We like books.
We're interested in ways to help more people (especially kids) like books.
You can read more about our company at www.capstonepub.com.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye, Joan

This week, the staff of Stone Arch Books and Picture Window Fiction says goodbye to our fearless leader, Joan Berge.

Joan is leaving the company after fourteen years to explore new interests and opportunities. She started working for Capstone Publishers very early on, working at Capstone Press and then working on the launch of both Picture Window Books and Compass Point Books. For the last five years, she’s been the head of our fiction division.

We’re really going to miss Joan around here: her sense of humor, her no-nonsense attitude, her belief in all of us. Joan has always pushed us to not just produce good books, but to create the best books we can—and then some. Her questions, eye, and care are responsible for so much of Capstone Fiction’s success and for the quality of both the books we publish and the workplace where we spend our days.We’ll miss you, Joan. Don’t be a stranger.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No Snow...

I'm pretty sure Fawn Braun would be quite pleased with the whiteness of the holidays this year.

No cotton or sugar or marshmallows for us. Or most of the U.S.

(Did you know you can look inside most of our books?)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stone Arch Gift Guide, part 2!

If yesterday's post didn't give you enough ideas, here are even more! This time, our design department weighs in with their top picks for gift-giving.

I would recommend any of the Storybook Classics-elegant, coffee table like books with unique illustrations. Perfect for reading aloud around the fire on a cold winter night. If I had to pick just one from the set it would be Snow White.
— Emily, designer

I ordered the Truck Buddies level 1 readers for my nephew Boone (3 1/2). He LOVES trucks! I know that he will develop a love for reading with this series!! I ordered Princess Candy Sugar Hero for my 7-year-old niece, knowing she will love the the princess character (what girl doesn’t love princesses?). This will be a nice way to expose her to the graphic novel format and how exciting and visual reading can be. Not to mention this will be a nice girl super hero role model for her!! I also ordered her a Claudia Cristina Cortez book (Dance Trap) knowing that she is a good reader. I'm anticipating her getting hooked on Claudia and begging for more. And finally, I ordered each of my 3-year-old nieces a Storybook Classic (Goldilocks & The Three Little Pigs). I think they will love these beautiful fairytales & gorgeous pictures. These will be nice read-alouds for the parents to read to them, plus a nice way to develop a love for reading at a young age. I still remember my parents reading these same stories to me.
— Heather, creative director

I would give a copy of The Incredible Rockhead, because I think it’s a perfect introduction to children’s graphic novels and the superhero genre in general. Not only does the design and illustration pay homage to superhero comics of yore, but the storyline has been expertly crafted by our brilliant editorial staff. There’s lots of humor, puns, action, crazy characters – everything you’d ever want in a comic book for this age group (and beyond). Plus, three more titles are on the way to round out the Rockhead saga...a “gift that keeps on giving,” so to speak.
— Bob, art director

For all the little girls out there are staring to get into reading their first books, I would recommend Katie Woo. They are fun and fast reads that girls are going to love. For the tweens in the family, I think the Claudia Cristina Cortez books are super fun. (Look for the Claudia advice books in January!) I'm going to give Finn Reeder: Flu Fighter to my daughter Victoria. It’s the first book I designed and illustrated, so it means a lot to me. I never thought I would have been able to do something like it. I know my daughter is going to adore that book, not only because her mom made it, but because the story is hilarious, one of the best books I’ve ever worked on. So much fun to put together in such a short time.
— Kay, art director

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stone Arch Gift Guide, part 1

It's cold and blustery outside. What could be better than to curl up with a book?

Just in time for the holidays, here's our Stone Arch gift guide. I asked some of my colleagues to suggest perfect gifts for the holidays. This list is the choices from the editorial department. We'll have top choices from the design department soon!

My pick is Fawn Braun's Big City Blues. The first time I read this book, I got kind of choked up. It is such a sweet story about a how a whole town comes together to make one little girl’s dreams come true.
— Julie, senior editor

I want to give the board books to everyone I know! (Editor's note: Look for a post about these upcoming books soon!) Of course any of the Katie Woo books would be perfect for a little girl. I really like the Fall '09 Spin books. I think those are perfect titles to give to any kid.
— Krista, product planning editor

My toddler son, Sam, already has a full collection of the Sam X books and many of the Graphic Spin fairy tales. This year, I'm giving him a set of early copies of our new board books. (I'll be showcasing them here in a couple of weeks, when they're available for purchase.) I think I'll also invest in complete sets of our Stone Arch Readers. My favorites are the level 3 Monster readers—gorgeously illustrated, quirky books any kid will love. He's too young for them now, but he'll love them in a few years. For other kids, I'm getting copies of our awesome Jake Maddox books—perfect for sports-lovers—and the My First Graphic Novel books, for the younger kids who want to read graphic novels just like their older siblings. All sure to be big hits.
— Beth, senior editor

I would give Katie Woo: Boss of the World (or really any Katie Woo book) to any parent with children between the ages of 2-8. It has a ton of teachable moments, it’s funny, and it’s totally relatable.
— Christianne, managing editor

