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1. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #421: Featuring Bryan Collier


“But first I needed an instrument. The great thing about music is that you don’t even need a real instrument to play. So my friends and I decided to make our own.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I normally feature the work of a student or debut illustrator. I’m breaking my own 7-Imp rules today, however, to … well, not do that — simply because I like this book and want to show you all some spreads from it. This won’t be on shelves till mid-April. Forgive me for posting about it so early, but to be honest, I’m just not that organized this week. But I had read and enjoyed this book and knew I had some spreads from it to share, so there ya go.

Trombone Shorty (Abrams) is the picture book autobiography from Grammy-nominated musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Illustrated by Bryan Collier, Andrews kicks the book off with “”Where Y’at?”, explaining that the folks in New Orleans have their own way of living and their own way of talking. Young Andrews grew up in Tremé, where “you could hear music floating in the air.” His older brother played the trumpet, and Andrews would watch and pretend to play his own. Andrews and his family would delight in the Mardi Gras parades, which “made everyone forget about their troubles for a little while.”

Andrews and his friends made their own instruments until the day Troy himself found an old, beaten up trombone. He joined a parade, his brother shouting, “TROMBONE SHORTY! WHERE Y’AT?” Thus a nickname was born.

Andrews goes on to describe the moment Bo Diddley called him out in a crowd at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Before he knows it, Andrews is on stage, playing with Diddley watching. The moment is illustrated, and in the backmatter readers are shown the actual photograph of this moment (two things I could show you today, but I’ll leave that for you to discover when you find a copy of this in April). “After I played with Bo Diddley,” Andrews writes, “I knew I was ready to have my own band.” Towards the book’s close, Andrews switches to present tense:

And now I have my own band, called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, named after a street in Tremé. I’ve played all around the world, but I always come back to New Orleans. …

I don’t think it’d be possible for there to be a better illustrator for this book than Collier. And he’s on fire here. “Collier portrays the story of this living legend with energy and style,” writes the Kirkus review, “making visible the swirling sounds of jazz.” It’s a feast for one’s eyes. Below are some spreads from the book.

(If you purchase this book, come April, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Trombone Shorty Foundation.)


“And there was music in my house, too. My big brother, James, played the trumpet so loud you could hear him halfway across town! He was the leader of his own band,
and my friends and I would pretend to be in the band, too.
‘FOLLOW ME,’ James would say.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“I listened to all these sounds and mixed them together, just like how we make our food. We take one big pot and throw in sausage, crab, shrimp, chicken, vegetables, rice—whatever’s in the kitchen—and stir it all together and let it cook. When it’s done, it’s the most delicious taste you’ve ever tried. We call it gumbo,
and that’s what I wanted my music to sound like—
different styles combined to create my own
musical gumbo!”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“From that day on, everyone called me Trombone Shorty! I took that trombone everywhere I went and never stopped playing. I was so small that sometimes I fell right over to the ground because it was so heavy. But I always got back up, and I learned to hold it up high. I listened to my brother play songs over and over,
and I taught myself those songs, too. I practiced day and night,
and sometimes I fell asleep with my trombone in my hands.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Today I play at the same New Orleans jazz festival where I once played with
Bo Diddley. And when the performance ends, I lead a parade of musicians around,
just like I used to do in the streets of Tremé with my friends. WHERE Y’AT? WHERE Y’AT? I still keep my trombone in my hands, and I will never let it go.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

TROMBONE SHORTY. Text copyright © 2015 by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Bryan Collier. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Being a part of Book ‘Em’s Read Me Day this week at Warner Elementary School in Nashville.

2) I’ll be speaking at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC, this weekend. Here’s the low-down.

3) The girls got another Snow Day this week.

4) House concert for a friend (though not at my own home). It was lovely to hear her play some new songs.

5) Lunch with an out-of-town friend, who actually served on the Caldecott committee this past year. She positively glows from the experience.

6) My nine-year-old made up another song on the piano, and my musician friend has a music program that allowed him to print out the sheet music for the song she made up. And he also put it onto CD. That was a nice surprise.

7) Giving good children’s books as gifts. Gotta share the love, don’t you know.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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2. Nineteenth and twentieth century Scottish philosophy

In the history of Britain, eighteenth century Scotland stands out as a period of remarkable intellectual energy and fertility. The Scottish Enlightenment, as it came to be known, is widely regarded as a crowning cultural achievement, with philosophy the jewel in the crown. Adam Smith, David Hume, William Robertson, Thomas Reid and Adam Ferguson are just the best known among an astonishing array of innovative thinkers, whose influence in philosophy, economics, history and sociology can still be found at work in the contemporary academy.

The post Nineteenth and twentieth century Scottish philosophy appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. German March/spring best-of lists

       The German-critics-best list for March is out, the SWR-Bestenliste, where 26 prominent literary critics vote for their top title of the month: Ian McEwan's The Children Act tops the list, albeit very unenthusiastically -- a total of 67 points is lower than if every judge had voted it in fourth place .... Meanwhile, Stefano D'Arrigo's much more interesting sounding Horcynus Orca, which I mentioned recently, came in second, with the new Kundera a lowly seventh, the new Houellebecq an even lowlier eighth (the latter two also still to come in English). Not much uniform enthusiasm, it seems.

