Review: ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA

ABAYOMI cover
Published by Mims House
ISBN-10: 1629440019, ISBN-13: 978-1629440019

Darcy Pattison and Kitty Harvill have teamed up again, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. You might remember when I reviewed their previous collaboration, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, here.

Unlike Wisdom, the main character in ABAYOMI,  THE BRAZILIAN PUMA, is a mammal, a feline, not a bird. Unlike Wisdom, Abayomi lives in South America, in Brazil, not on an island in the North Pacific Ocean. Unlike Wisdom, Abayomi is a baby, an orphan, not a wise, old mother. Yet their stories have much in common. Continue reading

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Meet Changemaker Charles Orgbon III, founder of Greening Forward

Today, I’m kicking off a series of blog posts that will introduce you to some of the amazing young people who are profiled in my upcoming book, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS (Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, September 2014). Each of the 18 chapters in the book includes a short piece about how one or more young people changed the world and their experiences with the chapter topic, in particular. I was able to interview most of them in person, via Skype, by phone, or by email, and I have so much more great stuff about them than would fit in the book–sort of like out-takes, only better! I hope you’ll enjoy “meeting” them here and reading more about them and their work.

Charles Orgbon III
Charles Orgbon III

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Interview with Mary Cronk Farrell, author of PURE GRIT

I have a confession to make. Normally I read every book before I post about it here, but–just this once–I was going to cheat. As much as I’ve been dying to read PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell, my to-do list is huge right now: writing new books (I’m currently working on EIGHT separate manuscripts and/or proposals!), promoting BE A CHANGEMAKER, volunteer projects (SCBWI Western Washington conference anyone? There are still a few spaces!), critiques (three full-length novels await!), family, pets, home… and let’s not forget, TAXES! To top it off, I was still recovering from the flu when I came down with this most recent cold. I’m months behind on a few things, with many other deadlines looming dead ahead. So, I sat down planning to just skim it for the time being, write the post, and come back later when I had time to settle in, read it in more detail, and take it all in.

PURE GRIT book cover
PURE GRIT book cover

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Exciting BE A CHANGEMAKER book news!

I’ve had some recent excitement! In case you missed it over at Emu’s Debuts today (where I blogged about the dueling feelings of elation and terror that come with it all), here’s a quick recap…

  • I finished the final author query round for BE A CHANGEMAKER:
BE A CHANGEMAKER manuscript
Not many tabs–yay!
  • I got permission to share the cover for BE A CHANGEMAKER:BE A CHANGEMAKER cover
  • Friend and fellow nonfiction author Mary Cronk Farrell told me she downloaded the advance reader copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER from NetGalley, which means people are already reading it!

Things just got a lot more real, folks, in the best possible ways. :)

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Cycles, balance, and making plans

[Note: This was originally published on Emu's Debuts, but it seemed to resonate with people, so I decided to reblog it here in case you missed it. Sorry if you're seeing it twice!]

Lately, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the idea of cycles in our lives. Cycles in nature—life cycles, the water cycle, seasons, etc.—keep our physical world in balance. Man-made cycles keep the government running (usually), prevent mechanical failures and medical mistakes (hopefully), even wash our clothes and dishes for us. If you’re an author, you’re probably familiar with the creativity cycle (see below). And as I’ve mentioned before, one of my all-time favorite Emu’s Debuts post was Melanie Crowder’s The Run/Rest Cycle, about sustaining balance as a writer. As creative types, we often have some leeway about how we choose to spend our time each day, so having a cycle in mind can help us manage our activities and maintain balance in our personal and professional lives.

The Creativity Cycle
The Creativity Cycle

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2013: What a year!

I haven’t posted here for way too long, but 2013 turned out to be quite a year. I did manage to squeeze in a few posts over at Emu’s Debuts, so I thought I’d share them here as a sort of roundup (and to partially explain where I’ve been since the last post)…

In July, I had the amazing experience of attending my second Erin Murphy Literary Agency client retreat, this time in Big Sky Montana. Words can’t really describe how wonderful these retreats are, but I posted a bit about it here.

EMLA Client Retreat group photo
The whole EMLA retreat gang (except me!)

