"Artists are a tough people in my experience. You have to be tough to create. Just ask God."
- Tony Kushner, in his 2011 Columbia School of the Arts Graduation speech (33 minutes in.)
Illustrate and Write On, into 2013!
"Artists are a tough people in my experience. You have to be tough to create. Just ask God."
Imagine that your entire home library is destroyed (anguish! woe!) in a fire or flood or some such disaster. None of the books are recoverable. When it's time to start rebuilding your library: what are the very first two books (one picture book, one novel) that you'd want to put on your new shelves?
Jamie Highfill is mourning the six weeks’ worth of poetry she removed from her eighth-grade English class at Woodland Junior High School in Fayetteville, Ark. She also dropped some short stories and a favorite unit on the legends of King Arthur to make room for essays by Malcolm Gladwell and a chapter from “The Tipping Point,” Gladwell’s book about social behavior.And from the Salon article:
“I’m struggling with this, and my students are struggling,” said Highfill, who was named 2011 middle school teacher of the year in her state. “With informational text, there isn’t that human connection that you get with literature. And the kids are shutting down. They’re getting bored. I’m seeing more behavior problems in my classroom than I’ve ever seen.”
The standard architects are saying that the teachers of other subjects can assign non-fiction that relates to their subject (i.e., math students could read Euclid’s “Elements”) which would free up English teachers to still teach fiction, but, as it says in the Washington Post article,
"...the standards appear to suggest that non-fiction is by definition more rigorous and practical than fiction and poetry. But is “The Tipping Point” a tougher slog than “Moby Dick” or more thought provoking than an average “literary” novel?"
In practice, the burden of teaching the nonfiction texts is falling to English teachers, said Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University: “You have chemistry teachers, history teachers saying, ‘We’re not going to teach reading and writing, we have to teach our subject matter. That’s what you English teachers do.’ ”One final quote from the Washington Post:
“Reading for information makes you knowledgeable — you learn stuff,” English teacher J.D. Wilson said. “But reading literature makes you wise.”
"Simon & Schuster is joining other publishers such as Thomas Nelson and Harlequin in pairing with Author Solutions--now owned by Penguin/Pearson--to offer its own self-publishing service. (Now that Nelson is owned by HarperCollins, that connects ASI to three of the largest trade publishers.)
The service, operated by ASI under license, brings back the old Archway brand and will be known as Archway Publishing. (Archway was an S&S line of young adult paperbacks, which published lines including Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.)
Like the other publisher co-branded ASI offerings, Archway Publishing offers self-published authors premium-priced packages that start at $1,999 (and $1,599 for children's book authors) and reach up to $25,000. (Nelson's West Bow Press packages start at $999; Harlequin's Dellarte's services start at $599. Other publishing partners include Hay House, Writer's Digest, and Guideposts.)
"As with the other publisher-affiliated lines, Archway dangles the prospect that ASI "will alert Simon & Schuster to Archway Publishing titles that perform well in the market."
"Through Archway Publishing, Simon & Schuster is pleased to be part of the rapidly expanding self-publishing segment of our industry.... We're excited that we'll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing."Fascinating times we're writing and illustrating in!
"The new line launches December 4 with a novella by Sophie Jordan, BREATHLESSS, and a futuristic novella from Scott Westerfeld, STUPID PERFECT WORLD, both selling for $1.99. The company indicates it will publish up to 4 ebooks a month, priced from 99 cents to $2.99.
Harper Children's president and publisher Susan Katz says, "We're seeing short-form content becoming more popular in the digital marketplace, and HarperTeen Impulse allows us to experiment with new concepts and deliver content quickly."
"Instead of spending five months immersed in Proust, the visual and auditory quality of social media makes it possible to spend five minutes getting your mind blown by a contemporary philosopher. Quality, not quantity, is the key."
Hello all my fellow MidListers:The grant gives $3000 to midlist authors to honor their contribution and help raise awareness about their current works in progress. A winner will receive $2000 and two honor recipients will each receive $500. Jane hopes the grant will help boost the careers of Mid-list authors who have, for whatever reason, not recently sold a book in several years.
You know--there are the authors of Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, there's Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola, and on the fingers of both hands and maybe your toes, you could add a few more super stars to that number.
And the rest of us are midlist.
