Friday, August 19, 2011

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Cover Reveal! Congratulations to anthologist Kelly Milner Halls on this intriguing and evocative cover from Girl Meets Boy (Chronicle, Jan. 2012)!

The anthology will include short stories by:

Note: My story, "Mooning Over Broken Stars" is a companion to Joe's. I look forward to the release and am honored to have my writing featured in such distinguished company.

More News & Giveaways

What Makes a Successful Book Event? by Janet Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: "Create a Q&A flyer for Composemother/daughter, or father/son, book clubs to get discussions started."

Interview with Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary Agency by Becky Levine from Moving Forward on the Writing Path. Peek: "I look for talent. My second requirement is a good attitude. I don’t have a minute to waste, so complaining and pity parties are lost on me. I just want to keep moving forward, and I want authors who can pick themselves up, shake off the dust, and get back in the game."

Name Mistakes in Queries by Mary Kole from Peek: "I’m not going to reject you outright for misspelling my name. My name is an uncommon spelling of a more common last name. In fact, it’s that way intentionally and I like it."

Guest Post: Fictionalizing History by Australian author Goldie Alexander for The Book Chook. Peek: "Readers might like to track Ahmed’s journey on a map of Australia. They can delve into how our first people behaved when they came across these explorers, suggest reasons, and their appearance was back then. They can research contemporary Uluru, both as an icon and tourist attraction."

Quirks & Foibles by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "Quirks and foibles are often a chink in our armor, an indicator at how hard won our mastery of some skill or behavior really is. They are a physical manifestation of our deepest level conflicts."

Is Your Book Ready for School? by Natalie Dias Lorenzi from EMU's Debuts. Peek: "I guarantee that your book has ties to the curriculum, even if you don’t write historical fiction or books about kid scientists."

Harold Underdown Recommends Writing It Write! How Successful Children's Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories by Sandy Asher from The Purple Crayon. Peek: "In 400 large-format pages, Sandy Asher follows four picture books, seven magazine stories, three books for 'younger readers' (easy readers, one nonfiction, and a chapter book), and seven books for 'older readers' (middle-grade and YA novels) from an early stage to their last, published form." Note: I respectfully disagree with Harold's quibble that the YA category always starts at age 12. Over the past few years, the 'tween (or young YA) category has come into its own, featuring many books that historically would've been published as classic (or 12+) YA.

Author-illustrator & Graphic Novelist Youme Landowne: Creating a Safe Place to Talk About Hard Things by J.L. Powers from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children's Literature. Peek: "My big question for the world is, 'How much power do we have and how much power can we share?' For children especially, they have a lot of power, and they’re often very vulnerable, so I often think about the bravery of children."

ALAN Foundation Research Grants from Teri Lesesne at The Goddess of YA Literature. Peek: "Members of ALAN may apply to the ALAN Foundation for funding (up to $1,500) for research in young adult literature. Proposals are reviewed by the five most recent presidents of ALAN. Awards are made annually in the Fall and are announced at the ALAN breakfast during the NCTE convention in November. The application deadline each year is Sept. 15."

What's Your Vision? by Sharon Bially from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Clearly, Blume didn’t just have just a story or two in mind, or a simple urge to spend days tweaking words and characters and figuring out how to parlay this into a publishing deal.  She had a strong interest in a particular set of conflicts and issues relevant to a particular group.  With a degree in education, she clearly cared (and still cares) about the people in it, too." Source: Phil Giunta.

Creative Procrastination by Coe Booth from Write at Your Own Risk: The Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults faculty blog. Peek: "When it comes to writing, I'm usually the jump-in-with-both-feet type. But this time around, for some reason, I’ve been spending a lot of time dipping my toes in the water first." Learn more about Write at Your Own Risk.

Revision Requests by Jennifer R. Hubbard from writerjenn. Peek: "The revision is likely to need work on more than just the specific examples mentioned in the request letter. The agent/editor is probably looking for a true "re-envisioning," a multi-layered improvement."

You're Already Invited: Connecting to the Lit Community Online by Saundra Mitchell from WriteOnCon. Peek: "One of the easiest (and most fun!) ways to start tweeting is to read other people’s news, and congratulate them. Celebrating other people’s news is happymaking, and it gives you a chance to learn what other people are up to." See also WriteOnCon 2011: Picture Books from Tammi Sauer.

