Thursday, October 6, 2011

You Will be my Friend

In Peter Brown's latest book YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND, a lovable tutu-wearing bear named Lucy decides that she is going to find a new friend. Today. No matter what.

She has big plans as she goes through the forest and tries to play with all kinds of different critters, but things just don't work out. And they don't work out. And they don't work out.

So Lucy gets angry, and she tries to force everyone she sees to be her friend (well, everyone except for the humans). In the end, she does finally find the perfect friend.



Peter Brown is brilliant. He has a knack for conjuring up those little episodes from childhood and making them hilarious with lovable, well-meaning characters. Whenever I read his books, I find myself saying things like "Oh, I totally used to do that!" or "I remember how that made me feel" and then "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS BOOK??!!".

This is going to be one of my go-to books for birthday gifts this year. I absolutely love it!

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Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to . . .

 
Elana Johnson  is obsessed with Possess
Christine Fonseca  twirls for Audition
Shannon Whitney Messenger is wowed by The White Assassin – with giveaway
Shelli Johannes-Wells applauds The Pledge
Beth Revis interviews The Girl of Fire & Thorns author Rae Carson
Carolina Valdez Miller delves into The Future of Us – with signed book giveaway
Shana Silver shouts out about Shut Out

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New York bound!

Hi all!!

I'm heading to my favorite city in the world on Thursday, and I'm taking my soon-to-be-a-teenager daughter with me. We are both crazy thrilled, and I'm so glad to be able to take Anne with me. She's not a toddler . . . she's not eight . . . she's the perfect age to be thrilled by and to appreciate the magic of New York.

We've got a balanced mix planned of touristy things, bookish things, yummy things.

And of course, shopping.

I get a little sad as I watch my girls get older, but each phase we enter is a whole new set of wonderful (and, okay, I'll admit it--sometimes it's a whole new set of emotional land mines . . . ).

I'll blow the universe a kiss from the Staten Island Ferry. See you soon!

sf

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Circle of Secrets

I really loved Kimberley Griffith Little's book THE HEALING SPELL. In this book, the main character Livie travels through the Louisiana swamps to visit a traiteur (or healer), for a healing spell that she hopes will bring her mother out of a coma. 


In CIRCLE OF SECRETS, Kimberley tells us the story of the traiteur from THE HEALING SPELL and her daughter. 


Kimberley's writing is beautiful and lush, and in CIRCLE OF SECRETS, she was able to do something that I rarely see in literary books--she created suspense. I was on the edge of my seat, flipping pages like a madwoman--I HAD to know what was going to happen. 

And then she threw a ghost story into the spicy brew of cajun magic, a mysterious deserted island, and spirit-catching bottles. This book is wonderful: full of suspense, melancholy and magic. Find a middle grade reader and put this book in his or her hands. 

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Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading:

Elana Johnson shivers over Shifting
Christine Fonseca  is definitely Falling for Hamlet
Shelli Johannes-Wells contemplates The Future of Us
Shana Silver finds Fateful Fabulous
Corrine Jackson delights in a Hex Hall & Demonglass double feature
Stasia Ward Kehoe shares her passion for Possess






Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birdie's Back!

Sujean Rim is one of my favorite illustrators. She is well-known for her super-fashionista-fabulous illustrations for the Daily Candy website.

She also wrote and illustrated BIRDIE'S BIG GIRL SHOES, and in that book, Birdie, a budding fashionista, gets to have a blast in her mom's rah-ther impressive shoe closet.



In her newest book, BIRDIE'S BIG GIRL DRESS, Birdie faces a dilemma that I know all too well--pulling her favorite dress from her closet only to find that it no longer fits (okay--Birdie's dress doesn't fit because she's a little girl and growing, my clothes don't fit because of a little too much goat cheese and crostini).


What in the world will Birdie wear to her own birthday party??

Well, Birdie solves her problem with creativity and panache and a trip to the attic.

