Friday, July 29, 2011

A THRILLING contest and celebration!

In celebration of the upcoming release of Walden Pond Press' Guys Read: THRILLER (Aug 2011) and our favorite holiday - HalloweenLiterary Asylum (that's us) and Underneath the Juniper Tree in association with Walden Pond Press want YOU to give us your best opening paragraph or two of the most thrilling, terrifying, spooky, creepy, and crazy MG/YA story you can muster.

Here's your motivation. The top writer will receive a copy of GR:THRILLER signed by the ambassador of Children's Lit himself Jon ScieszkaAnd, your paragraph/s will appear in an upcoming issue of UTJT. And, there is more! How is that even possible? The winning writer will be interviewed on the Literary Asylum blog to celebrate your thrilling job well done.

This sounds so amazing it has to be a TRICK of the Halloween. No, it is a wonderful TREAT that we want to share with you. So break out those writing implements and get cracking.

Whatever you do, don't forget to THRILL us.

Contest Rules

1) Submit your best work up to two paragraphs. Anything beyond that will not be read and taken out of the running.
2) Send your submissions in the BODY of the email, not attachments (they will not be opened) to the following emails (either or - no need to do both) OR
3) Be sure to put THRILLER contest submission in the RE: Line or it may get overlooked.
4) Deadline is OCTOBER 13th (why because we like that number) at MIDNIGHT
5) Follow our blogs (links above) and join us on Twitter


6) Most of all, have fun and keep the kids in mind. Let's give them stories that will keep them reading late at night!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In the agent's chair with CHRIS RICHMAN

I can tell you this. Having an agent in your corner and on your team is like being able to eat lunch with Han Solo and Chewbacca everyday. 

If that means nothing to you then you need to eat lunch with them and you will understand. Basically, it's freakin awesome! Speaking of awesome. I had the opportunity to speak with out-of-this-world agent, Chris Richman, from Upstart Crow Literary about his task of being an agent in the best sector of the literary world - children's literature. This post is not about what he is looking for or how you can submit manuscripts to him - that you can find on his site here. This is about being an agent and what happens on a day to day basis. 

How involved are you with your writers (from editing, notes, story development), and how important is this for you?

CHRIS RICHMAN - I’m typically very involved with my clients when it comes to editing, notes, and story development, especially on projects which are not under contract. I’ve yet to have a project go out on submission without doing at least one round of revision with the client first. For new clients, we can sometimes do several rounds of revision, from both big picture issues to pacing and character development. With existing clients, I weigh in on the marketability of new projects they’re considering working on to make sure the new work has a home in the market. In truth, I’m happy to help out in whatever way is most helpful for the client, and have done a little bit of everything.
When a project sells, however, I step back and let the writer work more directly with the editor, since that’s where the meat of the development takes place.

Put me in the agent chair, what are some of the day to day hurdles of being a lit agent? What do most people/clients not know about the hard work you do?

CR - Oh, there are loads of hurdles: dealing with writers who get mad at agents who don’t respond to unsolicited submissions quickly enough; having to break bad news to clients; finding the most effective ways to manage the hours in a day to be the most efficient. One of the biggest hurdles, however, is the fact that most agents don’t make a dime unless a project sells. So that means a lot of the auxiliary duties that come along with the job, from taking the time to send notes along with passes on queries, to giving advice, to doing blog interviews, never leads to any sort of financial return. But when a project does sell, it can of course be very gratifying.

Writing these days is not just about turning over a manuscript and hoping it sells. What do writers need to do these days to really help make a career of writing?

CR - Making a career in writing can be extremely difficult. Heck, making a career as an agent is difficult, too! Writers need to remember, however, that very few authors are able to pull in enough income  to make writing a career. To make it happen, though, they need to remember to treat it like a business, and have ideas beyond the one they are trying to get published. They need to also know that if they are able to make a career, it’s not going to happen quickly. The old adage about publishing being a slow process couldn’t be more true. It takes time, it takes dedication, it takes persistence, it takes spouses, friends, and family who understand their passion. But if there’s talent there, and good ideas, and a terrific work ethic, it can happen.

