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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Slogans

At the beginning of every football season in Green Bay, WI, a dedicated fan paints a new slogan about the Packers on the fence across from Lambeau Field. Over the years this has become such a phenomenon that its now featured in newspapers and media all over the state. People look forward to the day the fence is being painted. This year there is even an email address where fans can submit suggestions for the slogan. It's a fresh slate every year, a new start every season.

As you think about the new school year, what do you want your slogan to be? Where would you paint it?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Return to The Library

I remember the first book I ever checked out with my own library card. It was The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and I was seven years old. I was entranced by the Hugh Lofting’s detailed illustrations, by the mysterious word “voyage,” and by the prospect of talking animals! The library, in North Minneapolis, and long-since demolished, was a medieval-looking structure built of huge sandstone blocks and pillars. The separate entrance to the children’s section, which made it all the more appealing, was a low, heavy stone archway at the bottom of a small flight of outdoor steps. My first library, then, was a castle, a dungeon, and a fortress all wrapped up in one imposing edifice.

I was in awe of libraries. They were places of silence. They had weird furniture. One couldn’t go to them alone (well, I was only seven). Countless books lined the shelves, and each one was potentially mine Maybe only for a week, but during that time the book belonged to me, and me alone. It was an odd, sobering, yet exhilarating responsibility.

A few years ago, when I got the chance to write a series for Stone Arch Books that would grab the most reluctant and struggling readers, I naturally thought about what hooked my interest as a young boy. I was not a reluctant reader, but I was definitely picky. So the thought of creating a fantasy series set in the world’s largest and most secretive library immediately got me excited. I was 10 when I saw Howard Hawks’s Land of the Pharaohs starring Joan Collins as an evil Egyptian princess. The pyramid’s deadly maze, hidden passageways, and amazing booby-traps burned into my imagination. (I don’t want to give away the jaw-dropping finale of the film, but I will say that I have had a respect for the power of sand ever since.) The Library of Doom grew out of that enigmatic and colossal structure.

I wrote 12 books in the original Library of Doom series, focusing on monsters and villains that all had some kind of book or library connection – there were deadly bats formed from ripped off pages, bookends that came to life, bookworm creatures that dwelt in hidden caverns and were large enough to devour humans. It was fun to imagine, fun to write, and I have received hundreds of positive responses from librarians, teachers, and parents who told me that their student or child hated to read before he or she picked up one of the Librarian’s adventures.

More recently, I was invited to Return to the Library of Doom. Six more books. But I wanted to do something new. I figured that those students who accompanied my bookish hero through his various escapades could be challenged. They would feel confident enough to attempt a longer story. So the new books are twice as long as the first. And readers will meet new characters, including a super heroine who fights alongside the Librarian and is known as – the Specialist. She owes a little to one of my favorite TV shows growing up, The Avengers, with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel.

Books have been my companions ever since I opening the cover to a Golden Book (The Color Cats!). Libraries have been my refuge and my inspiration. Writing about the Librarian and his hidden fortress has been a way for me to stay in the library long after closing time. I have never really left.

-Michael Dahl

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Laughter

Laughter is important to your health. It reduces stress, exercises the diaphragm, abs and heart, and creates a positive atmosphere. Laughter is proven to be the best medicine!

Nothing makes you laugh harder than a good joke! Michael Dahl's new Super Funny Joke Books will knock your socks off! Give them a try.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Go tell your momma what the big boys read!

This morning as I was eating my bowl of Wheaties for breakfast, I couldn’t help but remember their catchy jingle, “Go tell your momma what the big boys eat!” But this time, it crept back into my head as “Go tell your momma what the big boys READ!” That’s exactly what we want to do – get boys excited about reading. Have them shout it from the rooftops! Tell their moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, and classmates, “Hey, look what I just read!” At Stone Arch, we create books that build confidence in young readers so they feel good about reading and want to do more of it. We have exciting stories about topics boys love – sports, monsters, mysteries, science, and scary stories – all with a special, easy-to-read font. Here is a sample of our new Fall titles – don’t be surprised if you hear shouting from the rooftops!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con 2010

My eyes ache. Okay, probably not as much as that dude’s from Hall H, but they're pretty sore. More than a week after returning from SoCal (as any good Geek would call it), I’m still digesting the five-day, all-things-comics, all-things-movies, all-things-television, all-things-toys, all-things-gaming, all-things-cosplay festival that is SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON!

Now, although Capstone Publishers has sent several representatives every year, this was my first pilgrimage to the Mecca of Nerdness. Of course, several veteran Con-goers had already told me all about the good (swag), the bad (long lines), and the ugly (Slave Leia costumes . . . for men!). And, after experiencing it for myself, I’m here to tell you that everything is true. Yes, even the He-Leias!!
In fact, this “everything-ness” has become somewhat of a controversy to Comic-Con insiders. Many hardcore comics fans are quickly becoming skeptical of the event, stating, “Comic-Con? More like ‘Culture Con’! Hollywood has taken over!” Conspiracy theories aside, the movie and television industry has definitely invaded the Con. Giant, billboard-size banners for ALIEN, SALT, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, IRON MAN and even HBO’s TRUE BLOOD dominated the central corridor of this year’s convention floor. As for comic sellers, creators, and small presses, many of them have been banished to the fringes — stuck between lines for the over-used restrooms and under-stocked concession stands.

And the Stone Arch booth? Somewhere in between. Standing in our eight-by-eight plot between media moguls and comic book insiders was overwhelming, to say the least. The first day, I stood in awe as 130,000 people (and some very convincing aliens) swarmed the convention floor, and I wondered, “Where do we fit in among all this everything?” However, faster than a speeding bullet, I got my answer. Not from bird, not from a plane, but from a tiny Man of Steel. A seven-year-old boy, wearing a custom made Superman uniform, sprinted up to our booth, yelling, “Mom! Mom! Look!” He leaped into the air like a real caped hero and snatched a DC SUPER HEROES book from our table. His mother followed closely behind, and, before I could even ask her name, told me how her son had checked out “EVERY one of these books from the library!” Then as quickly as he came, the boy sped away, probably to investigate other booths filled with Superman movies, video games, comics, and television shows.

That boy got it. He understood that Comic-Con isn’t just about comics anymore. And, it’s not just about movies or television either! Comic-Com has become a place for fans to meet their heroes in ALL forms, face-to-face, eye-to-eye. During the next three days, I met my own heroes. I met authors, creators, illustrators, licensors, a whole lot of fans . . . and few more He-Leias. These interactions rejuvenated me and inspired me to create better books for that tiny Man of Steel. And now that I’m back, yes, my eyes still ache, but they ache for more.

Donnie Lemke
Managing Editor—comics and licensed properties
Capstone Fiction