My SAB gift recommendation is Zinc Alloy: Coldfinger, illustrated by the incredibly talented Douglas Holgate and written by . . . yours truly! Besides some shameless self-promotion, the fourth installment in the Zinc Alloy saga is a great holiday read. It takes place during Zack Allen’s winter vacation, where the young super hero must tackle the ski slopes, take on the school’s biggest bully, and face his toughest challenge yet — the fearsome (and frozen) super-villain Dr. Icee! This action-packed comic is sure to make your own holiday stresses seem, well, comical.
— Donnie, senior editor

I’d pick My Frozen Valentine from the DC Superheroes: Batman series for all my cousins. Great book title, fluent writing, and the illustrations are dynamic and beautifully colored. Also, the harsh, wintery, nighttime illustrations resonate perfectly with the crux of the story: Mr. Freeze’s cold-hearted revenge versus Batman’s shadowy pursuit of justice. Also, lots of explosions!
— Sean, associate editor

The Ugly Duckling. This is one of the most hilarious, fizzy, surprising, and dynamically-drawn graphic novels I’ve read in a long time. Artist Aaron Blecha (who also illustrated PAUL BUNYAN and THE THREE LITTLE PIGS) has filled this book from copyright page to back matter with a quirky, swampy palette, narcissistic ducklings, cynical toads, and a sense of humor that both kids and adults will appreciate. Grown-ups will come to the story already familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s plot and characters, so they will be entertained by reteller Martin Powell’s insight into the Ugly Duckling’s loneliness and desire for belonging, as well as the wacky visuals. Kids will love the funny dialogue and the bright, contemporary cartoon-like panels. It’s a win-win for anyone who loves fairy tales, graphic novels, or a good laugh. I can’t wait to see what Blecha and Powell do next.
— Michael, editorial director

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today, December 7, is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, a day to honor those who fought and died 68 years ago in Hawaii. Please take time to thank a veteran or active soldier, and learn more about how these brave men and women have shaped our country.

Read more:
Captured Off Guard (Graphic Flash)
Pearl Harbor (We the People)
The Attack on Pearl Harbor (Graphic Library)
Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy (Snapshots in History)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sports Illustrated Kids: Then and Now

It’s funny how things come full circle sometimes: When I was a kid, I was a huge sports fan (still am, actually). Maybe it was my love of the local sports teams, or certain players. Or my obsession with baseball card collecting. Or, maybe it was the simple fact that I loved to draw sports team logos in my notebooks at school (imagine that). Whatever the case, my appetite for sports was insatiable. So, it was no surprise that when my mom found out about the inception of Sports Illustrated Kids magazine, she signed me up for a subscription immediately. The premiere issue arrived in our mailbox around my birthday back in 1989, and I couldn’t have been more excited (Michael Jordan!!):

Now, 20 years later, Sports Illustrated Kids is still going strong and celebrating a big anniversary. And, though my subscription ended long ago, I happened to run into SI Kids again–at work.

For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been working with Sports Illustrated Kids to create a brand new and exciting way to deliver sports fiction to an ever-changing world of sports-hungry kids: sports graphic novels. Since Stone Arch Books specializes in graphic novels, it was no shock that SI Kids came knocking when they decided to branch out into additional markets, especially the school library market. The concept we came up with was a no-brainer: let’s create fast-paced stories about everyday kids in interesting sports situations and combine them with superhero comic-caliber artwork. Sprinkle in some character-driven “sports broadcast” narrative and some stats, and we had something that hasn’t been done before...in any market. These books are sure to appeal to the most reluctant readers, and keep them coming back for more. Six hot, new titles (with topics ranging from football to paintball) will be available soon. Check out the cover and a sample spread from Point-Blank Paintball:

As we move forward with this innovative series (more seasons are on the way), I’ve already learned something very interesting about the artists who illustrate our Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels: many of them actually play the sports that they are illustrating! The best example is Gerardo Sandoval, who is currently working on our upcoming soccer title. He told me in an email that he plays soccer consistently, mostly as a goalkeeper. Even though we (Stone Arch and Sports Illustrated Kids) make extra sure that every sports detail is accurate, it’s nice to know that we can count on our illustrators to do their homework and produce the highest level of sports action for the printed page. I can’t imagine any better research than playing the sport in real life!

Look for Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels in January–only from Stone Arch Books!

Bob Lentz
Art Director
Stone Arch Books

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Next?

Not since Gutenberg has literacy and the written word gotten so much press. An academy in Massachusetts is throwing out 200,000 books, and replacing them with a coffee shop. A church in North Carolina is burning books, most of them Bibles. The country’s two largest retail chains are waged in a price war over hardcovers. Not electronics, not Tickle-me-Elmo, but books! More digital readers are suddenly on the market. Rupert Murdoch is proposing setting up paywalls to keep Google from “ripping off” his news agency’s content. And Brett Favre is quarterbacking for the Vikings! I know, that last one has nothing to do with publishing, but it’s too cool not to mention. And what’s with all the apocalyptic movies lately? Is this one mass, subconscious metaphor for the revolution that’s taking place in front of our Lasik-reengineered eyeballs? The old world is making way for the new? Burn the Library of Alexandria so we can implant a microchip in your head and thereby save all that real estate for more important things like football stadiums! The point is that the media, like a ship caught in a whirlpool, is circling around the future of print. What will become of books? What will we be reading? Who will be reading?