Writers, for the most part, are a lonely lot and need a lot of encouragement. I know many of them that need a daily download from their agent to see how things are going. I want to flip the table and ask what the writer can do to help their agent do their job? How do we writers become better clients?

CR - Speaking personally, none of my clients needs a daily download. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been able to find very level headed clients, or perhaps I’ve been lucky. Some things writers should remember when it comes to communication from their agents, however, is that if they haven’t been hearing news, it’s likely because there IS no news to share. One of the most important things I can preach to all writers out there is patience. I know it’s exciting; I know you’re personally invested; I know you (and me and everyone involved in creative pursuits) can get a little crazy, but we all have to remember to be patient, to know there will be failures and successes, and try to roll with the punches.

I have conversations with people about writing for children and I get a lot of "so you take what you you would write for adults and dumb it down" comment. Can you tell those people who want to write for children what they really need to know?

CR - Well, as many of us who read and write books for children already know, the idea that children’s books are simply dumbed down adult books is ludicrous. So what, you take a gritty cowboy and replace his six-shooter with a water pistol and presto? Writers who want to write for children must first be well-versed in what already has worked. Then they must be aware of what the current market is calling for. Then they must learn to respect their audience, and give them something that will challenge them, or speak to them, or make them laugh. In many ways, writing for children is more difficult than writing for adults, I feel, and doing it exceptionally well is even more difficult than that.

What are some of the biggest shifts in publishing that you see today? How are E-books and authors jumping to self publish effecting our world?

CR - We’ve seen the shift happen more slowly in children’s books than our colleagues on the adult side have experienced, but it’s definitely shifting. When I entered the world of publishing just over three years ago, no one was taking E-books seriously, but obviously that’s changed quite a bit in a short amount of time. We can’t deny that kids are becoming more and more comfortable with technology, and it’s exciting to think of new ways of reaching them using resources other than ink and paper. Three years ago, too, we could count the amount of self-published authors worth paying attention to on one hand. Now things are shifting, and some people are able to find success without going the traditional route. No matter what happens with technology, however, stories will continue to be necessary no matter what medium is used to reach them, and great writing will always be paramount.

If you could be any literary character through out time, who would it be and why?

CR - Ha! I like ending on such a fun question. So who would I want to be...I suppose I wouldn’t mind being Charlie Bucket from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. I mean, sure, the kid had a rough start, but he came out of it owning a marvelous chocolate factory and being able to take a trip into outer space in a great glass elevator. And what’s the worst he has to deal with? Some cranky Oompa-Loompas? Seems pretty awesome to me.

Chris, thank you so much for hanging out at the Asylum and sharing your in the chair stories. I can't tell you how valuable it is for writers to know how important your job is beyond reading manuscripts and fielding calls and being a therapist too. We are forever grateful for your wisdom. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A celebration for MILO - the paperback release

TOMORROW (7/26) is the paperback release of one of my favorite books. MILO: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze (Aladdin books) by Alan Silberberg. It lands in bookstores and all across the net in the soft and pillowy form we know as paperback. It's like a marshmallow for your hands and so good for your brain (I just made that part up. Feel free to use that among your friends).

Because MILO is such a wonderful book - you can check out my older posts here - we want to celebrate it's PB release all day 7/26. We, being you, me, your friends, Aladdin books, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers... you get the idea.

MILO Synopsis: Milo Cruikshank is a 13 year-old new kid, who has to find a way to hit the "restart" button all over again.The truth is, ever since Milo's mother died nothing has felt right. Now, instead of the kitchen being filled with music, the whole house is filled with Fog. Nothing's the same. Not his Dad. Not his sister. And definitely not him. In love with the girl he sneezed on the first day of school and best pals with Marshall, the "One-Eyed Jack" of friends, Milo struggles to survive a school year that is filled with reminders of what his life "used to be".

Brimming with heart, humor and ultimately hope, Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze is a powerhouse of a novel that will stay with you well after you've turned the last page. 

Tell us what MILO means to you. Do you have any favorite quotes, moments from the book, drawings that struck a chord! Join us over on twitter (or your networking place of choice) and give a shout out to MILO.