       Meanwhile, there's the Bestenliste "Weltempfänger" from Litprom, where a jury selects the best translated (into German) works from Africa, Asia, and Latin America -- the new spring selections more conveniently listed here -- which looks pretty interesting too.

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4. Upcoming ALSC Online Learning

ALSC Online Education

ALSC Online Education (image courtesy of ALSC)

Online Courses

Explore new ideas and great library thinking with ALSC online courses! ALSC is offering four great options including three CEU-certified courses. All courses are offered asynchronously (self-directed) meaning you won’t need to logon at a specific time. Learn new youth library-specific skills at a pace that’s comfortable and convenient. Courses start Monday, April 6, 2015.

Webinars

Because life in a library moves fast, ALSC webinars are the perfect solution for someone who wants and needs educational information but doesn’t have a lot of time or resources.  These short (one to two hour) interactive sessions taking place in Adobe Connect give librarians and library support staff the opportunity to learn right at their desks.

March

Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started
Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 12 pm Eastern/11 am Central

May

Celebrating with Poetry Snapshots
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 3 pm Eastern/2 pm Central

Archived Webinars

Missed a webinar you wanted to attend? Don’t worry! ALSC presents archived versions of webinars, which are offered at a discounted price. Archived webinars cost only $25. Please note that recorded versions are not available until all of the live sessions of that webinar have taken place.

The post Upcoming ALSC Online Learning appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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5. Best New Kids Stories | March 2014

Wow! This is a great month for picture books—amazing picture book authors and sensational illustrators star in this month's new release kids books. Plus, The Penderwicks in Spring is here!

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6. Video Sunday: La la la!

Morning, folks.  We’ve a good store of goodies this morning, and I’m pleased as punch to give them to you.  First up, a short film.  A very short film, actually.  I’ve spoken in the past on how Hollywood views children’s writers and the creation of children’s books.  This film seems to believe that children’s books in general are being urged to be “darker”.  Even picture books.  An odd sentiment, but there you go.

Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link!

So, First Book is doing something called the Speed Read Challenge.  It’s being done to draw attention to First Book’s Be Inspired campaign, which is attempting to get 1 million books into the hands of kids.  You can see a whole slew of celebrities told to speed read book in ten seconds.  First, recent Newbery winner Kwame Alexander:

Next, Mo Willems:

I wanna do it.

As you may have heard from folks like Travis Jonker, Jimmy Kimmel started a regular feature where he has a bookclub with kids.  So far they’ve covered Goodnight Moon and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  Naturally when it came time to embed one, I went with The Giving Tree. To know me is to know why.

Barb Langridge has made it her goal to get the ALA Youth Media Award titles back in the public eye and conversation.  Here she talks with the people of Baltimore about the recent winners.  Good stuff.

 

And for our off-topic video,  I had two really good choices.  Still, in light of last Sunday’s Oscars, this seemed like the link that made a bit more sense:

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7. Creating a constructive cultural narrative for science

The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) is currently running a series of events on Humanities and Science. On 11 February 2015, an Oxford-based panel of three disciplinary experts — Sally Shuttleworth (English Literature), John Christie (History), and Ard Louis (Physics) – shone their critical torchlights on Durham physicist Tom McLeish’s new book Faith and Wisdom in Science as part of their regular ‘Book at Lunchtime’ seminars.

How can we understand the relation between science and narrative? Should we even try to? Where can we find and deploy a constructive cultural narrative for science that might unlock some of the current misrepresentations and political tangles around science and technology in the public forum?

In exploring the intersection of faith and science in our society, positive responses and critical questions at the recent TORCH Faith and Wisdom in Science event turned on the central theme of narrative. Ard Louis referred to the book’s ‘lament’ that science is not a cultural possession in the same way that art or music is, and urged the advantage of telling the messy story of real science practice. John Christie sketched the obscured historical details within the stories of Galileo and Newton, and of the Biblical basis beneath Frances’ Bacon’s vision for modern science, which serve to deconstruct the worn old myths about confrontation of science and religion. Sally Shuttleworth welcomed the telling of the stories of science as questioning and creative, yet suffering the fate of ‘almost always being wrong’.


What resources can Judeo-Christian theology supply in constructing a social narrative for science – one that might describe both what science is for, and how it might be more widely enjoyed? The project we now call ‘science’ is in continuity with older human activities by other names: ‘natural philosophy’ in the early modern period and in ancient times just ‘Wisdom’. The theology of science that emerges is ‘participatory reconciliation’, a hopeful engagement with the world that both lights it up and heals our relationship with it.