I can look at this book a hundred times and never get tired of it. The illustrations are so effortlessly chic--just like true style should be--I really, really want to jump inside this book. And maybe play dress-up with Birdie. My daughter and I absolutely love this one!

And go see what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:


Elana Johnson is in a tizzy over Texas Gothic
LiLa Roecker  celebrates Something Like Hope
Christine Fonseca  is transformed by Shifting
Shannon Whitney Messenger takes a shine to So Silver Bright – with giveaway
Scott Tracey is on board for Starship Academy
Beth Revis shouts about The Name of the Star
Shana Silver loves Lola and the Boy Next Door
Rosemary Clement Moore is distracted by Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences
Sarah Frances Hardy adores Birdie’s Big Girl Dress
Stasia Ward Kehoe takes a fancy to Fracture
Carolina Valdez Miller goes gaga for Glow and Shifting – with giveaway

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Missoni Madness

Hi all!

I'd just like to say that, yes. I'm one of those people. I've had the Missoni Target launch on my calendar for weeks, scrolling through the previews on an almost daily basis.

Why? you ask. Do you really need some knock off knits that will pick and stretch . . . sweater dresses that you will throw away after season. Is all of that really worth it?


My precious readers. THIS is why:


How incredibly fabulous is this luggage?

Anyway, here was my Plan A. Wake up at the crack of dawn (this is not hard because I do that anyway). Immediately log on to Target.com and buy the suitcase. No browsing. Just buy it. It's free shipping, so I figured I'd have the rest of the day to leisurely browse the sight for socks, makeup bags, cute melamine trays . . .

I went to sleep with my iPad next to my bed, and I woke up bleary eyed and headed straight for my precious suitcase.

It was ALREADY SOLD OUT. I couldn't believe it. So I started searching around. At least, I could get a couple of Christmas and birthday presents.

Then the Target site CRASHED. (Okay, I've just realized I'm using my Caps Lock button, ALOT--evidence of my insanity).

So, I had to do what any sane person would do and move to Plan B, which was to drop my kids off at school and high-tail it to the nearest target (an hour away). I got to the store, expecting crazy women fighting over knitwear and running through the store full throttle with their baskets. But what I saw was a normal slow Tuesday morning at Target. I could hear Muzak playing softly over the PA system (or I may have imagined that).

I walked to the suitcase area (okay, I power walked/jogged), and there it was. ONE. I grabbed it and threw it in my basket, covering it with my jacket so that no one would be tempted to steal it from me. Because people do that, you know. Um, did I mention that there was virtually NO ONE in the store?

Once the suitcase was secured, I strolled leisurely through the displays, grabbing a couple of tote bags to give as gifts. But, to my horror, many of the coolest things on the website (trays, drink ware, poufs) were not in the store, and there were little notes everywhere saying that there were "even more items available on the website!!" Dangit.

Anyway, I had my precious suitcase. So I checked out thinking, I'd just come home and get my stocking stuffers from the comfort of my couch. But guess what??? The Target site was down and is STILL down.

This, my precious unborn fawns, is insanity in its highest form. Who knew the world was this desperate for a bunch of cheap Missoni stuff? WHO KNEW????

 Well, Target did. Obviously.

sf

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lottie Paris Lives Here

I'm always fascinated by "day in the life" picture books because in books like these (think Eloise and Olivia), the author is able to present a slice of a child's life to the reader--often without a plot. And when these kinds of books are done right, children want to read them over and over and over again.

LOTTIE PARIS LIVES HERE written by Angela Johnson and illustrated by Scott M. Fischer, is one of those books. In fact, I dare you not to fall in love with this little girl. Just look at her!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely incredible. Scott Fischer said that he used "gouache, applied with rollers, stencils, sponges, brushes, and I even used a bit of sandpaper here and there! It is a very tactile feeling book, and my most inventive to date for sure!" I love the way he shifted perspective and used patterns and a soft palette throughout the book, paying attention to every little detail in Lottie's life. 

