W. Cotter
















Joshua W. Cotter splashed onto the small press comix scene in 2004, with his self published comic Skyscrapers of the Midwest. Cotter’s distinct “old-time-y” style of meticulously rendering his cartoons in black ink cross hatches, and little, scratchy lines hearkens to old underground comics of the 1960’s & 70’s.. His character’s are sometimes anthropomorphic, or humans with “cartoon animal” characteristics. Skyscrapers of the Midwest explores the trauma of childhood, and limitless imagination of two brothers growing up in the American Heartland .

After the collected edition hard-cover of Skyscrapers of the Midwest was published, Cotter would chronicle a difficult period of his life in his next book, Driven by Lemons, both published by AdHouse.

Today, you can follow updates of Cotter’s next comic, Nod Away, on the website, Study Group Comics. It’s a sci-fi drama/character study about a scientist working on a mysterious A.I. project up in a space station called USS Integrity. This story, and another that Cotter is currently working on will be the meat of his next book, also titled Nod Away.

You can learn more about Cotter’s process, and see more of his art on his tumblr site here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Joshua W. Cotter as of 12/22/2014 3:44:00 PM
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21. Interview with Sara B Larson, author of DEFY


Sara B Larson

Sara B LarsonWe don’t post on Thursdays anymore, so I (Erin) can do a Speakeasy Thursday post on Friday, right? Let’s hope so because I am so excited to host this interview with Sara B Larson, author of DEFY and IGNITE (which comes out next week!).

Welcome, Sara! DEFY has such an awesome main character — a tough-as-nails girl disguised as a boy and working within the royal guard. Did the idea for DEFY start with that heroine, or did another part of the story materialize first? (In short: what was the inspiration behind Alexa’s story?)

Thank you! DEFY actually came from a very difficult period in my life, when I lost someone I loved. I was so upset by his death that I couldn’t write anything, but a friend of mine told me to stop trying to write a book and just write what I was feeling. So that’s exactly what I did. I sat down and wrote a scene, not intending for it to go anywhere…but then I got curious about the characters. This whole fascinating world unraveled itself and I realized Alexa had a very intriguing, difficult, but ultimately amazing story that needed to be told. I threw myself into that writing and from there the story took on its own life. It became a story of survival and moving forward, a story of what true courage and strength is, and a story about the many different kinds of love, and hope (even in the most desperate of situations) and risking everything for the chance of a better future.

Defy by Sara B LarsonWow. How wonderful you were able to take grief and channel it into writing DEFY. How about the series as a whole? What’s the biggest challenge in writing a series, and is there anything that, in hindsight, you wish you had done differently in the writing or publication process?

I think the biggest challenge in writing a series is trying to make each book better than the last. I really didn’t want to have a “saggy” middle book, and I worked hard to try to raise the stakes and make my characters stronger with each story. Hopefully my readers will feel that I accomplished my goals!

I completely agree about upping stakes. The overall arc of a series is just as important as the individual arc of each book! So what’s your typical writing day like? Do you have a routine or is every day/book a little different?

With three young children and a husband who travels for work, I don’t really have a “typical” writing day. Every day is different. I have to write whenever or wherever I can. Usually at night when everyone’s finally in bed, or the few hours a week that all three kids are in school (my youngest is in pre-school a couple times a week). And if I’m on deadline and short on time, or hitting one of my manic must-write-all-the-words-right-now drafting binges, then you’ll probably find me at my dining table with my headphones in, using music to help me channel the right emotions for my book while my kids watch a movie and fight over popcorn. At least I can see them if a full on wrestling match ensues and put a stop to it before someone ends up bloody.

As a new mom myself, I can totally relate to the ‘no routine’ approach. So what are you working on now?

I’m currently working on promoting IGNITE and preparing for launch parties and signings in January. I’m also working on some new projects, but can’t say anything about them yet. I’m super excited about them, though! Stay tuned…

Ignite by Sara B LarsonOoh, secrecy. Can’t wait til you can share the details. Switching gears entirely: Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring writers?

To never give up, first of all. I know everyone tells you that, but it’s because it’s true. If you persevere no matter what, working to get better with every book you write, you WILL get published! And second is to set deadlines for yourself and make yourself keep them. And make them hard. If you train yourself to be able to handle deadlines now, when you do get published, you won’t panic if you get hit with a hard deadline because you’ve already done it!

Such good advice about deadlines. And now I have to break out the Pub-themed questions: If you could spend a night at the pub with any 3 authors (alive or dead) who would it be and why?

Oh, that is SO hard! Off the top of my head I’d pick J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, and Laini Taylor. Maybe their combined genius would rub off on me just by proximity.

EEP there’s a creeper at the pub! What book are you reading to avoid him?

I’m reading THIS SHATTERED WORLD right now and LOVING it!

Ah, TSW co-authored by our very own Amie Kaufman. Good choice, Sara. Thanks for stopping by!

And now, to celebrate the upcoming release of IGNITE, I’m giving away a copy (physical or ebook for US, ebook only for international)! Or, if the winner hasn’t read DEFY yet, I can send that instead.

To enter to win, just use the handy form below. We’ll try to announce a winner a week from today, but with the holidays coming up, it might be a tad longer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA Fantasy DEFY that released from Scholastic in January 2014, and the forthcoming sequel IGNITE (December 30th, 2014). She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting of her sugar addiction. Sara is represented by Josh Adams, of Adams Literary.

Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her TAKEN trilogy is available from HarperTeen (FORGED out 4/14/15), and VENGEANCE ROAD publishes with HMH 9/1/15. You can visit Erin’s blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

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22. Interview with Red Savina Review

I have a new interview up at the Red Savina Review blog! Wendy Gist, the managing editor of Red Savina Review, asked me some challenging and thought-provoking questions, but it was a pleasure to answer them. You can read the interview here.

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23. Making History Come Alive at Christmas

Getting a kid to say ‘this person who lived a hundred years ago is basically just like me’ is a wonderful thing to take away from a war story a century ago.”

* * *

If freelance writing deadlines don’t stop for the holidays, the least I can do is tell you about John Hendrix’s new picture book, all about the true story of a 1914 Allied-German Christmas truce on the front lines during World War I. It’s called Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas True of 1914.

I’ll have art from the book at 7-Imp soon — maybe even this Sunday. For now, I talk to John, pictured here, about the book over at Kirkus, a hundred years after the events themselves.

That is here.

Merry Christmas, all!

* * * * * * *

Photo of John used with his permission and taken by Kevin Roberts.

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24. Cecilia Ekbäck: The Powells.com Interview

During these cold, dark days of winter, there's nothing I enjoy more than losing myself in a book that evokes the mood of the season. Set in Swedish Lapland in the early 18th century, Wolf Winter is a wonderfully atmospheric novel that perfectly captures what it's like to live in a remote, unforgiving landscape. Debut [...]

0 Comments on Cecilia Ekbäck: The Powells.com Interview as of 12/31/2014 10:55:00 AM
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25. Interview and Giveaway: Patricia Rosemoor, Author of Dangerous

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Patricia!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Patricia Rosemoor] Creative but able to multi-task.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Camille’s past drives her as a homicide detective until she gets put on administrative leave. She can’t get let the case go — a 14 year old girl’s life may be at stake — and so agrees to work with the man with whom she’d had a one night stand and who then went to jail for punching out a prosecutor. Now a P.I., Drago has never forgotten Camille, but he knows she sees things in black and white, while he has always operated in shades of gray…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Patricia Rosemoor] I started with a premise. An internet predator who kills young women. A female detective with a past who can’t let the case go when it’s taken away from her. Who better as a love interest than someone who grew up fighting to stay out of gangs, with no help from the cops.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Patricia Rosemoor] The sometimes adversary relationship between Camille and Drago.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Keeping a high level of sensuality while having my hero and heroine focused on finding the missing girl.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Satisfaction, Rolling Stones.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Patricia Rosemoor] My Smartphone — I rarely make phone calls, but I use it as a computer away from home.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Patricia Rosemoor] I have a desk, but a friend calls my office a “storage room” because I write on a laptop in my living room — so there’s nothing personal ON the desk. But the office is filled with things I love — stained glass hanging in the window, artwork and photos of friends on the walls, and especially the shelves and shelves of Patricia Rosemoor books :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Kathryn Bigelow. I would love to direct movies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Brilliance by Marcus Sakey (a former grad student who started his writing career in my Suspense-Thriller class), Archetype by M.D. Waters, the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. One of my all time favorite books is Dark Horse by Tami Hoag.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Patricia Rosemoor] I love gardening. Unfortunately, it will be another 4 months before the weather will allow me to get back to working on it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Patricia Rosemoor] Website: http://PatriciaRosemoor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRosemoor and https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRosemoorAuthor

Twitter: @PRosemoor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/prosemoor/



By: Patricia Rosemoor

Releasing January 6th, 2015



Fans of Linda Howard will love Dangerous, the story of a driven female cop who teams up with an irresistible ex-con to bring a killer to justice—and discovers that breaking the rules is hotter on the wrong side of the law.

Chicago homicide detective Camille Martell will stop at nothing to track down “Angel,” a sexual predator who has already butchered two young victims—even after her off-the-books investigation leads to her suspension. But when her relentless attempts to contact Angel online puts her teenage neighbor in mortal danger, Camille’s worst fears are realized. Panicked and overwhelmed with guilt, Camille needs help—even if it comes from the one man she swore she’d do anything to forget.

After serving time for a trumped-up charge, private investigator Drago Nance doesn’t trust cops. Nothing will change that, not even the steamy weekend with Camille that burned itself into his memory. But with an innocent girl’s life at stake, Drago can’t ignore the need in Camille’s eyes, or the heated promise in her touch. He agrees to help—if she’s willing to play by his rules. He just never suspected that seducing his partner could be just as thrilling as chasing a madman.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/dangerous-by-patricia-rosemoor.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22890016-dangerous?from_search=true

Buy Links Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Patricia-Rosemoor-ebook/dp/B00LRIUK22/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416101685&sr=8-1&keywords=dangerous+by+patricia+rosemoor

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dangerous-patricia-rosemoor/1120019671?ean=9780553392548

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dangerous/id898614802?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dangerous-35

Author Info

With 90 novels and more than seven million books in print, Patricia Rosemoor is fascinated with “dangerous love” – combining romance with danger. She has written various forms of romantic and paranormal romantic thrillers, even romantic horror, bringing a different mix of thrills and chills to her stories.

Patricia has won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from RT BOOKreviews, and in her other life, she teaches Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing, credit courses at Columbia College Chicago. Three of her Columbia grad students and two students from other venues are now published in novel-length fiction

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.patriciarosemoor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRosemoorAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PRosemoor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/65795.Patricia_Rosemoor

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller and Loveswept Mug & Tote)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview and Giveaway: Patricia Rosemoor, Author of Dangerous appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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