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Friday, October 29, 2010

Ah, Halloween.

One of the best things about Halloween at Capstone Fiction is that we're visited by our favorite characters. Today, Cow (from the upcoming Snack Time for Cow), Pecos Bill, and the Incredible Rockhead stopped by. Link

Your Halloween Gift-giving Guide

So there's this author named Neil Gaiman. Maybe you've heard of him. Newbery Medalist? New York Times bestselling author? Yeah, that guy. Anyway, a week or so ago he wrote a very interesting post on his blog. There aren't, he said, enough good occasions for book-gifting. Therefore, he's proposing that we start a new tradition: the giving of a scary book on Halloween. (Only he's British, so he types "Hallowe'en," which is very charming.) Monica Edinger over at the Huffington Post chimed in with some excellent ideas of books to give, and in honor of the holiday, I thought I'd offer our own Capstone-centric gift-giving guide.

Coldfeet For the youngest book-lovers: You can't go wrong with any of our Monster Street books. They're about monsters, but they're not scary. Okay, I know the point of the whole thing is to give scary books, but sometimes you want a book that isn't scary. And COLD FEET is even about getting over fears!

Katie For kids who have just learned to read: Katie Woo, of course! In BOO, KATIE WOO! she dresses up like a monster and tries to scare everyone.

For young fans of nonfiction scares: check out the Really Scary Stuff series. Spooktacular!

MMM For graphic-novel lovers: Mighty Mighty Monsters tell the story of monsters' childhoods. Your giftee might also like seeing some of our graphic novel heroes battling famous monsters...for example, when Jimmy Sniffles takes on the Mummy. Jimmy mummy

For kids who prefer that scary stuff is true, there are some great new options in the Edge line. I bet a kid who was handed GHOULISH GHOST STORIES would be pretty in-demand at slumber parties!

For Twilight fans who want to believe Edward might show up at their school any minute, I don't think you could do any better than VAMPIRE LIFE.

Werewolf And for Twilight fans who want to believe that Jacob might be their one true love, I give you THE LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF.

For older kids: You cannot go wrong with any of the Shade books. End of the line One that gives me the chills just thinking about it is THE END OF THE LINE. Shivers! There are also a few of Shaun Tan's early works in that set . . . and they are CREEPY.

And finally, for kids who want to write their OWN ghost stories: try SHARE A SCARE!

What? You haven't gotten all of your Halloween presents yet? My goodness. Time's a-wasting!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Beth Brezenoff
Managing editor

Cross-posted from Capstone Connect.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What does Halloween have to do with fiction writing?

To me, Halloween has always been about the candy. My brothers and I used to spend every October brainstorming new ways to maximize candy-gathering while trick-or-treating. Candy is, after all, serious business when you’re 11! By using the following innovations, we always amassed a “healthy” supply of candy that lasted well into spring.

1) Pillowcases. There’s nothing better to carry your sweet, sweet loot. Yes, we filled them completely by night’s end, in no small part due to our second innovation…

2) Rollerblades. This was a major breakthrough -- it allowed us to hit more houses per minute! Of course, we fell down a lot (you try to rollerblade with a cape, sickle, and skeleton mask on sometime), but that didn’t matter much as we had a big sack of candy to cushion the blow. (And as far as we were concerned, flattened candy tasted just as good, anyway.) The third innovation, however, was the true source of our success…

3) Create a memorable character. I always went as the grim reaper, so I spoke in a gravelly voice. I also made sure my cloak was just long enough to conceal my rollerblades; that way, I appeared to float like a ghost from house to house. Year after year, my grim reaper character was recognized by more and more houses. And, year after year, my candy returns increased!

As an editor, I encourage my writers to take the same approach to crafting a memorable character. Readers will not become engaged in a book if they are unable to relate to the protagonist on some level. The character has to make sense within the world presented in the story. This is true of all ages of readers, but it’s especially important in children’s literature because kids see the main character as at least a partial projection (or reflection) of themselves to an even greater extent than adult readers do. Thus, if a character is a walking, talking info dump, it’ll come off as flat and unrelatable, and the book will end up back on the shelf before the first chapter is finished.

For comics and graphic novels, character creation is even more important. Visual presentation alone does not a compelling character make; thus, if the character speaks like an adult, thinks like an adult, and acts like an adult, it won’t matter if it looks like a kid -- young readers can tell when a character isn’t authentic, and they have no patience for it! So, whenever dealing with the comic book medium, we ask our writers to provide thorough, well thought out character descriptions that are expressions of the character’s inner person. We also ensure that our illustrators properly convey the characters’ personalities visually.

In a way, I suppose books with good characters are a lot like candy: they’re rewarding to consume and wrapped in an enticing package. I mean, come on—we all need a treat now and then (or perhaps a pillowcase full).

Sean Tulien
Associate Editor - Fiction

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Capstone Connect

So...you guys all know about the new Capstone Connect blog, right?

Head on over. There are daily posts from various divisions in the company—including from yours truly here at Capstone Fiction. (Look for us on Fridays, but check it out every day.)

And have no fear—the Stone Arch Books blog will stay here. But when we get busy, you'll have guaranteed reading material every day at Capstone Connect.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moonbeam Children's Book Awards

We are pleased to announce that three of our titles have won the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. This award celebrates youthful curiosity, discovery and learning through books and reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Why kids read for fun

There are so many entertainment options available for kids today. From video games to cell phones to t.v. and movies, kids have an array of activities at their fingertips. So how can we inspire kids to read? What do they look for from a book?

The 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report provides some great insights:

68% of kids age 9-17 say they read books to use their imagination and 66% read books to gain new information

62% of kids age 9-17 say they read books for fun to be inspired by storylines and characters.

Half of kids age 9-17 say they read books for fun "to help you figure out who you are and who you could become."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Early Childhood Honors

Over the past year, Capstone Publishing has began marketing into the early childhood market. Making books for the toddler and preschool crowd has been incredibly interesting and incredibly fun.

Here at fiction, we are particularly proud of two new series, our Hello Genius board books and Little Boost picture books. This week our efforts were recognized; two of our titles were selected as winners of the 2010 Creative Child Awards Program, sponsored by Creative Child magazine. Pony Brushes His Teeth from the Hello Genius series won the Seal of Excellence Award, while Crabby Pants from the Little Boost series won a Preferred Choice Award.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Field Trips! Mysteries! Prizes!

Wasn't the best day at school whatever day had a field trip scheduled? Yes. It was. And wouldn't the best field trip have been one wherein you and your gang of scrappy best friends solved a mystery? Wouldn't it???

I remember my field trips mostly for the bus rides. When I first started concepting the Field Trip Mysteries series a couple of years ago, I asked a friend who's a middle-school English teacher if I could go on one of her school's field trips. We saw an IMAX movie on the ocean, and I remember the 3-D made someone feel sick. But mostly I remember that the bus smelled exactly like I remember field trips smelling back in the last century when I was a girl.

Did you know that October is Field Trip Month? And it's also Mystery Month? Isn't that perfect for October? It does feel like field trips and mysteries.

Tell me something about how you're spending your October by next Friday (the 15th) and I'll pick a winner at random to receive a copy of the Field Trip Mysteries special limited edition (four stories in one gorgeous book!), On the Bus, On the Case.

Happy October!