And what a wonderful little life she has! Lottie has just the right mixture of fun and sass (with just a tiny bit of naughty), but she remains grounded by her house, her front porch, and her Papa Pete. It's a sweet little book, and my daughter and I have read it so many times, just so we can end up sitting with Lottie  on her porch swing as the sun sets.

Charming.
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Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading these days . . .

Elana Johnson shares some book love for Random Acts of Publicity Week
LiLa Roecker is wild about a double giveaway of Witch Eyes and Wildefire
Christine Fonseca  thinks you should Write Your Book Now!
Shannon Whitney Messenger  loves Legend – with signed arc giveaway
Scott Tracey: Today is Witch Eyes release day – wowza!
Jessi Kirby gets inside Sean Griswold’s Head
Sarah Frances Hardy applauds Lottie Paris Lives Here
Stasia Ward Kehoe marvels at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer


Friday, August 19, 2011

Giving back

Good morning everyone!

First of all--HOW AWESOME WAS WRITE ON CON!!??!

What a wonderful thing it is to be part of a community that bands together to offer a free writing conference. A huge thank you to all of the conference organizers as well as all of the presenters. I am now fully inspired and ready to tackle my WIP that's been dragging me down.



And speaking of giving back.

When I sold my book, I made a decision: I was going to tithe all of the money the that I made from the sale of my books. That's 10% right off the top. I'm not going to tie myself to any one charity or group, but for now, I've donated most of my 10% to Leap Frog.




Leap Frog is an after school tutoring program here in Oxford, Mississippi. The school counselors and teachers for first and second graders select children who need a little extra help in school, and they come to our church and another church in town for two days a weeks after school (it's not a religious organization--the churches have just donated their facilities). The children in the program get one-on-one tutoring and homework help (yes!! there are an equal number of tutors and children--and most of the tutors are college students at Ole Miss). Then, the kids get a healthy snack and free time to play and hang out with their friends and tutors for the rest of the afternoon.

I chose Leap Frog for a few of reasons. The first was that their budget is small enough that my contribution actually makes a difference.The second was that, based on grades and testing, the Leap Frog kids actually improve--those reading and math scores go up significantly! And lastly, because my children go to public school, there is no "us" and "them". The kids in the program are our friends--we go to each others' houses and birthday parties--and we want everyone in our town to have a chance to succeed.

If everyone does a little bit (or a lot in some people's case), we can make a difference.

So, again. Thank you Jamie, Elana, Lisa, Laura, Casey and Shannon for giving back to our writing community. I hope that you're treating yourself to something caffeinated or sweet (or both) this morning.

sf

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Puzzled by Picture Books

If you missed it on Tuesday, here's a link to my video about creating a picture book manuscript and book dummy.

And while you're there, check out the rest of the conference. It's beyond awesome!!!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Write On Con




What are you doing here????? Head on over to Write On Con. I'll be back on Friday!! Promise.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hellloooo out there!!!!

Is anyone still there??

Hi. I'm Sarah Frances Hardy and it's been over a month since my last post . . . I'm going to blame it on the summer schedule (or lack of one).

But even though you haven't seen me here, a couple of really fun things have happened with my book.

Exhibit A:





My first proofs of P by P arrived. It's on real paper and the title is written in pink glitter. I know ebooks are the wave of the future, but there's nothing like seeing your book printed out on paper.

Exhibit B: I don't have a visual for this one so it's really a link and not an exhibit, but I was randomly searching for my name on Amazon (hmm, maybe I shouldn't admit that I do that . . . ), and my book is available for pre-order! Plus, I have my release date--April 12, 2012.

It's starting to feel real, people.  Eeeek!!!!

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Todd Parr

I don't know what it is about Todd Parr's sweet, simple, funny books, but my family and I love them.

My daughter received THE FEEL GOOD BOOK as a gift several years ago, and it has remained one of our favorites--so much so that the binding is cracked, the pages torn . . . we all have a few of those books on our shelves, the ones bearing the scars of affection.

