RC: Hi everybody, Rick Chillot here. You know what I like? Free time, sanity, a pain-free spine, a good night's sleep, what's left of my hairline...the list goes on and on. So when I came across the one-month-novel-writing event Camp NaNoWriMo, from the people behind National Novel Writing Month, my horror could not have been greater. And yet, I kept thinking about it. Is it truly possible to write a 50,000 word novel in one month? What would that experience be like? Would I absolutely hate it, or just moderately hate it? In the end, it seemed the only way to punish myself for even considering this was to sign up and try it, with the hope that the emotional scars would prevent me from making similar decisions in the future.
Recently the Quirk compound was visited by beloved children's book character Flat Stanley.
As many of you will recall, young Stanley was rendered two-dimensional when a huge bulletin board fell on top of him. He didn't let flatness keep him down, though; in fact, he took advantage of the situation by folding himself into envelopes and mailing himself all around the world. Since then, kids in over 6.000 schools--including my nephew Sam--have participated in the Flat Stanley Project by creating their own Flat Stanleys and mailing them all over the place.
The Stanleys are mailed back with photos and information about where they've been. So here are some of the pictures from Stanley's visit to Quirk. (Spoiler alert--Sam got an A.)
Pity the poor bestselling novelist. Sure, those literary juggernauts who manage to crank out a top ten title (or more) every year are blessed with avid book-buying fanbases, but there are certain demographics they just can’t reach. I’m talking, of course, about children—reading level notwithstanding, you can’t just pawn off your paperback of The Firm to your eight-year-old.
But some savvy authors have sought to widen their reach with new series that are Just For Kids—thematically similar to their adult works, but with age-appropriate subject material and easy-to-read language. John Grisham’s got Theodore Boon: Kid Lawyer, James Patterson’s got his Middle School series, and Carl Hiaasen’s penned a few Floridian tales for younger readers.
But why stop there? These writers have talent and bankable identities, and I’ve got book proposal ideas for days. Here are five brand-name middle-grade series that need to happen.
Bobby Langdon and the Case of the Crooked Cryptex by Dan Brown
Brown’s symbologist hero has to get his start somewhere—and hey, it worked for Young Indiana Jones. Curious and inquisitive Bobby Langdon would be a latter-day Jonny Quest, having grand adventures and meddling in G-rated mysteries with the help of globetrotting pals (definitely room for some animal companions, too). Leave the creepy Catholic cults for his post-Harvard life: these cases will be so fun to solve you’ll swear the author’s first name is Encyclopedia.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is my first book. (I like saying that, because it implies there will be others.) I’ve learned all kinds of things about the publishing world in the last year, but in these last weeks before publication a few lessons have come clearly to the forefront. Here’s what this first-time author has learned:
The thing about stories is that they make room for the weird and (almost) impossible. We've met characters who push our imaginations to the limit and show us all the amazing things they can do. Towns are like that too. Fictional settings can be a little strange and "off." While they make look normal on the surface, there's usually something odd hiding underneath. Here are six fictional towns that re-define what it means to be weird.