We are all caught up in the conversation. Here at Stone Arch Books the digital challenge stuck us like a thunderbolt. Which is a good thing. What if -- we wondered -- we put a brand new book, focused on a timely topic, on the web, free of charge? Would this help it get to our readers faster? Beth mentioned yesterday our new Finn Reader, Flu Fighter, a hilarious story told in journal format about a teenager swept up in the H1N1 epidemic. We know kids would love this story. And we know they are curious about H1N1. Running this book through the usual printing channels would take time. Kids want to know now!

What do you think? As lovers of literature, as experts in children’s books, as librarians and media specialists, do you think this is a good method for reaching readers quickly? Have you ever downloaded a free book off the web? Did it give you the same reading experience as reading a bound manuscript? Did it matter? Did you love the story so much that you went back and purchased a hardcopy version to put on your shelves?

As an omnivorous bibliophile myself, I would love to hear what people think. A few times a week I gaze longingly at Amazon’s ads for Kindle, but I still haven’t hit the Buy Now button. My finger is itching. I can’t help it. I love to read, and anything that gets a story into my hands faster can’t be a bad thing. Can it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Excuses, exclusives...

Here's the reason I haven't been doing much blogging. (Go ahead and click that link if you want to skip to the good stuff.)

A couple months ago, I was basically done with my work for Spring 2010. I was blissfully contracting away for Spring 2011, in fact. But then we decided to do something a little crazy: throw a rush book in the mix. We wanted a book about the H1N1 pandemic, in our usual Stone Arch style: something different, something interesting, something cool and fresh.

Thus, Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter, was born.

Finn Reeder thought it was just a dumb assignment when a sub told his English class that they had to start keeping a journal. Little did he know that his journal would turn into the record of a major flu pandemic.

Somehow, he survives infection. As their class size dwindles, Finn and his friend Amy face down the school bully, draw comics, catch the principal ordering pizza, and even manage to study once in a while. And when finally, Finn is the lone student remaining in school, he manages to win—and lose—the most intense game of solo dodge ball ever.

By the time the month is over, he’s made it through the epidemic, gotten vaccinated, and might even have found himself a girlfriend if he plays his cards right.

I quickly contracted an author, drew up a concept and outline, and we were off. The author, Eric Stevens, wrote the book in about two weeks. Kay Fraser, one of our uber-talented art directors, took the concept and ran with it, creating an awesome cover in the blink of an eye. Once the manuscript was edited, Kay and I worked together to mock up the illustration suggestions, and she spent a couple of weekends holed up in her cubicle, illustrating the entire book in full color. Just as some comparison, it usually takes us between 6 months and a year to complete a book, from concept to finished copies. In this case, it's about six weeks. We really wanted to respond to the pandemic and get this book out there ASAP.

Coolest of all, you can download this book for free, in PDF form, for a limited time from our website. You can also sign up for a special 10 percent discount off the hardcover book. The download will be free online until January 1, when the printed book is available for purchase.

I'm really proud of the team effort that created this book. It takes a lot of people to make one book, especially in such a short period of time. Here's a list, but I'm sure I'm forgetting someone: our president, Joan Berge; Michael Dahl, our editorial director; Heather Kindseth, our creative director; Shannon Zigmund, our marketing manager; Krista Monyhan, head of our planning department; proofreaders Ali Deering (product planning intern), Sean Tulien (associate editor), and Donnie Lemke (senior editor); web marketing manager Michaela DeLong; production specialist Michelle Biedschied; production manager Blake Hoena; technology project manager Jeff Ruley. And Kay and me.

I hope you love it as much as we do. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

More soon,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Comic books = learning

In a recent article, the Telegraph declared, “Comic books are good for children's learning,” citing scientists (yes, SCIENTISTS!) at the University of Illinois. But don’t take their word for it! Test out some of the award-winning comics from Stone Arch books, and draw your own conclusions. No safety goggles required . . . because all our comics are SAFE!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Illustrators, take note!

A comment on a post about our writers' guidelines asked about illustration submissions. I asked art director Bob Lentz to weigh in. Here's what he had to say.

We typically steer prospective illustrators to our illustrator submission inbox by asking them to send jpeg samples of their best work to il.sub@stonearchbooks.com. Some things to keep in mind before sending samples:

  • Please send only your best work. Often times we’ll receive a sample from an artist that they created this year, and something that they created 5 or even 10 years ago. Although it may seem like a good idea to show progression in your work, we only want to see what you are creating today.
  • Please send a maximum of 5 samples. Some illustrators will send more than 10 (and sometimes in excess of 20) samples, and that not only bogs down our email system, it becomes tedious to look through all of them. We often have a limited time to review portfolios, and we can easily lose interest if there are a lot of samples to wade through.
  • Show range. Often times an illustrator works in two or more different styles, and we want to see them all. Remember: we publish books that range from early childhood to picture books to graphic novels and beyond. There’s something for almost any style if the illustrator fits.
  • Only professionals need apply. Have you worked with a publishing house before? Have you dealt with demanding schedules and hard deadlines? Do you communicate well with art directors and designers? If you answered “yes” to all of these, then we want to hear from you. The ability to display professionalism and solid communication skills is just as important as the illustrations your create. In the end, the book is jeopardized if it doesn’t get to the printer on time.
  • Be unique. We tend to look for styles that are rarely seen in the library and even trade markets. If your style or work makes us say “wow, that’s different!”, then chances are we’ll find the right fit for you somehow.