New Voices Award from Lee & Low Books. Peek: "The Award will be given for a children's picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500." Deadline: Sept. 30.

KidLit Con Teams Up with RIF Because It's the Right Thing to Do by Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray. Peek: " the end of the day the best thing about who we are is that we believe in the power of words and RIF is all about spreading that power as far and wide as possible. RIF does nothing less than change the world - that's its very mission - and if you don't think that's the most worthy thing any of us can be part of then you really are not the kind of book lover I know you to be."

Beyond Lucky Auction for GrassRoot Soccer from author Sarah Aronson. Items available for bid include: signed children's books; a one-week writing retreat in Cape May, New Jersey; a conversation with literary agent Sarah Davies; a critique from executive editor Liz Waniewski of Dial; a non-fiction critique from Tanya Lee Stone, a full-novel critique from Sarah Aronson; nifty accessories and more!

Independent Bookstores Add New Chapter by Neely Tucker from The Washington Post. Peek: "The small, independently owned bookstore is staging a modest rebirth in the midst of a bone-killing economy and the exponential growth of online retailers and e-books."

Cynsations New Canada Children's-YA Book Reporter

More on Lena Coakley.
Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto. Witchlanders is her debut novel.

Lena contributes news and interviews from the children's-YA creative, literature and publishing community in Canada.

This Week's Cynsations Posts
Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a signed copy of Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri (Candlewick, 2011)! To enter, comment at this link or email me and type "Ghetto Cowboy" in the subject line. Extra entry if you share your best close encounter with a horse or a true life event that inspired you to write about it. Author sponsored; U.S./Canada entries only. Deadline: midnight CST Aug. 22.

After Obsession (by Carrie Jones and Steve Wedel) Interview and ARC Giveaway from Gayleen at Playing with Words. Peek from Steve: "For me, the best part was not really knowing what would happen next. I never knew what Carrie would do in her chapter, so getting that e-mail attachment was like a Christmas gift every other day. Then we got to where we'd try to leave a big and bigger cliffhanger for the other one."

Check out the June/July Debut Author Giveaway, celebrating books by the Elevensies from Anna Staniszewski.

Cynsational Screening Room

Teens are now invited to vote for YALSA's Teens Top Ten List!

Vote here, and see the annotated list.

From YALSA: "Teens' Top Ten is a 'teen choice' list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Readers ages twelve to eighteen will vote online between Aug. 22 and Sept. 16; the winners will be announced during Teen Read Week."

Note: I'm that my novel Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) is among the 25 titles nominated for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten; see book trailer below.

Sara Zarr talks about pacing in contemporary realistic young adult fiction from WriteOnCon.

Sambat Trust seeks to build children's libraries in the Philippines. Source: Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind.

More Personally

This week at the Leitich Smith home has been all about pass pages. I'm reviewing pages for Diabolical (Candlewick, Jan. 2012), and my very cute husband Greg is reviewing pass pages for Chronal Engine (Clarion, March 2012)(shown below).

Chronal Engine is about three kids who take their grandfather's time machine back to the age of the dinosaurs to rescue their sister and solve a family mystery. It'll include fantastic interior illustrations that we first saw when these pages arrived--very exciting!

Speaking of Greg, you can find him at GregLSBlog, where he recommends children's-YA books, discuss his own writing life, and features writers and illustrators and dinosaurs. His birthday is this week! Why don't you surf over and wish him a happy one?

Holler Loudly is a finalist for the Writers' League of Texas children's-YA book award! See the link for information about the award, the full list of finalists, Holler Loudly teacher guides & more.

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith, read by Kim Mai Guest is now available on audio from Listening Library/Random House! See link for audio excerpt.

I look forward to the release of my essay, "Isolation," which will appear in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones (HarperCollins, 2011). "Seventeen" magazine says: "You know someone (or are someone) who's ever been involved in any type of bullying incident. There's something in it for everyone, on all sides of the spectrum. You'll love it even more if you can find a story that inspires you to help someone else."

