Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What We Want, Writers....

Although STNY remains closed to unsolicited submissions, we do consider work by authors personally recommended by our writer pals and editors. The personally is important because it means we trust the source (whom we implore to aim high).

Big drag, we know, but thus tis.

We select manuscripts and authors for originality, excellence, and the strength to engage the present publishing establishment.

We want writers to appreciate today's book landscape against the busy media background. We want
  • Quick pacing
  • Vivid images
  • Bold storytelling
As to content, here are random present interests
  • Malice, whether in murder or menace, in realistic urban or rural settings
  • Complex villains with credible psychologies
  • Poverty represented as a matter-of-fact background character in a story not about poverty
  • Unsentimental characters who are not self-pitying
  • Realistic stories that go deep into a character's day-to-day life inside non-European countries
  • Non-fiction that posits a worldwide story

Our advice: do not pull your punches, these are not subtle times.

Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop

We and the virtually perfect Melanie Donovan of Knopf  (virtually perfect only because otherwise it would sound weird) joined a group of writers a couple weeks back in a beach-y condo complex on  what was said to be the beach— personally, we could scarcely look out the window.

Under review were novels and partial novels with subjects like the Russian Revolution, gay dads, suicide, savant talent, summer romance, a Fae, crime, a mermaid, time travel— perhaps 60% contemporary realism and 40% fantasy constituted our own collection. (No devil worship or gang violence, surprisingly.)

From our point of view, the workshop was a success: we requested a goodly number of manuscripts we and Melanie worked on. The all-important, all-determining revisions are underway. We are eager (not anxious, as it is misused) to see what results. Keep your eyes glued here to follow the story.

Thursday, October 16, 2014



To claim The RED MAPLE AWARD!*

This is part of Canada's largest reader's choice award program— 250,000+ readers, a full ten percent of that country's population.

*This is us hoping. The winner will be announced..., be announced..., hmm... let's see..., in...  in... May. May?! The anticipation will be killing us, slowly. Look here for updates....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Our Entry in the Xmas Books Sweepstakes!




The sequel 

October 14! 

Last year, it was a Monstrous Parody of  Madelinenamely Frankenstein, BUT this year Illustrious Rick Walton and super funny Nathan Hale are coming at you with 
   a   h o l l y - j o l l y   m o n s t e r   f e s t !    
Be warned: you will laugh your head off. which is a plot point. Oh, you say? Didn't know? Well!  Better catch-up on your reading.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Attention Must be Paid!

Here we see 
the very hammy Ame Dyckman with seemingly reasonable Zach O'Hara at the Princeton Book Fair last Saturday. Ostensibly, Ame was signing BOY + BOT
(Knopf) and TEA PARTY RULES (Viking). Zach, we presume, signed his own creations, which therefore could not but be exceptional. Alas! As was widely reported, the two ungovernables were caught pitching one of their upcoming titles from Little, Brown. WOLFIE THE BUNNY is getting unusual pre-pub attention. But it cannot be ordered yet! Where's the royalty in that, we ask you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Award Reward

GAIL GILES GIRLS LIKE US made the National Book Award long list. Hoooray! Ten titles. The short list, called the finalists, will be announced Oct 15. Five titles. The winner will be announced at the Nov 19 award dinner.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hey, Look! Back in Print!

This super cool 1982, jazz-inflected recording of HONEY, I LOVE, poems by Eloise Greenfield was re-released! Jazz man Byron Morris serves up the grooves. Let's do a happy dance! HONEY, I LOVE is a classic. Harper has kept it in print T-H-I-R-T-Y  E-I-G-H-T  Y-E-A-R-S ! (You don't hear that everyday.) 
The recording comes from SHOUT! PRODUCTIONS, which is— guess where: J A P A N! A shout-out to SHOUT! PRODUCTIONS for bringing a beloved music-poetry mash-up, to a new generation. Arigato!

Friday, August 22, 2014


"The road to hell is paved with adverbs"  — ON WRITING, STEPHEN KING

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pen/Steven Kroll Picture Book Writing Award

And we're talking the SHORT LIST, too! (A very strong list this year.) The winner will be announced July 30. Naturally, the suspense is killing us.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not Alfred Hitchcock!

Nope, just funny-funny Julie (J.C. Phillipps) illustrating the hapless Simples family picnic.  THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC is the funniest book in the universe and that's a fact. If you do not hasten to buy it at once, well, we will not be responsible for the consequences.