Buy local, read global

This Saturday, November 7th, is “National Bookstore Day.” This is part of Publishers Weekly's “Read Locally” campaign, which I believe is a brilliant idea. And in the spirit of the campaign, our books are receiving some attention at one of the Midwest’s premiere comic-book stores – the Source in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here’s a sample of what they are saying:

Stone Arch Books, the fiction imprint of Capstone Publishers, a family-owned business based in Minneapolis, has churned out more award-winning comics than, perhaps, any local publisher. Until now, their books — which include hundreds of original titles and major partnerships with DC Comics and Sports Illustrated — could only be checked out at libraries or purchased online. But, for the first time ever, several of these locally made comics are available at The Source! Want a twist on an old classic? Check out Stone Arch’s stunning adaptations of “Hansel and Gretel” and the “Three Little Pigs.” If you’re looking for action, enter the Recon Academy — four high-school heroes fighting high-tech crimes. Or, set down that Simpsons comic and get your monthly dose of whacked-out humor with the characters Zinc Alloy and Eek and Ack.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Posters in action

Amy, one of the lucky winners of our poster contests, sent me this picture of the Katie Woo and Mysteries posters in her homeschool classroom. Too cute! Thanks, Amy!

Left to right, the girls are Kassidy, Delaney, and Mara. It's always really nice to put faces and names to our readers--if anyone else has pictures of Stone Arch products in action, please, send them along!

Friday, October 30, 2009

And not to be outdone...

...here's Stone Arch Books art director Bob Lentz as The Price Is Right host Drew Carey with the Plinko game.
So far today, the highest score received was 30,500. Not too shabby!

Happy Halloween!

The winner of our company costume contest this year? None other than our very own Katie Woo.

Check out marketing coordinator Kendra Sticha, dressed up like everyone's favorite little girl. (I especially love the tank top--adorable!)

Too cute, Kendra!

Happy Halloween, everyone!
More soon,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I just love hearing about kids who love our books. Here's an email from a librarian in California:

Just had to tell you this....one of my students was in line with two books yesterday all excited to check them out. When it was his turn he told me, "I just LOVE these Stone Arch Books!" Thought you'd enjoy that one.

Yay! Love it.

More soon, really, as soon as it stops being so busy around here!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Samantha Archer and the Field Trip Mysteries

Editor's Note: This month is National Field Trip Month and National Mystery Month. We asked author Steve Brezenoff to write about his favorite part about the creation of the Field Trip Mysteries. Check out our Mystery webpage!

When the editors at Stone Arch Books approached me with the Field Trip Mysteries concept, I jumped at the chance. Writing a mystery is great fun on its own, but the idea of a series, featuring four bright and interesting kids, plus the added concept of fun, educational venues — changing from adventure to adventure — sweetened the pot even more.

From the get-go, I knew I wanted to pay homage to some of my favorite mysteries of the past. Rather than look to Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, or Miss Marple, though, I decided to reference the classic detectives, crooks, and stars of American film noir. Several of the cast of the Field Trip Mysteries — regulars and "guest stars" — are named for those colorful characters. But that wasn't enough for me. So I created Samantha Archer.

Herself named for a couple of noir detectives played most famously by Humphrey Bogart and Jerome Cowan, Sam also brings something else to the party: the talk. By putting Sam in the care of her grandparents, and in front of their TV — so often playing the classic American detective films — I let Sam absorb and come to love the distinctive speech of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and their ilk.

Some of those authors' lingo simply won't work nowadays: even in context, modern readers simply won't get the meaning. "Get in the boiler, Bo, or I butter your necktie" probably won't be clear, especially to a striving reader. But used sparsely, and with clear context and even direct translation, such terms bring a tone to the stories that I particularly enjoy, and make Sam Archer my favorite character.

--Steve Brezenoff

Friday, October 9, 2009

Katie Woo poster giveaway!

When I first read author Fran Manushkin’s manuscripts for our Katie Woo series, I felt like I knew Katie. In fact, I felt like I was raising her! (Only my Katie is named Sky and doesn’t wear glasses.)

Fran has a wonderful understanding of children and how they think and react to situations. I think that is why Katie is so likeable. You feel like you know her, because she is just like the sweet, funny girl in your class, or down the street, or at your kitchen table. She loves clothes and her friends and spaghetti. Sure, she gets in trouble once in a while, but she always makes you laugh.

