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1. Chicken by Chicken: The End of the Long Dark Night.

It's October and time for Chicken by Chicken. This is going to a long post. I will also post about my fun Halloween chicken project at the end. I've been doodling chickens for years. They cheer me up. This past year has needed a lot of cheer.

I joined the Presbyterian church recently, and have been reading The Book of Confessions. It's a book that affirms basic Christian truths. It's the response of this denomination of Christians when it has been blindsided with confusing and destructive ideas.

So here is my history. For the past year my poor noggin' failed me. It's connected to my work. Here is the deal: you fail much as a writer. It is part of the gig. But a dark cloud came over me last year and just would not budge. I never thought my work would fail. Church, yes. Friends and family, yes. Body, yes. Circumstances, yes. But never my work. A friend told me once that my work is what keeps me floating above it all. Well, my work sank, and I sank like a stone in a deep ocean.  I headed to the doctor and, yes, learned I was suffering from straight out major depression.

My thoughts were not about taking my life or even dying. This was all about failing at my life's work. Here's the deal, good writers get paid for their hard work. Their books sell. I put out a book as dear to me and with as much of my soul as I could on a page, PLUMB CRAZY, and the result was no one cared. I sold less than a hundred copies.The publishing house cancelled my contract. Then, I began submitting a book called PROFIT that I believed was the best thing I'd ever put to a page. I had one partial request, and the agent never got back to me. Everyone else ignored my submissions.

Here's the painful litany: Fool. Idiot. Stupid. These words branded me. All those people who said you were full of it for wanting to be a writer, they were right. No one cares. You can't write a single word that anyone cares about. All the people who have passed on you, they just didn't want you to know that your work is substandard and will not rise. You are irrelevant. The success of reaching others and making a difference in this world. The dream you would be able to make a modest living at this, over. You could have worked for real all these years and your kids wouldn't be pulling out loans to get college educations. You messed up your whole life and there are no do overs.  You chased a dream, and nada. You are a freaking failure. (It's okay, folks, these words don't burn into me like hot coals any more.)

This has been hard on so many levels. My mother suffered major depression when I was a teen. She didn't really get over it until I went to college.We had no healthcare when I was kid, so mom just suffered. Thankfully, that is not my story, but even good doctors can't wave a magic wand to make me better. It's been a long road this past year. It has been terrifying.

Depression feels like a band is tied around my waist, tight and painful. It's like being plated with metal armor that you can't take off. It like living in darkness. My art has suffered. I've thought about giving it up. Another choice mom made. Man, this has been a mess. Still, I continued to move forward, but my arms were heavy like led weights, my stomach ached, and my poor brain just sank into a pit. I cried more tears last year than I ever have in my life. I'd be standing in line at the grocery store and realize my face was wet with tears. Oh, why am I at the grocery story when every movement is agony?  I refused to stop functioning through this pain. I wiped the tears and moved to the next thing on the list. I wrote a lot of lists last year.

So here is the journey. I got clinical help, and I worked on seeking goodness. I had to let some things go. I cut down on the writing events. I shoved aside the novels for almost six months and worked on picture books. It was a struggle to write one word and that is the whole picture book game. I left the church I was attending. I'd been going there for almost five years and didn't really know anyone. This was no longer acceptable. I found a church that was more open to ideas and people with differences. I planted a tree.  I hugged the cats. I wrote my lists and drew my chickens.  Silly chickens make me laugh, and I love to laugh. I taught teens who to write through a summer program TEENS Publish at the library (no pay). Gosh, I loved those young writers, so full of passion and dreams. BTW, this was a totally unprofessional act, I know, but it brought some happiness to my heart and mind, and this year happiness has been worth more than all the gold in California.

I am coming out of the long dark night. I'm working again. The dips aren't as deep. Positive thoughts are back.  I still have a ways to go, but I am hopeful. Finally my  book  CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN  http://ow.ly/SVYcB  is for sale. I was so blessed by the silliness of this book. I hope that it blesses a few of you. I will be back next week with more confessions, chicken by chicken.

