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1. DESIGNER - magnus riise

Print & Pattern has another new designer joining the Designers for Hire directory this week - Magnus Riise. Magnus is based in Oslo, Norway and creates surface patterns, illustrations and graphic design. He studied a BA in visual communication at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Norway, and also attended the Kolding School of Design, in Denmark. Magnus describes his work as "colourful,

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2. 'Literature that takes a peek into the forbidden world'

       In the Times of India Priyanka Dasgupta considers the burning issue: Does regional erotic literature have takers when online offers free adult content ?
       But no worries:

The rise of the popularity of e-books will not wipe away the trend of reading printed books. Similarly, craze for MMS and adult movies will not take away the charm of adult literature. There is nostalgia in holding a book, browsing through the pages. People won't get over this habit in a hurry.
       Good to hear, right ?

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3. Brambleheart: A Story About Finding Treasure and the Unexpected Magic of Friendship, written and illustrated by Henry Cole, 255 pp, RL 4



Henry Cole is the author and illustrator of many picture books and the superb, generously illustrated novel  A Nest for Celeste that features a young John Audubon as a character. Now, three years later, Cole is back with another illustrated novel, Brambleheart: A Story About Finding Treasure and the Unexpected Magic of Friendship.

The trim size of Brambleheart, small and almost square, is perfectly suited for the story inside, and there is an illustration on almost every page. And it is completely engaging - I read it in one sitting. Brambleheart feels a little familiar at the start, but it takes an unexpected and exciting turn almost a quarter of the way in. Twig lives on the Hill, a jumble of detritus that provides homes for the rodents and small animals who live there as well as parts for their creations. Young Twig attends classes where his skill (or lack thereof) will determine his future career, a career that will be bestowed on him at the Naming Ceremony. Unfortunately, it seems that every class is a challenge for Twig. In the Weaving Burrow, Professor Fern, a beaver, teaches knot tying. The Snape-like Professor Burdock teaches Metal Craft, where his nephew, Basil, is the star pupil, despite Twig's best friend, Lily, who seems to excel at everything she touches. Things take a very big turn for the worse when Twig almost burns down Professor Dunlin's welding class. Just when it looks like he is doomed to the lowliest position of Errand Runner, Twig decides to run away and this is where the story takes off.

************SPOILER ALERT************

Twig heads past the boundaries of the Hill and into the surrounding forest where he finds something that changes his life - an egg. The contents of this egg, seen in the illustration below, created all kinds of problems and opportunities for Twig. He discovers, with the help of the baby dragon, that his is a gifted welder and metal worker. But, it's hard to keep a baby dragon hidden - and fed - for long and soon questions are being asked. And, it seems, that Char, short for Charcoal, a name given to the dragon by Lily, is growing sicker by the day. The two decide that Char needs to return to the place where Twig found the egg and the adventure - and the next book - begin!






Source: Review Copy






A Nest for Celeste




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4. The Heart review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Maylis de Kerangal's highly acclaimed novel, coming out as The Heart (translated by Sam Taylor) in the US -- and as Mend the Living (translated by Jessica Moore) in the UK.
       I've mentioned how ... odd I find that the US/UK publishers couldn't agree, if not on the same translator at least on the same title, and I wonder whether this will impact the reception/success of the book. On the other hand, it would be kind of neat to see the two translations compete for the major translation prizes in their respective territories (say, the Best Translated Book Award and the (new incarnation of the) Man Booker International Prize).

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5. Cry, Heart, But Never Break



Cry, Heart, But Never Break
by Glenn Ringtved
illustrated by Charlotte Pardi
translated from the Danish by Robert Moulthrop
Enchanted Lion Press, March 2016
review copy provided by the publisher

When Death comes for the children's beloved grandmother, they try to keep him from his task by serving him enough coffee to distract him until dawn, when he would have to leave without their grandmother.

It doesn't work.

Though "Some people say Death's heart is as dead and black as a piece of coal...that is not true. Beneath his inky cloak, Death's heart is as red as the most beautiful sunset and beats with a great love of life."