Some of us are happy there. We sell books on a regular basis. We win some minor awards. OK, maybe a major award once or twice. We have kids and adults who tell us we have changed their lives. We teach children to read, to fall in love with the night sky, the small natures, the lives of princes and princesses. We let children in on the wonderful diverse world we live in. We let them watch a story unfold. We tickle their ears with puns and poems and jokes and tales. We nurture their hearts when their hearts have been banged up a bit or even broken. We are their surrogate moms and dads and grandmoms and granddads. We are their literary families, their book friends. (Or as one child wrote to me, "Your book fiend," though I knew what he meant to say!)
We write to be read, and sometimes we write to have written, and occasionally we write to be paid. Though not enough. Never enough, we midlisters.
And sometimes, as popular as we once were, we suddenly are last year's flavor last year's news.
It has happened to me over a long career. There have been months, years where nothing has gone right. Where the books I labored over and loved the most didn't sell. Yes, truly. I have about thirty unsold picture books and book proposals in my files and every year I add to that list. I have told my children that after I'm gone, for the next thirty or so years, they can say to the editors, "We have just found mother's LAST book!" And maybe they can sell it for a bit of change. Or a fortune. I hope so. It's their inheritance after all.
So when I had a bestseller--a really and truly long lasting (for as long as these things last) bestselling series, I said to all those dinosaurs, "You are going to help some of those wonderful midlist authors who's careers have stalled or fallen off the cliff or dropped dead at their feet. You are going to let them know that they are not forgotten, their books are still read, still loved. And the dinosaurs stomped their terrible feet and rolled their gigantic eyes and gnashed their terrible teeth (where where did you think Sendak got all his ideas from!) and thundered, "How can we help?"
Which is how--with a lot of organizational know-how from SCBWI--the Jane Yolen Midlist Grant was born.
Oh--and of course I have taken a few liberties here and there with this account. I am a fiction writer after all. But you knew that already.
PS You can ask your own dinosaurs and piglets and waltzing penguins and magical pots and dancing elephants how they can help, too. Just send a $1 or $5 or more to the Jane Yolen Midlist author grant at SCBWI headquarters and it will be added to the bankroll.
“My life is not easy, and books just help me get away. And if I could do that for one other person, it would be awesome.”
“You never actually know when the book that you have made is the book that saves somebody’s life, the book that makes somebody feel like they have hope, the book that makes somebody feel that they’re not alone. It just shows you how the work that we do can touch kids, and so that makes you feel so grateful.”
William Alexander for Goblin Secrets
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving—and only the goblins know how.
Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home. Rachel’s terrified―and she can’t help but feel responsible. She should have listened when Micah tried to confide in her. And she only feels more guilt when she receives an anonymous note telling her that Micah is nearby and in danger. With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler… and the possibility that Micah may never come home.
Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
When the Khmer Rouge arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. In order to survive, Arn must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand. This will save his life, but it will also pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: “Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.” Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace.
Eliot Schrefer, Endangered (Scholastic)
When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos in Congo, she’s not thrilled to be there. It’s her mother’s passion, and Sophie doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. At least not until Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels the bond a human can have with an animal. But peace does not last long for Sophie and Otto. When an armed revolution breaks out, the sanctuary is attacked, and the two of them must escape unprepared into the jungle. Caught in the crosshairs of a lethal conflict, they must struggle to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.
Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon (Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press)
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned three continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.
Congratulations to the finalists and winner!
Born and raised in England, Susan Cooper has been writing books for children and young adults since 1963. Her classic five-book fantasy sequence, The Dark Is Rising, won the Newbery Medal and Carnegie and Newbery Honors, and she is the 2012 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret Edwards Award for lifetime achievement. A board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, she lives on an island in a saltmarsh in Massachusetts.
Daniel Ehrenhaft is a bestselling author of books for teens, among them The Wessex Papers, winner of the 2003 Edgar Award, and most recently Americapedia (2011), which The New York Times has called "Jon Stewart's America for the YA set." As an editor, he helped to create the Gossip Girl and Peaches series. He is now Editorial Director of Soho Teen, whose first list launches in January, 2013.
Judith Ortiz Cofer is the author the YA story collection An Island Like You (1995); YA novels The Meaning of Consuelo (2003), Call Me Maria (2004), and If I Could Fly (2011); and other works. She has published poetry and prose in The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Glamour, and other journals and anthologies. She is the Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.
Gary D. Schmidt is a Professor of English at Calvin College, where he teaches courses in writing, medieval literature, and children's literature. He is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor-winning novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2004), the Newbery Honor- winning The Wednesday Wars (2007), and Okay for Now, a National Book Award finalist in 2011. He lives on a two-hundred-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan.
