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1. Photo













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2. Types of Book Publishing

As shown by this chart, there are many paths to a published book.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3BkwFa5qpaIci1BYUViWFJpdGc/edit

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3. smarter than a super genius

Question: Okay, so I am writing a story where my main character is a holmesian-style detective, who often relies on his cunning wit and superior intelligence

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4. Peek

peek001

This is a peek of a picture book I am working on. It is in the story development phase. I am hopeful that the story is to a point that it is ready for submission. I just need to let it simmer for a few days.

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5. Cautionary comic for writers (and illustrators!)

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6. My friend Flurry saw this while he was out and about in San...



My friend Flurry saw this while he was out and about in San Francisco today. He wrote, “Title page of novel? Contents of package? Taped to teacher’s back?”

I really hope it’s the first. “Now I’d like to read a short section from my novel entitled … ,” etc.



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7. Color Corona from a Bright Sky


I'd like to wrap up our extended Watercolor Workshop Week by talking a little more about a light effect that I mentioned on the video "Watercolor in the Wild."

While I was painting this carriage house on location, I tried to convey the feeling that the sky was both very blue and very bright. I wanted to simulate an effect that I have noticed in photography, where a bright sky bleaches out the camera's receptors and then spills over into small forms, making them take on the blue of the sky. 

I painted a very light cool wash in the sky, and then laid in the turrets, tree trunks, and branches with a mid-range blue. I also used a blue-gray watercolor pencil for the branches. 

The scene didn't actually look this way to my eye—the sky actually looked like a light to mid-range high-chroma blue, and the branches looked extremely dark. I had to consciously override what I was perceiving and paint an effect that I was imagining. 

While I was painting the picture, I took a photo to see if the camera actually did see it that way, and sure enough, the small forms turned quite blue.

I used the same basic idea of colorizing small forms against a bright sky when I painted "Churchyard," the final demo on the video. This time, though, I wanted the sky to look warm, so I laid down a very light yellow-ochre wash and then drybrushed the branches using a dull orange watercolor.
----

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8. Over the River and Through the Woods

Doodles

Over the River and Through the Woods is the first page in a new sketch book. I need to get better at drawing directly into the computer and I want a non threatening page to sketch on once a day.

Rules: one page a day analogue or digital, only black and white, 15 minutes drawing and 15 minutes writing.

What if?

I am surprised and pleased at how much this looks like a child’s drawing. When examining the work of Paul Klee he seems to show no fear in his expression. His images are filled with “What if?” explorations. This is a place where “What if?” can exist.

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9. London and LonCon

Well, here I am, back from London and Loncon, with much to tell.  I combined my third foray to Worldcon (and my first as a Hugo nominee) with a family vacation, both of which were delightful if a little tiring--a classic "I need a vacation after this vacation" situation.  The experiences of both convention and city are already swirling in my head, so I'd better get them down while it's still

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10. Why Plot Focus is Important in Picture Books and Short Stories

Writing Instruction Video

As I have worked with various beginning picture book authors, a common problem that a lot of them run into is difficulty in conveying what their story is really about or going off in to many directions. Creative writing instructors in school may run into a similar problem when they assign students to write short stories. This writing instruction video on picture book plot addresses this issue.

If you enjoyed or found this writing instruction video useful, please share it with others. Thanks.

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11. Persol Honors Frances McDormand at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival

Frances McDormand
(Venice, Italy) Frances McDormand has had a diverse and distinguished career so far, and it's about to reach new heights. Instead of complaining that Hollywood doesn't provide great roles for women -- especially older women -- she did something about it herself. McDormand optioned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and is playing the title character in an HBO mini-series by the same name, which she also executive-produced, along with Tom Hanks, Gary Goeztman and Jane Anderson, who wrote the screenplay. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko,  Olive Kitteridge will air in on HBO starting this November. The official site is here.

I've always loved Frances McDormand's work, and admire her as an actress. When she was here during the Venice Film Festival in 2008 to promote Burn After Reading, she was witty, intelligent and funny. This year she will be honored with the Persol Tribute to Visionary Talent Award 2014 on September 1st, and then Olive Kitteridge will have its world premiere here in Venice.

