Archives: April 2014

Q & A with Ruth Tenzer Feldman

by Addie Boswell
Published on: April 24, 2014
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Ruth Tenzer Feldman, AuthorRead more about Scriva Ruth, and her love of both history and writing, as she is interviewed by writer and educator Sandra Bornstein. 

Today, I welcome Ruth Tenzer Feldman. She is the author of numerous non-fiction and fiction children’s books. In the last couple of years, she published the award-winning novel, Blue Thread and its companion The Ninth Day. Both books were written for a young adult audience, but adults can enjoy these historical fiction books as well.

In exchange for an honest review, I received a complimentary copy of The Ninth Day. I had previously purchased Blue Thread.

Welcome Ruth.

Your website mentions that you had a successful career as a legislative attorney. Why did you decide to shift gears to become a young adult book author?

Writing has been my first love since elementary school, when I did a report on eye care from the point of view of the eye. My work as an attorney was satisfying, challenging, productive…but still basically a job. Somewhere in mid-life, my first love won out.

You started your children’s book writing career by authoring numerous books that are part of various non-fiction book series. What drew you to these historically based projects?

When I was an international relations major in college I began to realize that what we are (as individuals, families, nations) depends so much on what we were—or what we think we were. There’s so much story in history.

Blue Thread and The Ninth Day catapulted you into the realm of fiction. What prompted you to take this leap?

Well, to put it baldly, I had an urge to lie. I was writing the bio of U.S. president Calvin Coolidge, and I wondered what it would be like for the secret service guys who had to deal with Cal’s pranks. He was a practical joker, even in the White House). Did they ever play a trick on the president? That’s when I knew it was time to write fiction.

Link to Finish this Article.


YIKES! Social Media?!

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: April 20, 2014
Categories: Challenges, Other Topics
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MuddyMaxMech.inddIn a conference call with AMP for Kids, the publisher of my forthcoming middle-grade graphic novel called Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek, I asked what I could do to support a successful launch of the book. Their answer: A social media campaign. GULP.

The whole idea seemed vague and scary to me at first.  What does that mean? I thought. What would I post about? Who would care?

We began brainstorming ideas and one rose to the top: Since the book is about a kid who gets superpowers from mud, what if I posted 25 to 50 items about mud? Weird mud animals. Mud masks. Cool slow motion mud splashing videos. Funny tips like how to walk in a swamp. Mud jokes.  Hands-on mud activities. Beautiful mud sculptures. Yummy mud recipes. I decided if it’s something I would like to read, if it’s fun, funny, or useful, I’ll post it.

To mix things up a bit, I’ll throw in some contests, a quiz and some free giveaways. Starting now!

Max and Pig inked (3)Everyone who likes my Facebook page this month will be entered into a drawing to win either a copy of the galley signed by both the author (me) and the illustrator (Mike Lawrence) with a Muddy Max book mark or this wonderful original art by created by Mike.

Wish me luck. Like my page. Join the fun.


Elizabeth Rusch

No Chosen Ones Need Apply

by Amber Keyser
Published on: April 11, 2014
Categories: Craft, Genre
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Go to an action adventure movie, and you’ll see cars flying, buildings exploding, and more pyrotechnics than during wild fire season in a California summer.  Spend a few months reading the daily book deals from Publisher’s Marketplace like I do, and you’ll be overrun by Chosen Ones who have to save the world.  Every story meant to entertain us is faster, bigger, stronger, more explosive.

Let’s face it.  Our stories are doping.

And just like I’m tired of Lance Armstrong and EPO, I’m exhausted by books and book pitches on steroids.  I love Harry Potter as much as the next geek girl, but not every character we write is destined to stop history’s darkest wizard.

If I could wave my magic wand and restore balance to the universe, I’d start by banning some vocabulary.  Let’s shut down chosen ones and destiny.  Forget saviors who must question everything they ever knew.  No more magic portals and quests to save the world.

Good stories don’t require steroids.  They require characters we are intrigued by facing challenges that will force them to grow.

Let’s face it folks—not everyone is the Mockingjay.

Query Advice from KT Literary

by Melissa Dalton
Published on: April 8, 2014
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  1. 1.
    guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.


Need help writing the perfect query for your middle grades or YA novel?

Go to this website, hosted by KT Literary. (They represent Maureen Johnson and Stephanie Perkins, two big names in YA.)

Every Friday, in the column About My Query, they critique a query letter from the slushpile.

Here are some tidbits:

I’d also always cut any mention of future books in a series in the query letter — save that for once you actually have an agent interested in the story.

— My first thought: Hooray! We won’t have to deal with a YA heroine looking in a mirror to describe herself!

— What I’d want to see in the author’s query is what sets it apart from the expected. In general, look to find a way to give us the details that make the main character’s specific story interesting, and her character one we’d like to hang out with for the length of a novel.

So helpful and addictive! Enjoy!

Slow Art Day for Words

by Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Published on: April 4, 2014
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On April 12, 2014, lucky people will visit at least one of about 200 art museums and galleries across the globe. Their goal, assignment, whatever you want to call it, is to look at five pieces of artwork for ten minutes each and then meet together with other “slow watchers” over lunch to talk about what they saw. It’s called Slow Art Day, and it will be celebrated here in Portland at the Portland Art Museum.

Slow Art Day has been around for years. According to the organization’s web site, the foundational idea is that when people look at a piece of art slowly they make discoveries. The Slow Art folks feature this quote:

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Nice enough quote. What intrigues me is the person who said it. Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Thoreau was an essayist, writer, poet, and a dozen other things, but he was not recognized as an artist. He thought big thoughts, felt deep feelings, and shared himself with us through words.

So, this year I plan to celebrate Slow Art Day by choosing a very short piece of my work in progress…no more than a single scene…and to slow down, way down, ignoring my usual approach to my writing. Just for the fun of it. Just to see what happens. I think of the exercise as the opposite of NaNoWriMo.

My goal is not necessarily to create a better scene, although I hope I’ll gain some insight that will make the scene work better. My goal is to reacquaint myself with the pleasure of writing. Here are the rules I’ve made up for myself.

  • Pick a piece that’s no more than 200 words.
  • Read through the piece ten times during the day, with lots of time in between.
  • Read the piece aloud.
  • Have someone else read the piece aloud.
  • Stifle all self-criticism!
  • Pick one word to change in every sentence, and see how the substitute word lends a different feel to that sentence.
  • Track the etymology of at least 10% of the words.
  • Switch up Romance language words with Anglo-Saxon words and vice versa.
  • Don’t focus on whether any change makes the piece better or worse. Marvel at how each change makes an impact on the piece itself.
  • Enjoy!

Happy Slow Art Day, any way you celebrate it.




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