Be sure to use the hashtags:

#MILOPB #BrainFreeze

Give a shout out to Milo's awesome creator Alan Silberberg @AlanSilberberg. Milo's incredible editor, Liesa Abrams @BatgirlEditor and let them know your love for the book. They hear it from me all the time so it would be nice for the gushing to come from others too.

Fellow blogger and author Shannon Messenger @SW_Messenger and I will be among the bookish fiends leading a charge to spread the MILO love all day. So come join the fun and celebrate MILO with us. You are certain to meet fellow like-minded bloggers, authors, industry peeps, readers, fans, librarians and more! If you are not on twitter celebrate on the other social networks and be sure to send us a line so we can share with others.

Did I forget to mention that there may even be a really awesome giveaway?! Stay tuned for details. Until then. Long live MILO!

MILO giveaway rules below!!

To enter, all you have to do is tweet using the hashtag #MILOrules by 11:59 pm EDT tonight, and you could be the winner of a shiny MILO paperback of your very own (sorry--US only).

Not sure what to tweet? Try finishing one of the following statements:

The most embarrassing costume I wore growing up was ...
My favorite Slurpie flavor is...
One item/toy I miss the most from my childhood is...
(Or insert other embarrassing or fun childhood memory here. )

Just don't forget to put #MILOrules at the end, or we won't find your entry!

Or, if you'd like something even easier, feel free to copy and paste the following tweet:

Tweet #MILOrules for a chance to win a paperback of MILO: Sticky Note & Brain Freeze, by @alansilberberg!

Also, feel follow along throughout the day as I, @alansilberberg, @batgirleditor and @SW_Messenger tweet embarrassing childhood stories, favorite quotes from the book, and all kinds of general hilarity. The more the merrier!

Friday, July 22, 2011


At 12 feet 6 inches tall, Jonathan Auxier, is literary force of nature. Okay fine, he's not really that tall, but he is talented.  His debut book, PETER NIMBLE & HIS FANTASTIC EYES - available August 1st (Abrams) - is a darkly whimsical and sharply written tale. I highly recommend it to all.

Jonathan and I have had the pleasure of hanging out on a few occasions and it is always entertaining and awesome. He's a great guy, wonderful talent and kindred spirit. I am absolutely honored to be able to have him here at the Asylum to dish on writing and his fantastic new book.

Can you give us a bit of your background and what brought you to writing for children?

Jonathan Auxier - I’ve been working as a professional storyteller for a few years now. By “professional,” I mean I’ve been lucky enough to pay my bills through writing, if just barely. During that time, I’ve written everything from plays to screenplays to commercials to comics. A few years back, I found myself growing frustrated by the “hired gun” aspect of the entertainment industry. Most of the time, you’re working with someone else’s story ideas -- and even if those ideas are brilliant, they aren’t yours. Screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxauch once described this to me as “marching in someone else’s army,” which I’ve always liked. Some writers really enjoy that collaborative spirit, but I’m not one of them. I think when I know something isn’t 100% mine, I subconsciously hold back.

JA - At some point, I was starting to lose sight of why I even wanted to tell stories in the first place. This desperation led to me unearthing a novel manuscript I had written in graduate school -- Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes. The draft was terrible, but something within the story still sparked my imagination. And so I started squirreling hours away on nights and weekends, revising the manuscript. Over time I realized that there was something about the nature of prose writing that engaged my imagination in a way script writing never had -- it’s a bigger canvas. 

It makes sense that my “passion project” was a children’s book because children’s literature has been the one constant in my life. My love for theatre and film has come and gone, but since a very young age, I have been an avid collector of children’s books. My wife is a Victorian Children’s Literature scholar, and pretty much all we ever do is talk about kid’s books. In fact, I first hit on her because I saw she was carrying the Blackwell Anthology of Children’s Literature!

A lot of writers have talked to me about wanting to write scripts now that they have written books. You and I have both gone from scripts to books. Did you find the transition from script format to manuscript format difficult? If so, what were the challenges you had to overcome when writing?

