Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dalton Trumbo and Banned Book Week

Last weekend I happened to catch American Masters on PBS. The episode focused on Dalton Trumbo- one of the "Hollywood Ten" during the Red Scare of the 40's and 50's. Trumbo won the National Book Award for his novel, Johnny Got His Gun. He was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the late 1940's. When he refused to inform on other writers, he was charged with Contempt of Congress. When he was interviewed about it years later, he responded with something like "the verdict was just, I did feel contempt for that Congress- and several others since."

Trumbo and the other members of the Hollywood Ten spent about a year in prison. Unfortunately, their sentence didn't end when they were released. These men spent many years blacklisted in Hollywood. Trumbo used 11 different aliases and resorted to collaborating with other writers in order to get work. The scripts he wrote included Exodus, Spartacus and A Bill of Divorcement. He also had the original concept for Roman Holiday. He wrote the script for The Brave One under the name of Robert Rich. He was nominated for an Oscar for that movie and when it was finally exposed that he was the writer for the script, his time on the blacklist finally ended, though his name wasn't restored on many of the scripts he wrote until the 1970's.

As an aspiring writer, I can't imagine having your work celebrated and not being able to take credit for it. The program was really well done. If you have a chance to watch it, you won't regret it.

Also September 26th-October 3rd is Banned Book Week. You would not believe some of the books that have banned. Check out the list here.



Monday, September 21, 2009

Check out these blogs/sites

There’s an interesting and slightly terrifying article on the future of advances in children’s publishing at

The editors at Writer’s Digest have been live-blogging over the weekend about their conference in New York called The Business of Getting Published. Alot of great info. all in one place. Check out the blog:

Editor, Ray Rhamey has a great post about activating passive verbs at Here’s the link:



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Say it Ain't So...

I found this article on another blog ( and was so outraged that I wanted to post it here too. It looks like the Free Libraries of Philadelphia are closing their doors due to budget constraints. I live no where near Philadelphia, but there have been talks of library closures in Cincinnati. Nowadays, this type of thing can happen anywhere. I for one have great memories of sitting in the Bookmobile (and the library) choosing library books as a kid. Since you're reading this, I bet you do too! Support your local libraries.

Here's a list of services that will no longer be available.

Specifically, the following will take effect after the close of business, October 2, 2009:
All branch and regional library programs, including programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults, will be cancelled
All Parkway Central Library programs, including children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs, will be cancelled. We are exploring the possibility of relocating the Philadelphia Author Series programs to other non-library facilities.
All library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers will cease.
All community meetings at our branch and regional libraries, and the Parkway Central Library, will be cancelled.
All GED, ABE and ESL programs held at Free Library branches will be discontinued, students should contact their teacher to see if other arrangements are being made.

Here's the link to the complete article:



Monday, September 14, 2009

Boring Night at the Bookstore

From time to time, it becomes necessary to replenish staffing deficits at the bookstore by sifting through the applications and interviewing new bookseller candidates. This is a task that I believe most of the managers do grudgingly. How do you differentiate between the potential superstar employee and the one who's going to rob the store blind?

The managers were able to find a few applications that stood out and not for good reasons.

There was the person who said on their application that their availability was flexible, but then only marked three days ( and six hours on those days), that they were available. What do they think is inflexible?

Then there was my personal favorite; The guy who marked in the education portion of the application that he was homeschooled and then under accomplishments he stated that he had perfect attendance year round. If you are homeschooled and you have perfect attendance, does that mean you successfully got out of bed everyday? He also listed Movie Club for one of his activities. If you're homeschooled and you're in the Movie Club, does that mean that you're in charge of picking the movies at Blockbuster?

These are the questions that haunt us on a Saturday evening in an otherwise uneventful bookstore.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Websites and Blogs for Children's Writers

There are some great resources available online for children’s writers. These sites can be a great way to find out about the trends in children’s publishing, the likes and dislikes of editors and agents and are great for networking.

Editor Sites:; I’ve mentioned how wonderful Cheryl’s site is in a previous post so I’ll keep it brief. She also blogs at : Alvina Ling of Little, Brown and Co.. It’s a mix of personal posts and ones dedicated to publishing. A super blog from an editor who remains anonymous but works in kids books. She answers questions and has some great insight into the business. Check out her archives for some awesome information on publishing terms and the whole editing process.

Agent Sites: : Brenda Bowen’s Bunny Eat Bunny World blog. She was an editor in the biz for a long time and recently made the move to agenting. She’s at the Stanford Greenburger Assoc. Website by Sarah Davies, a literary agent focusing on kids books. : New literary agency headed up by Michael Stearns, who was an editor at Harcourt for a long time.

Author Sites: Jane Yolen’s website. Her journal gives great insight what it’s really like to be a working writer. She also answers questions and has transcripts of some of her speeches on the site. Newbery winner, Linda Sue Park includes some great writing advice on the site. Robin Friedman’s site includes some great interviews with kid book editors. Cynthea Liu promotes other author’s books on her site, includes information on writing and holds some great contests where she’ll usually give away a free critique. Verla Kay’s site not only includes information on writing but also includes the “blue boards” forums for writers to ask questions of other writers, list response times for agents and editors. If you want to write for kids, this is the site you need to bookmark and go back to often. Cynthia Leitch Smith includes some great writing resources and interviews of industry professionals

Miscellaneous: A site dedicated to helping children’s writers achieve that allusive goal of getting published. Great blog kept by Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market editor, Alice Pope. She includes updates on the market listings on her site and often includes interviews with writers. Harold Underdown’s The Purple Crayon site includes some great information on getting published, which editors have moved where and other writing tips. If you are submitting directly to publishers this is a great reference. The website of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the site includes forums and publishing information and information on local meetings and events.



Sunday, September 6, 2009

Media Alert!

The Kings Firecrackers, a performance jump rope team(of the Kings School District, Cincinnati Ohio), will be performing on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon on Labor Day between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM EST on Channel 64.

Check it out!

Have a Happy Labor Day!



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Agent Blogs

It seems like more and more literary agents have blogs these days. Agents may use their blogs to promote their clients work, mentor aspiring writers or as a way to distribute updates about the everchanging publishing business. Whatever reason the agent uses their blog, it is a great tool to learn more about the agent and to determine if they would be a good fit for your work.
Here are some of the agent blogs: Janet Reid's blog, it's an excellent mix of publishing info, submission do's and don'ts and client promotion. And just the right amount of snark. Nathan Bransford's blog: includes some great advice for new writers and publishing info. He includes some tips for writing query letters that are incredibly useful. : Kristin Nelson's blog. Her blog includes sample pitches from some of her actual clients. She also describes why the query worked. Janet Reid also manages this blog. Step into the shark tank if you dare to have your query critiqued. Rachelle Gardner's Literary Ramblings blog includes tips on writing query letters, how to write a book proposal and also includes questions to ask literary agents when you get "the call." There's some great information on her blog. The blog kept by Jessica Faust of the Bookends Literary agency. She frequently answers comments and questions on her blog and is a great mentor to aspiring writers.

Other Lit. Agency blogs: Colleen Lindsey's blog, she's with Fineprint Literary Agency Dystel & Goderich Literary Management blog Jenny Rappaport Literary Agency blog Jennifer Jackson's blog of the Donald Maas Literary Agency

Some agencies include blogs on their websites. These include: Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency Michael Stearns and crew at Upstart Crow Literary Agency

I know there are some great blogs that I missed. Frequenting agency blogs is a great way to learn what's going on in the publishing business not to mention a great way to determine which agents represent the type of manuscript you want to submit.