Frances McDormand
Alberto Barbera, the Director of the Venice Film Festival said, “The originality and immensity of Frances McDormand’s talent is well reflected in Olive Kitteridge, a project which she herself initiated, optioning the novel by Elizabeth Strout, and of which she is also executive producer -- another great manifestation of her vision, which we honor today with this award. Thanks to her long-standing experience in theatre, film and TV, dedicated to the search for truth, the career of Frances McDormandis not only that of an extraordinary actress, but also reflects her consistent vision of art and of the world that is positive and aware, often in contrast with today’s prevailing value system”.





It always surprises my Hollywood friends to learn that the Venice Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded in 1932 by Count Giuseppe Volpi, the first festival brought celebrities flocking to Venice from all around the world. Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Norma Shearer, James Cagney, Ronald Colman, Loretta Young, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Vittorio De Sica and Boris Karloff were all on hand to add dazzle to the event.


The first film to be screened in 1932 was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rouben Mamoulian. Back then, the Venice Film Festival was not yet a competition, but it presented such films as It happened one night by Frank Capra, Grand Hotel by Edmund Goulding, The Champ by King Vidor, Frankenstein by James Whale, Zemlja (Earth) by Aleksandr Dovzenko, Gli uomini che mascalzoni… (What Scoundrels Men Are!) by Mario Camerini and  A nous la liberté by René Clair. The audience selected what they liked best: Helen Hayes won favorite actress; Fredric March, favorite actor; best director was the Soviet Nikolaj Ekk for Putjovka v zizn, while the best film was René Clair's A nous la liberté.

By creating a new cinema division within La Biennale, Venice's international art festival, the Venice Film Festival helped to raise cinema to an art form. The official name of the festival is the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia or the "International Exhibition of Cinematographic Art of the Venice Biennale."



Nowadays the public can attend screenings for the 71st Venice International Film Festival by buying tickets with a click of the mouse. Visit La Biennale's website for the films that are screening, how to by tickets, and everything else you need to know by clicking here.

The 2014 71st Venice International Film Festival runs from August 27, 2014 to September 6, 2014. See you at the movies!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog 

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12. How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character

To give you an idea of the sort of help and support every writer needs, a writer watching the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month videos asks on A Path to Publishing FB group: How do you write a concept for more than one pov?


Concept
Who Wants What?
Antagonist Stopping her?
Motivation?

Concept extraordinaire Jill Corcoran answers with this example:

SHOE STUD is a romantic comedy told from alternating pov of the descendants of rivaling shoe dynasties in which Steve, a kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes, and Marnie, a shy college senior with only one foot, must be the first to find a pair of diamond-studded Blanka wedges or lose their chance at inheriting a sparkling new shoe manufacturing plant.

That one line says enough to intrigue and includes all three plot lines (with a hint of possibility for the fourth).

Dramatic Action:
Will the wedges be found?
Who will find them first?
Ticking clock: who finds the shoes first and wins?

Character Emotional Development:
Steve: kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes (gives a clear sense of his strength, flaw, love)
Marnie: shy college senior with only one foot (gives a clear sense of her flaw, backstory wound, strength)

Thematic Significance:
At this point the story hinges more on the quirky characterizations of the point-of-view characters and less on a higher calling. If one of them have a goal of winning the plant that includes a higher purpose the thematic significance heightens.

Romance: Any story about a girl and a boy | a woman and a man always offers the possibility of a heart connection between them.

As the concept is written here, the whimsy of the tale is enough for your family, friends, agents, editors, readers to ask for more and thus satisfy the basic demand of a story concept.

(If you haven't already, join us at the A Path to Publishing FB group. Jill and I created the Facebook group as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a forum for us all to advance our skills, our creativity and our dreams plus learn about what we are up to at A PATH TO PUBLISHING. All genres for all ages Welcome!)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

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13. New Sherlock BBC Fan Fiction: “Promise”

I’m not one for Johnlock. (I’m an Irene Adler/Sherlock Holmes sort of girl. As Benedict Cumberbatch would say, “I like to be the dominant one.”) That said, I think the Sherlock/John Watson friendship is incredible. Here’s a short little ditty about what happens when Sherlock takes a bullet for John and John demands Sherlock make a promise he can never keep.