JA - One of the nice things about screenwriting is that it’s a very lean medium. Virtually every line of a screenplay is either a physical action or a line of dialog -- it’s pure story. That’s not an accident; playwrights and screenwriters are trained to pare everything that isn’t story out of their scripts. They’re supposed to leave those details to the director, actors, and designers. 

Fiction, on the other hand, puts those details back on the writer. A book requires that you spend a lot more energy fleshing out those raw bits of story with description, framing, dialog tags, and the ever-elusive “tone.” Even the most fast-paced novel contains thousands of words that are inessential to the “who-what-where-when” of a story. The end result is a lot more immersive -- but it’s also a lot more work!

Your debut novel sound awesome, can you tell us a bit about it? Also, what is the street date?

JA - Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes is the story of a ten year-old blind orphan who also happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived -- he can smell gold inside a rich man’s pocket; he can hear a guard’s heartbeat around the corner; he can pick any lock; etc. One day he steals this mysterious wooden box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. With the eyes, Peter sets off on this gigantic adventure that takes him across seas, deserts, and finally to a vanished kingdom where he must rescue a people in need.  It’s equal parts Oliver Twist and Gulliver’s Travels … with a little good old-fashioned wordplay thrown in for good measure.

The book hits stores August 1, which is ironic because August has long been my least favorite month of the year -- though now I think I’m warming up to it! 

How long did it take from manuscript to agent to publishing deal?

JA - As I mentioned, the first draft of Peter Nimble actually predates my screenwriting career. When I was studying playwriting in graduate school, I was really struggling -- I was very young and in way over my head. After my first rocky year, I was on the brink of dropping out. One day I sat down to write a letter explaining why I wasn’t coming back to the program … but instead I started writing this story about a blind boy floating in a basket. I wrote a first draft in three weeks (a chapter a day)
and then put it in the bottom of a drawer for two years. 

Jump to a few years later: I had managed to get my foot through the door of the screenwriting world and was already frustrated with the work-for-hire culture. All the stuff I talked about before. That’s the same time I took Peter Nimble out and started revising. And revising. And revising.

I’m a big believer in page-one rewrites. I think there’s a small, but essential refining that happens each time a writer is forced to re-articulate an idea. Over the course of about four years, I re-wrote Peter Nimble twenty times. The shocking thing was that with each pass, the story, characters, themes, and pacing remained almost completely unchanged. But with each version, I was honing in on what about the story felt true. And frankly, I was also learning how prose worked. It’s a completely different medium than dramatic writing, and the learning curve is steep!

Is there any advice you can give to the many of us currently going through all or one of these stages?

JA - Wow, I love few things more than giving advice to strangers! This stuff is specific to my own experience, so caveat scriptor:

Move to New York or Los Angeles because that’s where your competition lives, and your competition will make you better.

Don’t waste time reading “how to” books or drafting query letters until you have finished writing something that is true and wonderful.

Always listen to notes; readers may be wrong about how to fix a problem, but usually they’re right about the fact that a problem exists.

Try and finish something new every six months -- you can double-back for rewrites, but you owe it to yourself to type “the end” at least twice a year.

Yeah, that last one is more wishful thinking for me. But on the whole, I can’t imagine a person doing those four things and not eventually carving out some kind of career.

You've also written for comics. Did you like the process and would you like to do more?

JA - I’m working on a graphic novel now, in fact! The biggest thing I learned from writing comics is that even when the story is straightforward, the form is incredibly hard. Drama is action, and comics are incapable of showing action … instead they show frozen moments that are meant to indicate action. Think about it: Spider-Man never punches a guy. Instead, all we ever see is his fist raised in the air, the word “THWOP!” and some thug hurtling backward. This fact became painfully clear to me one day when I was scripting a comic and wanted to write a double-take. I defy you to write a double-take for a comic book. It can’t be done!

What is a dream comic project for you? (Mine would be Batman - of course!)

JA - I have a deep and abiding love for Windsor McCay. He was a turn-of-the-century cartoonist who basically invented the modern comic strip with his brilliant, beautiful series “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” Both “Little Nemo” and his more adult “Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend” were major influences on my writing and art when I was growing up. Because McCay was pumping out a new strip every week -- one that had to end with the same silly punch line -- I feel like his narratives could never do justice to the amazing worlds and characters he had created. I think a part of me has always longed to take a crack at fleshing out some of those early stories!