So Death tells the children a story about two brothers, Sorrow and Grief, who wind up marrying two sisters, Joy and Delight. After a long life together, all four died on the very same day, because they couldn't live without each other. Death uses this fable to show children that life needs both light and darkness. And his last advice, after the Grandmother dies, is the title of the book: "Cry, heart, but never break. Let your tears of grief and sadness help begin new life."

It's never easy to have conversations about death in our classrooms, but I think this gentle and sweet book would reassure students.

Depending on the group, I might pair it with


Grandy Thaxter's Helper
by Douglas Rees
illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Atheneum Books, 2004

This book gives readers a more irreverent version of Death, but also a strong character who resists him. Grandy Thaxter enlists Death's help with her work on successive days -- the cleaning (including the windows), the laundry (including the making of lye soap), making dinner (including grinding the corn for mush), the dishes after dinner, and, the straw that breaks Death's back, the making of linen (of the piles of bundles of wet reeds, he learns "We're going to brake it and swingle the reeds to get the flax"... "We're going to hackle it and spin it"... "So I can weave it into cloth."). Death can't take any more, saying, "I will come back some time when you are not so busy."

Gotta love a woman who is just too busy to die!




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6. Celebrate International Children’s Book Day

Every year at the beginning of April, we ceremoniously reflect on the joy of reading. There are many literary holidays this season, some spanning the entire month while others are observed for just a single day. April is both School Library Month and National Poetry Month, and has the following weeks or celebrations: National Library Week, Drop Everything and Read Day, National Bookmobile Day, and El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

And while the month is rich in options, we must do our due diligence to bring books to life for the particular audiences we serve. It is our professional responsibility and joy to kindle an interest in reading, and as Ranganathan summed up, “Every book its reader.”

And this is why April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day, must be one of my favorite literary holidays to observe. It is totally aligned with what we do in our professions. Widely celebrated in schools, public libraries, and literary centers around the world, it’s essentially a love letter to reading. It transcends beyond literary trends, publishing appetites, or cultural preferences because it embraces a global approach to literature. Books are mirrors and books are windows. We, as humans, love to read because of our innate desire to share stories and understand one another. Universal experiences distill into beloved fairy tales, and we see the patterns of archetypes emerge.

This year, Brazil is the National Section of International Board on Books for Young People, which determined both the theme, author, and illustrator for this celebration, which is respectively “Once Upon a Time”, by Luciana Sandroni and Ziraldo. You can promote this important work by sharing the materials and resources featured on the International Board on Books for Young Children website, who have hosted this event since 1967. For even more program ideas, articles, and resources that you can pin now and read later, visit the USBBY blog.

How do you like to celebrate April with your young readers?


Christine Dengel Baum is formerly a children’s librarian and a school and library liaison. She works in Atlanta as a content strategist but continues to volunteer in libraries. She wrote this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at christine.dengel@gmail.com.

The post Celebrate International Children’s Book Day appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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7. Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus

Over two years ago I wrote that “new viruses are constantly being discovered... Then something comes out of the woodwork like SARS which causes widespread panic”. Zika virus infection bids fair to repeat the torment. On 28 January 2016 the BBC reported that the World Health Organization had set up a Zika “emergency team” as a result of the current explosive pandemic.

The post Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Helon Habila Q & A

       In The Sun Henry Akubuiro has a Q & A with Helon Habila: Every writer must grapple with big subjects of his generation.

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9. ICYMI: Discovering the Writer’s Life Blog Series Recap

It's difficult to consider yourself a writer isn't it? As I read the post in this series I related to each of my co-author's posts. Considering yourself a reader seems natural to many of us; but calling yourself a writer is personal and difficult.

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10. Whatchu Worrying About, Book Nerd?

By Becca... BOOKISH WORRYING 1. To go out at night or stay home and read I don't know about you guys, but this is something I constantly worry about. I get asked to go doing something mundane, but but but this book that I'm reading is so good. I need to finish it like ASAP. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!! If I go out, all I'm going to be doing the whole time is

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11. Learning Watercolors at the University of Edinburgh - Part II

For the second day of our watercolor workshop with Darren Woodhead, we went outside. And not just any outside - we headed for Arthur's Seat.