Promise
by Sara Dobie Bauer

I race around a back alley corner, Sherlock behind me. It’s rare that he’s behind me, but Lestrade held him back to shout a warning as I took off running after our man. The suspect may have murdered two women. He got away from us once; he will not get away again.

I feel my gun in the pocket of my coat, but I don’t take it out—not yet. Having something in my hand will only slow me down, and I like being in front for once. I can hear Sherlock behind me, the tap of his dress shoes on pavement. I’ve often wondered how the man runs with such speed in dress shoes. Then again, he does everything like a cat: jump, perch, sprint. He’s the human equivalent of a cheetah.

The sun has almost set, but my eyes are quick to adjust to dim light. I acquired quite a few things in the war, the least of which was a bullet wound. My reflexes are faster, my vision, keener. I hear things other people don’t—like the sound of fumbling footsteps ahead, for instance.

We’ve got him. He won’t shoot another woman dead. As I rush past a dumpster, only now do I pull my weapon. Best to be careful. We know the suspect is armed.

I round another corner. There is a dark shape ten feet ahead of me, frozen in place, blocked by a tall chain link fence. I move to aim, but the suspect already has me in his sights. The world slows.

In Afghanistan, I had no time to prepare for being shot. The bullet hit me in the shoulder like a heavy raindrop. There was no pain, only a dull knowledge that something was wrong. I have time now to prepare. I have time to wince at the sound of the gun going off. I have time to pull my own trigger, but I’m seconds too late. I know that.

Instead of the expected thud and ache of a bullet wound, I see black. I wonder if I’ve been killed. Is this death? No, I don’t suppose death has weight, but there is a weight against me: a heavy, long-limbed weight in a black coat. Only when I hear him moan, softly, do I realize I have Sherlock pressed against me. He slouches until my arms hold him around the chest.

“Sherlock.”

“Nice shot.”

I take steps back until I have Sherlock on the ground. He’s talking about my shot. The suspect is dead, ten feet in front of us. Sherlock’s eyes stare at the sky. His breath puffs out in labored wheezes, and this is not due to our chase. I have a horrible fear that Sherlock Holmes just took a bullet for me.

Read the rest at FanFiction.net.

tumblr_n5etjlI53i1rrux9go1_1280

(Amazing fan art credit: sheWolf294)


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14. "I’m not used to seeing people’s faces," he said. "There’s too much information there. Aren’t you..."

“"I’m not used to seeing people’s faces," he said. "There’s too much information there. Aren’t you aware of it? Too much, too fast."

-

The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit

Wow. This is an incredible story of a man who lived in the woods of Maine for nearly three decades, surviving almost entirely on things he stole from summer homes. He was finally caught, and reporter Micheal Finkel struck up a sort of friendship with him, visiting him in prison and learning about the years he spent silent and alone. 

(via chels)


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15. ANXIETY - grounded in reality


This episode actually doesn't have any Anxiety in it.

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16. my favourite books

These are taken from an interview with the amazing Zoe Toft

page-six[1]

page-seven[1]


Filed under: children's illustration, dances, flying, journeys, snow, songs

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17. BOBBEE BEE: AGGIE PRIDE!!!

AGGIE PRIDE!!!


BOBBEE BEE THE HATER THE MOVIE
Where: Johnston Community College Smithfield, NC
When: September 13, 2014 at 6pm
Why: PLEASE DONT SHOOT MR. OFFICER !!!
Starring: William Shakur

 


For more information contact me Eric D.Graham at lbiass34@yahoo.com

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18. sfilzen: Jukebox last updated in 1980 (at Delta Lodge...



sfilzen:

Jukebox last updated in 1980 (at Delta Lodge Wisconsin)



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19. BOBBEE BEE:STOP POLICE BRUTALITY (REPOST)

by Paul Street

“46% were killed without the police even pretending that the victims were wielding weapons.”

You probably know about Trayvon Martin, the young back man shot dead by the young white neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman last February 26th. Trayvon’s case became a national sensation, sparking large demonstrations across the country

It is possible that you have heard of Ramarley Graham, an 18 year-old black man followed to his home in the Bronx and killed there by police (who falsely claimed that he “ran away”) last February 2nd. Graham’s killing and the subsequent charging of the officer who murdered him with a single shot received coverage in The New York Times.

