13th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction

April 24, 2012

by Carol Lynch Williams

This June 18-22, 2012 is the 13th Annual Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. This week-long, writing intensive conference has helped many writers and illustrators on toward their own publishing careers. Many of you may know that the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference (WIFYR) has joined with The King’s English—our amazing book store—to offer the novels and picture books our faculty has written. We love working with The King’s English!

Over the next few weeks we plan to have several interviews with the authors, illustrator, agents and editors that will be at the conference. Here’s who we having coming:

  • A.E. Cannon (Introduction to Writing for Kids and Young Adults)
  • Trudy Harris (Writing the Picture Book)
  • Julie Olson (Illustration Class)
  • Tim Wynne-Jones (Writing the Middle Grade Novel)
  • Kimberley Sorenson (Introduction to the Young Adult Novel)
  • Matt Kirby (Writing the Fantasy Novel)
  • Mette Ivie Harrison (Writing Science Fiction/ Fantasy)
  • Kirk Shaw (Writing the Contemporary Novel)
  • Greg Leitich Smith (Advanced Class)
  • Carol Lynch Williams (Advanced Class)
  • Ann Dee Ellis (Boot Camp)

Agents are:

  • John Cusick from Scott Treimel NY
  • Jenni Ferrari-Adler from Brick House Literary Agents

Editors are:

  • Alexandra Penfold from Paula Wiseman Books from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Ruth Katcher from Egmont USA

If you have further questions, please visit our website HERE or email me at carolthewriter@yahoo.com for help choosing a class.

2012 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction


Mattie, A Woman’s Journey West

March 22, 2012

March is National Women’s History Month and we’d like to take a moment to call your attention to a book by a local author…

Mattie, A Woman’s Journey West, Nan Weber

Not unlike today, life for women in the nineteenth century served up hearty challenges on a daily basis, though the burdens of 100 plus years ago certainly were of a different flavor. Mattie, A Woman’s Journey West offers a taste of that life through the story of Martha “Mattie” Shipley Culver, whose life passage took her from her childhood in industrial New England and work in the New York textile industry to her role as the wife of a winter caretaker in Yellowstone National Park, where she died and was buried in 1889, at the age of 32.

Like other visitors to Yellowstone National Park, author Nan Weber discovered Mattie’s fenced grave at the confluence of Nez Perce Creek and the Firehole River. Weber followed her own curiosities through years of research to trace the steps of this mystery woman’s spirited life.

Home sources were a key element to uncovering Mattie’s past. Weber’s careful research enabled her to find, in particular, an autograph book that opened the door to Mattie’s past including her family members and work friends and acquaintances. The result is the inspiring story of a strong woman trying to better her life during difficult times.

For more information about Mattie, visit The King’s English Bookshop HERE or visit the author’s website HERE.


Armchair Travel Mystery Group reads Charles Todd

February 29, 2012

by Wendy Foster Leigh

Raucous describes the discussion of the Inspector Rutledge series in the Armchair Travel Mystery book group. Ten women meet at the Hatch Family Chocolates for a discussion of anything about Inspector Rutledge and Charles Todd. Instead of a scholarly review of the books, it becomes an impassioned look at war and peace.

Rutledge returns from WWI with a ghost in his head—Hamish. But Hamish isn’t any ghost–he is an actual character in the books. He has his own personality and is as layered and complicated as any of the flesh and bones men and women in the book. Over 300 men were killed for cowardice during World War I and 17 of them died after the armistice. Should Rutledge have ordered the shooting of Hamish who consequently saved Rutledge’s life by sheltering him with his dead body? That question is at the core of every Inspector Rutledge novel.

No matter which book we talked about, that one moment in his life was its core. Most of the group had read book one, A Test of Wills, plus The Red Door but others could throw in details of A Legacy of the Dead and The Confession.  In each book the authors had to retell that tale in various forms. No matter what linear plot line Charles Todd creates, the execution is never far below the surface.