Here is a doodle for you.  It's a picture from the Chicken book.

A quote for your pocket: There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke. Vincent Van Gogh

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Going to the movies

isn't always fun for me. I find myself fighting not to surrender to the messages they intentionally or unintentionally feed us. Are films (and television) only entertainment or do they suggest how we see ourselves and the rest of the world?

In considering this question, I started to think about how much (or how little) the role of African-Americans has changed in Hollywood. At the most elemental level, I asked myself, "Are there more leading and supporting black characters in Hollywood now than there were 100 years ago?" This led to thoughts of who were the first black actors in Hollywood?" I thought of Stepin Fetchit, Amos & Andy, Mantan Moreland and, of course,D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation which did employ some black actors but also featured white men in "black face."

I asked myself, "who were these men (and women) and how did they see themselves compared to the one-dimensional stereotypes they portrayed?"

I began doing sketches for paintings on the subject.

First, I did a larger piece about the actor Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry also known as Stepin Fetchit - A Brief History of Stepin Fetchit 24x30 mixed media on 1/4" hardboard.

That lead to these two smaller pieces I did for my daily/weekly painting. They are not about the characters the actors played but more of a contemplation of the inner lives' of the actors.

They are both 6x6, acrylic, pencil and collage on 1/8" hardboard. Again, I'll be updating my blog every week, hopefully on Friday but if not before the weekend is over. If you know of anyone interested in receiving updates please direct them here. 



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3. Short fiction contest with $1500 prize

PRISM international is now accepting submissions for their 2016 Short Fiction Contest, judged by Lee Maracle. First prize: $1500 + publication; more prizes available. Length: 6000 words max. Entry fee: $35-$45 (includes subscription). Deadline: January 20, 2016. Guidelines.

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4. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Open!

Our October workshop is now open! We will take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author Lee Bross and agent Saba Sulaiman!

And we have a new format! The workshop is three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Saba will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

So get those pages ready!


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5. ‘Imagination’ by Marc Donahue

As children, we viewed the world through the lenses of our imaginations. The carpet became lava, the shadows formed monsters, the family minivan was a spaceship... Read the rest of this post

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6. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed

Sorry everyone, but the workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month! We open the first Saturday in November.


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7. #743-45 – Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet, Count the Birds and Book of Colors by Zoe Burke and Charley Harper

Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet— Count the Birds — Book of Colors Written by Zoe Burke Illustrated by Charley Harper Pomegranate Kids     6/30/2015 978-0-7649-7233-1 — 978-0-7649-7246-1 — 978-0-7649-7261-4 20 pages     Age 1—3 Today is not December 8th, but that is the date of Charley Harper Day in Cincinnati, Ohio where Mr. Harper …

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8. First & Then Superlative Blog Tour and Author Guest Post: Books Most Likely to Make You Cry On Public Transportation

I love the idea of a superlative blog tour for First & Then by Emma Mills-such a fun blog tour! I was given the superlative of "Most Likely to Make You Cry on Public Transportation" and of course, I had to ask Emma herself which books make her cry:

I would have to say Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is the book that makes my cry the most! My father first read this book to my sister and I when we were kids, and I remember so clearly the overwhelming sense of loss I felt right along with Jesse. A beautiful—but tough to take!—book about grief.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – it has wrung the most book-fueled tears from me in my adulthood. Hazel’s relationship with her parents really gets to me.

Marrying Malcolm Murgatroyd by Mame Farrell—I first read this in junior high and shed more than a few tears. Very bittersweet, lovely middle grade story.

Before I share my own list, I first need to tell you something-I don't cry too often at books. Which honestly, I find a bit strange because I'm an emotional person and I cry at just about everything else, but books really have to get me to get me bawling. And these books did! So fair warning when reading on public transportation (or anywhere!):

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling-OK, I admit this one is cheating a bit, because seriously, what HP fan can read this one (or pretty much any book from 4-on) without bawling like a baby?

