FEED YOUR HEAD → KidLit, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


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Interview with picture book author, Laura Sassi

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. Her poems, stories, articles, and crafts have appeared in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. and elsewhere. GOODNIGHT, ARK is her first picture book.

SassiLaura

Tell us about your debut picture book. 

GOODNIGHT, ARK is a rollicking, yet ultimately restful, rhymer about bedtime on Noah’s ark. As the storm escalates various pairs of animals get scared and dash into Noah’s bed for comfort. The story is light-hearted and playful. Illustrator Jane Chapman, who also illustrated Karma Wilson’s BEAR SNORES ON, adds to the fun with her warm and humorous illustrations.

What are some rhyming tips you can offer other authors?

Writing picture books in rhyme can be challenging because there’s more to it than just rhyming. The rhyming must work within the structure of meter and verse. Sometimes writers are tempted to invert words to make the rhyme or meter work, but this only makes the piece feel forced.  Another common mistake is to let the rhyme drive the plot so that things happen simply because it’s convenient for rhyming purposes. So, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure the story comes first! If you’re having a hard time making it rhyme naturally, maybe it’s better told in prose.  But if you have a good ear, a lot of patience, and a passion for playing with words, go for it!  =)

Henry: I tell beginning writers to visit http://www.DontDoRhyme.com (not a real website). It IS much harder. Then, of course, I don’t listen to my own advice. My debut picture book was MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES. Do as I say, not as I do.

I’ve seen some less-than-perfect rhymes published. What is your reaction when you see that?

Rhyming poorly is akin to singing off key. It’s hard to enjoy. At the same time, reading poor rhyme brings out my passion to keep working at my craft.  So I guess as a rhymer, I find it motivating to make sure my poems and stories are in tune.

Henry: That’s like my bizarre instinct to pull weeds even on yards that are not mine.

Would you tell us a little about Zonderkidz?

Zonderkidz is the children’s imprint of Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Zonderkidz publishes bibles, devotionals, picture books, chapter books and more. They are based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.zonderkidz.com.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Last year, after reading some of my poetry to my daughter’s third grade class, one of her adorable classmates shyly handed me a very crinkled scrap of paper and asked for my autograph. That was the first time anyone had asked me for that. I happily obliged. Now, I always carry a pen with me, just in case.  =)

Henry: I give away life-sized cardboard standees of myself to whoever will take them…

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

Writing is a long journey, with many opportunities for growth and improvement along the way.  My biggest bit of advice would be not to rush the process by sending manuscripts out to publishers prematurely.  Rather, keep honing your craft, day by day. Enjoy the journey, rather than focusing too much on the final goal of publication.

Henry: That’s good advice, but not so easy to implement. I find myself thinking that a manuscript is done about ten times before it’s really done.

Do you have any favorite quotes? 

I love the quote, from Antoine de St. Exupery’s THE LITTLE PRINCE, “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”  Writing for very young children keeps my imagination alive as I seek to see the world from the their perspective. Children live each day so much more intensely than many adults, fully absorbed in the wonder of each moment.  That’s how I choose to live life as well – soaking up the richness of each day. I hope that comes through in the vividness of my writing.

Henry: Writing lets me visit with monsters of all shapes and sizes. I’ve never left that distant island in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

Hmmm… well my son often observes that I tap my fingers and murmur as I write. What I’m actually doing is filling my senses with the rhythm of the words, but my children find it mortifying, especially if done in the presence of anyone outside the family.  That’s not really a ritual, I suppose, but it is a defining characteristic of my writerly self.

Henry: I use dots and dashes to compare the emphasized and non-emphasized syllables of a couplet.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to have super-cleaning powers so that, with a snap of my fingers, all the laundry, dishes, floors etc. could be spotless, leaving wide open time slots for writing.

Henry: This can also be achieved by obtaining a brownie (look it up!), or via the collection of minions.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 

I love reading, going for walks with my husband (and dog), doing art projects, or baking with my daughter, and talking about the meaning of life (and other light-hearted subjects) with my fourteen year old son.

Henry: Please let me know if you figure out the meaning of life.

Where can readers find your work?

GOODNIGHT, ARK is available at bookstores everywhere. You can also keep an eye out for my stories and poems in past and/or future issues of kids’ magazines including Highlights for ChildrenLadybugSpider, and Clubhouse Jr. I also write weekly on my blog at www.laurasassitales.wordpress.com. Parents and teachers, especially, might be interested in the series I’m posting now on extension activities for GOODNIGHT, ARK.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with picture book author, Laura Sassi at xxx via @Nimpentoad


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Low Polygon Count Paper Animals

By Carolina and Juan from http://www.boredpanda.com/lowpoly-paper-animal-sculptures-guardabosques

Carolina and Juan launched Guardabosques (‘forest ranger’ in Spanish) – an illustration and design studio based in Buenos Aires.

Nature was a theme we both loved when we started this. Juan studies natural sciences and the things he learned during his classes influenced our work. Firstly, we started with the birds and then continued with the mammals while at the moment we’re working on the underwater creatures. We love nature’s theme and its endless possibilities. We also try to generate awareness of taking care of the natural world as we did with the paper birds or the endangered Argentinian animals made from cardboard.