But is theology the only way to get there? Are we required to carry the heavy cultural baggage of Christian history of thought and structures? Shuttleworth recalled George Eliot’s misery at the dissection of the miraculous as she translated Strauss’ ‘Life of Jesus’ at the dawn of critical Biblical studies. Yet Eliot is able to conceive of a rich and luminous narrative for science in Middlemarch:

“…the imagination that reveals subtle actions inaccessible by any sort of lens, but tracked in that outer darkness through long pathways of necessary sequence by the inward light which is the last refinement of energy, capable of bathing even the ethereal atoms in its ideally illuminated space.”

Eliot’s sources are T.H. Huxley, J.S. Mill, Auguste Compte, and of course her partner G.H Lewes – by no means a theological group. (Compte had even constructed a secular religion.) Perhaps this is an example of an entirely secular route to science’s story? Yet her insight into science as a special sort of deep ‘seeing’ also emerges from the ancient wisdom of, for example, the Book of Job. In his recent Seeing the World and Knowing God, Oxford theologian Paul Fiddes also calls on the material of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes to challenge the post-modern dissolution of subject and object. Participatory reconciliation emerges for both theologian and scientist motivated to draw on ancient wisdom for modern need. Was Eliot, and will all secular thinkers in the Western tradition be, in some way irrevocably connected to these ancient wellsprings of our thinking?

An aspect of the ‘baggage’ most desirable to drop, according to Shuttleworth, is the notion that scientists are a sort of priesthood. Surely this speaks to the worst suspicions of a mangled modern discourse of authority and power? Louis even suggested that the science/religion debate is really only a proxy for this larger and deeper one. Perhaps the Old Testament first-temple notion of ‘servant priesthood’ is now too overlain with the strata of power-play to serve as a helpful metaphor for how we go about enacting the story of science.

But science needs to rediscover its story, and it is only by acknowledging that its narrative underpinnings must come from the humanities, that it is going to find it.

Headline image credit: Lighting. CC0 via Pixabay.

The post Creating a constructive cultural narrative for science appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. forward...launch!

As announced on Friday, I'm embarking tomorrow on a birthday month poetry challenge inspired by fellow Piscean Laura Shovan's February Poetry Projects (if you haven't, check out three years' worth here, here and here).

I got to thinking about the word "MARCH"  and all the other great words that end in -CH.  I realized that I have a particular fondness for words that end in -ch; they show up in my poems again and again.  So I'll be stretCHing myself to post five -CH poems weekly throughout March.  I'm allowed one previously published per week, but most will be brand-new.

Please join me in this CHallenge, poetry friends!  If you can't write with me every day, maybe you'll share your one or two per week, or your five-in-a-row, or your favorite poem by another author including the -CH word of the day....I welcome your participation, however you choose to do it!

I'll post my poem each evening, and you can send me yours by email or by leaving it in the comments for that post.  I'll round up as we go and on Sunday mornings, and at the end of the month there will be a PRIZE for the "StretCHiest MarCHer" who contributes the most poems!

To get us started, here's a poem from my first book, Squeeze: Poems from a Juicy Universe (2005).  I'm hoping this will encourage the crocuses that I know are out there straining against two layers of frozen snow!


Launch

Crocuses are rocketing
            inch by inch
                   out of the crumbled earth

the yellows aim for the sun
the purples push          toward deep space

         and inside
little astronauts in orange suits
    cock their ruffled helmets
                                toward spring

Heidi Mordhorst
all rights reserved

And here is the collection of -CH words, one muscular verb for eaCH weekday of MarCH, that I'll be using to enriCH my little patCH of the Kidlitosphere with as muCH poetry as I can.  It should be a cinCh, but if I find I'm parCHed of poems and miss a day, then ouCH--but I'll reaCH in and try again.   Don't believe me?  Just watCH!

Forward...MarCH CHallenge: Dates and Words

2 march
3 stretch
4 twitch
5 punch
6 fetch

 9 preach
10 sketch
11 smooch
12 pitch
13 arch

16 inch
17 lurch
18 botch
19 lunch
20 hatch

23 clutch
24 crouch
25 snatch
26 perch
27 quench

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9. Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 1 of 31

Welcome to Day One of the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge!

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10. What have you got lined up in the coming weeks and months?

Where is Jon - compressed


Aside from two days of Fun with Fiction workshops at Millington Elementary School, and my teaching gig at the GCU, I haven't done any speaking events so far this year.

I do have a couple of talks lined up,
and I'll certainly be attending some writing group meetings, but for the most part, I'm keeping my head down, having a great time working on major revisions for Abraham Lincoln Stole my Homework and the outline/first draft of Dead Doris (also middle grade).

Here are some of the talks and events I'll be giving during the coming months:

2015 SPRING SEMESTER  
EN215: Creative Writing
Georgian Court University
Lakewood, NJ


2015 APRIL 1st (Weds)   Autism in the Family (7pm - 8:30pm)
Speaking on the Spectrum (SPotS)
Camden County Library (South County Regional Branch) 35 Cooper Folly Road, Atco, NJ 08004

2014 APRIL 26th (Sun) Author Lunch

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11. Book Review: ‘The Anime Encyclopedia’

A new edition of "The Anime Encyclopedia" aims to cover anime more comprehensively than ever before. Does it succeed?