Marly Youmans is the author of nine books, including novels, poetry collections, and several Southern fantasies for young adults. She is the recipient of the Michael Shaara Prize and was a finalist for the Southern Book Award for The Wolf Pit (2001), won the Ferrol Sams Award for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (2012), and received several Hoepfner Awards, among other honors. A Carolinian, she lives in Cooperstown, New York with her husband and three children.
"I ended up signing with an agent -- just a few weeks ago, she sold the book to Candlewick's Nicole Raymond, who served as one of the judges of the 2010 YA Novel Discovery Contest. Breakfast Served Anytime is slated for publication in Spring 2014.”Here's more info from the contest entry website:
Get in Front of Top YA Editors and Agents with ONLY the First 250 Words of Your YA Novel!
No query? No pitch? No problem!
Have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Are you putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win exposure to editors and a review of your manuscript from one of New York’s TOP young adult literary agents, Regina Brooks.
NOVEMBER IS NaNoWriMo
In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org)—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks AND receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from Possibiliteas.co!
The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors from Scholastic, Feiwel and Friends, Random House, Harelquin Teen, Kensington, Kimani Tru, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster and Sourcebooks. In addition, they will receive a year’s subscription to The Writer magazine!
First 50 Entrants will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:The rules of the contest are simple and entering is easy. Submit entries of ONLY the first 250 words of your manuscript and the title via the contest website at http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/YAPitch.php.
One entry per person; anyone age 14+ can apply. Open to the U.S. & Canada (void where prohibited). Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1st, 2012 until 11:59pm November 30th, 2012 (ET).
YA literary agent Regina Brooks and her team, will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Navah Wolfe Simon and Schuster, Tracey Sherrod Harlequin Kimani, Krista Viola Random House, Nicole Raymond Candlewick, Rachel Griffiths Scholastic, Aubrey Poole Sourcebooks, Mercedes Fernandez Kensington, Nataysha Wilson Harlequin teen, Laura Whitaker Bloomsbury, Anna Roberts Feiwel and Friends. These judges will whittle the top 20 down to five, and each of the five winners will be provided commentary on their submissions.
"...given the changes happening in the industry—traditional publishers will need to be more author-focused in their operations by offering tools, community, and education to help authors be more successful, to everyone’s greater benefit. If publishers fail to do so, then authors, who have an increasing number of publishing options available to them, will depart for greener pastures. I pointed out that Amazon has a VP of author relations, and views the author like a second customer, but publishers have no such author-relations position or focus on authors as a community to be served. I recommended publishers create their own VPs of author relations and be more strategic in serving authors on a long-term, broad basis rather than on a title-by-title basis."
"Given industry change, a start-up can reasonably challenge publishers on at least 2 if not all 3 of the desirables mentioned above."
"...most self-publishing authors who strike it rich are only too happy to sign with a big player and see their sales skyrocket into the millions from the hundreds of thousands. A lot more has to change in the industry to convince publishers to be more service-oriented toward their authors. But if and when it does change, will it be too late to convince authors who offers the best partnership?"
"The merger will create the largest consumer book publisher in the world, with a global market share of more than 25 percent."
“For us, separately and in partnership, it is and always will be about the books. Your books.”He also said in an interview with PW that "his goal is to leverage the resources of the new company while creating a small company culture where publishers, authors, and editors can feel at home. That can be done, Dohle said, by maintaining distinct imprints and publishing groups."
“I wouldn’t be surprised if all the major trade publishers were having conversations like this,” said Ned May, an analyst at Outsell, a research firm. “I would expect to see similar realignment.”
|Possible Logo designed by Joe Encarnacion, creative director at Hatchback Studios|
Two writers or writer/illustrators will each receive an all-expenses paid trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York to meet with editors and agents, a press release to publishers, a year of free membership to SCBWI, and an SCBWI mentor for a year.
"Ideally, your research will be reflected in your writing—but, just in case it isn’t, be sure to mention it all here."
"...thank the proprietor of your special writing getaway, the place you go when it’s just four weeks to deadline, where you write around the clock in sheltered anonymity. It doesn’t matter whether this is a pensione in Venice or a cabin in Appalachia. The point is that most writers are just desperate for an hour away from their damn kids; your ability to leave town at will will have them drooling with envy."
|Some of Tomie's paintings above|
"Practice, Practice, Practice. And don't copy."