What do you love most about writing? What do you hate?

JA - Like most writers, I hate writing and love having written. The problem is that you can’t enjoy the latter without laboring over the former.  I also enjoy the preamble -- working through a new idea before you sit down to write it. For me that involves a lot of conversation with my (very patient) wife as well as drawing lots of pictures in my journal. Pretty much every story I’ve every written started as a drawing in one of my journals.

Finally, if there was a zombie apocalypse (or I should say when -- ha ha) and you were trapped inside a building with only one book to read, what would it be and why?

JA - In the situation you describe, I suspect that Robinson Crusoe would suddenly take on new dimensions. It’s also a pretty fine book, apocalypse or not!

Well played Mr. Auxier. You might be able to at least hit a few zombies with that book before escaping to the island. Now that you've hung out with us go order, pick up, check out from the library a copy of Peter Nimble! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bookish Kid Lit Panels at San Diego Comic Con 2011

Many thousands of us will be attending the San Diego Comic Con (starting today) and the nerdocolypse will wash over the gas lamp district. For many of you, it could be your first time or you may be trying to figure out how to navigate the crowded waters to find those KID LIT friendly/related panels. Well, have no fear. I have compiled the list of panels in one spot - here. Have fun, I look forward to seeing some of you there.


1:15-2:15 Books vs. Graphic Novels and Comics— Writers often dabble with various forms of art as an outlet for their creativity. In this panel, authors discuss the process and collaboration involved in publishing a graphic novel versus a novel, as well as the role comic books play in the creation of their characters and story arcs. Panelists Christopher Moore and Ian Corson (The Griff), Jim Butcher (The Harry Dresden series), Tom Sniegoski (The Fallen series), Amber Benson (The Calliope Reaper Jones novels), and Matthew Holms (Babymouse, Squish) talk about the differences and similarities with moderator David Mariotte of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 6A
Tags:  Comics | Writers & Writing

3:00-4:00 Magic & Monsters— Adult and young adult science fiction and fantasy authors discuss the costs and consequences of "magic" in their novels and the scary, hairy, and dangerous creatures that lurk in the worlds they have created. Visit the worlds of Kim Harrison (The Hollows series), Andrea Cremer (The Nightshade series), Anton Strout (The Simon Canderous series), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Ben Loory (Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day), J. F. Lewis (The Void City novels), and Diana Rowland (The White Trash Zombie series), guided by moderator Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 25ABC
Tags:  Horror and Suspense | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

4:30-5:30 Comics for Teens— Comics creators Cecil Castelluci (Plain Janes), Hope Larson (Mercury), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), and Gene Luen Yang (Level Up) come together for a discussion of what makes a comic fit a teen audience. Do books for teens have something special that books for kids and adults don't have? Moderated by Scott Westerfeld (New York Times bestselling teen author). Room 26AB
Tags:  Art and Illustration | Cartooning and Comic Strips | Comics | Writers & Writing

7:00-8:00 The Scoop at Simon & Schuster!— Get the inside word on Simon & Schuster's upcoming books and the chance to win exclusive prizes! Lucille Rettino (marketing director), Elke Villa (senior marketing manager), Carolyn Swerdloff (associate marketing manager), and Anna McKean (publicity manager) give you the scoop on upcoming books from exciting authors, including Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Orson Scott Card, and Becca Fitzpatrick. Hear what is going on with S&S's hot properties -- Star Trek and The Smurfs -- and get a chance to win exclusive giveaways. All attendees will receive a limited edition T-shirt for Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Prince. Room 9
Tags:  Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing


12:00-1:00 Spotlight on Rebecca Moesta Comic-Con special guest Rebecca Moesta (Star Challengers) has written more that 30 Middle Grade and YA novels in a variety of science fiction and fantasy series, from media universes (Young Jedi Knights, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Titan AE) to her own universes (Crystal Doors, Star Challengers, co-written with husband Kevin J. Anderson). Her new Star Challenger trilogy was co-created with June Scobee Rodgers (Challenger Centers for Space Science Education) to help inspire a new generation to explore careers in science, engineering, and technology. Rebecca will be interviewed by fellow author Nancy Holder (Crusade series). Room 9
Tags:  Comic-Con Special Guest Spotlights & Appearances | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