To celebrate Katie, we have a fabulous new poster — and we are giving four away! Be one of the first four readers to leave a comment and one will be sent your way.

Julie, senior editor at Capstone Fiction

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Attack of the red folders

Everyone here at Capstone Fiction has one big fear: a giant stack of red folders appearing on his or her desk. Ask any of us what gives us nightmares, and it's these oversized plastic folders.

At the beginning of the season, red folders are kind of fun: they're new, shiny, empty. Like new notebooks at the start of the school year, the red folders are full of potential and promise. They're ready to do their duty. The edited manuscript slides neatly in and it's sent on its way through the production process.

But then new routing slips are attached. The folders get fingerprinty. Sketches and concepts and ideas are shoved inside.

By the end of the season (hint: like right now), it's a rare day when you come to work and don't have at least one folder waiting on your chair. The other day, Michael (our editorial director) went home early because he had eighteen red folders he had to get through before the next day. He needed to be able to focus on them (and he wouldn't admit it, but I bet he was afraid of getting more red folders before the day was through!).

Sometimes the red folders fight back. They hide. They disappear. We have editors in two locations, and sometimes the red folders simply slip away somewhere between our offices.

In general, I find it's best to try to respect the red envelopes: treat them how you'd like to be treated. Deal with them quickly and kindly and send them on their way. (Maybe the DMV could take some notes.)

After all, the sooner you pass them along, the sooner you can make room on your desk for the next batch.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Quarterback Sneak

If you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin (like I do), football is in the air! Tonight long time rivals, the MN Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, face off in a true battle for the big win on Monday Night Football. Many Packer fans face an internal struggle as their long-time quarterback and hero, Brett Favre is now playing for their arch-rival. It is the first time that Favre is on the other side. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see the outcome. The anticipation is killing me! Now, I know this is professional football, but I think many kids face internal struggles and challenges as they play school sports. Our Jake Maddox series addresses many of these challenges in the real life situations that kids face. Check out some of our great titles - the boys sure seem to love them!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Good afternoon, blog readers!

I'm pretty sure everyone loves a freebie, right? I mean, when you go to conferences for work, don't you end up with about sixteen tote bags stuffed with promotional paper clips and all manner of other swag? (I know that's not just me.)

But there's nothing better than a freebie that's actually cool and/or useful. Such as an amazing poster. That's why, if you're one of the first three people* to comment on this post, you win this awesome, hot-off-the-presses, 24" x 36" poster, suitable for use in the home, library, cubicle, etc., and featuring those lovable Field Trip Mysteries kids (and a bunch of other stars of SAB's mystery books). No strings attached. Click and comment away!

* Please be in the US or Canada. Mom, you can't win. ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Only Stone Arch.

Here's a great story that was just passed along to me from one of our sales reps.

Our rep, Jim, was at an appointment with a media specialist. Jim and the media specialist were sitting behind the circ desk, looking through samples, when a fourth-grade boy came in. "Hi," the media specialist said. "Can I help you find a book?"

"I only read Stone Arch," the boy said. He repeated himself a few times.

The specialist laughed and introduced him to Jim. "This is our Stone Arch Books salesman!"

The kid was thrilled. He immediately marched around the circ desk and--without asking--started digging through the samples Jim had brought on the sales call. He told Jim his favorites of our sets were the Vortex books and the Jake Maddox books.

I love it! These stories always make my day.

Ought to be a national holiday

You guys! It's National Punctuation Day!!!
I love punctuation. Love it. I think it's so important, and I use a lot of it.

An old coworker, Carla, and I once got into a battle about whether to show ellipses like this...or like this . . . My vote was the latter, but she insisted on the former. I think I let that one go in the end, but I still think I was right.

Incidentally, a friend of mine almost canceled her first date with a guy because he used the wrong form of "its" in an email (they met online). Luckily, she decided to go anyway, and they were married in January.

Punctuation lovers aren't alone--just check out the baked goods in the contest on this website for proof. What's your favorite punctuation mark? Mine's definitely the semi-colon; I know how to use it, and I'm not afraid to.

More soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The power of the internet

Wow. The readership of this blog has suddenly doubled, ever since I posted on Twitter that we were looking for authors for a fun new middle-grade project. So, hi, new readers--please stick around, add us to your feed-readers, comment away, make suggestions, whatever.

After I twittered that we needed some new authors, the SAB Twitter account suddenly got about 50 new followers. It's been fun discovering these people--writers, mostly. And my email and the Stone Arch Books submissions email have been inundated with messages from writers looking for work. So much so that I haven't even gotten through all of them yet! (So if you sent something and haven't heard from me, don't despair!)

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about submissions to Stone Arch. We have submission info on our website, but based on the amount of snail mail and full manuscripts we receive, I think some people aren't even aware that information is there.

So, here's a quick and dirty guide to submitting to Stone Arch/Picture Window.

* Don't send full manuscripts. Right now (and I'll let you know if this changes) we rarely purchase unsolicited manuscripts unless they are part of a completed 4- or 6-book series. In that case, send only the first few chapters of one manuscript.