Aside from that trip, I spent the summer writing, researching, writing, interviewing, writing, revising, writing, revising, revising, and revising to deliver the final manuscript for BE A CHANGEMAKER. I wrote a bit about the process here.

A screen shot of the developmental edit
Tracked changes in the developmental edit stage

Despite the mad race to the finish line, I feel really good about how it all came together. And here‘s a post about how it felt to get to THE END.

Done!

Then there was the dreaded author photo, which actually turned out to be sort of fun (and decent enough to share with the world, thank goodness!).

Laurie Thompson head shot

 

Other news and highlights from the year?

  • I got to see an early study for a scene from the picture-book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, illustrated by Sean Qualls.
  • The above book also FINALLY has a title, EMMANUEL’S DREAM!
  • I also got to see preliminary sketches for MY DOG IS THE BEST (sorry, I can’t share them here, but Paul Schmid‘s illustrations are ADORABLE!).
  • I finished another fiction picture book manuscript and it will soon be going out on submission (fingers crossed!).
  • I participated in and finished PiBoIdMo 2013.

Stay tuned for my next post on how I plan to tackle 2014. :)

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Email subscription changes afoot

As most of you know, I’m under a pressing deadline to deliver the completed manuscript for CHANGEMAKERS by August 1st. I have three chapters left to write, plus a plethora of bits and pieces scattered about and piles of notes to myself about things I still want to go back and fix… and only three weeks left to wrap everything up. So, what did I spend my day doing today? Making a new email subscription campaign, of course. (Gah! What?)

My brain seems to like having a burst of writing activity one day, followed by a burst of something–anything–else the next. I had an extremely productive day yesterday, so I pretty much accepted that today was going to be spent revising, tightening, expanding, twiddling, etc. Since I wasn’t in “flow” today, there was time for doing the dishes, putting away laundry, and catching up on some web browsing.

I happened to come across this article about the 10 biggest Internet marketing mistakes made by artists and creatives. I’ve been wanting to set up more of a newsletter for my email subscribers for a while now, so I’d already done some research on it and was planning on switching to using MailChimp instead of Feedburner… someday. Well, Mark’s article spurred me into action today. After all, I’m a tech savvy gal… how hard could it be, right?

Well, it took longer than I thought it would to get all the pieces to fit together (a few hours), but I think I have everything all converted now. I think it looks more professional and it certainly gives me more options, so although my timing might not have been ideal, I think it was worth it. If you were subscribed to my old Feedburner feed, I’ve moved you to the new MailChimp one. I hope you’ll like it better, but you can always unsubscribe if you’re not happy with it (MailChimp makes it easy for you!). From now on, any new subscriptions will go straight to the MailChimp list.  (If you’d like to subscribe, just look for the MailChimp subscription form on the right-hand column just below my bio.)

Please let me know what you think! And, of course, let me know if you see any problems. Note that I might not fix them until August, though. After all, that deadline is still looming!

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New deal announcement: My Dog Is the Best!

There’s another exciting book deal to announce…

This went out in Saturday’s Publisher’s Marketplace mail:

Laurie Thompson‘s MY DOG IS THE BEST, in whimsical praise of a boy’s best friend, with all of his fine canine attributes, to be illustrated by Paul Schmid, to Janine O’Malley at Farrar, Straus Children’s, by Ammi-Joan Paquette atErin Murphy Literary Agency for the author and Steven Malk at Writers House for the illustrator (World).

and this went up on the Erin Murphy Literary Agency’s news page this morning:

Yes, she’s a busy and multi-talented lady, that Laurie Thompson! Her first book was acquired last summer by Schwartz & Wade, a picture book biography of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which is being illustrated by Sean Qualls. Then just a few months ago saw a second deal for a teen handbook of social entrepreneurship, which is due out from Beyond Words/Simon Pulse in Fall 2014, and which Laurie is busily writing and researching as we speak.

But that’s not at all! This week I am thrilled to announce a brand new deal, for Laurie Thompson’s adorable picture book MY DOG IS THE BEST: a little boy’s effusive praise of his best friend and all the amazing feats that dog can do (while sleeping on the couch). It’s sweet and warm and guaranteed to make you smile. Even better, an illustrator has already been attached to the project, the talented Paul Schmid!