One group member emphasized her own anti-war feelings and the sympathy she felt for both Rutledge and Hamish. She recalled being raised in a military family where she was not allowed to play with the enlisted men’s children because her father might one day be forced to send their fathers into battle. Readers always bring personal reflections into the reading of a book. The group wants to know more about Rutledge and women. What is going to happen with the women who come into his life? Will Chief Superintendent Bowles ever give him credit for solving the cases? Will Rutledge ever talk openly about the war? Will Hamish ever leave him alone?

The group usually guesses at answers to unanswerable questions. This time, however, we look forward to asking our questions of Charles Todd, the mother-son writing team, when they come to The King’s English and learning more about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of mystery writing.

Editor’s note: Join us for a reading and signing of The Confession, the latest mystery by New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, Tuesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.


Marissa Meyer | Cinder

January 4, 2012

Review by Margaret Brennan Neville

Editor’s note: Meet Meyer when she reads from and signs her book, Wednesday, January 11, 7 p.m.

Cinder, Marissa Meyer

Debut author Meyer takes Cinderella into the future with enough twists and turns to keep readers very interested. Her Cinder is a Cyborg, a second class citizen with a really nasty stepmother. New Beijing has a lot of problems, including a plague and impending threat of invasion from the lunar queen. Readers are going to be clamoring for the sequel because we will all want to know how Cinder actually gets Prince Kai. Fun read! – Macmillan, $17.99, (for ages 12 and up)


Eat, drink and be scary!

October 27, 2011


“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

There is an abundant crop of imaginative new dystopian fiction for young adults ready to harvest this fall, and we’d like to tell you a bit more about 3 of our favorites…

Ashes, Ilsa J. Bick
Dystopic books rule, and this book is the new king of the pile! Alexandra is in the back country to spread her parents’ ashes at a favorite spot, when the world she knows comes to an end. An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is broadcast across the world, and the consequences are devastating. Alex is witness to the death of 10-year-old Ellie’s grandfather. Later, when they are attacked by deranged humans, they are rescued by Tom, and this fledgling “family” must somehow learn to survive on this new and terrible version of Earth. When the three decide to walk out of the woods to find other survivors, the tale becomes even more compelling and fast-paced—and a little creepy. Readers will be clamoring for the sequel.  – Margaret Brennan Neville, Egmont, $17.99 (14 and up) Limited signed copies available.

The Death Cure, James Dashner
As the final installment in James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, The Death Cure does not disappoint. The mind-eating virus, nick-named The Flare, is steadily infecting those closest to Thomas. With close friends now infected, Thomas is forced to hastily decide whether or not he will help WICKED, the government organization set in place to find a cure for the ravening disease, or if he should instead stick with his gut and get as far away from WICKED’s headquarters as geographically possible. Just as The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trial hooked readers on the fast-paced and multi-adventurous narrative, The Death Cure will keep readers glued to its pages from start to finish. – Rachel Heath, Delacorte, $17.99 (12 and up) Limited signed copies available.

Crossed, Ally Condie
Local author Ally Condie’eagerly awaited sequel to Matched has been worth the wait! Readers get to hear both Ky and Cassia’s point of view in alternating chapters. Both characters are willing to take risks, to find the other. In the much harsher environment of the Outer Province, Ky struggles to save his own life, and Cassia is desperate to find him. But Xander is not out of the picture, and he surprises Cassia over and over again. The twists and turns of the story bring this dystopian love story to a surprising place. This is a sequel that lives up to the excitement and promise of the first book, a very difficult thing to do!  — Margaret Brennan Neville, $17.99, Penguin (12 and up) Meet Ally and get your copy signed at the bookstore on Tuesday, November 1 at 7 p.m.


The Night Circus & Ashes

October 25, 2011

By Betsy Burton

Once in a while a book appears that is what we in the book business call a crossover—a book that sells to adults and to young adults as well. The Night Circus, a new adult novel, has the magic and romance that make it a natural for young adults and we probably sell as many copies of Ashes, a so-called “young adult” novel to grownups as we do to kids.