* Have a desire to work for hire. That means we'll hire you to create a manuscript based on our specs. You'll need to be flexible, fast, professional, and creative, and in return, we'll be fun to work with; together we'll create great books.

* Send a writing sample. It should be fiction, and you should know what reader it will appeal to -- kindergarten kids? Middle-schoolers? Do your research.

* Email your submission to author.sub@stonearchbooks.com unless otherwise directed. I prefer samples that are pasted into the email, since it's easier for printing. (Please note that if you have already sent a submission, no need to resend.)

* Know that we only guarantee that we'll respond to samples that are right for us, unless they've been specifically requested by an editor or are sent by an agent. We get so many submissions that it's impossible to respond to each one.

I hope that gives insight into what we need. If you have a question, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll respond ASAP!


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

An evening with Chip Kidd

Last night, some of the design and editorial staff were lucky enough to attend a lecture by the infamous design rock star/legend, Chip Kidd. This was my first time seeing him speak and what a presence he has! He is extraordinarily multi-talented, a designer, writer and a wonderful speaker who has the ability to make the audience gasp, as well as fall over with laughter. 

I think the most fascinating aspect of his presentation was the series of book covers he designed that he personally loved, but had been rejected by the publisher or the author. It's always nice to see someone as amazing as him, share work that didn't make the cut. Even Chip Kidd, with years of experience and credibility, still has concepts that people don't fall in love with immediately. 

It was energizing to hear someone speak so passionately about design and the publishing industry. I walked out of the auditorium inspired, and armed with a couple of autographed books-how could I not?!

To see more of Chip Kidd's work, check out his website, here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tiger Moth, Lego ninja?

Check out this awesome rendition of Tiger Moth that Donnie sent me last week.

This 24-inch-tall Lego version, created by John and Dave Xandegar, will be touring elementary school libraries. How cool is that? See more images and read about the Lego creation here.

Any other Stone Arch characters popping up in the world? Let us know!

More soon!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Poetry Friday: Sweet voices whisper low

Happy Friday!

I have to admit something to you, blog readers: I am totally obsessed with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I read it as a kid, of course, and had vague memories of sort of liking it, but mostly relegating it to that pile of "old-fashioned" books that I didn't really understand. I picked it up again last week after Michael mentioned it off-handedly during a meeting, and I've been totally immersed in it ever since. I can see why I didn't adore it as a young girl; the references, for one thing, are still above my head, as a college-educated adult! But I'm loving it now--the plot is wonderful, entertaining, and I really care about these characters, but what really gets me are the descriptions of nineteenth-century domestic life--what a far cry from 2009, but some things are still the same! Babies still refuse to go to sleep, the laundry must still be done, and families gather together in the evenings--now with laptops and iPhones instead of mending and pipe-smoking, but still.

Anyway, I of course had to post a poem by Louisa May Alcott for today's Poetry Friday offering.


      The moonlight fades from flower and tree,
      And the stars dim one by one;
      The tale is told, the song is sung,
      And the Fairy feast is done.
      The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
      And sings to them, soft and low.
      The early birds erelong will wake:
      'Tis time for the Elves to go.
      O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
      Unseen by mortal eye,
      And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
      Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
      For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
      And the flowers alone may know,
      The feasts we hold, the tales we tell:
      So 'tis time for the Elves to go.
      From bird, and blossom, and bee,
      We learn the lessons they teach;
      And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
      A loving friend in each.
      And though unseen on earth we dwell,
      Sweet voices whisper low,
      And gentle hearts most joyously greet
      The Elves where'er they go.
      When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
      May the silver moon's soft light
      Shine then on faces gay as now,
      And Elfin hearts as light.
      Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
      With sunlight soon will glow.
      The morning star shall light us home:
      Farewell! for the Elves must go.

Poetry Friday is hosted at Wild Rose Reader this week.

Enjoy your weekend!
More soon,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to school

Summer is over. As if on cue, the leaves in my St. Paul neighborhood have begun changing; the sun is setting sooner, rising later; there's a crispness in the air in the morning. Schoolbuses roam the streets, and as I drive to work each morning, kids wait on corners for their buses. On my way home, football teams practice, and groups of girls, backpacks slung over their shoulders, walk down the sidewalks.

I know I'm not the only person who gets excited when September rolls around. Someone said on Twitter the other day that September is a better time than January to make resolutions. Maybe it's not the beginning of the calendar year, and unlike the transition to spring, it's not full of renewed hope and warmth--no, actually, I take that back. It is. The promise of snuggling under blankets, reading a book; of curling up with hot chocolate; of time spent learning on purpose.

Welcome back to school, kids, parents, teachers, librarians, administrators--from me, and from everyone else here at Stone Arch and Picture Window. This year, let's all make it our new-school-year resolution to learn on purpose.

More soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just call me fab-u-lous!

Last Friday Heather and I went to the MN State Fair to get an autograph from one of our local celebrities Sven Sundgaard. Sven's stylish hair was the inspiration for Spencer de Caneto, one of the characters in our Incredible Rockhead series. In our first book, Spencer thinks he's fab-u-lous with his ultra-cool hair and moves. Sven Sundgaard's fans certainly thought Sven was fabulous as well - they were lined up in the street waiting for a chance to greet him. We snapped a picture of Sven and the Incredible Rockhead.