12:00-1:00 ABC Family: The Nine Lives of Chloe King An exclusive sneak peek of an upcoming episode of The Nine Lives of Chloe King, followed by a Q&A session with the cast and producers. The cast in attendance includes Skyler Samuels (The Gates) as Chloe King, Amy Pietz (The Office) as Meredith King, Grey Damon (True Blood, Friday Night Lights) as Brian, newcomer Grace Phipps as Amy, Benjamin Stone (Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter video game series) as Alek, Alyssa Diaz (Shark Night 3D) as Jasmine, and Ki Hong Lee (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as Paul. The executive producers are Dan Berendsen and, from Alloy Entertainment, Gina Girolamo. The Nine Lives of Chloe King airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on ABC Family. Room 23ABC
Tags:  Science Fiction & Fantasy | Superheroes | Television

4:30-5:30 Comics in the Library— Librarians Candice Mack (LA Public Library), Mike Pawuk (Cuyahoga County Public Library), and Eva Volin (Alameda Library) come together for a discussion of the place of comics in the library. Which titles should you buy, where do you shelve them, and how do you convince the people you work with that comics have a real place in the library? This panel will tell you all this and more. Moderated by Gina Gagliano (First Second Books). Room 26AB
Tags:  Comics

7:00-8:00 What's Up with Penguin— Anne Sowards (executive editor, Ace/Roc), Jessica Wade (senior editor, Ace/Roc), and Erin Dempsey (director of trade marketing, Penguin Young Readers Group) give you the dish on forthcoming books from such exciting authors and licensed properties as Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, S. M. Stirling, Rachel Caine, Heather Brewer, Richelle Mead, Kathy Reichs, John Flanagan, and many others. You can expect lots of giveaways you won't see anywhere else at the convention, including free advance reading copies! Room 9
Tags:  Horror and Suspense | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing


12:00-1:00 Twilight Fan Panel— ScarlettLetters (Wild Swan), ArcadianMaggie (I Wept Not), MJinAspen (Reality Minus Expectations), Rochelle Allison (Stary Eyed Inside), magnolia822 (A Quit Fire), Belladonna1472 (The Cullen Campaign) and Einfach Mich (Confessions of a Difficult Woman) make up this year's panel of Twilight fan fiction authors. They'll answer questions about the challenges and joys of writing derivative fiction in the Twilight fandom. Santa Rosa Room, Marriott Marquis & Marina
Tags:  Fandom | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

12:30-1:30 Diversity in Young Adult Works— It's not all about being torn between vampire and werewolf boyfriends. This panel is a celebration of different genres, protagonists, and media for young adult readers. The diverse authors participating include Cindy Pon (Fury of the Phoenix), Kiersten White (Supernaturally), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Vera Brosgol (Anya's Ghost), Gene Yang (Level Up), and Elizabeth Bunce (A Curse Dark As Gold). Moderated by Malinda Lo (Huntress). Room 8
Tags:  Horror and Suspense | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

1:00-2:00 Little Lulu Fan Group— One of the most memorable kids' comics ever created, Little Lulu has generated a fan following around the world. Learn more about this classic comics character and the renewed interest in the other delightful works of the great John Stanley, and join in for the annual scripted reading of a Golden Age Little Lulu story. All are welcome! Santa Rosa Room, Marriott Marquis & Marina
Tags:  Cartooning and Comic Strips | Comics | Fandom

1:45-2:45 Vampires and Others— How do you make a relationship work when you or your significant other lack a pulse or face other mortal-challenged issues? Get relationship advice from Patricia Briggs (The Mercy Thompson series), Nancy Holder (The Crusade series), Linda Thomas-Sundstrom (The Golden Vampire), S.G. Browne (Fated), Clay and Susan Griffith (The Vampire Empire series), and Christine Cody (Bloodlands). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 6A
Tags:  Comic-Con Special Guest Spotlights & Appearances | Horror and Suspense | Writers & Writing