That's the former volcano that sits in the middle of town east of the castle. I've been so caught up with school and winter, we haven't actually hiked up it yet, so this was my first experience with this amazing mountain.
     We met at St. Margaret's Loch.
     The loch was full of swans and ducks and gulls.
It was cold and windy, but we pulled out our paints and paper and gave it a go.
Eventually, it just got too cold to keep our fingers moving, so a few of us hiked up to the St. Anthony's Chapel ruins.

It really was a beautiful day, albeit COLD! Here I am with Lily, Boris and Chiho. The hike got us warmed up a little bit.
And the view of the city from the mountaintop was amazing.
All said, more beautiful works were created (not by me!), and everybody got to try a hand at true plein air painting. I don't know if anybody caught the bug as strongly as Darren has it. Here he is in his painting garb - knee pads and all. But it sure was nice to try!

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12. Save Our Libraries

I've had a crazy busy week.  My debut novel, More of Me, has been pushed into the world with a lot more ease than my babies were. Kind Of. The gestation period was considerably longer but the delivery a whole lot less painful. In fact, it was kind of wonderful. My friends and family ensured I had two sellout book launches and my publicists at Usborne have been shouting about my book from the rooftops. I've had some amazing reviews , so much so I can barely believe it's all happening. So, to ground myself firmly back on earth,  you'll be pleased to know I am  not going to talk about my book.


  If you want to read about the launch it's all here  but first...

I'm going to talk about libraries. 


I love libraries. A lot of authors do. In fact, very many notable figures are a major part of the campaign to Save Our Libraries because they are seriously under threat from financial cutbacks. Cathy Cassidy is a stalwart of the campaign, as is Philip Ardagh. 



Ah ha! I hear you say, of course authors want to keep libraries, they are rolling in cash from all the loans. Well, not exactly. Authors currently receive just over 7 pence per loan and the full amount you can receive is capped. No author is going to become a millionaire from public lending rights money, even fellow SCBWI member Paula Harrison whose Rescue Princesses books were borrowed almost 50,000 times last year! - in fact you need around 85,000 loans to take you to the current cap. I shall let you do the maths.

It is indeed a useful income supplement for authors whose average incomes have dropped to below £11,000 per year but not, you will agree, champagne and caviar money.

So why do authors keep gathering together and banging on about saving libraries? Surely they'd be far happier if everyone went out and bought the books?  Well...

No. Because most authors write to be read and the more people who read them, the better. And most authors understand that not everyone can afford a houseful of books and that not all children are born into households where books are considered important. If you want equality of education, of development, you need libraries. If you want all children to have access to the same level of resources, at the very least, you need libraries. If you want any kind of fairness in society, you need libraries.

Nick Gibb, our current minister for schools says: “Reading for pleasure is more important than a family’s socio-economic status in determining a child’s success at school,” 

Children learn so much from books. Books don't just inform us of facts, or teach us how to express ourselves, children who read become better empathisers as Natascha Biebow eloquently explains  on Picture Book Den. Books can comfort and distract older children from anxiety.  They can help them understand the hugely complex world they are growing up in.

 I know there are many adults that also rely on library services but three out of the top five library loans in 2015 were children's books. Go and visit the children's section in your local library  You'll maybe see mum's and toddlers for story time - brilliant for mum's to make contact with other mums, brilliant for kids to hear stories. You'll see teens in corners checking out whether they really want to read the book whose cover looked so attractive - or furtively checking out the guides to being a teenager. You might catch a few newly independent readers excitedly looking for the next Paula Harrison or Cathy Cassidy or Philip Ardagh book.  I can guarantee you, the library matters to those kids - to all teh people who use them:.

