Thought for the Day:
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
~ Bertold Brecht ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Literary agent Rachel Stout has a great guest post HERE on Nathan Branford’s blog about how to personalize a query. This is an important post.
Stuart Horowitz wrote a guest post HERE for Guide for Literary Agents that might convince you to dig out an old manuscript and dust it off.
Janice Hardy always has something important to say. The post HERE will keep you from the problem of contrived plots and is something we all need to keep top of mind.
This week I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Annual Conference on Creative Writing at Pacific. Pacific in this case refers to the University of Pacific in Stockton, CA. I hadn't heard of this conference before, but this is the fifth year. I wish I had heard of it sooner. First, it was very inexpensive, and as part of the registration fee I was able to enter my novel manuscript in a contest with a chance for a $500 prize and the possibility of being published by a small press in Stockton. Second, it is only an hour's drive from my home, so I didn't need a hotel. Third, the workshops were simply terrific. I had lots of choices, attended eleven workshops, and only was disappointed one time. I met some lovely people and even got to pitch my novel to three agents. One said, "No thanks." One said, "Cut your word count and then send it to me." And one said, "Send it to me." Yup. Send a full! I also got a terrific idea for a non-fiction picture book during a presentation by the head of archives at the UoP library. If you live in the area, check this one out next June. Oh, and I met a lovely young woman, 16 years old, who attended most of the same workshops I attended, paid attention, took notes, and asked really good questions. She is working on a YA historical novel and already has a finished first draft! At 16! I was so impressed. I'm pretty sure I will see her name on published books one of these days soon. It was a great three days for me.
Last week, I offered a hardback copy of Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War by Sigmund Brouwer to one of you. This week's winner is John Smith. Congratulations, John! (Hmmmm. I wonder if that is a pseudonym.) Anyway, he read and commented and got lucky. John, I will send the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, please keep reading. I have a fun one to give away this week.
I am always fascinated when I run across a middle-grade book that I know will get reluctant boy readers to open it. When I saw Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart come up on the list for the San Francisco Book Review, I requested it immediately. I knew if it would make my stomach do flips, it would be perfect for young boys. Oh, yeah. Serious flips and a couple of bad dreams. The boys will love this and some brave girls will as well. Here is the review I wrote for SFBR of this novel non-fiction. (Haha! Catch that play on words? Hmmmm?)
Some bugs are annoying, some are destructive, some cause pain, and some are downright deadly. This book has six sections — Deadly Creatures, Everyday Dangers, Unwelcome Invaders, Destructive Pests, Serious Pains, and Terrible Threats — that invite young readers into the world of the unpleasant side of bugs. No cute little ladybugs or lightning bugs here. No. Instead readers will discover flies that lay their eggs in a fire ant with larva that will proceed to eat the ants brain until it’s head falls off or worms that live in human intestines for as long as twenty years or even mites that live their whole lives under the skin of people causing terrible itching and rash.
This book is perfect for kids who have an interest bugs but are not squeamish.
Boy readers more than girls will like this, and reluctant readers will be drawn in. The writing is lively and fun. Author Amy Stewart has chosen well with the creatures she has included, and it is clear she knows her stuff about bugs. Full-color drawings by illustrator Briony Morrow Cribbs will make the squeamish even more so and the non-squeamish perfectly happy. This is a bug lover’s delight.
I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.
Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.