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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Join the 2019 Picture Book Critique Fest!

Want to participate in Picture Book Critique Fest 2019? Do you write or illustrate picture books? This MASSIVE one-time picture book critique giveaway celebration is for you! They have 35 picture book critiques to giveaway!

The vision for this event is to celebrate the critique and revision process and to help build the KidLit community. It is hoped that actual, living, breathing books will be birthed out of this process.

The festival is happening October 3rd-25th. The deadline to enter the raffle will be October 25th 9AM CST. 35 winners will be randomly selected and then “paired with their person” based on information provided on the registration form. Winners will be announced the evening of October 25th on Twitter, Facebook, and on a Picture Book Spotlight blog post.

Want more info on how it all came together and why it’s happening? Go to PBSpotlight.com!

Here are the industry professionals who’ll be providing the critiques:

 


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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Had a fantastic time at San Diego Comic-Con. I participated in three panels and got to hang out with some amazing authors. Took a ton of pictures for my friends who couldn’t be there. Enjoy!

My little Predator? One of my favorite pictures from the convention.

My sons and I outside the San Diego Convention Center

In the San Diego Convention Center, no one can hear you scream!

The Dark Crystal, Planet of the Apes, and Lord of the Rings sculptures

A giant Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants!

“Not with 10,000 men could you do this.”

Ah, Dungeons & Dragons humor…

Samurai Batman!

Puppets from the upcoming TV show Crank Yankers

Tiki Yoda and Moana !?

Godzilla doesn’t like waiting in lines either.

Gundam figures

Batman: Family

A sketch of me by the creator of Mr. Toast

The importance of good dental hygiene…

I’ve got my eye on you!

 

He-Man!

 

Domino from X-Men

Stephen King’s IT

Final Fantasy characters

3A figures from Ashley Woods

Magic Wheelchairs ❤

Met the kind and talented author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, Erin Morgenstern

The wonderful author of SHADOW AND BONE, Leigh Bardugo, wins the Inkpot award

Leigh Bardugo and Erin Morgenstern: talented and funny

Are You There, Gods? It’s Us, the Protagonists panel with authors Rebecca Roanhorse, Scott Westerfeld, Margaret Rogerson, Ann Leckie, and Joan He

Ruby Rod cosplay from The Fifth Element. Supergreen!

Joffrey cosplay from Game of Thrones

The Future as I See It panel with authors Gini Koch, Tim Zahn, Steven Sears, Jonathan Maberry, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and Seanan McGuire

The Fantastic Flavors of Fantasy panel with authors Renee Ahdieh, Lauren Shippen, Katy Pool, Nicole Conway, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Marissa Meyer

Those green army “men” are real people!

Jonathan Maberry gives Nancy Holder the Scribe Award

Star Wars samurai cosplay!

Elfquest cosplay

Wherefore Dystopia and Darkness panel with bestselling authors Jess Rothenberg, Richard Kadrey, S.L. Huang, Ally Condie, Rachel Caine, and Marie Lu

Admiral Ackbar cosplay from Star Wars. “It’s a trap!”

Fembot cosplay from Austin Powers

She-Ra and Kim Possible cosplay

Tank Girl cosplay

The Writers Coffeehouse author panel with (l to r) me, Jonathan Maberry, Delilah Dawson, Peter Clines and Scott Sigler.

I can’t wait to see this urban fantasy series!

Carnival Row stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Cara Delevingne’s fairy character takes flight off the edge of a cliff.

Six-foot tall LEGO Batman minifigure

Monty Python and the Holy Grail cosplay. “There are some who call me… Tim.”

Wakanda (Black Panther) / Spiderman basketball team cosplay. SDCC is known for such creative mashups.