We love working with paper. The lowpoly animals we make usually start in a 3D software, then are transformed on paper to be cut, and finally to be reassembled in real life. We also like to work on paper from scratch, cutting forms and drawing some details on it. The results are pretty different but we like to be able combine both processes when we can.

Spectacled bear

Tiger

Tanuki or racoon dog

Green bee-eater

Humpback whale

Surucuá

Red fox

Feb 2014 inner cover for Ohlala magazine

Matico

Melanic wolf

Anuario de Ilustradores: woods

Anuario de Ilustradores: dinosaurs

Giant cardboard animals installation

The explorer

 


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Interview with Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Gini Koch

Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien in December. As G.J. Koch, she writes the Alexander Outland series, and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015.

KochGini

For what age audience do you write?

I write for pretty much anyone, but I don’t write children’s or middle grade, and while I think my books are fine for mature YA readers, I don’t, as of yet, write YA. My main genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery/Suspense, but I write under a variety of pen names, so I kind of cover all the genre bases. The Alien series has a high heat level (call it a Hard R), but everything else so far is PG-13.


Tell us about your latest book.


It’s the best book ever and a deal at twice the price!

No? Okay then, the 10th book in my Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series, Universal Alien, is a book I’ve been building to for the entire series so far. It’s also a pivotal book in that it’s going to allow me to open things up and pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want. Within good storytelling reason, of course.

It’s also the book that reveals the true identity of the Mastermind, which is a reveal that fans have been awaiting for several books now.

For those who haven’t picked up this series yet, start with Touched by an Alien. Trust me on this one. The series follows Kitty as she discovers the Roswell rumors are true, but with a twist – the aliens are here to help us and, as a side benefit, they’re all gorgeous. They also have talents and abilities that are far superior to those of humankind. They’re also at the center of every plot or conspiracy theory going. Kitty ends up using her natural talents – sarcastic wit, bravery, vast knowledge of pop culture, in-depth knowledge of comics, and love of rock and roll – to save the day. Basically, if Kitty’s around, hijinks ensue.


What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?


Entertainment, enjoyment, laughter, thrills, chills, and perhaps a few thoughts about political, religious, racial, and socio-economic issues. But mostly entertainment. Because that’s my job.

Henry: That’s a lot! Clearly a bargain at the price.


Two of your books are titled Touched by an Alien, and Alien in the Family. Will there be other TV show-based titles in your future?


Probably. I tend to go for pop culture-ish titles, though not always. My short story in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, for example, is entitled “All the Single Ladies”. So more TV or movie references are inevitable.

Henry: I look forward to Babylon 90210 and Downton Asteroid. You’re welcome.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Meeting all my deadlines on time. Because I’m a gold medal, world class procrastinator and, happily, I have a lot of deadlines.

Henry: And here I’ve exacerbated things by asking you to do an interview.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Meeting your deadlines is extremely important. But I honestly knew that one already.

Probably the most powerful lesson is that what you write matters, many times more than you realize. I’ve had readers in terrible circumstances tell me that my books were what got them through the hard times. That’s a wonderful, and very humbling, feeling.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Every single fan interaction. They’re all great, and I’d never have experienced them, or met all the wonderful people I have, if not for being a published author.

Henry: That’s right. We would never have met at a writers conference. And our lives would have been forever diminished. *swoons*

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up, never surrender. And remember that grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word usage matter, especially to agents and editors.

Henry: Wait. Editors care about your writing ability!?

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Oh, of course. These are probably my all-time faves.

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying.” Woody Allen

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” W.C. Fields

“Never give up. Never, never give up. Never, never, ever give up.” Winston Churchill (yes, I know it’s a contradiction to the Fields quote. What can I say? I’m a woman of many moods, me.)

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?

Not really. I need to have music playing, anything in the broad spectrum of rock and roll, and definitely with lyrics. Other than that, finding the right band, song, or playlist for a book is, for me, the most important step. Beyond that, my only ritual is to sit my butt in the chair and write. That’s the only ritual that ensures success.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Because I write superhero fiction with my Alien series, I’ve been asked this question a lot and so have given it a lot of thought. Therefore, I choose Hyperspeed. I could get so much more done if I could do it faster than someone can blink.

Henry: The thought of you with Hyperspeed is a bit intimidating. :)

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Oh, the hard question. Hard in that it’s really hard for me to limit it to three. I’m going to choose three who are dead, because I actually get to dine with many authors I admire these days. But I can’t run into these three at a convention. So I choose:

Robert Benchley, Charles Dickens & Mark Twain

The why is that Benchley is my favorite humorist of all time, Dickens is the reason we authors get paid, and Twain was the best social humorist of his and probably any other day. And they’re three of my all-time favorites. And I also think they’d be fun to eat with, since each would be trying to one-up the others in terms of witticisms and commentary.

