New Password Literature

Hi everyone,

The copy of my book published in France arrived Saturday, which is the cause of this irritating bit of braggadocio. I’ll keep it brief but what the heck, it’s my blog. Patricia Hermes reminded me of that recently. Thanks Pat. I needed that.

So here’s the cover. new-password And on the inside the first thing I find is a list of authors selected to be featured in audios of their work. In order:
Simon Armitage recites his poem “You’re beautiful”
David Harrison’s poem “IT’S ME!”
William Carlos William’s poem “The Great Figure”
An extract from Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story
Shakespeare’s work — a BBC programme
George Orwell — a BBC rogramme
An interview of Isaac Asimov
An interview of American poet and novelist Maya Angelou — a BBC programme
An extract from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
A book review about D. L. Sayers’ crime novel The Documents in the Case
Edward P. Jones reads the beginning of his short story “The First Day”
Truman Capote reads an extract from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
British author Neil Gaiman talks about horror versus gothic

I haven’t received the recording yet but can’t wait to hear my Marilyn Monroe poem recited with a French accent!

“It’s Me” was first published in a book edited by Jan Greenberg called HEART TO HEART and published by Harry Abrams in 2001. I wrote the poem inspired by a Warhol painting of cows. When, at the last minute we discovered that the cow painting was unavailable but one of Marilyn Monroe was, I switched my subject to her. In 2012 the poem popped up in an Everyman Library edition titled ART AND ARTISTS, edited by Emily Fragos and published by Alfred Knopf. If the poem has appeared elsewhere, I’m unaware of it. I don’t know how it wound up in either of these other books. I know I’m glad.


Hi everyone,
J. Patrick Lewis
J. Patrick Lewis’s latest anthology is out. It’s called NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF NATURE POETRY: MORE THEN 200 POEMS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS THAT FLOAT, ZOOM, AND BLOOM! Publishers Weekly says, “Few books make it clearer why nature inspires so many poets to reach for the pen.” It’s a highly entertaining and inspirational book and I recommend it. The poets who are in it have been sending high-fives to one another. It’s that kind of book. Pat Lewis and Book of Nature Poetry

My contribution reflects on the act of union between a stalagmite and stalactite that touch at last and join as one after eons of reaching toward one another in the dark.

You’ll find many of your favorite poets in this collection as well as several talented names you need to know better. Thanks, Pat!

A novel approach to a novel. Also, response from Wendy Schmalz


BULLETIN: In case you missed Laura Salas’s question to agent Wendy Schmalz, here it is:

Thanks, Wendy, for your guest post. I wondered if you could share a few titles in both picture books and novels that you consider high quality and high concept. These could be either all by your clients if you want or none by your clients (so you don’t feel you have to choose favorites!). I have in mind what I think is high concept, but I might have it all wrong!

In picture books and especially in poetry, which I love, concept definitely seems to be the name of the game. Out of 50 mss, I’d guess that usually only 1 (or none) feels fresh to an agent/editor. So intimidating!

I sent Laura’s note to Wendy and here’s her response:

I just learned a few hours ago that one of my picture books is among Kirkus’s best books of 2009, so that would be a good place for me to start.

It’s called BILLY AND MILLY SHORT AND SILLY by Eve Feldman, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. It’s a word play book and loads of fun.

I think Sandy Asher is a master at creating picture books. Her book TOO MANY FROGS illustrated by Keith Graves is on its way to becoming a classic. Their latest collaboration HERE COMES GOSLING is delightful.

As for novels, I think if you read some of the ones on the NY Times best seller list you’ll get a good idea of what publishers are looking for.

Everyone should read TWILIGHT so they can find out what all the hoopla is about. I don’t read much middle grade or YA fiction other than works by my authors, so the following suggestions are all by people I represent.

Amanda Marrone is a great example of a writer of popular paranormal teen novels. Her new book DEVOURED (Simon Pulse) is a present day Snow White story. Julie Anne Peters writes beautiful cutting edge novels dealing with gay and transgender issues. Her most recent book is RAGE: A LOVE STORY (Knopf). April Henry writes fast-paced thrillers. You might look at TORCHED (Putnam), as does Edgar-winner Robin MacCready (BURIED, Dutton).

For middle grade, Marlane Kennedy’s ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN (Greenwillow), Sue Stauffacher’s DONUTHEAD (Knopf), and Dean Pitchford’s CAPTAIN NOBODY
(Dutton) are all popular.

In general, publishers are looking for high concept, fast paced and original works. As I said above, reading what’s on the best seller list for YAs will give you a good overview. For middle grade novels, I suggest reading the most recent books cited by the ALA.

I hope this helps.



Many of you are probably familiar with Alexandria LaFaye’s work. Her ten novels include the acclaimed The Year of the Sawdust Man; Scott O’Dell Award winning Worth; and Dad, In Spirit.

An entertaining speaker and creative writing teacher, Alexandria is tackling the slowdown in the publishing industry head on. In her own words, “This has caught me in a bind with my book The Primed Mind. I’m going back to the subscription days and asking folks who are interested in purchasing the book to help me raise the funds to subsidize it’s publication. Once the goal is met, the book would come out in about a year.”


thought A’s approach was interesting and wanted to share it with you. For additional information about how to help or just to read more, here’s the site.  


A book I recommend


EVERY SECOND SOMETHING HAPPENS, Poems for the Mind and Senses is a new book of poetry edited by Christine San Jose and Bill Johnson. It’s illustrated by Melanie Hall and published by Boyds Mills Press. What I like about this book (other than having some of my poems in it) is that Christine and Bill have selected a number of excellent poems written by young people.Sandwiched between D. H. Lawrence and William Shakespeare or Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich you’ll find poems by Taylor Johnson (who is eight) or Cade McCoy (age 9) or Kevin Jones (age 5).Once again we’re reminded that young people have plenty to say, just as Alyssa Kirch demonstrated with her dirt poem last month. I hope you’ll find a copy of EVERY SECOND SOMETING HAPPENS for your own enjoyment and to share with young poets in your family. Good for Christine and Bill and Boyds Mills Press for bringing these delightful poems together for our pleasure.David

A book I recommend

Mary Jo Fresch and Peggy Harkins have a new book out that teachers should find very helpful. Here’s how it’s described.

The Power of Picture Books:

Using Content Area Literature in Middle School

Product ImageAuthor(s): Mary Jo Fresch, Peggy Harkins


Picture books aren’t just for little kids.  

They are powerful and engaging texts that can help all middle school students succeed in language arts, math, science, social studies, and the arts. Picture books appeal to students of all readiness levels, interests, and learning styles.

Featuring descriptions and activities for fifty exceptional titles, Mary Jo Fresch and Peggy Harkins offer a wealth of ideas for harnessing the power of picture books to improve reading and writing in the content areas.

The authors provide a synopsis of each title along with discipline-specific and cross-curricular activities that illustrate how picture books can be used to supplement—and sometimes even replace—traditional textbooks. They also offer title suggestions that create a “text set” of supporting resources.

By incorporating picture books into the classroom, teachers across the disciplines can introduce new topics into their curriculum, help students develop nonfiction literacy skills, provide authentic and meaningful cultural perspectives, and help meet a wide range of learning needs.

147 pp. 2009. Grades 5–8. ISBN 978-0-8141-3633-1.

Mary Jo also writes extensively on phonemic awareness. She and I are currently at work on a book together.