Most recently, we got our hands on THE GRANDMA BOOK, and once again Todd has done it again. His illustrations are colorful, childlike and fun in a Keith Haring kind of way. His message is clear--there are lots of cool grandmas in the world and they are all awesome. You can't help smiling and giggling throughout the story. Check out his website--I dare you not to smile!



If you need a little "happy" in your day, pick up a copy of THE GRANDMA BOOK (or any other book by Todd Parr--we like THE PEACE BOOK, too).

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today, and for those of you at ALA in New Orleans, have a blast!!


Elana Johnson adores Hourglass
Beth Revis has cover love for Incarnate
Shana Silver swoons over Supernaturally
Rosemary Clement-Moore jumps for Jinx
Stasia Ward Kehoe praises Possession
Gretchen McNeil is giddy about Moonglass


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

OKAY FOR NOW

Have you ever read a book that was so good that you simultaneously couldn't wait to finish but didn't want the book to ever end? A book so good that when you finished it, you wanted to start reading it all over again? A book so well-written that you couldn't believe an adult could nail a kid's voice so perfectly? A book that made you laugh and cry (even if crying makes you a chump)?

A book that you wish you had written?


OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt was that book for me.



I read about this book first on Irene Latham's blog and then later on Elizabeth Bird's blog where she revealed her early picks for the Newbery Award, and after reading this book, I have a hard time believing that anyone will be able to beat it.

In OKAY FOR NOW, a young baseball-obsessed boy with a bad dad, a brother in Vietnam, another brother who's a jerk, and a mom with a beautiful smile, finds his own way as he delivers groceries in a small New York town. Best of all, the boy finds redemption and a means to express himself through artwork--inspired by a folio of Audobon's paintings--that is on display at the town's library.

OKAY FOR NOW is actually a sequel to Newbury Honor book THE WEDNESDAY WARS but don't worry if you haven't read that book--I haven't read it, and OKAY FOR NOW stands alone . . . but you can bet I'm on my way to pick up THE WEDNESDAY WARS in the next few days.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading:

Elana Johnson gushes over Blood Magic
LiLa Roecker adores Hourglass
Christine Fonseca sings high praises for Possess – with giveaway
Shannon Messenger applauds A Need So Beautiful – with giveaway
Megan Miranda has a passion for Possession
Carolina Valdez Miller sees beauty in Between Shades of Gray
Bethany Wiggins finds Bad Taste in Boys delicious
Shana Silver  celebrates A Need So Beautiful
Stasia Ward Kehoe delights in Delirium
Carrie Harris thinks Wrapped simply rocks
Rosemary Clement-Moore is giddy about Hourglass
Myra McEntire welcomes Blood Magic author Tessa Gratton into the Fort

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Heart Indies!

Thanks Lisa and Laura for organizing this soiree honoring our  beloved Indies.

I'm featuring the world famous Square Books Jr. in Oxford, Mississippi, a little slice of heaven located a couple of blocks from my house. It is a spin-off children's store in a separate building from it's parent, the Grand Dame of all bookstores Square Books. (if you click the link, you will see my two youngest girls flanking Kate di Camillo in the last picture ... go look, I'll wait)

In the nearly ten years that I've lived in Oxford, I've met Kate di Camillo, Keven Henkes, Mo Willems, Deborah Wiles, Toni di Terlizzi, Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Hesse, Laurie Halse Anderson, Trenton Lee Stewart, Ally Condie, Jan Brett, T.A. Barron, Laura Numeroff, Richard Peck . . . (and those are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head) at Square Books, Jr.

My dear friend Jill Moore is the head book buyer, and she runs the store in a way that is relaxed, inviting, and with just a touch of groovy-hippie vibe. My children and I can go to the store and read and linger without feeling pressure to make a purchase and leave (although we make many, many purchases).

John Bemelman Marciano and Jill Moore




The store is located downtown and close to the middle school. It is a local ritual for all of the sixth-eighth graders in town to walk to the Square after school to hang out at the bookstore, coffee shops, the yogurt shop, the candy store ... Square Books Jr. has a huge back room where they allow all of the kids to dump their backpacks so that they can walk around, unencumbered by fifteen pounds of Algebra textbooks on their shoulders. How cool is that?