What a fabulous shot!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Earn FREE Books!

We are really lucky to have such loyal customers and we want to thank you! So, we have created a loyalty program where you get points for every title you purchase from Stone Arch Books and all of Capstone's imprints. You can redeem those points for FREE books. The best thing is - it's easy and free to join. Go to www.capstonerewards.com to sign up - just for enrolling, you will earn 500 bonus points. Watch for other bonus point opportunities throughout the year.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Poetry Friday: A Living Thing

Here in Minnesota, Labor Day weekend means one thing—the State Fair. It's a big deal here. I live in St. Paul, just a couple of miles from the fairgrounds, and the traffic alone tells me people are flocking to the Fair. On Facebook, my friends are listing, in gory detail, all of the foods they sample (chocolate-covered bacon and cajun-fried-pickles, anyone?). Here in the office, our resident foodies have regaled us with stories of their culinary expeditions. It's not just food: I've heard about the animals, the Crop Art, the midway...as Leslie Ball writes in her 2006 poem, the Fair is, indeed, a living thing, changing with each person who experiences it.

The Fair is a Living Thing

Just past six a.m.

Light starting to leak into the sky.

They predict rain.

We don't care.

Today is day one of our beloved State Fair.

(Read the rest of the poem here.)

Today's Poetry Friday is hosted at Crossover.

Enjoy your long weekend—the last weekend of summer. See you next week!
More soon--

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Library Bound

A few months ago, when we were discussing the content and mission of this blog, we decided to come up with a new title and logo for the blog--something that would reflect what we do and why. Since our core market is and always will be the library, we came up with Library Bound.

Everything we do here at Stone Arch Books, Picture Window Books, Capstone Fiction, and the rest of Capstone Publishers, is done with the library in mind. Our work is always library bound. (And our hardcovers have the bonus of Guaranteed Library Binding--as you can see, this editor can't resist a good pun.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Katie Woo!

Greetings from the design cube! Today I get to share with you my most favorite little character and series of books, Katie Woo. Katie is special for many reasons-she's got the sass, spunk and curiosity that makes her a great, relatable character for children.

Katie Woo is an amazing series to be working on, and my favorite part of the project (it's very difficult to pick just one!) was helping to create her outfit and look. In the beginning I had some ideas-she had to have glasses, and she must look like she picked out her own clothes to wear. From there, I let the illustrator concept how she saw Katie in her head. There were revisions of course, until we came to a version that everyone was happy with. Below is the evolution of Katie Woo:
Round 1: While cute, we were looking for something a little more funky and colorful.

Round 2: Much closer to what we had envisioned. However, we still felt like she needed something to make her 
stand out.

Round 3: Perfection! We love everything, from the cowboy boots to the turquoise glasses. She's done!

As I type this, the next set of Katie books for Spring 2010 is in the works. It was important that her look evolve a bit, something new for the new season, but still very Katie Woo. Stay tuned!

Katie has been out in the world for about a month now and people already have great things to say about her, for example:

"I stumbled across the new series, Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin, published by Picture Window Books/Capstone Books. It has me pumped!!! Kids already love Junie B. Jones for her fun and enthusiasm - I think Katie Woo has all that AND will appeal to younger kids." From In The Pages Blog, please check out the entire article!

With Fran Manushkin's excellent stories and Tammie Lyon's fabulous illustrations, Katie Woo is bound for success. I hope young readers everywhere will love her as much as I do, and that these books will spark their interest in reading that turns into a lifelong love, like Ramona Quimby did for me when I was young.

More soon!


Poetry Friday: Scantly and Selectly

At a team-building session this week, we analyzed our working personalities and split into four groups. At work, I (and many of my colleagues) were Golds: we love order, lists, planning, organizing, and deadlines. In honor of my Gold (yellow) work style, I'm posting this poem by Emily Dickinson.

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,--
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.

-- Emily Dickinson

Poetry Friday is at Book Aunt this week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

SAB Readers

The Stone Arch Books Readers program. You've got to check these books out--they're not your typical readers. They're fresh, exciting, fun books that kids learning to read will adore. At the same time, the books adhere to reader program standards, like strict leveling requirements for word count and sentence structure, and they've all gotten approval by educational consultants.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"This annoys me," she frowned.

Someone linked to this Onion story today on Twitter, and while I thought it was funny, it also brought up one of my biggest writing pet peeves—misusing verbs of utterance.
Now, I know English is a rapidly changing thing, the rules are fluid, etc. But can I tell you the quickest way to make me roll my eyes and make me get out my red pen is to write something like this:

“I agree,” he nodded.

Oh. It makes me cringe just to type it! People. You can’t nod a sentence. You say it. You yell it. You cry it, maybe, or even whimper it. And you can nod at the same time. But you can’t nod speech. You can’t shrug it, or smile it, or frown it. You can speak and move at the same time, of course, but then it’s a different sentence:

“I agree.” He nodded.