MY DOG IS THE BEST was acquired by Janine O’Malley at FSG, and it’s going to make a giant picture book splash for sure. Huge congratulations, Laurie!

—Joan

HOORAY! =D

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Just keep writing, just keep writing…

Wow, have I neglected this blog in recent weeks (okay, months), or what? I’ve been feverishly focusing on knocking out the CHANGEMAKERS book, which also meant I was feverishly focusing on finding a method to the madness of knocking out the CHANGEMAKERS book. I wrote a bit about my struggles over on the Emu’s Debuts blog.

Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt dark chocolate barThanks to the support of my fellow EMu’s following that post, I’ve since hit a pretty good stride and am feeling much more comfortable about my ability to finish the book without letting it kill me. I’ve got a dandy collection of spreadsheets to track my progress by word count, by chapter, and by research. I’ve got some reward systems in place (i.e. Lindt’s A Touch of Sea Salt bars).

So, things are flowing much more smoothly now with the writing part, and I am thrilled that the interviews are rolling in as well. I can’t wait to share what some of the stories about what these venture teams are doing! I’ve known I wanted to write this book for years, but now that I am actually doing it, I’m having even more fun than I thought I would. Hearing these teenagers talk about their ideas, their goals, their success stories: WOW! It is so inspiring, and on so many different levels. Whenever I start to think maybe I can’t do this, that this book is too ambitious or the deadline is too short, I just think about what some of them have done. If they are changing the world at the age of 18, or 15, or 10, surely I can write one little book, right? And if my little book can help just one more teen pull off even a tiny fraction of what these kids are already accomplishing, then I know all of my efforts will have been worth it.

After the book is done, I hope I will be able to share with you here some snippets of the interviews and outtakes from the profiles I’m working on, because these young people will blow you away, and in the best possible kind of way. I hope my readers will be as affected by learning about these teens’ ventures as I have been.

When we watch the TV news or read the newspaper headlines, it’s easy to get discouraged about the state of the world. But writing this book is the complete opposite experience. It’s hard to get discouraged about where the world is heading when there are so many young people like the ones I am writing about out there.

And now, back to work! Please forgive me if I’m a little quiet for the next few months. ;)

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Another book deal: a how-to guide for teen changemakers!

Europa Park Roller Coaster Up

Although we recently spent a week in Disneyland, last week was definitely the bigger roller coaster ride for me: I had surgery on Tuesday, then my second book deal was announced on Thursday! There’s nothing like good publishing news to cheer up a writer who is feeling down, and nothing like a book selling on proposal–with a short deadline–to make her want to recover as quickly as possible.

Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Laurie Thompson’s CHANGEMAKERS, a teen handbook for social activism and how to effect change, with tips, instruction, and practical case studies, to Nicole Geiger at Simon Pulse, by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (World English).

And here’s the fabulous write-up my amazing agent put up on the agency website:

Quick show of hands: Who here has ever dreamed of changing the world? Okay, now one more: Who’s actually sat down and put together a specific plan for changing the world, complete with guidelines, practical tips, and hands-on experience from those who have gone before and actually done it?

Let me introduce you to Laurie Thompson. Last year, Laurie’s first picture book was signed on by Schwartz & Wade. This week, Laurie has accepted a publication offer for her newest book, a non-fiction manual for teens and preteens, tentatively titled CHANGEMAKERS. Focusing on the experiences of teens and young people who have made a concrete difference in their own neighborhoods, countries, and across the world, CHANGEMAKERS will be the definitive guide for kids who want to make a difference but don’t know how to get started. And I have a feeling the rest of us non-kids will enjoy it too!

This book was enthusiastically signed on by Nicole Geiger at Beyond Words Publishing/Simon Pulse, and is slated for publication in Fall 2014. Huge congratulations, Laurie!

Even though this is my second book deal, it looks like it will actually be my publishing debut. My first book, a picture book, isn’t scheduled to launch until spring 2015, but this one is scheduled to come out in fall 2014. Since this one sold on proposal, however, I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time if that is going to happen. So, please forgive me if I’m even quieter than usual for the next few months.  As soon as I am recovered enough, I’ll be back on my treadmill pounding out words!

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