I could gush on and on about all of the tiny wonderful things that Square Books does for our town, but the main thing I want to say is that it is the BEST thing in the world to have a curated store of hand-picked books with a knowledgable sales staff who know their customers.

Hats off to indies!!! Follow us on Twitter using #iheartindies and check out some more indie love at the links below:


Shana Silver
Elana Johnson
Stasia Kehoe
Shannon Messenger
Carolina Valdez Miller
Mundie Moms
Myra McEntire
Sara Bennett Wealer
Janet Gurtler
Joy Preble
Ty Drago
Kate Walton
Julia Karr
Randy Russell
Adele Griffin
Helen Landalf
Andrea Higgins
Beth Revis
Tess Hilmo
Sheela Chari
Gail Handler
Lisa and Laura Roecker
Crystal Allen
Christine Fonseca


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

DIVERGENT

Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT is the most talked about book of the year . . . and with good reason. It is a brilliant combination of intense suspense and danger paired with a teenage girl's search for her identity in a world that makes you choose exactly where you belong.



I didn't think anyone could come close to Suzanne Collins' amazing storytelling, but my agent-sister Veronica has hit one out of the park.

Here's the blurb from her publisher:


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.


For fun, take the DIVERGENT quiz on Facebook to find out what faction you are in. I'm a Erudite (I was totally hoping for Dauntless because they are the badasses--but I guess I'm too much of a chicken . . . and a book nerd).


Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading:

  • Elana Johnson sings praises for SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD

  • Shannon Messenger is wild about WILDFIRE + an ARC giveaway

  • Carolina Valdez Miller adores A NORTHERN LIGHT

  • Lisa and Laura Roecker dotes over DIVERGENT

  • Megan Miranda thinks MOONGLASS is marvelous

  • Jessi Kirby praises POSSESSION

  • Carrie Harris reveals the BAD TASTE IN BOYS Book Trailer

  • Stasia Ward Kehoe delights in BITTER MELLON

  • Christine Fonseca relishes in the RED GLOVE
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM

    Picture Junie B. Jones as an all grown-up (or growed-up as she would say) middle schooler. That's how I see Sofia, (named after a "sofa") the star of Rose Cooper's adorable book GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM.



    In this book Sofia is a blogtastic middle schooler who tries to use her blog as a way to ease her way up the all-important popularity scale. The middle schooler language is dead-on which is no easy task, let me tell you. And, both my fifth grade daughter and I laughed our way through this charming tale of secrets, deception, and stinky bathroom stalls.

    The book is written as if it's a secret journal--the blog behind the blog--where the whole ugly truth can be written. It's full of the most charming illustrations that I've ever seen. And, Rose did the illustrations, too.  Take a look:



    My daughter and I give GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS ROOM an enthusiastic double thumbs up.

    Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading:


    Elana Johnson marvels at Moonglass
    Christine Fonseca  raves about It’s Raining Cupcakes
    Shelli Johannes-Wells  chats with Pure and The Summer of Firsts & Lasts author Terra McEvaoy
    LiLa Roecker  and Carrie Harris have a passion for Possession
    Beth Revis admires the audiobook of Anansi Boys
    Carolina Valdez Miller is giddy over Moonglass – with giveaway
    Megan Miranda  swoons over Strings Attached
    Shana Silver delves into Divergent
    Matt Blackstone is tantalized by Bad Taste in Boys
    Stasia Ward Kehoe  glories in a guestanista review of The Rendering

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    I MET KATE DI CAMILLO!!!!

    Yes! It's true. Kate di Camillo came to Oxford!!

    Here I am going total fangirl on her.



    She read a bit from some of her books and answered great questions from the audience with off-the-cuff cleverness and humor.