Thanks to author-illustrator Deirdra Eden Coppel for recognizing Cynsations with a Best Books Blog Award! I'm honored. Deirdra offers interviews with authors, agents, editors and other literary professionals. Her recent posts include Interview with Marketing Expert Catherine Balkin. Peek: "I know many people don't like to list their honorariums, but it helps the teachers and librarians a lot to know this kind of information even before they contact you for a variety of reasons (the librarian might be writing a grant, for example, or a teacher may need to let the PTA know how much they need to raise)."

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

Attention, Houstonians! Please join Cynthia Leitich Smith for a discussion and signing of Tantalize: Kieren's Story (Candlewick, 2011) at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

Note: "This event is free and open to the public. In order to go through the signing line and meet Cynthia Leitich Smith for book personalization, you must purchase Tantalize: Kieren’s Story from Blue Willow Bookshop. A limited number of autographed copies of Cynthia’s books will be available for purchase after the event. If you cannot attend the event, but would like a personalized copy of her book, please call Blue Willow before the event at 281.497.8675."

Find Cyn: Author Site; Blogger; Facebook; Google Plus, JacketFlap; LiveJournal; Twitter; YouTube.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Dream Job: Embracing the Full-Time Author's Life

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

I didn't used to like thinking about contracts.

As a law student, Contracts was the only class in which I earned a C. "Earned" being an interesting choice of verb. And to be candid, I received that C largely by the grace of Professor St. Antoine—a legend in his field who truly deserved more of my attention.

I could point to the fact that this core requirement at The University of Michigan Law School was scheduled at 8 a.m., and until my thirties, I didn’t believe in doing anything before 10 a.m.

I could also point to my staggering absentee rate for the first hour of my first year. I believe there are new attendance rules that no longer permit such lackadaisical behavior.

But nevertheless, there it was. The C. Which, even at a school that sneered at rampant grade inflation, was a sign of a less-than-good performance. A far from stellar one.

Certainly, nothing to bank on.

It’s perhaps a sign of God’s sense of humor—or sense of irony—that these days I make my living by securing one contract after another to connect my manuscripts to readers.

I have an absolutely fantastic agent, who handles my negotiations (and so much more). But it seems only logical that I pay attention to the business side of my, well, business. So I do my best to keep up so I can ask thoughtful questions, make the occasional suggestion, and pinpoint (or at least stumble upon) new opportunities.

Focusing on publishing as an industry takes precious time. It’s occasionally boring, sometimes tedious, and in the current economic climate, too often discouraging. Moreover, it wasn’t part of my dream of becoming a full-time writer.

Don’t get me wrong, I was never one of those people who wanted to have written instead of dedicating myself to writing as a process.

Some writing days are more challenging for me than others, but ultimately, they’re what make the creative journey more satisfying.

I also realized early on, that for everyone who thought they had a book in them, only a relative handful of us had the gumption and work ethic to make that happen. I was determined to be in the roaring minority who could finish a competitive manuscript.

What I hadn’t realized was how many fronts I’d have to tackle after an editor said "yes" and offeredyou guessed ita contract to seal the deal.

Yes, suddenly, a contract had become a reason for celebration! A contract seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world! But before long, I wasn't only a writer any more. I was an author, too.

As an author, I’m still writer. But I'm also a publicity, marketing and public relations professional, a public speaker, a teacher, and a student of a rapidly changing industry. Doing all that gradually led me to more than double the time I allocated to my career. Meanwhile, the challenges of building an audience required me to pick up the pace on the creative front. Since I broke into publishing just over a decade ago, expectations for authors have risen across the board.

Of late, I’ve prepped for the release of my first graphic novel, chatted with an app developer, and done market research on the use of QR codes. I’ve also reviewed publisher art notes for my second graphic novel, continued rough drafting my next prose novel, read a handful of manuscripts by other writers, and I'm reviewing first-pass pages this week.

At some point I realized that if I was going to do this full-time (and eat), I’d have to continue to push myself to grow in my job.

And that’s what it is: a job.

It’s not merely a dream, it’s my day-to-day responsibility.

Among other things, that means I have to say "no" to a lot of other competing opportunities. It means I have to sometimes disappoint people who don't understand that working for yourself means that you typically give much more than if you worked for someone else.