Chun-Li cosplay from Street Fighter video game

Green Arrow cosplay

Peter Pan Lost Boy Rufio cosplay from the movie Hook

Beetlejuice cosplay. Don’t say his name three times

ALF cosplay

Stellar Stories and Awesome Adventures panel with authors Maura Milan, Mark Siegel, Tochi Onyebuchi, Ashley Poston, and Maryelizabeth Yturralde

Disney Hyperion Publishing panel with authors/editors Emily Meehan, Brittany Rubiana, Serena Valentino, and Jocelyn Davies

 

Theseus and the Minotaur cosplay

Three interpretations of Judge Dredd cosplay

Lord Voldemort: He Who Shall Not Be Named. Oops.

Skeleton warrior cosplay

Wonder Woman cosplay

Game of Thrones cosplay: Cersei, The Mountain, The Night King, Arya wondering why SHE isn’t killing the Night King

Rick and Morty cosplay

Global debut of the cover of my upcoming picture book, 2 Pirates + 1 Robot, from Kane Miller Books.

My fantasy/sci-fi author panel with (l to r) Tomi Adeyemi, Lev Grossman, A.G. Howard, Aditi Khorana, and Jonathan Maberry.

They packed the room!

Fans of The Magicians may recall Umber asking for little cakes. I brought Lev Grossman some little cakes.

After the panel, the authors signed their books. Many added graffiti to the tablecloth. Someone drew salmon. Author Chuck Wendig apparently has no respect for sustainable salmon farming. And the feeling is mutual.

Lev Grossman (The Magicians) left his own graffiti.

Mostly, we signed books. Here author Lev Grossman signs a fan’s chest.

My favorite cosplay of the convention: Warhammer 40K Sisters of Battle! Adepta Sororitas

My KidLit literary agent panel with (l to r) Hannah Mann, Thao Le, Kelly Sonnack and Stefanie Von Borstel.

Writing Craft panel with authors Sarah Gailey, Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, and Cory Doctorow

Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Rodan resin miniatures

Sci-fi author greats Larry Niven, Greg Bear, and David Brin

Fandom Meets YA panel with authors Livia Blackburne, Mary Pearson, Tricia Levenseller, A.G. Howard, and C.B. Lee

Lord of the Rings cosplay. A Minas Tirith dress! “For Gondor!!”

Reinventing the Modern Girl panel with authors Seanan McGuire, Danielle Paige, Sarah Kuhn, Nila Macgruder, Cecil Castellucci, and Jenn Fujikawa.


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Fun at WonderCon 2019

Had a great time at WonderCon, as usual. Here are some photos to prove it!

The grand entrance.

Miscellaneous superheroes, including a McDonalds Thor and a Jack in the Box Dr. Strange!

Something special for anyone who’s ever worked in an office.

The Empire captures little Spiderman and a Mario brother.

Star Wars trio.

Panel: Unicorns, Rabbits, Aliens and Other People, with (l to r) Maryelizabeth Yturalde, Dana Simpson, Leah Thomas, Jim Pascoe, Nicole Conway, and Cecil Castellucci.

Clever way to protect your vendor booth when nature calls.

Star Trek Fred Flintstone: set phasers to stone!

Is it me, or did it suddenly get very judgey in here? Personally, I prefer Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd over Sly Stallone’s.

Six foot tall LEGO minifigure cosplay. Not so mini now!

My KidLit author panel with (l to r) Lee Wardlaw, Molly Idle, Peter S. Beagle, me, Jo Whittemore, Scott Campbell, and (not shown) Barbara Bottner.

They packed the room!

Any time you’re feeling full of yourself, just do a signing next to Peter Beagle. #LineEnvy

General Grievous bids you farewell until next year!