Friday, June 20, 2014

February 17, 2015

Absolutely fab, right? But eight months from publication. Sigh. However will the Caldecott committee endure the wait?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Publishers' Margins

We lost the source for the following quote, our bad, but it confirms our long-held, oft-asserted position that EBOOK ROYALTIES ARE TOO LOW. We repeat the sourceless quote, anyway, because we know it is accurate. 
"Bedi Singh, chief financial officer of News Corp., which owns HarperCollins Publishers and the Wall Street Journal, last month told analysts that margins are around 75% for e-books, about 60% on paperbacks, and about 40% on hardcovers." (Emphasis ours.)
Publisher are not entitled to 100% of the extra ebook margin— not by historic author-publisher standards and practices, not by Publishers claiming to be authors' partners, not by what is fair. The present 25% net royalty publishers pay constitutes an out-and-out grab at authors' income. It is that simple. Hence our complaint: publishers won't share! (Kinda like the 1%, come to think of it.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"An Instant Classic"

What a quote! Also, "An absolute stunner". For the full Philadelphia Inquirer RAVE REVIEW click. 

And you? Did you read GIRLS LIKE US by Gail Giles, pictured in an STNY office? If not why not? Buy it! Hurry! Never ignore the classics.

Monday, June 9, 2014

If You Want to Get Serious

Ready for straight-up feedback from industry pros? Hone your craft, boost your odds of publication. Apply by June 28 for up to two in-depth critiques, on your partial OR full MG/YA novel, from Knopf executive editor Melanie Cecka and/or “editorial” agent Scott Treimel, STNY president. for details and exclusive interviews. Intimate, in-depth. Teen feedback. Scott Treimel says: “When I can sit with a writer and share my analysis of where and how to improve a story—it is the most fun thing in the world to me.”

Friday, May 30, 2014


Gail Giles's GIRLS LIKE US 



Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Limerick— Why not?

A rhyme of a different color!
There was a young man from Duluth
Who thought losing his hair was uncouth.
So he bought a toupee
And began to sashay
And I'm sorry to say that's the truth.

What Happens Before an Editor Makes an Offer?

Here an editor shares what happens in-house before she makes a book offer. A quick education.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

No-Nonsense Development

Advanced Novel Writing Workshop
Knopf Associate Publishing Director Melanie Cecka and Scott Treimel are faculty for the 2014 Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop and Retreat. Get set to learn your head off. The workshop format is collegial  (attendees observe all critiques, e.g.) with professional face-to-face galore. Think of your growth as a writer. Get set to push it into hyperdrive. 
*  *  *  EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS MAY 28  *  *  *
Pacing for dramatic effect
Brewing tension
Plot Layers
Subordinating plotlines
Controlling the reader's experience
Narration: first person, third person— a lot to say (teach) on this one 
Character Stakes
The Antagonist
Interior Logic
More more mor
AND guess what— the venue sits on the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay! 

Silly Song Saturday!

To market, to market
To buy sugar goods,
Home again, home again,
Bump into hoods.
Offering candy
To five gentlemen,
They demand, they demand,
Candy for ten!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Silly Song Sunday

A collection of verses should not be a compendium of zingers. That creates a clumsy reading experience. Likewise, a musical (recalling JEROME ROBBINS BROADWAY, 1989) should not be two hours of show-stoppers. The audience, a reader, wants the equivalent of a palate cleanser: it sets off, and sets up, the razzle-dazzle of the big numbers. Mother Goose collections include light little-little rhymes for this reason, along with the brilliant entries, Hey Diddle Diddle, e.g. These balance the rest and make a better reading experience.


A little lighty-light SILLY SONG  for the collection

One and Two and Three.
Count like that and see.
Numbers go and go,
So One and Two and Three.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Important New Novel by Gail Gilles

blunt, honest, and absorbing... rewarding and powerful— PW *starred*
authentic and genuinely moving.  A respectful and winningly told story about people too often relegated to the role of plot device-bravo.—Kirkus
poignant... memorable voice to underrepresented young women. —Horn Book
compelling, engaging, and raw voices — 
Booklist *starred*

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Think of a 3d Person narrator as a camera. The narrator shoots with three lenses— for close-ups, mid-distance, and long-shots. Each has different merits we very rarely see exploited. Hence this post, a mini-instruction.

We love 3d Person narration because its detachment from the action can be a place "to rest", to perch beside the storyteller and mull over the characters and the vexations (we hope) they face. We love the analytic prospects available to a 3d Person narrator, which, were they to come from a 1st Person narrator may well feel obtrusive, out of character, telling not showing. It all depends on the narrative stance.

A 3d Person narrator can present or withhold information— from all characters' points of view.