I've learned to make the most of the blessing of flexibility while shouldering the burden of being my own boss. And I've learned that those who're truly rooting for me understand and support that.

I may not enjoy every moment of it, but I can think of countless ways that other hard-working people make a living that I’d prefer less.

In fact, there’s absolutely nothing in the world than I’d rather do than write books for young readers.

It’s not a purely creative pursuit, and it forces me out of my comfort zone. But I still love it.

I know I love it because I’m willing to work at it, because I’m willing to accept that I have to change sometimes, too, and because it welcomes me again and again into the magical world of books and the people who care about them.

Come to think of it, this job is my dream come true.

Cynsational Notes

You don't have to write full-time to be a successful author. What's more, you don't have to be a published author to be a successful writer. There are a myriad of journeys and opportunities in a writing life; it's not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

I'm a little intense, which is how I ended up at law school in the first place.

My choices are informed by my own goals, the fact that I'm not independently wealthy, and those areas in which I elect to focus my attention.

In fact, my own strategies have changed over the years and, I'm sure, will continue to do so. For example, I'm on an extended leave from the Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty and only taking the occasional private student. However, I've taught part-time in the past and will do so again.

Or, put more succinctly, your experience and priorities may vary, and that's totally okay.

I will now refer to myself in the third person...

Photos by Cynthia Leitich Smith, class of 1994, of The University of Michigan Law School.

Cynthia is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, as well as the forthcoming Tantalize: Kieren's Story and Diabolical. Her award-winning books for younger children include Jingle Dancer, Indian Shoes, Rain Is Not My Indian Name and Holler Loudly. She also has published several middle grade and young adult short stories. Her very cute husband is author Greg Leitich Smith.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blessed Is Now Available on Audio from Listening Library/Random House

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith, read by Kim Mai Guest is now available on audio from Listening Library/Random House.

From the publisher: "Kim Mai Guest (pictured) has been voice acting for several years. She’s worked on a variety of animated shows including 'Rocket Power,' 'Rugrats,' and 'Hack' and 'Justice League.' She has also voiced dozens of video games, commercials, and numerous Books on Tape and Listening Library audiobooks."

Learn more about Blessed, and check out this excerpt of Kim reading from the novel as the voice of Quincie P. Morris:

Guest Post: Jennifer A. Nielsen on Losing Your Audience? Do This, Not That.

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

If you’ve spent any time speaking to a group, then you’ve experienced it: the awful feeling of losing the audience’s attention and not knowing how to get it back.

This happens to everyone from novice to professional speakers. However, the complication we often face as writers is that public speaking is not what we signed up for with this career. We chose a profession that is notoriously private, largely solitary, and that rivals cave dwelling for the way it caters to introverts.

Then suddenly we have a book deal, and the pressure to publicly promote it begins.

There are a lot of blogs with general tips for public speaking. So to be more specific here, if you find yourself speaking to a group and losing their attention, here are some of my favorite DOs and DON'Ts.

DO: Have a message worth sharing. The audience will listen when they want to know what you have to say. So find a message you feel passionate enough about that you can speak with genuine conviction, enthusiasm, and confidence. As I visited schools last year, my main message is that it’s within every person to become extraordinary. It’s something I truly believe in, and that I very much want all children to understand. That single fact made it easier to hold their attention than any amount of training I’ve had as a speaker.

DON’T: Talk louder. When you go louder, it only makes the whispers louder. Instead, go quieter, or even go completely silent. Calmly wait for the attention to return to you, ask for it if necessary, then continue on. There’s no point in talking over a whispering audience. When you do, it confirms to them that you’re not saying anything important.

DO: Avoid attention failures happening in the first place by knowing your audience. Young children won’t sit through long lectures. In contrast, although a lot of silliness is entertaining, it’ll distract the children as they chat about it with their friends. And if you fail to offer enough meat to adult groups, expect them to turn to a round of Angry Birds instead of listening.

More about this book.
DON’T: Come alone. If you can bring visual aids (props, PowerPoint, video clips, etc), do it, especially when working with children. This is a multimedia generation, and if you can engage them visually, holding their attention becomes much easier.

