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1. Desk-Drawer Portrait: Latest Idea for my Residency

When it comes to my residency at the Morgan Centre, I have licence to pretty much draw whatever I want. I have a security pass to all the university buildings and have already drawn in lectures, tutorials, meetings, leaving dos, student areas... I am keen though to get a breadth of approach and want the sketchbooks to contain as much visual variety as possible. So, we hatched the idea of the desk-drawer portrait.

Professor Sue Heath is the person who got the ball rolling with the Leverhulme Trust grant and is very supportive of my work, so she volunteered to be my first desk-drawer victim. She promised not to interfere with what was in there: she took the whole top drawer out of her desk and handed it to me. It was a jumble of all sorts.

I sat quietly and sorted the contents into little piles, then methodically drew everything. It turned out to be much more amusing than I expected, because 90% of the contents were either completely unused, had not been looked at in eons, or were so well past their sell-by date, they belonged in the bin (totally dry Tippex with a brush-end like an exploding firework, glue-stick dried to a skinny, petrified finger...)

It took up half of one of my concertina books. I put down a painted background first, to tie it all together, so it wouldn't look 'bitty'. I also used text to add my own personal commentary. I left absolutely nothing out. I counted all the perished rubber bands and even drew the bent staples I fished out of the back corners: 

It took me 3 sessions to sketch it all, but I eventually got it done. It was rather revealing that, in the entire week I had her drawer contents held captive, Sue missed only I item: her stapler. But like many other objects in her drawer, it came with a sibling, so she took one and left me the other to sketch:

I had great fun and thoroughly enjoyed adding my ironic labels alongside each item. Luckily Sue has a good sense of humour, so I wasn't run out of town!

Okay, own up, who is already peering sheepishly into their own desk drawer and wondering..?

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2. Scholastic Kids Council: Julie

Hi!Welcome Julie to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

JulieI’d like to introduce you to Julie who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Julie this year!

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3. Facebook Author Page

Is it worthwhile to have a Facebook author page as part of your social media campaign?


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4. Schoalstic Kids Council: Leah

Hi!Welcome Leah to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

My name is Leah and I am a 7th grader in New Jersey.Leah I put my collage on a boogie board to represent how I love to go boogie boarding at the beach with my cousins. I have a basketball, a soccer ball, rollerblades, and a hockey stick on my collage because these are three of the sports I really love. I also have Stephen Curry, my favorite basketball player.

Beyond sports, I love to draw, hang out with my friends, and play with my stuffed animals. I have a Minion because when I went to Universal Studios in Florida over the summer, I got to ride the Minion ride, which was my favorite. I have pictures of Sponge Bob and Stitch because they are two of my favorite characters. Lastly, I have Snowball, my hamster, because I love to play with her, and I also love animals.

Leah, Scholastic Kids Council

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5. Harold at the North Pole

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. My Fantasy Homes in Tolkien

In yesterday's newspaper, in the real estate section of all things, I found an article about a company offering a pre-fab Hobbit hole. Basically, you put together the home and then add your own grass and such to get that Hobbit hole feel to it. While someone has certainly come up with a great way to make money out of the current craze for all things Tolkien, I couldn't resist fantasising about it. There's no doubt in my mind that Peter Jackson's interpretation of Bag End was the best interior in the movies - and I think I've wanted to live in Bag End since I first read The Hobbit. Well, if you could put it somewhere near the sea, anyway, though that would probably jar a bit; Hobbits are not great fans of the sea and they're really meant to be seen against the background of English countryside.

But then again, the pre-fabricated Hobbit hole would jar in the suburbs of Melbourne and would look downright silly in the Dandenongs, surrounded by gum trees, and that won't stop fans from building them. And I can imagine that seaside Hobbit residence as being a bit like the cottage in The Ghost And Mrs Muir, minus the grumpy ghost, of course, with sand outside, a cosy garden and a view of the waves...

Rivendell is my next favourite Tolkien location. I could live there as long as I was allowed to run the library, and it would be a great place to write that book without distractions(well, Bilbo certainly thought so). I assume everyone would have kitchen duty and housework to attend to(see my post on this blog, "Who Washes The Dishes In Rivendell?"), but you wouldn't have to do that all the time. The rest of the time you could write or go for long walks or read or talk to your housemates...

We never actually get to see Dol Amroth, the home of Prince Imrahil and Faramir and Boromir's Mum, Finduilas, but it's by the sea and you don't have Elves constantly turning up to sail West, so yes, I could build a house there. Maybe that beachside Hobbit hole? 

Anyone got a favourite fantasy home, in or outside of Tolkien?