“I agree,” he said, nodding.


He nodded. "I agree," he said.

I realize this is largely a nitpicky grammar thing, but to me, it smacks of something careless—not paying attention to how people move? Not knowing the limits of what certain verbs can do? When I read the first sentence, the "nodded" stops me. I can't see or hear it anymore, which is the opposite of its intention. And if you're the offending writer, you can't tell me it's in the service of the writing.

I also realize that many a famous author does this, but it drives me nuts, and I edit it out of books with wild abandon. Do other people have annoyances like this when they’re reading? Or is it mostly limited to those of us who are paid to wield our red pens?

Gosh, this post makes me sound crabby! Really, I'm not the kind of person who goes around correcting the improper use of the subjunctive, or anything like that. Some things just really get me going.

Thanks for letting me vent!
More soon--

Poetry Friday: Infant Joy

My best friends had a baby boy yesterday, so in honor of baby Cooper I'm posting this poem by William Blake. It's from his Songs of Innocence and Experience, and any good English major knows that the Innocence poems have a darker side about losing innocence, but for today, let's take it at face value: the true joy of welcoming a baby to a loving family.

Infant Joy

"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

Poetry Friday is hosted at a wrung sponge today.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Around the blogosphere

We try to keep our links list (over to the left, if you're reading this at stonearchbooks.blogspot.com) updated when Stone Arch Books is mentioned elsewhere in the blogosphere or on Internet news outlets. But today, there are a couple of things worth pointing out specifically.

Over at Paul Kupperberg's blog, the author of The Kid Who Saved Superman has posted a detailed write-up of his tour to the DC Comics headquarters with some of our staff and the winner of the DC Super Heroes contest. Check it out here.

And author Steve Brezenoff is hosting a contest for a bunch of books at his blog. Click here and leave a comment about a school memory for a chance to win.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Superman, meet the kid who saved you.

What better way to cap off a whirlwind of press and excitement than by meeting Superman himself? Our own Joan Berge and Michael Dahl are in New York today, and they're touring the DC Comics offices with our contest winner Hakeem Bennett and his hero, Mr. Brown.

Hakeem and his hero, Matthew Brown. If you look closely, you can see seeing-eye-dog extraordinaire Stanley next to Mr. Brown!

And Stone Arch Books' editorial director and author Michael Dahl couldn't resist getting in on the fun, too! (Those of us who work closely with Michael would expect nothing less.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

San Diego Comic Con 2009

Just last month, the rest of the world watched as 150,000 people descended upon the sunny harbor city of San Diego for one purpose: to feast their eyes on everything that the comic book, publishing, film, television, and video game worlds have to offer. Yes, I’m talking about Comic Con International, the largest comic book convention and pop culture phenomenon in the world. Over the past five summers, I’ve had the pleasure of attending this event, and I’ve seen a lot of great product and met a lot of great people. This year was no different, as Stone Arch Books sent me to San Diego in hopes of signing a few more great illustrators to add to our already amazing talent pool. Over two days, I reviewed over 100 portfolios and collected lots and lots of free posters, catalogs, and whatever else I could get my hands on, also known as SWAG (“Stuff We All Get”). Not only that, Comic Con is a great way to get our name out to those who may not yet know us. It’s no coincidence that we now have a working relationship with DC Comics – they found us at Comic Con!

Below are a few snapshots I took while traversing the vast landscape of booths and exhibits (not to mention negotiating the massive throng of people). Until next year...

Bob Lentz
Art Director
Stone Arch BooksThe San Diego Convention Center, home of Comic Con International for 4 1/2 days each July. It’s interesting to note that a vast majority of this convention center was added to house the ever-expanding Comic Con, which in the last 10 years has grown exponentially thanks to big budget superhero films and hyper-realistic video games.

DC Comics consistently has one of the best (and largest) booths at Comic Con, and they offer many great freebies and promotional items. I waited in line for one half hour just to get some posters and buttons. Well worth it.

A quick shot of the “Big Three” banner at the DC booth: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Did we mention that we offer beautiful chapter books featuring the crown jewels of DC Comics and the superhero world?? Pretty awesome to walk into the DC booth knowing that you get to make books with their characters in them.

Just a small sampling of the many costumed Con-goers who masquerade through the halls of the San Diego Convention Center each year. Seen here are a few alien creatures from the “Star Wars” films.

Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series. Is it really Johnny Depp, or a wax figure? You decide. (Actually, it’s another costumed attendee who just happened to look strikingly like the real Mr. Depp...!)

Myself (right) and C.S. Jennings (left), the soon-to-be legendary illustrator on our “Incredible Rockhead” series from Graphic Sparks. C.S. had a booth this year in the small press area, where many freelance illustrators and self-employed comic book artists go to peddle their wares and drum up business. It’s worth mentioning that that is exactly how we came to work with C.S. in the first place – finding him at Comic Con several years ago!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Field Trip Mysteries contest/giveaway!

Want to win a complete set of the first four Field Trip Mysteries books? Head on over to the author's blog and leave a comment about a field trip memory of your own. You've got until Saturday to enter--good luck!