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12. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–It’s March!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Dean and I are taking a little break this weekend, which I’ll tell you all about next Sunday.  I hope you are having a great weekend and that the weather is improving wherever you are!

I am reading Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop and it’s fantastic! What are you reading today?

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Cold  Burn of Magic

No One Like You

Dark Heir

Force of Attraction

The Shattered Court

A Night Divided

Royally Ever After

My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

 Subscribe in a reader

The post The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–It’s March! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Tony Zhou's "Every Frame A Painting"

via Muddy Colors http://ift.tt/1LVi6KA




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14. John C. Ford, author of THE CIPHER, on being inspired by a news article


John C. Ford joins us with his techno-thriller THE CIPHER, which taps into current concerns about internet privacy.

John, please tell us about your inspiration for writing THE CIPHER.

I read a news article about a teenage boy who may have solved a math riddle known as the Riemann Hypothesis.  I knew nothing about it at the time, but the article said that the Riemann Hypothesis--which dates back to the 1850s--had important implications for modern computer encryption systems.  I couldn't believe that a math problem that was over 150 years ago could be the key to modern computer security, but as I researched more, I discovered that it is absolutely vital to encryption.  The boy's solution turned out to be a false alarm.  But then I wondered:  what if he HAD solved it, and what if that solution gave him the ability to see any encrypted material?  I was off and running with The Cipher . . . .

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The opening of the book was difficult to write -- it's a prologue-type scene with an older character, which you realize the importance of later on.  I'm really pleased with the way that turned out, and I think it sets the right tone for the story to come.  Also, there's a one scene in which the two main characters, Smiles and Melanie, go out to eat and end up getting in a fight.  They are both quite vulnerable at that moment in the story, each of them feeling hurt for different reasons.  Something about that scene just worked for me, and if I had to pick one of my favorites that would be it.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I think The Cipher would appeal to anyone who likes the Alex Rider stories, or Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.  Fans of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls or Heist Society books might enjoy it, too.  I hope anyone who likes thrillers or mysteries will give it a chance.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE CIPHER?

When you write a book about codes and encryption, I think the expectation is to say that you hope readers appreciate the importance of math, etc., etc.  Which, for the record, I do.  But this is not a math book; it's a thriller written for entertainment.  So I hope they come away having enjoyed the roller coaster ride that the characters went through.  And I particularly hope that they relate in some way to the characters -- the slacker Smiles, the genius Ben, and the "perfect" girl, Melanie.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Cipher
by John C. Ford
Hardcover
Viking Juvenile
Released 2/24/2015

You think your emails are private?
Your credit card number is secure?
That stock trades, government secrets, and nuclear codes are safe?
...th1nk aga1n.

Robert “Smiles” Smylie is not a genius. He feels like he’s surrounded by them, though, from his software mogul dad to his brainy girlfriend to his oddball neighbor Ben, a math prodigy. When Ben cracks an ancient, real-life riddle central to modern data encryption systems, he suddenly holds the power to unlock every electronic secret in the world—and Smiles finally has a chance to prove his own worth.

Smiles hatches a plan to protect Ben from the government agents who will stop at nothing to get their hands on his discovery. But as he races from a Connecticut casino to the streets of Boston, enlisting the help of an alluring girl, Smiles comes to realize the most explosive secrets don’t lie between the covers of Ben’s notebook—they’re buried in his own past.

Eerily close to reality and full of shocking twists, this techno-thriller reveals how easily the private can become public, and just how dangerous it can be to encrypt our personal histories.

Purchase The Cipher at Amazon
Purchase The Cipher at IndieBound
View The Cipher on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John C. Ford (johncfordbooks.com and @fordjohnc) is the author of The Morgue and Me, a YA take on the classic detective novel that was nominated for an Edgar Award and short-listed for five different state teen book awards. A former litigator who practiced in the nation's capital, he eventually returned to his love of writing fiction, and to his hometown outside Detroit, Michigan.

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15. We bite stupid people

That was the sign tacked onto the rail at Oceanside Pier, right next to this fellow. I was within arm’s reach before I noticed him.

pelican

Rose wants to know if she can hang the same sign on her bedroom door.

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16. Jessica Brody, author of UNCHANGED, on how writing a book is like building a house

As you can see from yesterday's large lineup of talented authors, we are very fortunate because so many generous folks are willing to stop by and share information about their books and writing processes. As a result, our Saturdays have become jam-packed with awesome interviews. We have decided to spread the wealth by opening up Sundays for author interviews, too. Going forward, we will share writing advice, inspiring journeys to publication, and behind-the-scenes info about the creation of your favorite books on both Saturdays and Sundays. Remember to swing by on both days to hear from from many wise and wonderful writers.

Kicking off the first Sunday of interviews is Jessica Brody with her latest novel UNCHANGED, the third and final book in her Unremembered Trilogy.