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7. Poetry Friday - November and the Gift of Poetry

On this day after Thanksgiving I am looking at the calendar, amazed that the month is nearly over. This means that this is the very last Friday I can share a little gem by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes,
And November goes
With the last red berries
And the first white snows,

With night coming early
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

While some may be out shopping for gifts today, I'm thinking about poetry presents. If you would like to gift yourself some poetry, why not consider an e-mail subscription? Here are a few of my favorites.

Poetry Foundation Newsletters
You can sign up for a number of different newsletters on the Poetry Foundation site, including a poem of the day. If you like to listen to your poetry, you can also subscribe to the poem of the day podcast at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audio?show=Poem%20of%20the%20Day.

American Life in Poetry
American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry. You can register to receive a weekly email of the American Life in Poetry Column.

Poems From Jane Yolen
Did you know that you can get a new poem a day from Jane Yolen? All you need to do is: (1) subscribe; and (2) pledge to either buy a book of Jane's or borrow one from the library.

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends.

Poetry Daily Newsletter
Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry. Each day on the web site they share a poem from new books, magazines, and journals. If you sign up for the free weekly newsletter you will receive a poem selected from the archive and information on upcoming featured poets, special editorial events, poetry news and reviews, and more.

Getting a poem in your mailbox is truly a tiny little gift each day. I hope you'll consider one of these (or all of them!) as a way to bring a bit more poetry into your life.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Carol at Carol’s Corner. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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8. Original art giveaway – the lottery draw

First prize. From the front papers of ”The first in line” (2011) 360 x 280 mm.
Second prize. From the end papers of ”The first in line” (2011) 270 x 230 mm.
On december 1
We will draw the lucky winners in my

The event will take place at the house of Sanatorium in Strägnäs, Sweden. 
If you can’t make it to Strängnäs you can see the draw here.

We will put the names of all those who has ordered any of my books
during october/november from any of my online platforms, the blogg, tictail, etzy etc 

The lovely Selma, and her assistant Viggo, will draw the winning namnes.

The winners will be contacted by mail.

There is still time to join: Everyone that has ordered up until now, 
or orders before the last of November, is in the draw. 

International customers: http://mattiasadolfsson.tictail.com

Third prize. From the front papers of ”The first in line” (2011) 200 x 230 mm.

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9. Friday Feature: Mayan Blood Blurb Reveal

Today I'm happy to share the blurb for Mayan Blood by my fellow Limitless author Theresa McClinton.

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on...
Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.
With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend.
Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.
When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.
A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face...
When Arwan, a dark-eyed time bender, takes interest in Zanya's mission, it's unclear if his intention is to help, or if he's on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.
Theresa McClinton with Leanne Renee Hieber

"Theresa's books resemble her person: full of rich life and heart, interest and engagement, imagination and importance, shining beautiful light across all genres in which she'll be sure to delight the reader." - Leanna Renee Hieber, award-winning, bestselling Fantasy author

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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10. 2016 Sci-Fi Experience

Art by Chris Goff
Sci-Fi Experience
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up) (share reviews)
Duration: December 2015 - January 2016
# of Books: I hope to read at least 4 books, maybe more!

I must admit the Sci-Fi Experience is one of my favorite non-challenges to participate in. There is just something so comfy-cozy right about settling in with a good sci-fi.

My list of "planned" reads:

Wool, Hugh Howey
Shift, Hugh Howey
Dust, Hugh Howey
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

There are so many books I want to reread, like many Orson Scott Card novels, for example. But I'm not sure which I'll actually get to!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Holiday Characters Who Would Win

writing_prompt_holidayHoliday Characters Who Would Win

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! The holidays are upon us! In case you didn’t notice, I’ve got a really, really bad case of Holiday Cheer. Gingerbread cookies for everyone! Non-stop holiday sing-a-longs! Ugly sweaters galore! Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! HOT CHOCOLATE!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the HOLIDAY CHARACTERS! I am so very thrilled to curl up on my sofa with some fuzzy socks (and hot chocolate) and watch my favorite movies: The Grinch, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf . . . It’s not the holidays without movie magic!

Some holiday characters have magical powers, while others just have magical hearts. I’d like to think that the holidays makes everyone a little more magical, am I right? So, if these characters had to duke it out (in the name of saving the holidays, obviously), who would win??

  1. The Grinch vs. Ebenezer Scrooge from The Night Before Christmas
  2. Buddy the Elf vs. Tiny Tim from The Night Before Christmas
  3. The Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker vs. The Little Drummer Boy
  4. Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  5. The Abominable Snowman vs. The Ghost of Christmas Past
  6. Jack Frost vs. Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. The Nutcracker Prince vs. Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch
  8. Max from The Grinch vs. Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

Who do YOU think would win? Which holiday characters do you want to see included on the list? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Happy happy holidays,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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12. Minis

Mini products in the stores
Are lined up on the shelves,
All looking quite adorable
Beside their grown-up selves.

From salty snacks in little bags
To sweets of every type,
The smaller versions feed into
The “less is healthy” hype.