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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

  1. Arriving at the Convention Center
  2. Horrific tooth creature from Channel Zero: Candle Cove
  3. Amazing Lord of the Rings models from Weta
  4. A stylized Gandalf
  5. The Moose from Chappie resin kit by Weta
  6. Alita Battle Angel
  7. One man’s interpretation of Edna Mode
  8. Cuphead figures
  9. Star Wars trooper
  10. Scary creatures from Sideshow Collectibles
  11. Warhammer Space Marine Blood Raven
  12. Terrifying evil Batman and Robins
  13. Alien vs. Predator
  14. With NY Times bestselling fantasy author Todd McCaffrey
  15. Bioware power armor suits
  16. With children’s authors M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
  17. With children’s editor/author Ed Masessa
  18. Author collaboration panel with Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin
  19. Mars panel with astronaut Leland Melvin and The Martian author Andy Weir
  20. Stargate cosplay
  21. Cosplay knights
  22. Comics panel with Stan Sakai, Cecil Castelucci, and Sergio Aragones
  23. YA/MG Fantasy panel with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Daniel Jose Older, Victoria Schwab, Kiersten White, and Maggie Steifvater
  24. Apocalypse panel with authors Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, and Andrew Smith
  25. Flame Princess cosplay
  26. With NY Times bestselling authors Peter Clines and Jonathan Maberry
  27. Fearless women author panel with NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Rachel Caine, Seanan McGuire, Susan Dennard, Victoria Schwab, and Laini Taylor
  28. With NY Times bestselling author Nancy Holder
  29. Star Wars cosplay
  30. Giant Boba Fett display
  31. Animatronic Deadpool’s Super Duper Dance Party
  32. South Park characters. Kenny lives!
  33. Pacific Rim
  34. Dragonball Z
  35. Dragon cosplay
  36. Self-deprecating Deadpool advertising on toilet seat covers
  37. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein panel with Jonathan Maberry, Kiersten White, and Merrie DeStefano
  38. Frankenstein takes the cake
  39. Academy Award winner Sir Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings) sculpting in clay.
  40. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Laini Taylor
  41. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Livia Blackburne
  42. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater
  43. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Kevin Hearne
  44. Our fantasy literature panel packed the room
  45. Huge Hot Wheels cars
  46. Life-sized LEGO Aquaman
  47. Life-sized LEGO Thanos
  48. Mantis photobombing the Power Rangers
  49. Personalized Magic the Gathering cards
  50. Dungeons & Dragons panel with Naomi Novik, Delilah Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Ray Feist and R.A. Salvatore
  51. Trump’s Titanz standee
  52. Game of Thrones cosplay Iron Throne wheelchair

53. Children’s Literary Agent panel with Taylor Martindale Kean, Tim Travaglini, Jen Baxter, Kari Sutherland, Thao Le

54. Fantasy Literature panel with Victoria Schwab, Livia Blackburne, Maggie Stiefvater, and Kevin Hearne (Laini Taylor not shown)


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WonderCon 2018

I had a great time at WonderCon 2018. Here are some highlights:

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Midnight Thief, Livia Blackburne

With NY Times bestselling urban fantasy author of Iron Druid, Kevin Hearne.

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor.

With NY Times Newbery honoree author of Babymouse, Jenni Holm.

With “before” and “after” It (Stephen King) clowns.

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of Forgotten Realms, R.A. Salvatore.

With talented picture book author of Interstellar Cinderella, Deborah Underwood

With NY Times bestselling fantasy author of A Darker Shade of Magic, Victoria Schwab.

A cosplay jellyfish!

With NY Times bestselling Caldecott medalist kidlit author/illustrator Dan Santat.

With Kim Possible animator Stephen Silver.

Magical Creations panel with (l to r) moderator Maryelizabeth Yturralde and NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Nidhi Chanani, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White, Jessica Cluess, Livia Blackburne.

With Newbery honoree kidlit author/illustrator of Won Ton, Eugene Yelchin.

The Night King from Game of Thrones.

My KidLit author panel with (l to r) Dan Santat, Jenni Holm, Eugene Yelchin, Deborah Underwood and (not shown) Antoinette Portis.

Lest we forget, while we enjoyed WonderCon, millions of others marched in support of gun safety.

 


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Interview with Children’s Author Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins is recognized as “the world’s most prolific anthologist of poetry for children” by Guinness World Records. He has received the Christopher Award for his BEEN TO YESTERDAYS: POEMS OF A LIFE (Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong). Among many other honors include the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, the Regina Medal, and induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

For what age audience do you write?