A 3d person narrator can pull up close to a character and detail his/her inner thoughts and feelings.

A 3d person narrator can pullback to show the same character as a small player in a larger drama.

The effects of these shifting distances profoundly, subconsciously, play on the reader.

So what about limited 3d Person narration?

Have you ever seen a (very) indy art film where the camera fairly sits on the protagonist's shoulder? It creates, pretty quickly, unease. The viewer cannot see around the protagonist, know what others are up to: the viewer is vulnerable.

In the distant past, for reasons that presently escape us, we respected limited 3d Person— for some kinds of stories. But lately limited 3d Person narrators make us feel imprisoned in a point of view,  claustrophobic. The merit seems to be the relative ease limited 3d Person allows a writer: it is first person without a substantial character voice.

Questions? Comments?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Silly Song Sunday!

Jack and Jill was hard to hear our way through, because of the fancy ryhthmic breakaway. (Not a matter of counting syllables.) We saw this design perfectly executed by master technician Ogden Nash. Help us, gentle readers, determine if we need to rework or if Jack and Jill is finished. A mere Yes or No; and don't worry, we are professionals and can take it.

Jack and Jill
Start up the hill
But stop at the House that Jack built.

There was a mouse
That hid in the house,
Which terrified Jill
Who took to the hill,
Because, to her credit,
Jill remembered her original assignment,
Namely fetching a pail of water.

Back in the house
Still hiding the mouse,
Jack set out to jail
The pest in a pail,
And Jack,                               
Being adept at capturing mice—        
Well, most all house pests, really,
Looked high and low and caught her!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Viminy Crowe's COMIC BOOK

The latest from funny man Richard Scrimger, who teams with fellow Canadian Marthe Jocelyn for a raucous m-g from Tundra Books, part of R-H of Canada. Epic antics, silly scenarios, comics!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Silly Song Thursday!

This is our favorite of the Silly Songs. It leads the collection.
There was an ugly duckling
Who became a lovely swan.
—Oh! The goings-on.

We love this verse because it summarizes our work world, but also because it reads horribly-horribly-horribly-horribly, the rhythm simply sucks*. You read it and did it not sound flat-dull-what-is-his-problem-anyway? That is because you read it wrong. 

The entirety turns on the "—Oh!" with the dash *preceding* the line. That is a clue for how to read the verse. This is no arcane rule; the leading dash derives its meaning within the context of the Silly Songs' punctuation scheme… it is the only time a dash precedes a line, signaling something special. 

That is the kind of close reading good poetry (stay calm: we do not presume the Silly Songs qualify) rewards.

So, how do you read The Ugly Duckling? There is speed going into "—Oh!" but a significant pause follows. "T
he goings-on" is to be read as befits the particular character of the phrase. Who uses the phrase, anyway? We do of course but we already know how to read The Ugly Duckling. The intonation of "the goings-on" is a combination of exasperation, affection, superiority, wonderment— the tone that might accompany an amused shaking of the head, as in Good grief, what next?

We are happily to recite/perform Silly Songs. If asked nicely. Fees are reasonable.

*merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

‡  Relative to How To Read a Poem, take a look at Ashley Bryant reading Eloise Greenfield's Way Down in the Music. It inspired the peculiar working of The Ugly Duckling.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Silly Song Sunday!

This is the church
And this the steeple.
You can go in,
Just don't fall asleeple.

In the mid 90's, the late, beloved CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW read— as a friend, not as a Harper honcho (vulgar word vis-a-vis Charlotte)— our Silly Songs. Famous genius editor Charlotte called them verses, not poems, so we do too, never having asked the difference. Charlotte noted our good ear and playfulness throughout (phew!) and commented specially on This is the church. Unlike many Silly Songs, she wrote, it has a true emotional center. We filed the letter under Writing Is Hard.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Wouldn't you know it, the new kid in school is undead. Uh-oh, here come the angry parents: "No Zombies in Our School." And now the bullies are starting in on him, too. True, the Zomboy is not too brainy, and his body does in fact drop pieces, but his staunch alliesBob and Evil-O (Olive spelled backwards) have him covered— kinda. HarperCollins Canada just pub'd this bright, even sparkling, middle grade title. Richard Scrimger is nearly the most entertaining writer we know.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Silly Song Sunday!

I'm a Little Tea Pot
I'm a little tea pot
In a snit.
Folks call me hothead
When I have a fit.

If your water boiled
You would, too!
So tip me over
And pass the moo.

