Saturday, January 29, 2011

InkPop's First Big Break

©2011 Leigh Fallon/HarperCollins

A little over a year ago, HarperCollins launched inkpop, an online community/social network aimed at connecting "up-and-coming authors with talent spotters and publishing professionals in the teen market", as well as providing a forum for said up-and-coming authors to test out ideas and give/get feedback on each others' submissions. It's also been described as "interactive writing platform for teens," reportedly receiving a number of submissions from member-authors as young as 13. The site has grown pretty steadily since then, and now has yielded its first success story. Here's the press release I received earlier this week:
HarperCollins Publishing The Carrier of the Mark
HarperCollins Publishers announced today the first acquisition from inkpop The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon will be published by HarperTeen in September of this year!
"I was in the throes of those revisions when I got an email from Erica, an editor at HarperCollins," Leigh explained. "She wanted to work with me on revisions if I was interested." One month later HarperCollins made an offer to publish The Carrier of the Mark.

“For many people the rise to the Top Five on inkpop is a very long process, but for Leigh, The Carrier of the Mark shot to the top of the list. This was one of our first key indications that it was an outstanding project,” said Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. HarperCollins Children’s Books is thrilled about this acquisition and is looking forward to announcing more projects acquired from inkpop in the coming months. In the mean time, inkpop will take an in-depth look at the publishing process, following Leigh Fallon as The Carrier of the Mark goes from manuscript to the book stores. Through live chats, blog posts and more inkpop members will hear from the literary agent, editor and all the people who are helping to bring The Carrier of the Mark to a book store near you.
You can read the first draft here: The Carrier of the Mark
And be sure to check out Leigh Fallon's (the author's) personal blog.

This is a very interesting, and potentially quite significant, development - one that definitely warrants a further investigation and analysis. My initial impulse was to wonder about content ownership and whether or not the publisher has included a right of first refusal in its terms of service for the site. A cursory glance, however, indicates not - contributors retain ownership rights over their submissions, while the publisher claims they only want to find new talent and provide a space for this talent to develop (where they can see it). Which is, well, pretty awesome! On the other hand, HarperCollins also claims limited, non-exclusive rights to publish and display users' content, both on the inkpop site and third-party websites, which would make it decidedly more difficult for an inkpop author to get a publishing deal elsewhere. Which is - well, less awesome and a bit confusing. Does anyone know of any studies or research into this community, the business model its based on, authorship issues, the implications of these terms, etc.? I'm definitely interested in finding out more. Such a seemingly different case than the previous examples I've seen of the tightening (blurring?) relationships between publishers-authors-and-readers (such as Alloy Entertainment). Some good comparative critical analysis simply must be conducted!

Friday, January 14, 2011

CFP: ChLA 2011: Revolt, Rebellion, Protest

Oh no! Almost let this CFP slip by without mention - the deadline is tomorrow, but if you have an abstract ready, this is going to be a good one!

Revolt, Rebellion, Protest:

Change and Insurrection in Children’s Literature 
June 23-25, 2011
Hollins University — Roanoke, Virginia
General Jinjur

Call for Papers
Revolution, upheaval, protest, and cultural change have swept over the world in repeating cycles since civilization began and literature for children has encouraged those changes or deplored them, but always recorded them in its pages. So in 2011, at the 38th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference, we will look at the way and speed at which our world is changing, through the lens of children’s literature. We will consider how children’s literature and characters in children’s literature, in all media from books to video games, institute change, transgress the norm, protest the status quo or seek to protect it. 

We also welcome papers on the work of Virginia Euwer Wolff, winner of the 2011 Phoenix Award for her novel The Mozart Season.

Some suggested topics follow, but other ideas are welcome and encouraged:

  • The idealization of the past in children’s literature
  • Patriotism and children’s literature
  • The “red diaper babies,” children of leftist or radical parents
  • Competing historical visions (Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Disney’s Song of the South for instance)
  • Historical fiction vs. works written during the revolution itself
  • The trickster figure in children’s literature
  • The American Revolution, the French Revolution, or the English Civil War
  • Children’s Literature as a mirror of changing socials values and norms
  • Explorations of racial and gender discrimination in children’s literature
  • The use of fantastic worlds and settings to explore traditionally taboo topics
  • Visions of society in series such as “Dear America” and the “American Girl” books
  • Depictions of the civil rights, anti-war, and women’s movements of the last century
  • Censorship and children’s literature
  • The “problem book” and championing a cause
  • Literature of the immigrant child
  • Chicano and Latino children’s literature
  • Historical context and changing social values — how a text may be enlightened for its time and embarrassing in our own
Send 300-500 word paper proposals to Kathryn Graham, reading committee chair, Deadline January 15, 2011.
For more information and conference updates go to:

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson Talks Education

I love these animated talks people have been posting cool, and the visuals add so much to the content, especially to illustrate the "big picture" (literally and figuratively), the relationships between things, time, thoughts, etc. This one is by Sir Ken Robinson and it's a brilliant, thought provoking, challenging discussion of the Western school system. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Children's Digital Games Workshop Blog LIVE too!

I forgot to make the announcement on here yesterday, that the blog for my second course of the semester, section 104 of the Information Workshops (INF 1005/1006), on the topic of Children's Digital Games, is also now officially up and running. Our first class was this morning and we're already off to a great start. Some representatives from the TPL's Console Gaming @ Your Library committee (the head of the committee and a principle coordinator) came to talk to the class about the entire 3 year process of bringing games into the library (in a systematic, concerted, funded way), and gave the students some excellent ideas about ways they might put their assignments to practical use. We're still working out some of the technological kinks - for instance, I found out midway through the workshop that none of my games had been installed yet, much to my chagrin - but I'm optimistic that these things will get sorted out before next week's session. I'm still updating the course blog, but you can now review the schedule (with links to most of the readings), descriptions of the two group assignments, and an early list of background sources.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Children's Cultural Texts and Artifacts Course Blog is LIVE!

The course blog for my new Masters seminar, INF2304 Children's Cultural Texts and Artifacts is now live and can be accessed here. Classes start this Monday, January 3rd, 1-4pm. Students: please check the iSchool website for the timetable and room number. To get things started off on the right foot this semester, I'm going to use the second half of my first lecture to take a trip over to the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library (a.k.a. the children's and scifi library), where we'll meet some of the amazing children's librarians and children's literature specialists who work there, as well as get an introduction to their Resource Collection.

And yes....this IS shaping up to be the best semester ever!