I write for all ages. I have written professional books, picture books, novels, poetry, and have compiled over 120 anthologies, including the first I CAN READ POETRY BOOK, SURPRISES (HarperCollins).

Henry: Wow!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, WORLD MAKE WAY is a collection of especially-commissioned poetry, all inspired by art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, and the world’s most encyclopedic art museum. I was thrilled when I was approached by Abrams Books for Young Readers to engage in this project.

Henry: Who wouldn’t be thrilled?

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

Looking at artwork by such masters as Mary Cassatt, Fernando Botero, Winslow Homer, and the contemporary work of Kerry James Marshall, and reading poems written from hearts of America’s greatest poets writing today including Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Carole Boston Weatherford, brings together an aesthetic experience for readers of all ages to appreciate. It is of utmost importance we bring the arts into children’s lives.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Writing of any kind is challenging. Poetry, in particular, is among the most difficult genre, being able to create brief stories with limited words that must fall in place like chords in a symphony. Not only does each word count, each syllable must be thought out.

Henry: Yes. I jokingly send novice rhyming picture book writers to http://www.dontdorhyme.com.

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

Reaching children to bring books into their lives is not only a powerful lesson, but a powerful responsibility. Reading is powerful. It can change minds, hearts, and generations of being.

Henry: True. “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

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

My life has been blessed with so many memorable experiences. To reach the age of 80 and have a book such as WORLD MAKE WAY appear is like an out-of-body experience. To be in the Met! To bring poets’ words into the Met! To pair their work with artistic masterpieces. It is as Julie Fogliano writes in “Cat Watching Spider” based on a work by Oide Toko, ‘…all prowl and prance/and teeth and claws”. Centuries after art was produced poets are writing about the artist’s work. What a tribute to our culture.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read, read, read. It will help you find your own voice.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

A favorite quote of mine comes from Langston Hughes’s poem “Dreams: Hold fast to dreams…”. I truly believe if we do hold fast, dreams will come true. Thanks, Lang, for your insight.

Henry: On a first-name basis, are we? Impressive.

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

Not really. I am very intense at whatever I’m writing.

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

To bring peace to the world, to have each and every person treated with respect and dignity, to be a world of one.

Henry: You have my vote.

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

Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg. We could possibly change the world before dessert.

Henry: I would happily cook that dinner for you.

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

Shop! And shop I do.

Henry: Like a boss.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

R.I.P. – He Rests In Poetry.

Henry: Well played, sir.

Where can readers find your work?

See my site at http://www.leebennetthopkins.com

Henry: Thank you for spending time with us!


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Interview with author/illustrator Lisa Desimini

Lisa Desimini grew up reading and drawing every chance she got. Her friends and fellow students told her that she should be an artist when she grew up, and Lisa agreed. She graduated from The School of Visual Arts in NYC. Now, she has written and/or illustrated over 35 books for children. She has also illustrated many book jackets for YA and adults novels.

For what age audience do you write​/illustrate​, and in what genre(s)?

My children’s books are for children ages 3-7. Some of my books are for all ages. My favorite genre is fantasy, but I’ve published non-fiction, too. I adore illustrating poetry collections.

Henry: I met Lisa at a book event at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, where she was signing her new picture book. I was especially surprised and pleased to learn she also illustrated the covers for the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) paranormal fantasy novels!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is THE FLEATASTICS. It’s about an acrobatic troupe of fleas that travel from sleeping dog to sleeping dog to put on a show. Sarafleana’s family wants her to be part of their parasite pyramid, but she dreams of having her own act. When someone in the audience says the forbidden “T” word…Sarafleana gets a chance to prove what she can do.

Henry: My agent is right now shopping a narrative nonfiction picture book told by and about fleas. Fascinating little dudes.

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

There are two messages in this book. First, it’s important to do what it takes to follow ones dreams. The second message is that no matter what knocks us down, we have to get back up, brush ourselves off and get back on the horse… But I usually don’t set out with a mission for my books to have a message. It just happens sometimes.