** This one is best when sung, like the song, adding a good deliberate pause before mooing the "moo".

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


This (these?) just in, and excellent buzz is a-building. Ryan Gebhart's debut also got a tip of the Tyrolean hat last month— German rights sale. We expect THERE WILL BE BEARS to enable many translators to ply their trade before 2014 ends.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Silly Song Sunday!

Little Jack Horner
Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
Eating his poor mother’s pie.
He stuck in his thumb—
And Mum struck him dumb:
Children! said she, with a sigh.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

a new GAIL GILES novel!

We add with delight that Gail's first review— GIRLS LIKE US pubs May 28— is . . .  drumroll . . . a PW *STAR*. We love Gail! (And PW.)

Gail Giles. Candlewick, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6267-7

Following graduation from their high school's special education track, two girls become wards of the state and are placed in an apartment where they live independently and cook and clean for their neighbor/employer, an older woman named Elizabeth. Sharp-tongued and aggressive, Quincy is defensive about her learning difficulties and the physical scars left by the source of her brain damage, "when my mama's boyfriend hit my head with a brick." Sensitive Biddy, who describes herself as having "moderate retardation," overeats to mask past traumas, which include having given up her baby. Giles's (Dark Song) background teaching special education students informs this blunt, honest, and absorbing story about two young women overcoming challenges that have less to do with their abilities to read or write than with how society views and treats them. In short, alternating chapters, the girls narrate in raw and distinct voices that capture their day-to-day hurdles, agony, and triumphs. The "found family" that builds slowly for Quincy, Biddy, and Elizabeth-with no shortage of misunderstandings, mistrust, or tears-is rewarding and powerful. Ages 14-up. Agent: Scott Treimel, Scott Treimel NY. (June)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

from BAD SCHOOL, a Collection

"Show and Scold"

Suzy stood for show and tell
And raised an empty hand.
After sixty seconds passed 
Teacher said, "Expand."
Suzy, stupefied, wondered 
What could she do more?
So to save her presentation
She stared straight down at the floor.

Teacher wagged her finger
And said "Suzy, you have failed,"
Whereupon beleaguered Suzy
Took her seat kerplop! and wailed.
"Oh, ho!" cried crafty Teacher,
Who then heaped on praise galore.
Suzy, Teacher said,  
Showed the class the perfect bore.


Here is one of our fav-fav-favs of the season, not pub'g until Apr 8 but is available for pre-order. We implore you to shell out seventeen smackaroonies. You will delight again and again at this lovable family's going-on. WE ADORE THIS BOOK! so much so we are posting outside the lines.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Full-Novel Workshop!

We love discovering talent! And we are open to new clients. So we were sad to close STNY's open-submission chute. We pledged to step-up our participation in public programs, to be at least a little accessible. Soooo...
Attention Intermediate and Advanced Novel Writers!

Scott Treimel is joining Knopf Associate Publishing Director Melanie Cecka at the 2014 Pacific Coast Childrern's Writers Workshop and Retreat in October. This is a super intensive weekend workshop. Hardcore critiques are promised! Craft cultivated! Techniques taught! AND guess what— the whole shebang is smack dab on the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay!

Silly Song Sunday!

"The Queen of Hearts"

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts
All on a summer's day.
The Knave of Heart
He stole the tarts
And took them to Bombay.

He hawked the tarts
From ox-drawn carts,
Which locals thought plain loopy—
That kind of sweet
We do not eat—
How can he make a rupee?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Introducing ERIC SAILER

We discovered Eric at an SCBWI conference in New Jersey a couple years back. Since, we have worked (and worked and worked) (Eric has too) to develop his craft. Eric's ability to convey movement— not particularly evident in these pics— is what struck us, in addition to our simpatico sense of humor.

Of interest, we should think, to prepub'd creators, was Eric's reaction to our initial critique. He was astonished by the exactitude we demanded in his work. It was not the first time a new client

was startled to learn how very, very high the bar is set at the big houses we work with. (Why the big houses? Because they pay more and have money, if they choose to spend it, to promote their books.)

Now, as Eric is teetering on the brink of formal STNY submissions (pretty exciting for us!), we want to share him with our discerning readers. These pictures are from what we decided to consider a warm-up project, LARRY BEAR AND MARY.


And we are not talking about the creepy Tea Party— not them! We mean Ame Dyckman's TEA PARTY RULES, illustrated by K. G. Campbell, where cookies (not wrongheaded hegemony) motivate the action. The book is apolitical: we clarify the title only for the opportunity to impugn the anti-intellectual "party" sabotaging the country— they probably can't read, anyway.

So, today's lesson: Don't be dumb! Read TEA PARTY RULES!