4:00-5:00 How to Create a Children's Book— Brianne Drouhard (Billie the Unicorn), Mike Collins (Monster Mythos), Eric Gonzalez and Erich Haegar (Rosita Y Conchita), Beth Sleven (Cryptid Case Files), and Steph Laberis (Ghost Chef) discuss the process of creating a children's book from scratch. Topics include designing a character and its world, choosing illustration materials, and creating a story. The panel participants have backgrounds in animation and gaming and will discuss how this influences their art. Development art will be presented, followed by Q&A. Room 30CDE
Tags:  Animation | Art and Illustration | Cartooning and Comic Strips | Comics | Games | Seminars & Workshops

4:30-5:30 Transforming Super-Powered Comic Book Readers into Super-Powered Comic Book Writers— This presentation focuses on how parents, teachers, and librarians can build on the popularity of graphic novels and transform present-day readers of graphic novels into future writers of graphic novels. Panelists include Dr. Katie Monnin (Teaching Graphic Novels, Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels), Belle Yang (Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale), Dr. James Bucky Carter (Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels), John Hogan (editor at, Eric Wight (Frankie Pickle), Jimmy Gownley (Eisner Award-nominated graphic novelist of Amelia Rules!), Matt Holm (Babymouse, Squish), and Meryl Jaffe (Teaching Content Area Graphic Novels). Room 26AB
Tags:  Comics | Seminars & Workshops | Writers & Writing

5:30-6:30 Comics in the Classroom— Teachers Anastasia Betts (UCLA), Christina Blanch (Ball State University), Thien Pham (Bishop O'Dowd High School), and Cheryl Wozniak (San Francisco Public Schools) discuss the place of comics in the classroom. Moderated by Chris Duffy (Nursery Rhyme Comics). Room 26AB
Tags:  Comics | Seminars & Workshops


10:00-11:00 What's Hot in Young Adult Fiction: Sit Down with the Writers We Can't Stop Talking About— Hosted by Nathan Bransford (Jacob Wonderbar Cosmic Space Kapow), and featuring panelists Andrea Cremer (Nightshade series), Amanda Hocking (Hollowland), Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me), Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss), Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), and Kiersten White (Paranormalcy), who discuss the YA phenomenon and their books. Room 23ABC
Tags:  Horror and Suspense | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

10:00-11:00 Teen Comics Workshop— Teens! Join teen comics creators Vera Brosgol (Anya's Ghost), Thien Pham (Level Up), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), and Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) for the interactive comics workshop adventure of your lives. Learn exciting new things about storytelling, character development, drawing, and much more. Room 30CDE
Tags:  Art and Illustration | Comics | Writers & Writing

10:00-11:00 Comic Book Fairs: Using Comics as a Literacy Tool— A diverse group of panelists from across the comic book, education, and nonprofit industries offer a frank and educational discussion celebrating and appreciating the role of Archie comics in academia. Archie Comics co-CEO and former teacher Nancy Silberkleit leads a panel that includes Kimberly Earle (CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving), Michael Bitz (, and David Rojas (Archie Education) to discuss how schools can adopt comics in the classroom, how to create comic book-oriented lesson plans, student-created comic book projects, and what Archie Education has planned. Room 32AB
Tags:  Comics | Seminars & Workshops

11:00-12:00 Manga Drawing For Kids— David Karrow (Alpha League) and a team of artists from eigoMANGA will teach kids of all ages tutorials on manga illustrations and storytelling.  Room 30CDE
Tags:  Anime & Manga | Art and Illustration | Comics | Kids

12:30-1:30 Secret Origin of Good Readers Breakout— These breakout sessions feature practical classroom exercises with comic books to demonstrate how to utilize comics in classroom settings. An all-ages appropriate comic book pack for your in-classroom library (limited to 50 packs) is available for participating educators after this panel. A free online 70-page The Secret Origin of Good Readers companion resource book [PDF] and other exciting materials are available at courtesy of Room 23ABC
Tags:  Comics | Seminars & Workshops