So, Jessica, what was your inspiration for writing the Unremembered Trilogy?

A few years ago, I read a newspaper article about a teen girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash. I was instantly fascinated by the story. Namely because they had no idea why she survived when no else did. I started brainstorming reasons as to why she was so lucky. One particular reason (a rather intricate, science-fiction-inspired one) stuck in my mind and refused to leave. It continued to grow and blossom until I had an idea for an entire trilogy. A trilogy that starts with a mysterious plane crash and a single survivor.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Normally the scenes I’m the most proud of or really fall in love with are scenes that feel effortless. They kind of just flow out of me and I feel like I don’t have to try. Like I’m just a vessel through which the story is being told. I love when that happens. Of course, it’s not every day. I’m lucky if I get 2 or 3 of those per book.

In UNCHANGED, the final book in the Unremembered trilogy, one of those scenes was actually the very last scene of the book/series. I’d had that ending in mind since I started writing the first book and I wouldn’t let myself skip ahead and write it early. So when I finally got to that scene, I felt all this enormous pressure to make it right…not to mention STRESS that I would fail and it wouldn’t come out as good as it had been in my head for the past four years. Fortunately, I love what I wrote. I think it’s even better than I pictured it. And I hope readers love it too.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or
visa versa?

The Unremembered Trilogy has been compared to some really amazing books. Some of my favorites (that I’m honored to be compared to!) are MAXIMUM RIDE by James Patterson, ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury, and THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner.

Hey…I just realized all of our names start with J…AND all of our names are either Jessica or James. FREAKY!

How long did you work on UNCHANGED?

UNCHANGED took longer than any other book in the trilogy. And that’s probably because I wrote 250 pages and then totally scrapped them all and started over. It was one of those crazy pivotal moments in your career when you just have to follow your gut (and my gut was telling me this wasn’t the right book) and start over from scratch. I’ve never done that before in my published career. It was really scary at the time but the book was SO much better because of it!

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That sometimes you write the wrong book. And sometimes you have to right the WRONG book (or the first 250 pages of it) before you can realize what the RIGHT book is.

What do you hope readers will take away from UNCHANGED?

First and foremost, I write my books to entertain readers. If they get something extra out of the process, then that’s just a nice bonus. To me, this book (the whole series really) is about the delicate balance between science and nature. I’m all for technological innovation and progress, but at what cost? And at what point are we just messing with something nature mastered a long time ago? I set out to explore these questions in this trilogy. And it would be a nice bonus if readers took something away about that after reading.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was quite long and difficult. It took me five years to sell my first book. Actually my “first” book was never published. It’s still sitting on my shelf! I tried for three years to get an agent for that book and eventually started a new book that would become my first published novel. After five years, I finally landed my first agent and she sold my book in only 10 days! So I like to say my overnight success story took five years. ☺

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Actually, there was! My first book to ever sell was a women’s fiction novel called THE FIDELITY FILES, about a “fidelity inspector” who was hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the fidelity of the men in their lives. I shopped that book all around town for years, constantly tweaking it and rewriting and yet I still got the same feedback. It was too dark and depressing. The main character, Jennifer Hunter, saw nothing but cheating spouses and it was a downer. Plus no one could understand why Jennifer just didn’t quit her job since she clearly hated it so much.

Then I got a rejection from my agent that changed everything. She said, “I think this would work so much better if Jennifer thought of herself like a modern superhero. She loves her job. She feels like she’s righting an epic wrong. Saving the world from infidelity, one cheater at a time.”

I nearly gasped when I read this. It was the magic ingredient that I’d been missing. The subtlest shift in the kaleidoscope to make the whole thing take shape. I instantly started rewriting the book from scratch with this note. I sent that agent the first 100 pages to see if I was on the right track. She ended up signing me on those 100 pages and we sold the book as soon as it was finished.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

First off, I have a really cool “white noise” track that I listen to when I write. It’s a track called “Waterfall Entrainment” and it’s nothing but a constant waterfall sound that goes “SHHHHHHHH!!!!” in my ear. I loop it and play it full blast.

And second, I ONLY drink coffee when I’m writing. I’ve actually managed to trick my brain into thinking that coffee equals productivity. Plus, limiting my caffeine intake makes the caffeine more effective. So as soon as that coffee hits my blood stream, I am ready to rock!

In fact, I actually wrote a whole blog post about this. It’s called How to Trick Your Brain Into Writing. You can view it here: http://www.jessicabrody.com/2011/05/tips-for-writers-how-to-trick-your-brain-into-writing/

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Don’t be afraid to write badly. All writers have awful first drafts. That’s why they’re called first drafts. Sometimes you have to just get through the story before you can make it pretty. I think a lot of new authors quit halfway through the book because they’re afraid that it’s not good. The first draft won’t be good. Just finish it and make it good later. The hardest part about writing a book is getting to that last page.

Writing a book is like building a house. You can’t worry about where to hang the pictures or what color to paint the walls until you actually build the house. Get the foundation down, get the story in place, then worry about whether or not it all looks pretty.