If I got a bonus author, by the way, it would be Arthur Conan Doyle because Sherlock Holmes. I mean, ‘nuff said on that one, right?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Wow, another tough one. While I love vampires, werewolves, and really all the mythical creatures out there, I’m going to have to go with drop-dead gorgeous aliens who are enamored of humans and able to mate successfully (and frequently) with said humans. Because those aliens helped give me a writing career. So I’m partial to them.

Henry: So, you’re a Fifty Shades of Green kinda’ gal? :)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Wait. You can do things other than write? I didn’t get that memo!

Henry: You are correct. It was a trick question.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-great grandmother, great-great-great to infinity grandmother, pet mother, and author. We know she’s taking over, wherever she’s going.

Where can readers find your work?

Everywhere! No, really, everywhere. All my books are available in e-formats, and most are available in physical format as well. The Alien series is in pretty much all bookstores, too.

But it’s easiest to find that everywhere via my Bibliography page at my website: http://www.ginikoch.com/bibliography.htm We try to keep it updated as regularly as we can, but do forgive us when deadlines mean you know where my books are faster than I do.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Gini Koch at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-OL via @Nimpentoad


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What if Disney Princesses Had Realistic Waistlines?

By Loryn Brantz at http://www.boredpanda.com/realistic-disney-princess-waistlines-loryn-brantz/

Disney Princesses without body issues… Genius!

Disney’s classic stories are magical and formative tales for youngsters, but there’s no doubt that they can sometimes promote outdated or even unhealthy gender images, especially for women. Emmy Award-winning illustrator Loryn Brantz decided that she’d challenge the unhealthy body types promoted by Disney’s princesses by giving them waist-lines that were a bit more true-to-life.

As children we may not realize these images in the media affect us, but they definitely do,” Brantz told the Huffington Post. “Media outlets with the opportunity to change the way women are viewed and view themselves should start taking responsibility. It only took a couple nudges of a line to make those princesses’ waists less extreme, and they still looked beautiful and magical.

Ariel

Pocahontas

Elsa

Belle

Jasmine

Aurora

 


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Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes is Now Available

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our fantasy picture book, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, has just been released by Pelican Publishing.

MGFront-s72

Enter an enchanted land of mythical creatures where manticores reign and ogres roar. With a unique twist on traditional rhymes, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes presents a darker approach to these childhood classics, and yet the sing-song nature of the poems renders them playful and jovial at the same time. Little Witch Muffet is not frightened by a silly, little spider; she adds him to her stew! If you enjoy mischief and have a penchant for the morbidly hilarious, the rhymes will satisfy your mythological curiosity. The book also includes a “bestiary” with information about the book’s legendary creatures.

The book has garnered widespread praise, including:

This distinctive collection deserves to be enjoyed year round.
Publishers Weekly

For all of us who grew up loving Dungeons & Dragons and Tolkien, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes is an excellent way to introduce our little ones to the world of fantasy!”
Drew Daywalt, author of the New York Times bestseller The Day the Crayons Quit

Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes is an inventive welcome to the traditional rhymes we all grew up with. Both kids and adults, whose interest are a bit dark and creepy and off the beaten path, will revel in the rhymes’ inventive dark humor. Bravo!
Dan Yaccarino, author and illustrator of Unlovable, Doug Unplugged, and more

Monstrously clever—I’d rather Mary had a hippogriff than a ‘little lamb’ any day!
Molly Idle, Caldecott Honor winning illustrator of Flora and the Flamingo, Tea Rex, and more

“Monstrously clever and soon to be schoolyard standards.”
Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore, I Thought This Was a Bear Book, and more

Love fantasy? Know any kids? Get a copy

Animoto_PeterPeter Animoto_WitchMuffet

 


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A Mashup of Superheroes and Buddhas

When 3-D printing, comic books, and religion meet, you get Superhero-Buddhas by Dovas at http://www.boredpanda.com/pop-culture-laughing-buddha-3d-printing-chris-milnes/

There are people whose obsessions with pop culture icons like Darth Vader, Frankenstein or Master Chief seem like religious infatuation, so New Jersey-based 3d printing artist Chris Milnes did away with the formalities by creating a series of 3d-printed Buddha statues. Now, fanboys and fangirls around the world will be able to pray night and day to their favorite heroes and villains.

Now, the Hulk may not be the best representative for inner peace (or perhaps he is?), but there’s still no denying that these are awesome.

 


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How Disney Princesses’d Look With Real Hair

By Loryn Brantz at http://www.boredpanda.com/disney-princesses-realistic-hair-loryn-brantz/

Ladies, you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

Besides all the mermaids, sorcerers, witches and princes, there’s another aspect of Disney princesses’ lives that just doesn’t add up. Loryn Brantz, a staff illustrator at Buzzfeed, noticed that their hair often behaves in strange and unrealistic ways, so she decided to show how they might look if their hair behaved the way ours does.

Ariel

Ariel with wet hair

Belle

Belle with her hair stuck to her lip gloss

Cinderella

Cinderella with bed head

Mulan

Mulan with static

Elsa

Elsa with her roots showing

Jasmine

Jasmine with realistic hair volume

Snow White

Snow White with moisture frizz

Pocahontas

Pocahontas with her hair in a twister

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