Erin Morganstern’s glittering The Night Circus is the story of two young people raised to be competitors in an unwilling game of magical mastery. The game’s board is a black and white circus which travels the world and is open only at night, each of its tents its own magical universe, one more astounding than the next. The tale’s players are the circus creators and denizens, colorfully imagined and artfully wrought; around the edges of this magically imagined world lurk two grey men who pull the strings of the couple at the tale’s center: Celia and Marco. Are they destined for the competition for which they have both been trained almost from birth? Or are they meant for the love that likewise seems their fate? Who can they trust and to whom should they be loyal?

In Ashes that same issue haunts Alex. On a hike in the northern woods to mourn her dead parents, she encounters a belligerent young girl and her grandfather. The grandfather dies, suddenly and violently and for some reason everything that is digitally powered goes dead as well. As Alex, the child she adopts, and a young soldier team up, it is hard to tell not just who can be trusted but worse, who is or is not human.

In their very different ways Ashes and The Night Circus are prototypical fairy tales, full of dark undercurrents that delve into hidden recesses of the human psyche. Both are tales of survival in a world gone mad. But the real magic in each is a story that holds the reader in thrall from one luminous, terrifying page to the next.

ERIN MORGENSTERN is a writer and multimedia artist who describes all her work as “fairy tales in one way or another. She lives in Massachusetts and this is her first novel.

ILSA J. BICK is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, former Air Force major, and full time author. She also wrote the award-winning, Draw the Dark and lives in rural Wisconsin.

Previously broadcast on KUER, 90.1.


We the Animals & The Cat’s Table

October 17, 2011

By Betsy Burton

Almost all those who love fiction and poetry revere Michal Ondaatje. Justin Torres, a newcomer to the world of fiction, has just published a book, We the Animals, that bears comparison to Ondaatje’s—at least to his most recent novel, The Cat’s Table. That’s a large claim to make, but the similarities between the two novels are striking, and the differences work to open up both books to the reader. In each, three feral boys savage the landscape in which they find themselves. In both books the three boys study the adult world, trying to make sense of it, and in each their perceptions and misperceptions color their eventual fates.

In We the Animals three boys run wild in their own home, alternately savaging and loving their mother, their neighbors, the landscape in which they reside. Their father, who drinks, and skips in and out of their lives, loves his sons ferociously but is also capable of ferocious cruelty. Their mother loves joyously—when she’s not too depressed to love at all. The boys themselves are three untamed puppies, growling and biting, licking and panting, running in mad circles. The narrator, the youngest, gradually gains a more distinct voice, separating out from the pack in this beautiful, mad, wilderness of violent familial love.

In The Cat’s Table three preadolescent boys vaguely supervised but essentially alone, also run wild, this time on the deck of a ship. In the place of family they have their fellow passengers. One of the boys, Myna, narrates, his voice skipping seamlessly from present to future and back again. He and his friends are also puppy-like in their manic energy and their curiosity, unattended as they slip from deck to deck, cabin to cabin. Like the boys of Torres’ imagination they weave the fragments of the lives they witness, the bits and pieces of conversation they overhear, into a mysterious tapestry of their own design—a design that turns out to bear only partial relationship to reality.

In The Cat’s Table, however, the journey and the tale proceed at a deceptively quiet pace, suddenly coming to a full boil as the boys engage in surprising escapades and encounter characters in shocking situations, then quieting again as Myna views these startling events through the hindsight of memory. The misperceptions of youth, its ardent loyalties and heedless heroics, the distant, bloodless vistas of adult recall, the unexpected connections and the missed chances are all stitched together with vivid threads of love, whether that love be boyish adulation or adult passion.

Such love is even more viscerally evident in We the Animals, the language so immediate that I laughed and wept, cringed and occasionally shut the book to breathe. For the reading experience of a lifetime, read them back-to-back. Both blend passion and adventure, metaphor and memory, into blindingly good and unforgettable works of fiction.

JUSTIN TORRES’ writing has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He’s worked as a famhand, a dog walker, and creative writing teacher and a bookseller. He will appear along with poet Alberto Rios at Westminster College on Friday, October 21, 7 p.m. in an event sponsored by the Utah Humanities Book Festival and the Anne Newman Sutton Poetry Series.

MICHAEL ONDAATJE is the author of five previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Scotiabank Giller prize and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, he now lives in Toronto.

Previously broadcast on KUER, 90.1.