I always say, Don't be afraid to write crap because crap makes great fertilizer.

What are you working on now?

I just turned in my next book to my editor. It’s a contemporary comedy called A WEEK OF MONDAYS, about a teen girl who has to repeat the same awful Monday (in which her boyfriend breaks up with her) over and over again until she figures out how to fix it. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day meets Some Kind of Wonderful.

It was really fun to go back to something light and comedic. Especially after writing UNCHANGED, which is by far the darkest of the trilogy.

A WEEK OF MONDAYS will be out in spring 2016.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Unchanged
by Jessica Brody
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 2/24/2015

In this mesmerizing conclusion to the Unremembered trilogy, Sera will fight those who have broken her.

After returning to the Diotech compound and receiving a successful memory transplant, Seraphina is now living a happy life with another synthetically engineered human like herself, with whom she is deeply in love. She has no recollection of Zen. But the nagging feeling that something is missing from her life continues to plague her. Diotech's newest product is about to be revealed—a line of genetic modifications that will allow people to live longer, fight disease, and change any unfavorable physical attribute they desire.

As more secrets are revealed, more enemies are uncovered, and the reality of a Diotech-controlled world grows closer every day, Sera and Zen must find a way to destroy the company that created her, or they’ll be separated forever.

Purchase Unchanged at Amazon
Purchase Unchanged at IndieBound
View Unchanged on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica has sold ten novels (two adult novels to St. Martin’s Press and eight young adult novels to Farrar, Straus, Giroux/Macmillan Children’s.) These books include Fidelity Files, Love Under Cover, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Unremembered, Unforgotten, and Unchanged. Unremembered was recently optioned for film by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire. Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Norway, Denmark, China, Russia, Brazil, Poland, Bulgaria, Israel, and Taiwan. Jessica now works full time as a writer and producer. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Colorado.

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17. Chat Chat Chat

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18. Yaşar Kemal (1923-2015)

       Turkish great Yaşar Kemal has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.
       The New York Times suggests he was Turkey's "first novelist of global stature"; whether he was first or not, he was certainly of global stature, and a serious Nobel candidate.
       Memed, My Hawk is a good place to start: see the New York Review Books publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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19. New! KING BRONTY "Fightin' Music!" New for March 1st!

Here is the lay of the land...  King Bronty and Prince Podoee are in control of the battle on board the pirate vessel, "The Scurvy Shark"! But sly, old Captain Crockers has a trick up his extra large sleeve!
















 I hope you enjoy this blog. Though I truly enjoy making "King Bronty" please join in and  encourage it's continued creation by support for art supplies, coffee, etc.  JRY



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20. Alethea Kontis, author of DEAREST, on being inspired by actors and their characters

DEAREST was released a few weeks ago, and it is Alethea Kontis's third book of The Woodcutter Sisters, her series that weaves together various fairy tales. Alethea's publisher has generously provided a copy of DEAREST for one lucky winner, so make sure to enter below.

So, Alethea, what is your favorite thing about DEAREST?

When I was 27, someone I cared about deeply committed suicide. In Dearest, I brought him back to life. That person was Jonathan Brandis. 

YES, it was a schoolgirl crush of the first water, an unrequited friendship over which I spent countless hours of my teenage youth daydreaming. But when I got the news that he'd killed himself...it hit me like a truck. I was actually surprised at how intense my reaction was. We were the same age. I had already begun to blossom into my strange and beautiful life. It was not out of the realm of possibility that we might meet one day, and wouldn't I have a story to tell him! Only now we never would. 

When Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) died on the television show Lost, I was so upset that I immediately wrote him into the book I was working on at the time...and thus the character of Jolicoeur sprang forth into Enchanted fully formed. Who said I couldn't do the same for Jonathan? From this beautiful, sad, innocent, unrealized affection, came the character of Tristan Swan. While I was at it, I mentally cast the roles of Tristan's brothers, using some other star crushes of my youth. For instance: Sebastian is absolutely Noah Hathaway. I actually met Noah at Dragon Con back in 2003. I told him this fun story about Atreyu and this naming game my little sister and I used to play on long road trips. I am sure he still remembers me. 

What was your inspiration for writing DEAREST?

The "base note" fairy tale of Dearest is Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans. Followed closely by The Goose Girl, Swan Lake, Tristan & Isolde, and Robert San Souci's A Weave of Words. 

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scene for me is always the "kill the bad guy" scene, because I never plot it out in advance. I know it needs to happen, but once I get there I have to think to myself, "Okay...now where are we and what have we got to make this happen?" It makes me feel a lot like Danny Ocean planning a heist on the fly. 

I do rather love the Ladyhawke-type scene at the end of Chapter 3...no spoilers, but that is the scene I read out loud when I'm on book tour. It gets a fabulous response. When I finish I snap the book shut and say, "Don't worry. Buttercup does not get eaten by the sharks at this time," just like the grandfather does in The Princess Bride. (The book, not the movie. READ THE BOOK.)