If I Stay by Gayle Forman-I cried so much at the end of this book and had to mourn that it was over. So I was incredibly grateful for the sequel-which yes, also make me cry.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley-Oh my goodness, this book just gets you in every emotional way and just tears at your heartstrings and makes you laugh and cry and smile all at the same time.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern-I actually listened to this one on audiobook while driving-bad idea. It turned me into a blubbering mess and it was hard to sob and drive at the same time!

What books make you cry?

About the Book: Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

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9. Paying journal wants your monsters, myths & magic

Small independent journal The Quilliad (Toronto) seeks flash fiction, short stories, poetry, comics, photography, and art from Canadian writers and artists. Looking for literary science fiction and horror; magic realism; fairy tales, folk tales, myths, and legends; monsters, death, magic, and fear. Submit 1-5 pieces. Deadline: October 20, 2015. Payment: $12 honorarium plus copy. Guidelines.

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10. Review: Vicious by VE Schwab

In light of VE Schawb recently announcing on twitter that Vicious is getting a sequel (!!), I decided I needed to review this book here. ASAP. Because it is glorious. It’s about super villains! It’s dark and scary and evil and full of anti-heroes with complex backstories and warped thinking to justify their evil intentions. Also […]

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11. Inktober

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

I used to love working with ink and watercolor. It was my go to medium for a long time. Gradually I’ve moved away from that but every once and a while I pull out my ink and draw. Then I remember I really enjoy drawing with that medium.

Inktober is (find out more about it by clicking here.) a good chance to remember how much fun ink drawing is. The last two days I’ve been working on this and I created these videos of me drawing characters with ink.

I won’t be doing 31 drawings. My plan is to do 24 drawings of the characters you’ll meet in my next year of Tales Fantastic Stories. I tried to do a lot of planning before Inktober began but now that it’s been a few days I’m learning I missed a few things. For one thing I think I drew these guys too small, and the details would work out better if their faces were a little larger. It’s also taken me a long time to draw each character before I start inking. So this morning I’m rethinking my plan a little. Maybe in a few days I’ll report back the changes I’ve made in the meantime you can follow my progress on Instagram.

The post Inktober appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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12. Telltale Games MINECRAFT: STORY MODE To World Premiere In LA

Telltale Games rolls out the redstone carpet for the Minecraft Community in LA

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13. At the Free Library of Philadelphia this Wednesday evening, with Marciarose Shestack, for LOVE

Yesterday, following a long walk through the rain and the wind, I was greeted by the gorgeous pioneering news woman Marciarose Shestack at her eloquent Philadelphia home. We were meeting as friends. We were meeting, too, to plan our coming evening at the Free Library of Philadelphia, when we'll be talking about our mutual love for our city (and its surrounding areas) and about my new book, Love: A Philadelphia Affair.

That event is this coming Wednesday at 7:30, at the Free Library.

The details for the event are above.

A video interview and reading from Love are available here.

We would love to see you there.

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14. Random robotics

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16. Cozy

Life seems rosy
When you're feeling cozy.

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17. A View From The Classroom: Month One.

October is here! We’ve been in school for just about a month now, and our writing workshop has moved from its early stages of uncertainty and experimentation to let’s-get-down-to-it writing routines...

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18. Charles Mudede for Seattle Review of Books

Each week I will feature a different author portrait in this new Seattle Review of Books column "Portrait Gallery."

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19. Illustrator Submission :: Lea Taloc

Post by Chloe

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Lea Taloc has combined her passion for the kitchen and illustration to create beautiful works which often appear in food blogs and magazines. Through her art and graphic design techniques she is able to convey emotions and add visual embellishments to every day life. Lea Taloc’s work has a bright and airy feel to it which is refreshing and cheerful. 

If you would like to see more of Lea’s work, please visit her portfolio.

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20. Wands and Worlds Has Moved

After ten years, it's time for a change. I've moved to a new blog platform, and have other changes planned. Don't worry, I'll still be covering mainly children's and YA fantasy and science fiction, but I hope to post more frequently and be a little more relaxed about it. Please see the new blog at blog.wandsandworlds.com and don't forget to update your blog reader!