I was very lucky, I came  from a house where we did have books - not a huge number, there were four of us kids and not a lot of money, but I always had a book for Christmas and my birthday or if the book fair came to our school -  and  my Mum made sure we got into the library habit. Once a week, off we went - and I never lost that habit. I grew up in Portsmouth library. The books I wolfed down informed the writer I am today.  They really did.

I can trace the influences of all the classics: Hardy, Dickens, Bronte ( all three), Austen, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Frank Herbert - my appetite was voracious. Even if we'd have been a rich family, my parents wouldn't have been able to keep up. There are still kids  like me using libraries. They don't all have a kindle - the just don't. I'm sorry,  but you're a twit if you think they do.


So please, if you want a fair, informed, empathetic, equal society - back our libraries.

You can find out more on the Library Campaign Website. 


Kathryn Evans also blogs on My Life Under Paper and you can follow her mood swings on twitter: @mrsbung    Her debut novel, More of Me, is out now.

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13. STATIONERY - accessorize

We begin the new week with a look at some of the latest arrivals at Accessorize. There is a colourful new painted floral design called 'Fleur' which features on notebooks, notecards, gift bags and more. For younger shoppers there is a fun new design called 'Mermazing' on stationery and some lovely wild meadow style florals on various bags and purses. Here are a selection of patterns that caught

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14. WALL ART - dunelm

I wanted to finish today with a wall art post after spotting this graphic floral design in Dunelm. In bright sunny colours it features a nice row of mid century style blooms. Also available a nice framed 3D cut out petal design and interesting type on a cushion.

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15. Writers Coping with Stress…

No one in life gets a free pass on stress. It’s like our shadow, following us around, sometimes huge, sometimes small, and thankfully sometimes not there at all. We writers face stress all the time in the form of looming deadlines, writer’s block, research, misbehaving characters, editing and revising, finding time to write, not enough money flowing to the author, and so on. We get so caught up in life (which is truly the messy bits), that we forget to take a breath, and let go.

Stress is our body’s alarm system telling us that there are new changes and demands in our environment. Stress is also a natural response when there are big changes in our lives. Unfortunately, stress can drain our body and mind, making it difficult to focus on other things – like finishing writing that freaking book! In the long run, all we can do is our best.

So how might you do your best?

Increase your activity – especially in pleasurable activities and tackling your list of tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of your seat to stretch, or taking a walk that will release the cork.

Goalsetting – Break long-term goals down into short-term and attainable goals. I know life can get (and does get) in the way of your writing goals. Moving. Publisher closes. Death in family. Parent in hospital. It’s taken me almost two years to complete the next installment of my time travel series. Go with the flow or you’ll be swept away. You need goals to keep you from going under. Plus, they will keep you sane while the hurricane is blowing you around in different directions. Remember: This too shall pass.

Mental Imagery – Imagine yourself successfully coping with a situation, and do a mental rehearsal by envisioning yourself doing the task successfully. This works great for athletes, so give it a try!

Being assertive – Stick up for yourself while being respectful of others. Block off time for you to write or your goals will never be reached. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This sets up your boundaries for others to respect.

Deep breathing 101 – Relaxed breathing is slower and deeper than normal breathing, so when things get crazy, take a mental step back and try this:

·         Close your eyes, sit comfortably, scan your body for tension
·         Breathe from your belly, not chest
·         Your stomach should move out as you breath in, and out as you breath out
·         Breath out any anxiety, tension, or pain
·         Count from 1 to 8 slowly as you breath:
·         One – breathe in
·         Two – breathe out
·         Three – breathe in
·         Four – breathe out
·         Five – breathe in
·         Six – breathe out
·         Seven – breath in
·         Eight – breath out

Feel better? Works for me always! I even do this breathing exercise in the car. So in the future, if life gets too messy and those words aren’t making it to the page, then remember to take a deep breath and relax, and know you’re going to do your best to get you through this stressful time in your life.