I doubt, however, that you have heard of Wendell Allen, a black 20 year-old former high school basketball star who was shot in the back while wearing pajamas by New Orleans police who invaded his home on marijuana suspicions. There were four children in the house when Allen was murdered by white officers from the infamous NOPD last March 7th. (Large mobilizations and a Grand Jury investigation followed).

I don’t suppose you’ve heard of a 31 year-old black man named Manuel Loggins, Jr. either. Last February 10th, the former Marine sergeant was shot dead by San Clemente, California police while he was praying and exercising at a local school track. After witnessing the murder of their father, his two daughters, 9 and 14, were detained in isolation for 13 hours.

You didn’t likely hear anything either about Johnnie Warren, a 43-year old black man who used to live in Dothan, Alabama. Last February 15th, Warren was killed by police taser there for the crime of pubic intoxication.


Or Stephon Watts, a black 15 year-old mentally disturbed boy shot to death by Calumet City, Illinois police last February 1st. Cops responding to a 911 call exercised deadly force after finding Watts in possession of a harmless pen knife.


Or Raymond Allen, a 34-year-old black man who was hog-tied and tasered to death after being picked up by Galveston, Texas cops for “suspicion of being under the influence of drugs” last February 29th.

“The list of Black Americans killed by white cops this year goes on and on.”

Or Angelo Clark, a 31 year-old black man, killed by a SWAT team searching for drugs in his home in Little Rock, Arkansas, last January. Clark was accused of pointing an AK-47 at the police but he had no way of knowing that the people who broke into his home were police until after he was shot.

And then there’s Justin Sipp, a 20-year-old black man shot dead by an NOPD officer with a long history of brutality. Sipp died because he argued with the cops after being pulled over for “look[ing] suspicious” as he drove with a broken taillight last March 1st.

And Nehemiah Dillard, a 29 year-old black man tasered to death for “behaving strangely” in Gainesville, Florida last March 5th.

And Dante Price, a 25-year-old black man shot 22 times by White Ranger Security guards at Summer Square apartments in Dayton, Ohio last March 1st. Price was on his way to baby-sit his children. (Significant community protests and a Grand Jury investigation followed)


And Rekia Boyd, 22, an innocent bystander shot to death by an off-duty Chicago cop who was angry over loud noise in a city park last March 27th.
The list of Black Americans killed by white cops this year goes on and on. It’s an epidemic. As researchers Ariene Eisen and Kali Akuno show in a detailed report prepared for the Malcom X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) last month, we know of at least 120 cases of black people being killed by police, security guards, and “self-appointed law-enforcers“ (e.g. George Zimmerman) between January 1 and June 30th, 2012. That’s 1 killing every 36 hours.

MXGM’s Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 120 Black Peoplei provides a chilling anatomy of racist, state-terrorist murder. Of the 120 black lives taken by police, guards, and vigilantes in the first seven months of this year:

46% were killed without the police even pretending that the victims were wielding weapons.

36% were killed with the police claiming that the victims wielded weapons but with the claim challenged by witnesses and/or family members.

Just 18% were incontestably armed.

Just 12.5% actually shot at officers.

69% were ages 13 to 31.

11% were children under 18.

28% suffered from mental health problems that contributed to their deaths.

31% had engaged in no conduct that could have reasonably been called criminal.

40% came into fatal contact with their killers because of police “stop and frisk” interventions conducted on the pretext of “suspicious behavior,” “suspicious appearance” or “traffic violations.”

More than a third were attempting to “run away” when they were killed.

9% were suspected of nothing at all (e.g. Rekia Boyd)

38% were forgotten: “a careful Internet search could not find their names after an initial flurry of news about their killings” (Eisen and Akuno).


Subtracting 15 cases in which victims shot at officers, Eisen and Akuno recovered 105 incidents in which black Americans died in what amounted to “extrajudicial executions.”

In many cases where the victims used or threatened violence they did do so without having any reason to know that the killers who stopped them or entered their homes were police. (the Angelo Clark case is one example).

The killers have faced little in the way of investigation or prosecution. Six security guards and “self-appointed law-enforcers” – the most notable example in the second category is George Zimmerman (jailed only after a remarkable national protest wave) – have been charged. Just 3 police officers have been charged – one for vehicular homicide-DUI and 3 for manslaughter.

“More than a third were attempting to “run away” when they were killed.”