MONKEY ONO by J.C. Phillipps

TEA PARTY RULES by Ame Dyckman

Silly Song Sunday!

The Three Little Pigs
In the tale of the Three Little Pigs
We study straw, wood, and brick digs.
Would you not rather care
To learn how they dare
By mere chinney, chin-chin thingamajigs?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The thing about a blog is. . .

. . . you have to keep posting and posting or people will not, need not, ought not visit. But then those longing for our insight, humor, or their own spiritual awakening— yes, our hungry public, YOU, well, you would be left wanting. We dare not neglect our friends. We dare to care!

So, um, for today then. . . um. . . how about this dusty old riddle probably used before, making us a party bore. (Rhymes are a-poppin today.)

Q: Where do publishers buy their Oxfords? 
Or, to put it differently,
Q: Where do editors buy their Espadrilles?
A: At Simon and Shoestore.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Joyce Carol Oats, our hero

Here it is, right from the master's keyboard. 

Nothing in the world— the universe! the history of the world! is as influential and downright brilliant as ALICE IN WONDERLAND. But good lord, do not try it at home. And if you do, certainly do not submit it to us! ALICE IN WONDERLAND cannot be topped or even half-equalled. If anyone can name even a weak challenger, we want to know. Talk among yourselves. Questions? Comments?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Silly Song Sunday!

There was an Old Woman
Who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children
She didn’t know what to do.

In fact, she had two.

Great big brats
The Old Woman had.
They vexed her and perplexed her
And they drove her fairly mad.

They tell us she beat them
And sent them to bed—
Not that she woke up
Next day with no head!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tweet Inbetween

Helen Zax wins* an STNY phone convo!
 Don't you wish you had tweeted inbetween?

*See Feb 7 post

Love this pic!

From Julie Phillipps, crack-up extraordinaire.
Who does not think this is funny? No one!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Billy-Troll Affair

Hey, folks, look! Jeff Crosby transforms the famous recalcitrant brothers into 1950's beboppers. 

The trouble is that darn troll. Is he ever squaresville. He hates rowdy rockin', and he says the kids can't cross his bridge— no way, no how! 

But the Billys have a gig to play at the Shimmy Shack. They gotta cross that bridge to get there.  What a predicament! 

Jeff Crosby's The Rockabilly Goats Gruff grabs ahold of you and won't let go! From page one straight through to the triumphant conclusion, this thrill-ride will have you on the edge of your seat. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

You write. We judge.

Contest ends Feb 28 at midnight
Remember, the best entry in our TWEET INBETWEEN contest/game (see Feb 7 post) wins an oh, so valuable private phone convo. The winner gets to ask about children's publishing anything— editorial, career, contract, editor, agent, market. Rule: write a story in 140 characters. The winner will be announced Mar 1.
Who Wants an Appointment?

A Silly Song!

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   Where have you been?

                   To London town
                   To visit the queen.

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   What did you do?

                   Ate fish and chips
                   And said tootle-oo.

                   Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,
                   What did she say?

                   Lemon juice or vinegar,
                   Try them either way.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bad School, Table of Contents

Since you asked, to our delight, here is an unordered list of the verses that constitute our DANG CLEVER ms. Those in red were posted here over the past year.

  • Math
  • Lesson Plan
  • English
  • Science
  • Teacher's Pet(tish)
  • Terse Nurse
  • Cafeteria Siberia
  • The Library Area
  • Parents Night
  • Chorus
  • Odd Man Out
  • Substitute
  • The Cure
  • Homework
  • Show and Scold
  • Auditorium Uproarium

Those Damn Kindles!

They break and break and break. Sure, sure, Amazon sends a replacement (new or refurbished; same model) quickly, even next day.

No jubilation here.

First, the phone call is forty minutes, then you have to 1) repackage faulty product; 2) take it to the post office; 3) register new Kindle; and 4) re-load the quantities of mss Amazon cannot transfer, Kindle-to-Kindle for you— and you have to re-pay fees for the file conversions, too.

We are on to Amazon's game.

Amazon's customer service is better than most company's. So look at it this way: Amazon calculated it is cheaper to replace a Kindle than to make a better product. (Not very green.) We can hear the executive, clutching focus group test results, We'll give them luxury personal service; we will even get props for appearing to be a responsible/caring corporation.

The truth: Amazon saves money and gets a gold star as a customer-minded corporation. Consumers, however, lose one or two days of reading and additionally lose the time needed to secure the replacement.

This is not advantageous to Amazon's Kindle users. It is, however, a clever cost-savings for Amazon.

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