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21. Short story contest with no entry fee, $300 prize

Words & Brushes invites writers to write a short story (length: 2000-5000 words) around an artwork from their image gallery. First prize: $300. Participants may enter as many stories as they like. No entry fee. Deadline: December 1, 2015. Guidelines.

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22. Hiromasa Yonebayashi On ‘When Marnie Was There,’ Being Scolded By Miyazaki, and Studio Ghibli’s Future

Yonebayashi's second feature "When Marnie Was There" arrives on Blu-ray next week.

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23. Emma's Extra Snacks - a bookwrap

Unwrapping today's book...

Authored by Anne Paradis

Illustrated by Eric Sévigny

In collaboration with the American Diabetes Association

Unwrapping some illustrations...

About the book...

Caillou is painting at his preschool when he notices his friend Emma is peeling an orange.  He assumes it's snack time and goes to get  his lunchbox to indulge also.  His teacher, Miss Martin tells him it is not snack time yet and he gets confused.  Why is Emma eating an orange?

"Emma has permission to eat extra snacks throughout the day, she said."  

That does not seem fair to Caillou.  Miss Martin stops the class activities, sits them all down, and explains to them that Emma has special permission because she has type 1 diabetes. She assures the children that they cannot catch it and that Emma needs extra food so she won't feel dizzy or tired as her day progresses.   

Caillou takes it upon himself to reach out to Emma and protect her because of her illness. Emma teaches Caillou that even though she will have Diabetes 1 for the rest of her life she is still able to play, run and have fun just like the all the other kids, why she even beats him in a race.  This eases his mind greatly and he now understands that Emma is taking all the precautions she needs to live a normal, happy life. She's pretty darn smart.

The book includes a poster created by the American Diabetes Association.  The illustrations are bright, colourful and visually give a greater understanding of what Emma has to go through to keep her Diabetes 1 under control.  This is a wonderful book to educate your child on this subject. I am sure it will create a lot of meaningful discussion between you and your child regarding Diabetes.  

About the illustrator...

Eric Sévigny is born in 1975 on the south shore of Montreal (Quebec, Canada). This metropolis is well-known internationally for its creativity, especially in art, fashion and publicity. Therefore at an early age, Eric benefited from an exposure to different artistic techniques. He is also really involved into sports and well appreciated by the community.307_60011565236_1241_n
Influenced by cartoon strips and comic books, Eric studied in Fine Arts and commercial drawings which lead him to work as a caricaturist, cartoonist and graphic designer.

Meticulous, fascinated and interested by all Art forms, his gift opened the door to Cinar Animation Studio where he worked for five years mastering many functions. First at Cinar Animation on different television series, and then at Cinar Design as illustrator and style guide supervisor of famous characters, like Caillou, Arthur, Paddington Bear.

At the same time, his talent in animation and artistic direction expanded during the production of three interactive Caillou CD-ROMs, as well as, in the design and animation of their Website, winner of a Mobius prize in 2000. His in-depth knowledge of the character, his professionalism and reputation created a strong base to start his own company and landed him opportunities in prestigious companies such as Fisher-Price, LeapFrog, Mega-Bloks, Irwin Toys, Littles Tikes for whom he supervises and develops licensing products for famous characters like Scooby-Doo, Looney-Tunes, Winnie the Pooh.

Reluctant to stop there and the desire to expand is creative horizons led Eric to Europe, mainly in Prague, Berlin and Warsaw. In Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Eric reveals new aspects of his talent and decided to focus on the pictorial side of his work, there he makes his first acrylic work.

His primary inspiration, the woman, the one he has been admiring and studying for years. His paintings are a fresh look on the beauty, sensuality and mysteriousness of today’s woman.

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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24. What an Agent Looks For

Obviously an agent wants to see good writing, but what else is important?


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25. Illustrator Challenge #19

Are y'all actually doing these? I'd love to hear! Leave a comment and let me know.
So today, take a painting - doesn't have to be yours and you can actually lay tracing paper over it. Create a line-art version of the painting. It can be super-simple, or complicated with cross-hatch shading. The trick is to get the key elements that give the piece life.

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