“The executions continue,” Eisen and Akuno note, “nationwide: from north to south, east to west, in rural towns and large metropolitan areas.” It is not a “southern problem,” through some Southern cities (Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and Jacksonville) seem to conduct street executions of blacks “in numbers disproportionate to the size of their Black populations.”

It seems likely that the MXGM report is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the extrajudicial killing of American minorities. There is no official database, public or private, that records incidents of excessive police or security guard force against blacks or Latinos (The latter are also frequent police shooting and stop-and-frisk targets, as in Anaheim, California, where repeated cop killings of young Hispanics recently sparked riots). Eisen and Akuno had to compile their list as best they could by spending days combing the Internet for newspaper, television, police, eyewitness and other reports.

It should be noted (without disparaging the remarkable MXGM report) that direct police killings contribute a relatively small part of the death count generated by white America’s war on U.S. blacks. The antiwar group Iraq Body Count grossly understated the real number of civilian casualties resulting from the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq because it restricted its list of victims to those who could be shown in multiple sources to have been directly killed by U.S. bombs, missiles, bullets, or artillery. Many more Iraqis died prematurely because of health and safety issues related to the U.S. invasion’s destruction of civilian and public infrastructure (water treatment, electricity, health services, food supplies, and the like) and the general disruption of daily life.

In a similar vein, millions of blacks die far too soon because of the broad catastrophe that is institutional racism. Racial oppression’s terrible toll has intensified amidst the latest capitalist depression even as it is more cloaked than ever by the existence of a “first black president.” Endemic systemic economic and public disinvestment, persistent savage residential and school segregation, financial starvation of black schools, epic racist mass incarceration and felony marking (what Michelle Alexander rightly calls “The New Jim Crow”), continuing job (hiring and promotion) discrimination, lack of medical access and health coverage, absent green space, the concentration of frustration and weapons – all of this and more create Third World poverty, disease, and mortality rates across much of black America.

“Millions of blacks die far too soon because of the broad catastrophe that is institutional racism.”

Black pain is furthered by a deeply embedded cultural racism that is reflected and reproduced in the dominant mass media. The reigning corporate-Caucasian communications empire presents inner city black males as menacing, drug-addled thugs and black females as lazy, over-sexed “welfare-shoppers.” The metropolitan Ten and Eleven O’clock news stoke white suburban fear and disgust with an endless procession of black gang-bangers and murderers without an iota of context on the policies, practices, and structures of institutional racism that create misery and early death in the nation’s persistently separate and unequal black communities. Racially biased media coverage is intimately related to the chilling indifference most of the nation shows towards quickly forgotten incidents of unjustified white-on-black police killing.

The epidemic of extrajudicial execution continues. On July 29th, a 21 year-old black man named Chavis Carter was shot and killed while handcuffed in a patrol car in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Carter had been pulled over and searched by officers who found a $10 bag of marijuana in his car. The police have absurdly claimed that he committed suicide.


On August 11th, New York City shot to death a 51 year-old black man they had approached for allegedly smoking marijuana in Manhattan’s Times Square. Wielding an 11-inch knife and wearing a bandana, Darrius Kennedy was killed by no less than 12 NYPD bullets in front of hundreds of horrified tourists and city residents. Welcome to the Big Apple!

Why this plague of white police-on-black citizen killings? Along with the recent upsurge of hate groups and “antigovernment patriot organizations,” the police shootings likely reflect (among other things) white fears sparked by the changing racial demographics of the nation. Whites are projected to become a minority by 2050In the mind of many Caucasians, including some police officers, these changing demographics are personified by the technically nonwhite identity of the nation’s “first black president.”

“Don’t look for a Justice Department investigation of the current killer cop wave anytime soon.”


Never mind that the “post-racial” Barack Obama (who rose to national prominence with a speech proclaiming that there is “no such thing as a black America or a white America” and who saved his presidential candidacy with a speech announcing that racism was a problem located only in the American past, not the present) is on board with dominant white victim-blaming explanations of black poverty. And never mind that he refuses to undertake any policy designed to meaningfully address specific black grievances and issues. (Don’t look for a Justice Department investigation of the current killer cop wave anytime soon).
Proto-fascist whites do not make or get distinctions between tepid, system-serving moderates like Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and Booker T. Washington and those who actually fight for social justice like Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Just as there’s no number of overseas Muslims that Obama could extra-judicially execute to shake white 21st century Amerikanners of their faith in his Muslim identity and allegiances, there’s no amount of tolerance Obama could show to those who stalk, imprison, and kill black Americans that would disabuse the racists of their belief that he is a threat to white privilege.

Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org [6]) is the author of numerous books, including Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm, 2004), Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (Rowman&Littlefield, 2007), The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Paradigm, 2010), and (co-authored with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics (Paradigm, 2011). Street can be reached at paulstreet99@yahoo.com [7].
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20. Honoring Greg Djanikian in the pages of the Pennsylvania Gazette

I felt blessed when Pennsylvania Gazette editor John Prendergast invited me to write a 3,000 word story about Greg Djanikian, who trusted me to teach at Penn, who talks with  me many spring-semester Tuesdays when I arrive early to teach, who inspired a key character in my forthcoming Florence novel One Thing Stolen, and who writes some of the most gorgeous poetry anywhere. I wrote of his most recent book, Dear Gravity, here.

To write this story I spent an afternoon in Greg's beautiful home (filled with the artistry of his wife), interviewed Stephen Dunn, Julia Alvarez, Al Filreis, and others, and returned to a dear student, Eric Xu, who brought valuable insights to the Greg's beloved teaching.

The story can be found here.


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21. Curtain Rise, Act III

Today is my 60th birthday.

Today is the day the curtain rises on Act III of my life.

Act II ended when I turned in the keys to my philosophy department office at the University of Colorado on the final day of May and ended my 22-year tenure as a professor there. This summer has been one long sweet intermission leading up to this milestone birthday and to this coming Monday, when classes begin again at CU and I won't be there. And now Act III begins, the best act of all.

I started a new little Act III notebook to write my goals for Act III and little bits of wisdom to guide me along the way. Much of the wisdom came to me via my sister, Cheryl, who posts a wonderful quote every day on Facebook from some famous person in honor of his or her birthday. Of late, so many of them have been perfect nuggets of Act III wisdom.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is give us." Tolkien

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." Emerson

"Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming." Alice Walker

And this one I clipped from the most recent issue of the Oprah magazine:
"On the day I die, will I be glad I did the thing I'm doing now?"

The theme for Act III is the awareness of mortality and how it increases the preciousness of each moment and gives a new urgency to the question of how we spend our days. I no longer have any time to squander.

Now, it's important to be clear on what counts as "squandering." An afternoon spent reading in a hammock is not a wasted afternoon. An evening spent walking with a friend or a dog is not a wasted evening. A morning spent gazing out at the mountains is not a wasted morning. At the end of my life, I'll be glad I did all those things. My four pillars have always been the same, the four things that make every day a joyous one for me: writing, reading, walking, friends. Those will be what structure my third act as well.

But Act III is also a last chance for even bigger adventures. If I'm going to live in a garret in Paris, or go on a walking tour of children's literature sites in England, or write the best book I've ever written, I'd better do it now.

Of course I know that Act III will also bring with it the challenges and undeniable losses that come with age. In case I had forgotten, I got a birthday email this morning from the Boulder Institute for Sports Medicine, where I had my broken foot treated this past spring, a seeming reminder that they're standing ready for my upcoming wrenched shoulders and fractured hips. Thanks for the nudge, Boulder Institute for Sports Medicine, to savor every single day that I can walk unaided, to savor every night that I can sleep without pain. And without challenges and losses, what would be the plot of Act III? Any writer knows that the ending is only sweeter for some struggles along the way.

At least that's what I'm telling myself on this beautiful morning of my 60th birthday, as I await with the excitement of a small child (and the hard-earned wisdom of a woman no longer young) for what the next thirty or forty years will bring.

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22. The Nonfiction Minute



Get on the ground floor of the next big thing in nonfiction! THE NONFICTION MINUTE is a website where teachers will find a new short nonfiction article written by one of dozens of award-winning nonfiction authors including Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (winner of the 2014 Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award For Exemplary Advocation of Biodiversity Through the Authorship of Children's Science Literature), Jim Murphy, whose books have earned two Newbery honors, history writer/illustrator Cheryl Harness (and even me).

The NF Minute is the easy and accessible way teachers and students can incorporate nonfiction in the classroom. Passages are only 400 words long, and feature fun facts and true stories that can spark a discussion, illustrate a writing technique, or inspire a reluctant reader to investigate on his own.

If you like what you see, become part of the movement to bring quality NF to students everywhere. Visit the NF Minutes Indiegogo page and donate today.




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23. Why Revising a Novel is Like A Firefighter Carwash

Why Revising a Novel is Like A Firefighter Carwash

No. Really it is.

So, usually when I start revising a book, I feel like this:

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This is the person organizing the fundraiser, which was a bunch of firefighters washing cars to raise money for Dana Farber's efforts to eradicate cancer. Notice how she has money in her hand? That's sort of like an author after the publisher buys her book and gives her an advance. Also, notice how she is hunkering down with her hands raised? This is because she is totally overwhelmed because she now has to REVISE her book.

Okay... Which brings us to this stage... See this guy? He has started actually revising or as I like to call it SUDSING UP THE SUV.
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He's working hard. He's lightly touching the handle of the door for balance or in case he needs to escape all the suds... Because, seriously? LOOK AT ALL THE SUDS! These are all the corrections and insertions that need to be done, all the track changes. It is the cleaning up of the dirt, eradicating the mistakes...

How the heck is he ever going to manage this?
No. Seriously. HOW?

Because it isn't just about the suds it is about GETTING RID OF ALL THE SUDS, which I call the HOSING OFF! This is where the author is like, "Holy cannoli, I used the word, LOOK, 847 times in an 87,000 word manuscript. Whimper.

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 But the HOSING OFF stage is okay. I promise, because it makes us better writers with better vocabularies. It makes us rethink the moments where we use weak words, our go-to words, and we hose them the heck out of there to make a cleaner, stronger SUV... I mean book.

Plus, it defines our forearms as evidenced by the above firefighter. Managing a hose (or a vocabulary) is hard work. It builds up muscle.

And it's also about the next stage, REFINING, paying attention to detail or as I like to call it CLEANING THE RIMS OF YOUR TIRE THINGIES... Hubcaps? Those are hubcaps, right? Obviously, my vocabulary skills still need some work.
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This stage of revising is that part where you go through the manuscript all over again and again, look for plot holes, repetition, emotional depth, inconsistencies in logic, all that arch stuff (internal, physical, emotional), and more. This is the nitty-gritty part. It requires bending and a soft, bright blue cloth.

And it seems overwhelming, right? It seems almost impossible? But it's not. And do you know why it's not? Because you are not alone.

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Just like these firefighters working on a policeman's car, washing it clean, aren't alone, YOU the writer aren't alone either. There is an editor, a copy editor, sometimes beta readers, sometimes teachers, sometimes agents, readers, your check-out clerk at the grocery store, publicists, marketing people, random friends with ideas, women at bars, random blogs with suggestions, all sorts of people out there at the computer with you, helping your brain to gather all the things you have ever learned to make the right choices, the strongest choices to get the cleanest car story that you can have.

That's so cool, isn't it?

So, often writers go into revision feeling like we are all alone. But we never are. There is a community of people present, and learning past, that is right there with us, hosing off, detailing, worrying, and cleaning. At least that's what I tell myself when I start to feel lonely and worry and get scared.

I get scared all the time. That's okay. We all do.



*These pictures are all from the Bar Harbor (Maine) Fire Department's Car Wash this Spring where firefighters cleaned cars to raise money to support Dana-Farber's efforts to eradicate cancer. Our past fire chief, David Rand, died of cancer yesterday. He was a great loss, a hero, a man who served. The entire community will miss him. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends.
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24. Doctor Who and Clara (link)

I recently read in Stubby the Rocket's column on Tor.com that Doctor Who's companion, Clara, may be moving on at the end of the season.  I shan't miss her, but she wasn't used well--and she was so perfect in the Dalek episode where she was introduced! Clara Oswald may be moving on soon...

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25. Gustav Doré in Paper Cutout Animation


Lorenzo Papace and Vincent Pianina created this stop-motion animated film of Gustav Doré (1832-1883) climbing a mountain.

The film was made to promote an exhibition of Doré's work at The Musée d'Orsay earlier this year (Link to YouTube video)
via CartoonBrew

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