    And, I was thrilled that I had the chance to tell her that she was my inspirational "Rocky music" during my phase of rejection letter after rejection letter after rejection letter ... Whenever it got to be too much--like cover your head in ashes and hide under the bed for a week "too much"--I would play a a video interview that I found of her on iTunes. In the interview, the interviewer asked Kate what kept her going when SHE kept getting rejections (she told us today that she amassed over 400! so hard to believe!!).

    Her response? Here's a copy of the transcript of this part of the interview (you can watch the whole thing on the Reading Rockets website):


    Why would somebody bother to keep on sending stuff out after that many rejection letters? I don't have an answer. I'd waited so long to start. You know, a whole decade of my life went by with me saying that this is what I wanted to do, but not doing it. I had reached such a critical level of self-disgust. I didn't want to die saying, "I think I could have done it."
    Since I was doing the work of telling stories, it was then an easy enough thing to then send the stories out and to keep on doing it, so I didn't have to say some 50 years hence, "I think I could've done that."
    Well you know, I've been in so many writing workshops, writing classes, and to the right of me and to the left of me, there's always somebody much more talented than I am. And what I figured out is they're not willing to go through the rejection, which is enormous, and then the compromise that comes with editing your work. I decided a long time ago that I didn't have to be talented. I just had to be persistent, and that that was something that I could control — the persistence. I've always been kind of persistent.

    Persistence. That's the key and it is truly the ONLY thing you can control in this crazy business.

    Wow!!  What a day!!!!

    sf

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    There oughta be a warning

    I had something wonderful happen this weekend. I was at a party talking to someone, and I told her that I had a children's book coming out next year.

    She said, "Is it ... did you ... um, did you do it yourself, or, you know ...?"

    "It's being published by Viking," I replied. Then she hugged me and said congratulations. And, I was pretty much over the moon because that NEVER happens.

    Here are the usual responses that I get when I tell people I have a children's book coming out:

    "Oh, my best friend/sister/coworker's aunt/ masseuse's three-year-old son wrote a book!" And, it's always something that person has self-published. Always.

    Or this:

    "Oh, I have a great idea for a children's book. It's a cute story about my cat/my grandmother/a preachy morality lesson ..." Then they stand there and wait for me to react. I'll talk about this comment more next week, but for now, all I can say is "ideas are cheap".

    Back to the self-publishing issue.

    I know that there are many, many arguments for going that route. It IS hard to get traditionally published. They DO take a huge chunk of your money. You STILL have to self-promote. And, these days you can create a pretty slick-looking book and hire your own editors and PR people.

    But, here's the thing.

    I have never personally read a self-published book that's any good (with one exception--Cheryl Klein's SECOND SIGHT--a compilation of her conference talks on writing). That's not to say that those books aren't out there (yes, I've read all about Amanda Hocking), but I've never happened across one. Normally, people self-publish because they've gotten a few rejections and see an easier and quicker way to get into print. It's ego driven, and people who are ego driven are usually people who don't like to take editorial advice (or they often seek advice from friends who don't have the dagger-in-the-heart ruthlessness needed to whip a manuscript into shape).

    And, what is most shocking to me is how much of the general public has NO IDEA that there's a difference between a self-published and traditionally published book. They don't know that there's a difference between beating yourself against the shore for years, reworking and reworking your manuscript, submitting and submitting--until finally you get THE CALL saying that someone believe in your work enough to pay you for it; and in writing a book, getting some people to read it and give you feedback, and sending in a large check.

    My wonderful literary book club just finished reading two exceptional books written by local traditionally published authors, Curtis Wilkie and Tom Franklin, and the authors came and spoke to us. Next month, my book club is reading a book by another local author--a self-published one--and most of the group didn't even realize there was a difference. I, of course, enlightened them.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that there are some really great self-published books out there that didn't make it in New York because of the market or fickle editors. But, as it gets increasingly easier to flood the market with self-published books, I think a big yellow warning label on the cover makes sense.  Just kind of a "read at your own risk" label indicating that this book hasn't been through any kind of jury process and it may or may not have been professionally edited.