And sweet potato pie must have
Those marshmallows called “mini,”
‘Cause big ones melted on the top
Might make us less than skinny.

I used to dress in mini-skirts
When fashion deemed it wise.
At least these mini edibles
Look better than my thighs!

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13. Avoid Black Friday Mayhem & Create Happy Writers

Well, the terrifying shopping season is upon us. I find people either embrace Black Friday with incredible enthusiasm, or they want to get as far from it as they can. I am not a big shopper on my best day, so you can probably guess I’ll be hanging out at home, and any shopping I do will be from my keyboard.

If you’re like me, then I have some good news for you: maybe we can knock a few people off your Christmas list if they happen to be the writerly sort!

pinterestFirst of all, I have created a Pinterest Board FULL of gifts for writers. Oh, the cool things I have found. (I hope Santa is listening!)

Second, Becca and I have put together a page full of the top writing books that have helped our careers immensely. These are our personal recommendations, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Or, if you want a few more ideas for a specific area of craft, then check Amazon’s Best Sellers & Most Wished For lists.

gift certificateFinally, if you have been thinking about taking One Stop For Writers for a spin or know someone else who wants to, we now have Gift Certificates available, so if you like, swing by and check it out. They never expire.

Speaking of One Stop, a newsletter just went out that details our planned upgrades. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

So, what are your BLACK FRIDAY plans…fight the crowds, shop at home, or get some writing done? Let me know in the comments!

The post Avoid Black Friday Mayhem & Create Happy Writers appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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14. Scholastic Kids Council: Cynthia

Hi!Welcome Cynthia to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

I am Cynthia, a girl that has a wonderful family.Cynthia The first picture I’m going to tell you about is the one of my family and me at Cape Cod, a place we spend a lot of time. There is also another picture of my brother, Bobby and me when we were on a boat heading back from Nantucket Island. The last picture at the Cape is the picture of my cousin, Rose, me, and my brother when we climbed up the lifeguard chair after they left which we do all the time. Speaking of cousins, in the next picture I’m going to talk about, there are all of my cousins on my dad’s side of the family (Rose in on my mom’s side).

But my family doesn’t just consist of people. I have four animals including three cats named KC, Lady, and Snowflake. KC is my shy, little, gray kitty that goes into hiding every time someone comes over. Then there is Lady, my snuggle buddy. Every time I wake up in the morning, she is on my bed. But don’t be too quick to judge because Lady could rip you to shreds if she wanted to. After that comes my dear little Hurricane Sandy cat, Snowflake. She lived under our house for about a week before we got her to come inside. Every chance she gets, she runs outside again so she can eat grass. And last, but not least, Sadie, the friendliest dog you will ever meet. Since she is a middle-sized, crazy, black lab, most people think she’s going to kill them but all she wants to do is drown you in kisses.

I have a picture of a violin and a bass, and I also play the piano and drums, but I also like to read. The book I’m reading right now is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (for ages 12 and up). Although I like music and reading a lot, my absolute favorite thing to do is draw. As you can see, I drew a picture of two anime characters from a show I watched called Hakouki.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me.

Cynthia, Scholastic Kids Council

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15. La nave di Teseo

       The big news in Italian publishing this year has been the sale of RCS Libri to Mondadori (see, for ecample, the Mondadori press release), with venerable literary imprints including Bompiani and Rizzoli suddenly swallowed into a 'Mondazzoli' juggernaut (apparently controlling half of the local book market, and seventy percent of the paperback market) -- run by a Berlusconi, no less.
       It doesn't come as much of a surprise that many literary types are apparently jumping ship -- led by Bompiani editor in chief Elisabetta Sgarbi, who has now announced the founding of a new publishing house, to be called 'La nave di Teseo'; see, for example, the (Italian) report at Il libraio.
       I'm not so sure about that name -- suggested by no one less than Umberto Eco, who is fully on board with the new venture -- given that it's the (Rizzoli-published) Italian title of a ... J.J.Abrams book (see the publicity page)
       No real English-language coverage that I've seen so far, but there should be some shortly -- this is a big (and nicely messy) story.

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16. Happy Thanksgiving!

Blame it on the yams!

The post Happy Thanksgiving! appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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17. Happy Holidays!

Now that we've all had about as much food as our stomachs can hold,... it's time to shop till you drop.
First there is Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday and finally Cyber Monday.
I like to encourage people to give the gift of art on each day and most days this season.
All the best to you.

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18. Happy Thanksgiving!

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19. सलीका

सलीका खूबसूरती के साथ साथ सलीका  होना भी बहुत जरुरी है . असल में ,कल समारोह में एक महिला को देखा जोकि बेहद खूबसूरत लग रही थी. सलीके से बांधी हुई साडी, आभूषण और हलका सा मेकअप सभी कुछ बहुत फब रहा था. मेरे मन में हुआ कि जाकर उस महिला से हैलो बोल कर […]

The post सलीका appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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20. A writerly Christmas gift

3D cover-xmas

Give a writer a signed copy of a book on writing craft that writers get a lot out of. Here are a few reader reviews:

  • "Ray's advice was so good, I couldn't put the book down. It was like we were friends hanging out at home, shoes off and coffee in hand, and he was dispensing wisdom that only a friend would let you in on."
  • "I would say Ray Rhamey's book stands head and shoulders above many craft-related books I've read."
  • "You WILL become a better writer by reading this book and implementing the suggestions made by Mr. Rhamey."
  • "I could not put down Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. An engaging read, the advice Ray Rhamey delivers is critical for writers of all levels."
  • "I've read a lot of books on the craft of writing, and I've come to judge these books based on how many passages I've highlighted or bookmarked. And man ... I marked up this book!"
  • "Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling by Ray Rhamey is easily in my top 5 list of books on the craft of writing."
  • "I have at least two dozen books on writing, but have read very few of them from cover to cover. Ray Rhamey’s book is the exception."
Go here to order a signed paperback, free shipping in the U.S. A Kindle edition is available here.
And have a great holiday!

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21. Lire books of the year

       French magazine Lire annually selects a top book in twenty different categories -- with one crowned as overall "meilleur livre de l'année". They announced this year's list -- and 2084, by Boualem Sansal, is the not-so-surprising book of the year.
       Other category winners include a two-volume Virginie Despentes as French novel of the year, a Jón Kalman Stefánsson as best foreign fiction (beating out titles by Javier Cercas and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), and Ryan Gattis' All Involved as best roman noir.
       They also list the finalists in all the catgories, and among the oddities surfacing there: an Elmore Leonard-biography, apparently translated from (though apparently not yet published in) English, by Laurent Chalumeau -- see the Rivages publicity page -- the author of such works as Anne Frank 2, le retour !, and Fuck (see the Grasset publicity page). I wonder whether this will make it (back ?) into English.

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22. Tallulah's Tutu

Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah just knew she could be a great ballerina--if only she had a tutu. "And maybe a lesson or two," her mother said with a wink.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little girl who really, really wants a tutu. So long as she thinks she'll be getting her tutu soon or even very soon, she's super-motivated to practice. But the tutu is slow in coming, will Tallulah realize there's more to ballet than owning a tutu?

My thoughts: This is a cute book, some might even say a little too cute. But I am not one of them. I am quite tolerant of cute and overly cute books. I am so glad that Tallulah has her own series. I think this would make a great television show as well. Dare I admit that one of my favorite things about the book is Tallulah's little brother Beckett?

I think my absolutely favorite part of the book is the illustrations.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Life, Only Better review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anna Gavalda's Life, Only Better, just out in English from Europa Editions.

       I'm always curious about bestselling fiction abroad, and Gavalda is one of the few really popular-in-France domestic authors that is also regularly translated (others like Guillaume Musso or Marc Levy have a much harder time getting translated). This is the fourth of her books under review at the complete review, and that isn't even all of them (I drew the line at Billie).
       I do grudgingly have to admit that she's onto something -- indeed, I think these would be good books to dissect in creative-writing classes. I just wish she'd be a bit more (or is it less ?) ambitious with her subject-matter. (It's also why that other very popular French author, Amélie Nothomb, is so much better: Nothomb's aim isn't first and foremost heartstrings-tugging and crowd-pleasing (as Gavalda's so obviously is); Gavalda is a manipulative writer, playing to the crowd, while Nothomb is largely (and wonderfully hopelessly) only caught up/entangled in herself.)

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24. Tiny Handmade Dolls

Lately I've been all about doll making, it really seems to be the perfect fit for using all my favourite crafty skills. I've loved sewing dolls since childhood, but after re-connecting with the crafty community via Instagram I've been inspired to revisit a perennial favourite. Doll making has even allowed me to use my entire stash of craft supplies, assembled from years of collecting beautiful buttons, ribbons and trim, yarn, fabrics, wool felt and embroidery threads. Hoarding justified!

I've started putting some dolls in my Etsy shop, but most of them will be on offer at City of Craft. I was so happy to be picked for City of Craft 2015, it's my favourite show, and I'm always thrilled to be a part of it, it feels like such a privilege to be included with so much local talent. Can't wait to see you all there!

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25. Thankful - a Poetry Re-Issue

Seems like the right day to dust this off for the first time in seven years....

Greg Pincus

You ask me what I'm thankful for....
I hope I don't sound jerky,
But I'm really, truly thankful that I wasn't born a turkey!

I'm also thankful for all of you who are part of my life (virtual, in person, wherever/however it might be.). I wish you and yours a day of peace, joy, and dessert!

If you want to get all my new poems (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

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