1:45-2:45 Writing For the Middle Grade Audience: Engaging the Reader at an Important Age— Writers discuss how to craft books that engage and delight readers who are too mature for early readers but not yet ready to read young adult books. Authors include Rebecca Moesta (the Crystal Doors series), Brandon Mull (Beyonders: A World Without Heroes), Matt Myklusch (A Jack Blank Adventure Series), John Stephens (The Books of Beginning), Nathan Bransford (Jacob Wonderbar series), Stephen McCranie (Mal and Chad), D.J. MacHale (the Pendragon series), E. J. Altbacker (Shark Wars series), and Greg Van Eekhout (The Boy at the End of the World). Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy.  Room 5AB
Tags:  Comic-Con Special Guest Spotlights & Appearances | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

2:45-3:45 High School Bites— Let's face it: High school sucks enough without having to add a constant thirst for blood, going all furry under a full moon, or being hunted by all of the above. But for these YA authors, going back to high school was the best decision they ever made. Scott Westerfeld (The Uglies series), Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone), Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness), Debbie Viguie (Once Upon a Time series), Anna Carey (Eve), and Heather Brewer (The Vlad Tod series) discuss their characters' formative years with moderator Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 5AB
Tags:  Comic-Con Special Guest Spotlights & Appearances | Horror and Suspense | Science Fiction & Fantasy | Writers & Writing

Monday, July 18, 2011

MG Releases - Week of July 17th 2011

Because I am always having to go to many sites to find out what is releasing in my passion area of books, I have decided to start collecting a list of weekly releases in the middle grade arena. So let's start the kick off with the following: 

Dragonbreath: No Such Things As Ghosts (Dial, July 21, 2011)

Synopsis: Danny Dragonbreath and his best friend, Wendell, have a carefully constructed trick-or-treating system designed to maximize their Halloween candy haul. But this year, despite Danny's awesome vampire costume, their plan is flopping. First, Danny's dad makes them trick-or-treat with Christiana Vanderpool, an annoying know-it-all (and girl) who doesn't even believe that dragons exist. And then the school bully dares them to go into a spooky old haunted house. Naturally, the house is inhabited by a creepy clown and a candy-crazed ghost of yore. It's going to take more than fire-breathing to get them out of this mess - they might even have to (horror of horrors!) perform a sacrificial candy offering. Perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid and Big Nate, Ursula Vernon's hauntingly hilarious fifth book in the Dragonbreath series will make you check your closets and lock up your candy.

Bone Dog (Roaring Brook Press, July 19, 2011)

Synopsis: Ghost dogs and skeletons in a tall tale with a tender heart from the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of My Friend Rabbit. Sam doesn't feel like doing much after his dog Ella dies. He doesn't really even feel like dressing up for Halloween. But when Sam runs into a bunch of rowdy skeletons, it's Ella--his very own Bone dog--who comes to his aid, and together they put those skeletons in their place. A book about friendship, loss, and a delightfully spooky Halloween.

I CaN't WaiT fiLeS: Darth Paper Strikes Back

I'm starting lots of new things on the blog and one of them is the above-mentioned. The I Can't Wait Files will be a weekly post about anything middle gradish that I can't wait for and think may be of interest to you.

My first ICWF is DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK by Tom Angleberger. The awesometastic dude who wrote The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Yeah, you know that book of amazingsuaceness! Darth Paper Strikes back on August 23, 2011(Amulet Books). Personally that is way too long to wait. Until then I will just keep hounded my friend Tom for an early copy.

You can also check out this awesome interview with Tom over at (how cool is that!) -

So until we get to get our hands on this future facemelter - MAY THE FOLDS BE WITH YOU!

James Patterson - Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

I thought this interview with Mr. Patterson about about his new middle grade book was interesting. I have to giggle at the part when he says that books with illustrations are the future.

Has anyone read this book yet? I'm curious and hesitant.


One of the very first posts that went up on the asylum was the news of Martin Scorsese directing Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Now the time has come for us to see how that endeavor has panned out. I would say that, judging by this trailer, Mr. Scorsese has done very well! You be the judge.