DO: Move. Whenever possible, you should never hide behind a podium or stand in one spot to speak. So if you can move about, walk closer to the areas where attention is lagging. That simple act will greatly improve your audience’s attention.

DON’T: Make an attention-getting promise you can’t fulfill. Such as, “And then the most amazing thing happened!” Sure, you’ll grab attention for a moment, but if you’re not about to say the most amazing thing, you’ll have cheated your audience. And they’ll know it.

DO: Use humor. If this comes natural to you, then great! If not, plan in advance a few funny lines or funny props to help recapture attention when necessary.

DON’T: Become frustrated. Audience management is part of the job for all public speakers. Since this happens to everyone, it’s not a personal reflection of how you’re doing. So take it in stride and continue on. But if you become flustered, angry, or panicked, nothing gets better. Stay calm, and bring them back to you.

More about this book.
DO: Have fun. Public speaking offers you the opportunity to genuinely impact people’s lives. As long as you have something worth saying, then enjoy your moment. Because no matter what your skill level as a speaker, if you are having fun, then the audience will too.

Cynsational Notes

Jennifer A. Nielsen is a Communication Education major and author of The Underworld Chronicles series. The second book in that series, Elliot and the Pixie Plot, was just released with Sourcebooks Publishing. In April 2012, she will release The False Prince with Scholastic. Jennifer is a frequent presenter at schools and adult writing workshops.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Holler Loudly is a Finalist for the Writers' League of Texas Children's-YA Book Award

I'm honored to report that my latest picture book, Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott, is a finalist for the Writers' League of Texas Children's/YA Book Award.

From the League: "Winners in each category receive a $1000 cash prize, a commemorative award and an appearance at the 2011 Texas Book Festival. The 2011 contest is open to American authors of books published in 2010. Authors are not required to be members of the Writers’ League of Texas." Note: the 2011 award program is sponsored by University Co-op.

Here's the whole list:

Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy

Betti on the High Wire by Lisa Railsback

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

Cynsational Notes

What a thrill to see Holler Loudly (interior page) featured in such distinguished company! See interviews with illustrator Barry Gott and education writer Shannon Morgan, who wrote the teacher guides. See also teacher guides for pre-K, kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2.

New Voice: Ashlee Fletcher on My Dog, My Cat

Ashlee Fletcher is the first-time author-illustrator of My Dog, My Cat (Tanglewood, 2011). From the promotional copy:

Readers learn the differences between dogs and cats and the way that love can bind even the most different of creatures together.

Could you tell us the story of "the call" or "the email" when you found out that your book had sold? How did you react? How did you celebrate?

When I got "the call" that my children's book was being published I was going to the mall with my mom.

I was just pulling up into the parking lot when Peggy Tierney, the editor at Tanglewood Press, called. Peggy had emailed me about a week before and had warned me that she would be calling sometime early the following week. I parked my car and quickly answered the phone!

Peggy told me: "congratulations, you're now a published author and illustrator!"

I was absolutely ecstatic and even more happy that my mom was there for that great moment in my life. I cried, and she cried. We hugged and hopped out of the car.

We celebrated by first calling all of my family and friends. Then proceeded into the mall where I bought a very cute yellow dress to match a pair of yellow shoes I had at home already.

As an author-illustrator, you come to children's books with a double barrel of talent. Could you describe your apprenticeship in each area, and how well (or not) your inner writer and artist play together? What advice do you have for others interested in succeeding on this front?

I am first and foremost an illustrator. I have always loved to draw, paint, doodle, sketchyou name it reallybut what inspires me to be an artist is writing.

Both of my talents really feed off of each other. In order for me to illustrate, I need to have a great story, and in order for me to write, I need to express myself visually.

I grew up wanting to be an artist, and that is what I love to do the best. I did art throughout high school and continued my studies at Laguna College of Art & Design in Laguna Beach, California. I studied there for four years and completed my bachelor's degree in 2009.

In college, I studied fine art and illustration ranging from traditional figure and landscape painting to graphic design and printmaking. I really got into designing and writing children's books after I took a picture book illustration course at school. We learned how to layout, design and construct a full children's book in a semester, and I was hooked.

If I was going to offer anyone advice on how to be a children's book writer or illustrator, I would say sketch, doodle, use your imagination and just be creative.