I also love the scene where a certain person shows up at the end of Chapter 15. He did not originally show up there in the first draft of the manuscript, but I caught a flaw in my logic during the revision and POOF! There he was and it changed everything else, all the way to the end. You know how authors say, "This character just showed up and started talking in their voice and I couldn't do anything but go with it"? It's a rare occurrence for me, but that's exactly what happened here. Like magic. 

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

The Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce. Beauty, Deerskin, and The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley. Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones. Tamora Pierce's Alanna series. Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. And anything Sharon Shinn wrote set in the world of Samaria.  

How long did you work on DEAREST?

One year. Most of the writing was done in that last few months, but it was SO nice to have the whole year to fully develop the characters and work out the plot devices. I was forced to write Hero in only a few months, so having a full year for Dearest was positively blissful. 

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That I really wish I had a year to write every book! But even then, the writing doesn't get done unless I sit my butt in that chair and do it. 

What do you hope readers will take away from DEAREST?

My hope for the whole Woodcutter series is that it inspires people of all ages to read (or re-read) the original Grimm, Andersen, Lang, and Perrault fairy tales, as well as all the other classic fantasy literature I reference in my books. Disney is a great storyteller, but I feel we lose much by letting our children believe that Disney invented fairy tales. 

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I was born into a family of storytellers. I started reading when I was three. I started writing around the age of eight, mostly poetry. I wrote tons of poetry and short stories and essays and everything else. I started my first novel at the age of eleven (see Wattpad), but though I rewrote it in high school, I never finished it. I only finished one novel before Enchanted (which was originally published as a short story called "Sunday" in Realms of Fantasy magazine). 

But Enchanted was not the first book I sold. That book was AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First, which I wrote in eight hours and emailed to a friend who worked in the book industry. She then forwarded it to a friend of hers, and a few months later I received a surprise call from the head editor of Candlewick Press, enthusiastically telling me that the art director had read my story out loud to the entire department and they were all cracking up and could they PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE publish it?!? (I said yes.)

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I've had a couple of those AHA! Moments. The first, and biggest, came when I was about nine years old...after I wrote a poem in school called "Friendship." The world CLICKED and I knew--KNEW--I was a writer. I announced to my parents that if the whole acting thing didn't pan out (I had just starred in an 8-part miniseries on our local PBS affiliate) that I would fall back on writing. My parents didn't care for that statement...which is why I have a degree in Chemistry. 

The second biggest AHA! moment was when I working on "Sunday" as a short story. The world just kept getting bigger and bigger in my head. I'd had yet another epiphany while driving to my little sister's house in Charleston for Spoleto opening weekend, at which point I had to make a deal with myself. I was allowed to leave all these brilliant new details out of my short story, so long as I immediately turned the story into a novel when I was finished. That was one promise to myself that I was very happy to keep. 

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I prefer silence and a comfy chaise lounge, but I will write anywhere, anytime, on anything (I have multiple scenes on Starbucks receipts and poems scribbled on the back covers of comic book digests to prove it). Here's my typical writing routine:
Step 1: Sit down with hot coffee/tea, glass of water, and laptop. 
Step 2: Write until coffee/tea gets cold. 
Step 3: Heat up coffee/tea in microwave. 
Step 4: Repeat. 
It's very glamorous, I tell you. 

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Be Kind. 
Be Patient. 
Be Stubborn. 

What are you working on now?

That is SUCH a dangerous question to ask me. Let's see...right now I'm editing the newest Fairy Tale Rant video and waiting to hear back from Janet Lee about the release date of our Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. I'm working on chapter six of Trixter, a Trix novella that runs parallel to the Woodcutter sisters novels. I'm plotting out Book Four of the Woodcutter Sisters (Thieftess), and revising the first of a trilogy of New Adult short contemporary romance novels set in Sand Point, Florida. GAH, as Sophie Hatter says. There need to be more hours in the day!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Dearest
by Alethea Kontis
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 2/3/2015

In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves "The Wild Swans," "The Goose Girl," and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to Enchanted and Hero.

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

Purchase Dearest at Amazon
Purchase Dearest at IndieBound
View Dearest on Goodreads


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a fairy godmother, and a geek. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, and ranting about fairy tales on YouTube.

Her published works include: The Wonderland Alphabet (with Janet K. Lee), Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome (with Janet K. Lee), the AlphaOops series (with Bob Kolar), the Woodcutter Sisters fairy tale series, and The Dark-Hunter Companion (with Sherrilyn Kenyon). Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines.

Her YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and the Garden State Teen Book Award i 2015. Enchanted was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, Hero, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives and writes in Florida, on the Space Coast. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.You can find Princess Alethea online at: www.aletheakontis.com.

GIVEAWAY


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21. Artist of the Day: Miranda Tacchia

Discover the work of Miranda Tacchia, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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22. Democracy is about more than a vote: politics and brand management

With a General Election rapidly approaching in the UK, it’s easy to get locked into a set of perennial debates concerning electoral registration, voter turnout and candidate selection. In the contemporary climate these are clearly important issues given the shift to individual voter registration, evidence of high levels of electoral disengagement and the general decline in party memberships (a trend bucked by UKIP, the Greens, and the Scottish National Party in recent months).