Henry: If you’re a flea, you brush yourself off and get back on the cat.

What aspect of writing​ or illustrating​ do you find most challenging?

For me, writing is more challenging. I write something and, at first, I love it. Then I kind of like it, then I’m not sure about it at all, so I put it away for a few days. When I look again, I say, “OK, this has potential!” Then I show a friend and they make me see something I could do to make it better, so I do it and I like it better. Rinse and repeat and then maybe I send it to my editor and maybe it gets published. I don’t have as much back and forth when it comes to illustration because I’ve been making pictures since I was a little kid.

Henry: I certainly agree that critique groups (the external opinion) is absolutely vital to good writing.

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

The powerful lesson I’ve learned is the more research the better! Nowadays, the internet makes it easier to find books, gather information, and see images from different regions. When I was younger I illustrated a book about the Navaho and I thought I did a good job in recreating their hogans, but I got a very sweet letter from the tribe saying they weren’t accurate. I felt terrible. More recently, when I illustrated, SHE SANG PROMISE about a Seminole woman named Betty Mae Jumper, I was thrilled that National Geographic sent my images to the Seminole museum to be approved.

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

The memorable experiences for me are when I do a drawing at the end of all my school visits. They’re not preplanned. I use the students’ ideas, and they never cease to amaze me. When their creativity is lit up, there is an exuberant energy in the room. They might call out instead of raising their hands, bounce around, and get a bit loud, but it’s all worth it to me because when creativity is unleashed, it’s wild. It’s not always about being perfectly behaved.

Henry: I also call out instead of raising my hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors​ or illustrators​?

I would tell aspiring authors and illustrators to read as much as you can. Go to the library or bookstore every week–read classics and the latest books. Take a class and join the SCBWI. If kid’s books are truly your passion, you will have the energy and desire to follow the ideas that come to you. Some of my ideas have flowed quickly, but most of my books have taken years to come together and sell.

Henry: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been helpful to many a career. Their website is http://www.scbwi.org.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

My favorite quote: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

Henry: I also like “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write​/illustrate​?

I like to clean up and organize before I start working on a new project. Then I read a bunch of favorite books. Even if they’re not related to my new project, they get me excited and revved up about stories and the infinite worlds they create.

Henry: Is that preparation or procrastination? 🙂

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

My superpower would be the ability to teleport myself–anytime and anywhere.

Henry: I love it. No time wasted commuting or in traffic. No greenhouse gas emissions.

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

Is it OK if I answer a slightly different question–a dinner with my favorite characters from books instead of authors? I love authors, but Owen Meany, Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking popped into my mind!! Owen because he is so dearly earnest, Harry because of his bravery, and Pippi because of her adventurous spirit!

Henry: No, it is not OK. This interview is cancelled! Per Wikipedia:

A Prayer for Owen Meany is the seventh novel by American writer John Irving. Published in 1989, it tells the story of John Wheelwright and his best friend Owen Meany growing up together in a small New Hampshire town during the 1950s and 1960s. According to John’s narration, Owen is a remarkable boy in many ways; he believes himself to be God’s instrument and sets out to fulfill the fate he has prophesied for himself.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

My favorite creature is a centaur. I like that they have the intellect of a human and an animal’s wild nature.

Henry: I like them too. One is featured on the cover of my first book.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing​/illustrating​?

When I’m not writing, I like to be with my husband and our kitty Crash, cook, read, watch movies, be in the garden and do yoga.

Henry: But not all at the same time…Yoga cooking!

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

I plan on being cremated and turned into a tree, so my treestone would say, “She always tried to be better and do better.”

Henry: I’m going to go out on a limb and say the root of that choice is that one must be thick-skinned to be an author.

Where can readers find your work?

You can find my work in bookstores, libraries and on my website: http://www.lisadesimini.com

Henry: Thank you for spending time with us, Lisa!