One of the things I was most thankful for was making a schedule for myself. I wrote everything down I wanted to accomplish in my calendar and was very sure to complete everything on the list. I studied up on each and every publisher’s submissions guidelines and made certain to cater to each company’s standards. I submitted my dummies and manuscripts and waited, but while I waited, I was productive on keeping up my website and designing new books.

I guess my main advice would be to be positive and stay productive!

Cynsational Notes

Valley publisher Peggy Tierney’s business has been booming Tanglewood Press has published more than 35 titles by Brian M. Boyce from Tribune-Star in Terre Haute, Indiana. Peek: "A No. 1 title on the New York Times bestseller list, The Kissing Hand (by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth E. Harper) sells about 100,000 copies a year and has sold 3.3 million copies to date."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Post: Mark Jeffrey on The Rules About Rules

By Mark Jeffrey

When you create a fantastical world, the rules of that world must be consistent and have an inbuilt, self-logic. So long as you maintain that internal consistency, your readers will buy into your world and believe in it. But if you slip up, if you establish a rule and then break it later, your readers will cry foul.

This is a pretty difficult thing to do, especially the more material you produce. Imagine something like "Star Trek" or "Doctor Who," franchises with hundreds or thousands of episodes spanning 30 to 40 years. Writing new episodes that respect the established internal consistency is a nightmare.

And this is why the current custodians of those brands came up with reboot plot devices that effectively nullified the entire past: in the case of "Star Trek," the latest movie established an entirely new timeline as a result of time travel. With "Doctor Who," a villain known as The Silence was introduced: these beings can only be remembered when you are looking directly at them. Look away, and you forget they even exist. And they have been influencing human history "since the wheel and the fire." Now anytime something is inconsistent, the Silence can always be used to "retcon" it: Oh, it was the The Silence in the past who actually changed this and that, but nobody remembers because they're The Silence.

In my most recent novel, Max Quick: The Pocket and The Pendant (HarperCollins, 2011), I introduce a concept known as The Pocket. As the novel opens, time stops all over the worldexcept for certain kids. But in this time-stopped worldwhich the kids name the Pocketphysics are different. All energy is amplified. You can run at super-speeds, for example. But you are not suddenly Superman: you are still flesh and blood. If you hit a wall running at 60 miles per hour, you are going to severely injure yourself or even die.

My thinking here was that force = mass x acceleration; since acceleration is a function of time, if time tends towards zero, then force tends toward infinity. So I had to be careful to apply this rule consistently. For example, when the kids try to start a car, the engine immediately seizes up and dies. This is because the engine is meticulously designed to operate within normal physics: the amplified physics of the Pocket throw it out of whack.

Now here's a little secret: when I initially wrote this scene, I had the kids find a motorcycle and ride it. And it was only later that I realized that I'd violated my rule of amplified physics: objects can be pulled out of stopped time and "heated up," but once they are, then they are subject to Pocket physics the same as everything and everyone elseand, thus, mechanical things would certainly not work.

Now, some people have asked me about light in the Pocket. If time were stopped, wouldn't light be stopped as well? Well, technically, yes. Everything would be pitch black, I suppose. But this wouldn't make for a very good story, now would it?

Which brings me to the second points: romantically correct versus really correct. I watched a "making of" DVD extra with George Lucas where he related that the way Yoda's cape epically flowed as he fought was not actually correct according to physics. The tech who worked on the CGI Yoda argued for the cape to conform to actual physics, but Lucas insisted it remain "romantically correct," as it looked cooler.

And this same principle can apply to science in fantastical settings. Yes, light probably would be stopped in the Pocket. But that is not romantically correct because it would make the story lame.

The same goes for "Star Trek" episodes where people are "out of phase" and can thus walk through wallswhy don't they just fall through the floor? Because then there would be no story.

Here's the thing: scientifically speaking, if you could walk through walls, you should also fall through the floor (assuming there is gravity). These two facts are inconsistent with one another, they are irreconcilable. But in fiction, if you make it a rule that, in your universe, characters do not fall through the floor, and you stick to that dogmatically, you can get away with it.

Just don't break those rules later. Don't randomly have someone fall through the floor to neatly tie up the plot.

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