The post Democracy is about more than a vote: politics and brand management appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Day 1 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

Welcome to the 8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! This is where you share a link to your individual (not classroom) slice of life story. Then, remember to give at least three other slicers some comment love during the day today.

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24. Maya Rock, author of SCRIPTED, on the agony and ecstasy of writing

Maya Rock's thriller SCRIPTED was released a few weeks ago and explores the darkness lurking in Reality TV.

Maya, what scene in SCRIPTED was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Ugh, the um, love scene with Callen and Nettie towards the end. It wasn’t the most technically difficult, but I was way too self-conscious the whole time. No, I’m not the most proud of it. I think I’m too close to the manuscript right now to have one I’m most proud of, but I always had a certain comfort level with scenes with Lia in them. I also really always was fond of the moment in the party scene when Nettie leaves for the beach (and Callen). There are probably more little moments that I’m proud of than scenes.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Oh my gosh. So much!!! And it continues to do so. Well, I felt I went into this book fairly humble, but it turns out I had a whole lot more humbling to go. First, I felt that my skills as an editor were almost completely nontransferable to my own writing. That was frustrating because I felt I was a confident editor and an insecure writer (are there any other kinds?)  I thought it taught me to have a thicker skin about my writing because I had been intensely shy about showing people my work and then had to show many drafts to my editor. 

What do you hope readers will take away from SCRIPTED?

Mostly I hope they have fun reading it. I also hope they like the characters.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

It was haphazard. I wrote a manuscript awhile ago, but never sought to get it published. Then six years later, I wrote another one, and it got a publisher fairly quickly, but was in rewrites for awhile (four years). What to say except that everything they say about writing, the agony and the ecstasy, I have experienced. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Scripted
by Maya Rock
Hardcover
Putnam Juvenile
Released 2/5/2015

Reality TV has a dark future in this thought-provoking thriller.

To the people suffering on the war-torn mainland, Bliss Island seems like an idyllic place. And it is: except for the fact that the island is a set, and the islanders’ lives are a performance. They’re the stars of a hit TV show, Blissful Days—Characters are adored by mainland viewers, yet in constant danger of being cut if their ratings dip too low. And no one really knows what happens to cut Characters.

Nettie Starling knows she’s been given the chance of a lifetime when a producer offers suggestions to help her improve her mediocre ratings—especially when those suggestions involve making a move on the boy she’s been in love with for years. But she'll soon have to decide how far she's willing to go to keep the cameras fixed on her. . . especially when she learns what could happen to her if she doesn't.

Purchase Scripted at Amazon
Purchase Scripted at IndieBound
View Scripted on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maya RockMaya Rock lives in New York, where she freelance writes and edits and can be found at karaoke, art galleries, parks, and pizzerias when not in front of a screen. Scripted is her first novel. You can learn more about her and her work at www.maya-rock.com.

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25. Freezer delivery from Burkina-Faso!


Yesterday we had a new freezer delivered (old one died). It was bought online and the delivery notification was via a computer robot voice.  The robot even gave a 30 minute warning.  So sure as shooting, there the truck was, just like the robot said.

The truck parked in the alley.  It turned out that the two freezer delivery men were from Africa - or more precisely from Burkina-Faso!  

One tall laid back cool guy in sunglasses (Djbril) and another guy who sounded like he'd might have a college degree with excellent english (Mathieu).  So they unloaded the freezer and began to carry it through my backyard, with a shoulder strap harness. At this point I remembered we were supposed to ask them for I.D. to prove that they really were the people who were supposed to be carrying a freezer through my backyard instead of some dangerous impostor freezer-carriers hellbent on getting that freezer down an impossible stairway and back door. But I went on trust.

Of course the first problem was the freezer wouldn't actually fit through the back door - even though I had taken the back door off. They don't make those slim freezers anymore. They're all gigantic now. And this was the smallest freezer I could find anywhere online.  Oh no! Mathieu suggested we remove the extra freezer panel that stuck out at the bottom.  So I got down on the ground sideways to try to see where the screws were.  Excellent idea. We tried to get that off.

It looked like they were about to give up and pack it back up! Oh no! Then it occurred to me we should try the basement window.  And lo and behold - it measured out with 3 inches to spare! So Djbril and Mathieu carried the freezer around to the side window. And in it went. I got to chat a bit with Djbril, telling him that my dad had spent 6 years in Ghana, which is the nation just south of his.  He said he'd never been there, but they had lots of tasty food in Burkina-Faso.  Lots of french is spoken in Burkina-Faso.

I tried to not feel too guilty about my fat comfortable life as I imagined what kind of life a refugee from Africa must have had to wind up delivering freezers to cold, wet Seattle half a world away.  I'm glad we managed to get the freezer in through the window so at least that little adventure ended happily ever after.


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