    So, okay. I'm pretty sure I've offended some of you. What say ye, bloggers?

    sf

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Like Mandarin

    So here's proof that you can find a YA book that is NOT about vampires, zombies, werewolves ...


    LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard is a delicious read (and not in the blood-sucking, fang kinda way).

    Set in small town Wyoming, LIKE MANDARIN is a story about hero-worship, longing and the need to be true to yourself. The main character Grace, a smart girl who longs to leave her small town and her overbearing pageant-obsessed mother, becomes fixated on a wild beautiful girl who is older than she is. Their unlikely friendship allows both girls to grow and soar as they learn who it is they are supposed to be.

    Kirsten's writing is beautiful. Because I'm an artist, I love it when writing is done with a paintbrush--the images in the book are so lush and beautifully described, I feel immersed in the landscape of Wyoming.

    I highly recommend taking a swim in this book.

    sf

    *I normally review picture books and middle grade, and I do think this is best reserved for an older reader. The language and concepts are more suited to teens.

    Check out the other Bookanista posts today!

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Me ... Jane

    "Here is the story of a little girl named Jane who dreamed of a life helping animals and grew up to help change the world."

    Since tomorrow is Earth Day, I thought I'd review Patrick McDonnell's newest picture book ME ... JANE.



    This book tells the story of Jane Goodall as a child--she was a little girl who loved nature and learning about science. She was a little girl who carried around a stuffed monkey. She was a little girl who dreamed of someday going to Africa to live among and study animals.

    She was a little girl who's dream came true.

    This is an absolutely charming book, and Patrick McDonnell's illustrations are perfect for such a sweet, simple and moving story (if you haven't read his book ART, I highly recommend that one too!).

    It's an educational book as well. In addition to telling a beautiful story in an accessible way, this book can open the door to teach children about Dr. Jane Goodall who is a world-renowned primatologist and environmentalist. She is quoted on the back of the book jacket:


     There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow ... They inspire me. They inspire those around them.

    Now, step away from your computer and go take a walk!

    sf

    Oh, but before you take that walk, check out what the other Bookanistas are reading ...


    Elana Johnson visits Dark and Hollow Places
    LiLa Roecker gets silly over Spoiled
    Christine Fonseca has a passion for Possession – with giveaway
    Shannon Messenger marvels at Moonglass – with giveaway
    Jamie Harrington adores Invincible Summer
    Shelli Johannes-Wells is in the grip of Possession
    Scott Tracey bathes in Blood Magic
    Carolina Valdez Miller interviews Invicible Summer author Hannah Moskowitz
    Jessi Kirby praises Playing Hurt
    Bethany Wiggins delves into Divergent
    Shana Silver presents a Guestanista gushing over Between Here and Forever
    Gretchen McNeil  parties over The Anti-Prom
    Carrie Harris sings out about Shift
    Rosemary Clement-Moore applauds Abandon
    Matt Blackstone loves Like Mandarin
    Corrine Jackson delights in The Duff

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER

    I absolutely adore THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER by Jennifer LaRue Huget and LeUyen Pham.



    I bought this book for two reasons:
           1) I adore LeUyen Pham's illustrations. Always. She's amazing, amazing, amazing.
           2) I had a panic attack because my book also has pink balloons on the cover ... and my book is about a birthday party ... yikes. (I'm happy to report that the story is completely different from mine--but dang! I wish I'd thought of this one!!)

    The book begins with a girl counting down the days until her birthday party and as she plans her party, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger in her imagination--complete with elephants, ferris wheels and a birthday card from the President. When her real birthday rolls around, her mom and dad prepare a very normal birthday party for her--which is just fine because she has her friends, her cake, and a real live bunny as a gift.

    Don't you remember doing this when you were little (or, heck, some of us still do it--daydreaming about that Oprah appearance anyone?)? It's so much fun to plan those bigger-than-life events, and I love how this little girl's birthday party is just fine. Even after all the daydreams of elephants.

    Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading today: