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1. pamela butchart & thomas flintham take top fcbg children's book award!

Hooray for writer Pamela Butchart and illustrator Thomas Flintham whose book yesterday won the Overall Award at the Federation of Children's Book Group's award ceremony in London! What's also awesome is that the media is featuring BOTH the writer and the illustrator in their coverage!

This dual coverage doesn't happen by chance; publisher Nosy Crow has been very active in the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign and making sure illustrators are credited, and the FCBG people writing the press releases must have been on the case about it. Media journalists may even be wising up! So big thanks to everyone who's making this happen! :)


Screenhshot photos: BBC Breakfast tweeted by @bookloverJo and CBBC Newsround by @Pamela_Butchart

Here are a few more photos from yesterday's ceremony. Thanks for inviting me, Louise Stothard from FCBG! And thanks to Jane Etheridge, Sarah Stuffins and everyone else on the FCBG team who made it happen. It was fun running into lovely be-frocked authors Pamela and Jeanne Willis at the front door of the Union Jack Club:




Here are Thomas and Pamela winning their 'Books for Younger Readers' category award:



And then the Overall Award:



I got to meet author Sarah Crossan for the first time (who also won in her 'Books for Older Readers' category):



And writer-illustrator Richard Byrne:



The kids and their FCBG leaders put together beautiful albums of artwork and letters about each book and I caught a glimpse of Richard's:



And Viv Schwarz's (whose Is there a Dog in This Book? won the 'Books for Younger Children' category award):



Steven Butler did a fab job presenting... (Oh look, it's Walker Books editor Lizzie Spratt!)



And Korky Paul drew up an absolute storm on kids' lunch napkins (sadly not shown here):



Readers presenting albums to Guy Parker-Rees and Gareth Edwards:



And to Tony Ross and Francesca Simon:



Adrian Reynolds and Jeanne Willis:



Author Kim Slater:


Author Polly Ho-Yen tweeted a couple photos:



Oo, look at those hooligans at the back... I spot my studio mate Elissa Elwick and her new picture-book-partner-in-crime, beardy Philip Ardagh.



I just went along to see people, none of my books were up for awards. But indie bookseller Tales on Moon Lane cheerfully provided them anyway and it was fun getting to meet readers who loved them and those who were just about to dive in.



Thanks to Carousel editor David Blanche for slipping me a copy of Carousel and making Philip Reeve 'n' me look dead famous in front of a bunch of kids. :)




Hugs all 'round, a lovely sunny afternoon.



You can read more about the shortlist and awards over on the FCBG blog here.

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2. Bloom: You Were Born to Bloom

Hi, folks! Today is my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary with the sweetest man ever, Tim Blaisdell. He is also a blogger and writes over at THE MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND.  I also am in a entrant in QUERY KOMBAT. Queries are selected by judges and they go head and head in a VOICE-esque contest. Only one query moves to next level. I'm Southern Gothic Secrets and my critique partner Ellen is Mochi Monster!

What do we win? Twenty-eight agents and editor will be looking at the queries with the possibility of landing an agent or even a contract. Did you notice 28 and 28? Feels very portent-y to me!

This week I'm writing about a deep truth. We are all born to bloom. A dear friend facing who suffers from a cancer syndrome hugged me and whispered, "I want to bloom but I feel like I'm falling apart."

I hugged her back because I know what it is like to be broken on a genetic level. Some things don't need words. What we can do is focus on the splendor of now.  Blooming does not come from us but creator of all things.

I grew up with a plant-loving mom, and she surrounded my life with flowers. So this week, I'm going to share about unusual blooms that I have seen in my life. I love flowers and I pay attention. I hope you will take lessons from these blooms and realize that you are stronger that you know.

A half-of a daffodil  bloomed in my mother's yard once. It was the most beautiful thing. A genetic anomaly but more beautiful because of it was unique.

One time there was a sad rhody in my yard that covered with some kind of leaf disease. I had to hack away more than half of the plant. The next year the rhody bloomed with almost a hundred gorgeous blood-red blooms that took my breath away. It had never bloomed before.

Once my mom stopped the car beside the road and made me get out and look at this field of spiky plants with these gorgeous white blooms on tall spears. She told me to soak it in because these were century plants and this might not happen again in my life time.

I planted a cemetery rose in my backyard from a cutting that was about two inches long.  This year rose is the size of a small car and it has hundreds of blooms.

So this week, I was blessed by this: my daylilies bloomed during the 8 inches of rain that fell on my house this week in 24 hours. The splash of color on such a dreary day uplifted my heart. Bloom during the flood!

Maybe one of these blooms speaks to you. Just like you were born to share, to be merciful, to smile, and to love, you were born to bloom. Seize every day.

I will be back next week with a new series about the Monomyth.   I hope you will join me.

Here is a doodle:



Here is a quote for your pocket:

Why should I be unhappy? Every parcel of my being is in full bloom. Rumi

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3. Just Received ... Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket!



Around this time last year, I was reviewing  Anyone But Ivy Pocket on this site. Yesterday, the sequel arrived. This time I seem to have the finished product instead of the proof copy, so the illustrations I missed last time are there!

I said at the time it rather reminded me of Judith Rossell's delightful Withering-By-Sea, so we will have to see how our favourite maid(but nobody else's)goes this time.

Here's the blurb from the Bloomsbury web site.

Ivy is now the beloved daughter of Ezra and Mother Snagbsy, coffin makers, even if she does have to work rather like a maid. Their trade is roaring, and Ivy is as happy as a pig in clover. Especially when she escapes to the library to talk to the devastatingly sympathetic Miss Carnage. 

But then Ivy guesses that all is not as it seems with her new parents, and discovers that she can pass into the world of the Clock Diamond. There, she sees her friend Rebecca, horribly sad and desperate. 

Can Ivy save Rebecca, and what do a missing aristocrat, a forbidden love affair and a bullfrog have to do with her mission?

Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by John Kelly, Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket is the second tale in Ivy's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ... Perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket.

I'm looking forward to reading it!

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4. Rhyming Mistakes

It's easy to write poorly in rhyme, so make sure to avoid these mistakes.

https://li.st/l/6G5mNeBDX1faUIfJRdIscE

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5. Merchandising Rights

More than you ever wanted to know about the right to create merchandise (toys, games, stuffed animals, etc.) based on your book.

http://writersinthestormblog.com/2016/04/merchandising-rights-in-publishing-deals/

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6. WRITER'S RITES: Nobody's got time for that

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7. Is it okay to have a completely fictional setting for an otherwise realistic story?

Question Writing a story which takes place in a city where I've never truly lived in is treacherous. I've seen a lot of comments on other books pointing

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8. ऑडियो – आप का राशिफल

यहां क्ल्कि करिए और सुनिए अपना राशिफल   ऑडियो – आप का राशिफल – मोनिका गुप्ता   हम  सभी को अपना राशिफल सुनने का बहुत शौक होता है तो सोचा कि क्यो ना आपको आपका राशिफल ही सुनाया जाए तो हो जाईए अपना राशिफल सुनने को तैयार . 3 मिनट 12 सैकिड का ये राशिफल […]

The post ऑडियो – आप का राशिफल appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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9. Game Theory By Barry Jonsberg. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2026.


Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high.

When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble - big trouble. And when Jamie's younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear.

Jamie thinks he can use game theory - the strategy of predicting an opponent's actions - to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister's life at risk?


The fascinating thing about this novel is that, like many of Barry Jonsberg's other books, it has an ending you can't quite predict, a little twist that makes you say, "Oh!" It is one I love but can't share because of spoilers. I did suspect who the kidnapper was, then thought, "Well, it can't be, because..." but it was. But that isn't the twist I was thinking of. There is a delicious irony about it. 

Jamie is certain he can work out how to find his sister and her kidnapper through game theory; when his opponent seems to know as much about it as he does, he even rather enjoys the challenge, worried as he is for his beloved little sister. This is his major flaw and makes the book more interesting, even though the reader might, like me, be just a little disappointed that the book isn't actually about that. 

I would have liked a little more detail about the kidnapper before the long, detailed explanation at the end. Although I suspected who it was, the character traits that affected what the villain did were not so evident in the build up. 

Still, it's a good, exciting thriller that should suit boys from about fourteen up. 


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10. Plastic Brain

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science By Norman Doidge, M.D. Published by Penguins Group (Canada) 2007 This book is about brain plasticity and the miraculous abilities of our brains to compensate for damage, natural or inflicted, to learn or relearn tasks and actually change themselves to adapt without drugs or operations. Norman Doidge is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher at Columbia University and the University of Toronto. He took the time and made the effort to visit many contemporaries he calls “neuroplasticians “.He outlines the history of neuroplasticity, its proponents and opponents. Neuroplasticity: Neuro is for “neuron”, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for “changeable, malleable, modifiable” A lot of wonderful discoveries took place in the 20th Century, yet Norman Doidge says in his preface that brain plasticity is “one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the 20th Century”. The results of experiments with the human brain which lead him to that conclusion are astonishing. In a futuristic science like neurology one would expect a more progressive attitude in its practitioners, but the same old attitudes appeared there too and every scientist-doctor-researcher who bucked the trend and suggested the possibility of plasticity was attacked because the establishment had concluded that the brain was hardwired to certain functions. The notion of plasticity was so revolutionary that those who believed in it wouldn’t dare to use the term in writing for many years. Those who knew brain plasticity was a reality were vilified, ridiculed and obstructed at each step of the way. Doidge pulls no punches when he describes the difficulties these people went through. As usual, the rebels led the way. One of the biggest misconceptions about this book is that it is written only for the super intelligent. It isn’t really. The stories of experiments with monkeys, rats and mice which make up many of the eleven chapters of this book are told clearly and simply. The extraordinary results in humans as well as animals are described in detail in plain language. There is a section at the end of the book, just before the appendix, called Notes and References, in which Doidge includes verifications and explanations of quotes, ideas and concepts, some requiring whole pages. The Brain That Changes Itself is a hopeful book which is well worth the read. This edition has 427 pages including. eleven chapters, two appendices, Notes and References, a forward, an acknowledgements section and an index.

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11. महिलाएं और उनकी अनसोशल नेटवर्किंग

महिलाएं और उनकी अनसोशल नेटवर्किंग थोडी देर पहले मार्किट जाते हुए एक महिला जोकि स्कूटी पर तीन बच्चों को लेकर जा रही थी. वो  गर्दन टेढी करके फोन पर भी बात करती जा रही थी. चौराहे पर जब वो रुकी तो मैने पता नही क्यो पर उसे टोक दिया कि आप प्लीज एक तरफ स्कूटी […]

The post महिलाएं और उनकी अनसोशल नेटवर्किंग appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. Featured Review: The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

About this book: Kelsey has lived most of her life in a shadow of fear, raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with nothing but her attacker’s baby growing inside her—Kelsey. Kelsey knows she’s supposed...

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13. FREE KIDS EBOOK : HAPPY HAT DAY

FREE KID'S EBOOK
Happy Hat Day is FREE today! (May 29th)

HAPPY HAT DAY ON AMAZON.COM
HAPPY HAT DAY ON AMAZON.CO.UK

Happy Hat Day Free eBook


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14. Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

soulBut how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

prisonersIn the movie Prisoners, Hugh Jackman’s plays Keller, a law-abiding, respectful man and loving father. But when his daughter is abducted and police are ineffective at questioning the person he believes to be responsible, he is forced into a moral struggle.

Keller needs answers, but to obtain them, he must be willing to do things he never believed himself capable of. Finally, to gain his daughter’s freedom, he kidnaps the suspect and tortures him repeatedly.

In each session, Keller battles with his own humanity, but his belief that this man knows where his daughter is outweighs his disgust for what he must do. It is not only Keller’s actions that makes the movie compelling, it is the constant moral war within the grey that glues us to the screen.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!

YOUR TURN: Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thoughts

(& even more tools HERE)

Originally posted at IWSG
Image #1 Brenkee @ Pixabay

The post Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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15. New puppet design with incredibly fluid movement



(Link to Video) Barnaby Dixon has come up with a clever new way of articulating a puppet.

Not only can the little fellow dance with his feet and move his arms and head, he can point, grab things, and even scratch his face.

"My philosophy for puppetry is to get the fingers and the hands operating as directly as possible," says Dixon.

The hand articulation is cleverly built, using fine cable articulation, with a spring running inside the cable tube to cut down on friction. Here's another video explaining how the hand mechanism works.

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16. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 160 - 5.27.16


Arctic Blues

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17. ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी

क्लिक करें और सुनें  व्यंग्य आम बनाम आम आदमी                            ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी गर्मी का मौसम है और बहार आई हुई है आम की… सोचा आज इस बारे में ही […]

The post ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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18. Featured Review: Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

About The Book: Raised by Wanderers, sixteen-year-old Tal travels the roads of the southern wild in her Chevy by day and camps in her tent trailer at night. Hustling, conning, and grifting her way into just enough cash to save her fifteen-year-old brother, Wen, from bare-knuckle fighting was once enough to...

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19. Facebook Live meets a manual typewriter

Yesterday Jeanette and I decide to try out an experiment.


It's the day before graduation at Bard College. Students are roaming around campus with their parents. We place the typewriter on a table in the student center, and I arrange the sketch easel.

We hope the typewriter will lure someone to pose for an impromptu portrait. First Cullan, and then his mom, try it out.

We set up the iPad to webcast the action via Facebook Live. The first session has audio issues due to problems with our old iPad (sorry). We switch over to an Android cellphone, and then it works fine. Here's the 16 minute webcast. (Link to video).


I start sketching Jeanette, but abandon the start and turn the page when Kathleen sits down. I lay down a few lines in watercolor pencils, then launch off with brush and watercolor to place the main shapes. With progressively smaller brushes, I place the smaller details.

Kathleen, watercolor and gouache 
Thanks to everyone who joined the webcast and left a comment. Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see on a future webcast. Thanks to Kathleen, Cullan, and Joe for lending a hand and being such good sports.
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My next video tutorial "Portraits in the Wild" comes out June 13. It's full of moments like this.

"Gouache in the Wild" HD MP4 Download at Gumroad

Subscribe and follow and you won't miss a future webcast.
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20. ANOTHER FREE EBOOK FOR KIDS: GHOSTIES

FREE GHOSTIES!

GHOSTIES is FREE today! (May 29th)

GHOSTIES ON AMAZON.COM
GHOSTIES ON AMAZON.CO.UK

OR CLICK ON THE GHOSTIE BELOW:

FREE GHOSTIES EBOOK

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21. मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा

  मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा पहले मैगी फिर ब्रैड और अब मोबाईल … हे भगवान किस किस से बचे और कैसे बचे … थोडी देर पहले मणि मेरे लिए ब्रैड पकौडा बना कर लाई क्योकि मुझे बहुत पसंद है …. या था !!! मैने उसे बडा सा लेक्चर दे दिया कि क्या है […]

The post मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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22. Loons and Eagles . . . Eagles and Loons

The only chance I’d have all weekend to get out on the lake was early, early Saturday morning.

Sleep in an extra hour . . . get out on the lake . . . sleep in . . . get out on the lake . . .

Yeah. There was no contest.

My first stop was to check on the nesting loon, as many campers mentioned hearing them  call Friday afternoon.  Just seeing her on the nest, had me breathing a sigh of relief.

IMG_2158

I snapped a couple photos, and just when I’d decided to move along, she rose back to push the grasses up against her egg.

IMG_2198 IMG_2201

I sure hope this one hatches!!  It would be wonderful to have a loon chick on the lake again.

I dipped my paddle in the water and turned to head down by the state park area of the lake (there’s a cove down there that’s always humming with birds when the sun comes up) Suddenly, I noticed something splashing in the water on the shoreline.  Using my camera like binoculars, I zoomed in just as it took off . . .

IMG_2267 IMG_2269 IMG_2272

Sure wish I’d seen it sooner to get photos of it bathing!

I followed .  . . at a respectful distance of course.  The eagle landed on a branch and hung its wings to dry.

IMG_2287 IMG_2370

He preened for quite awhile. As I looked around, I realized the nest was in sight from his  perch.

They are ever watchful of their little ones.

IMG_2372

IMG_2408

It was such a beautiful morning to be out on the lake, gliding along, listening to nature rising with the sun.  I’m looking forward to many more mornings just like this one . . .

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23. Novel Spanning Months???

Question: In the current novel I am writing, (a realistic fiction with a paranormal-ish twist,) the protagonist, in short, is staying away from home, during

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24. CG Short about Aristocratic Anime



"Symphony of Two Minds" is a short film about CG animation finding its own style amid a variety of influences. (Link to YouTube)

It begins with two cartoon characters eating a meal in an aristocratic dining parlor. They remark on how sophisticated their world is. It is visually sumptuous indeed, with hand-held photographic camera work and richly rendered textures.


But the low-class young man hasn't fully elevated himself from his origins in a hyper 2D anime universe, and he keeps experiencing flashbacks to it.

Director Valere Amirault says: "How do we choose to mix influences when dealing with a medium as new as CG animation? From live action independent movies to Japanese anime, CG animation is still a new form of media trying to find its own style, to differentiate itself from traditional cartoons."
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Via Cartoon Brew

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25. Capital of Texas Triathlon Preview

Monday I'm going to be running in the 25th Capital of Texas Triathlon!  It's my first triathlon (Olympic distance) in twenty years and I'm pretty jazzed.

Steely-eyed determination 20 years ago. :-)

One of the great things about triathlons (and running races in general) is that you get to occupy unusual spaces: the last ones I did were Leon's Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana, a couple of Bud Light triathlons and others in Chicago. Leon's had a swim in Wolf Lake (shudder), followed by a cycle leg on an elevated highway that ran past the old U.S. Steel plant, and a run leg through an industrial downtown.  The Chicago ones were on the lakefront, just north of Navy Pier, with a bike on Lake Shore Drive and a run along the lake.

2013 CapTexTri
The CapTexTri also has a great location in downtown Austin, with a 1.5k swim in Lady Bird Lake; a 40k (24.8 mile) bike on a quadruple loop through downtown Austin, including Congress Avenue and Cesar Chavez; and a 10k (6.2 mile) run through Zilker Park.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the bike route, since it requires you to do the same loop four times.  I don't like loop routes because I always think of how many more times I have to do the thing...Still, going up and down Congress Avenue without any cars is going to be pretty cool. As long as there are no poles in the middle of the road, I should be okay. :-).

Don't ask.

I feel fairly good about my training.  I've maintained good running mileage after the Austin Marathon and Austin Distance Festival and got some good workouts in even while traveling doing school visits.
On Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
The swim is probably my weakest event -- I could stand to do more work on technique and probably do more open water swimming, but the distance won't be an issue.  Also, Lady Bird Lake isn't going to have waves (I seem to recall a couple of triathlons in Chicago with 3-4 foot waves on Lake Michigan (and this was on the near side of the breakwater).  Also, I won't have to deal with a wet suit.  My biggest concern is to not get kicked in the face. :-).
Lady Bird Lake during 2013 CapTexTri
The bike I'm feeling good about as well.  I'll be using the bike I used for my triathlons back in the day - a Trek 1000 I bought when I was in grad school for $450 (a guy at one bicycle shop here tried to sell me a new one, asking if I had a "nostalgic attachment" to it.). I do, but I also don't think a new bike is going to drastically transform my performance.  At least not $2000 worth :-). (A guy at another bike shop told me the Trek 1000 was his first road bike and he wished he still had it.  It's possible he was being kind :-)).

Tomorrow is packet picket, bike drop-off, and a chance to scope out the transition area, which I'll need because I can't see without my glasses...:-)

Oh, well.  Onward!












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