How do you cope with stress as a writer? What are some of the strategies you use to defuse stress? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

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16. फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र

फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र इसे कहतें है असली मन की बात … दिल से निकली बात अक्सर दिल पर ही लगती है… फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड्स कार्यक्रम में  पीकू फिल्म के लिए सर्वश्रेष्ठ अभिनेत्री का अवार्ड लेने स्टेज पर आई दीपिका पादुकोण ने भरी सभा में सभी दर्शकों से अनुरोध किया कि […]

The post फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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17. And here’s your X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Super Bowl ad

Psylocke munnWe’ve gotten trailers or spots of some kind from each of the superhero movies that are rolling out over the next few months. Here is the new ad for X-Men: Apocalypse, giving us some quick looks at a few of the younger members of the team that are being re-introduced:

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18. ‘My Darling’s Shadow’ by Conor Whelan

A stylized film noir in three minutes.

The post ‘My Darling’s Shadow’ by Conor Whelan appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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19. Valentine’s Day Poetry Generator

heart1Write a Valentine’s Day Poem!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you want a quick gift idea that is thoughtful and creative, then here’s a little activity you can try. Write a poem!

Here are three types of poems with instructions how to write them. You pick the type of poem you like best and write one for someone you care about. It could be for a family member, a friend, or even a secret crush . . . shhh! Don’t worry! I won’t tell.

Valentine's day poetry generatorLyric: a rhyming poem that expresses personal feelings. It can be as many lines as your heart desires. Here’s an example:

Your love is warm and holds me tight,
Making our moments together just right.
So thank you, Mom, for being you.
Being your daughter is a dream come true.

Haiku: a Japanese poem that has 17 syllables divided into three lines consisting of 5, 7, and 5 syllables on each line. Here’s an example:

The color purple
Reminds me of an orchid.
It’s pretty like you.

Acrostic: a poem where the first, last, or other letters of each line spells out a word or phrase. The word or phrase can be as long as you like. Here’s an example:

LOVE
Like the way the sun caresses my skin,
Our friendship is warm and comforting.
Vividly, I remember our happiest moments
Eating cupcakes and sharing jokes.

YOU
You’re my best friend for so many reasons.
Obviously, we make the best pair.
Uniquely, being you is perfect.

Now it’s your turn. Which type of poem will you write? Leave a Comment with your new poem below. When you’re finished, copy it in a card and send it to the person you wrote it for. Good luck, poets!

-Sandy

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20. 3 Tips To Give Yourself a Kick-In-The-Butt

Because January is now behind us, let’s be honest to ourselves. How are you doing on those new year’s resolutions? Are you still sticking to them?

Last Monday, my online workshop ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ has started. Some of the participants are there because their new year’s resolution was: make more art. They took action by taking the class!

Struggles I see a lot in my classes are things like:

‘I really want to make art, but I don’t have time’, ‘I procrastinate, even though I know I feel happy when I make art’, ‘I think of sitting down to draw, but then I don’t’.

Is any of the above slightly familiar perhaps?

Here are 3 tips to give yourself that extra push and take action

20150718_shoes kopie


1. Take responsibility

You can wait for something to miraculously happen, like the week suddenly turning into 8 days, life getting less busy, or an hour consisting of 80  instead of 60 minutes. But who are you fooling anyway?

I can THINKabout going to the gym, but that’s not going to make my butt any thinner, is it?

The only person who can make it happen is YOU. Don’t blame circumstances or make up excuses. There is always a way.

2. Stop being scared

20160201_JustDoItNow, of course I don’t know what kind of challenge you are aiming for on tackling, but assuming it’s related to creativity: step out of that comfort zone and go for it. You need to follow new paths to learn and grow. And after all: what can REALLY go wrong? It’s just pen and paper. Or paint and canvas, or whatever your poison is.


3. Just Do it.

With every step you take, you will get such a great feeling of accomplishment. Another result: you don’t need to beat yourself up for making excuses. Because you don’t make them anymore.

Need an extra kick-in-the-butt?

Be quick then! ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ started last Monday, and if you haven’t already, this week will be the last chance for you to join in a whole month of making art every single day!

Click here to join now!

The post 3 Tips To Give Yourself a Kick-In-The-Butt appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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21. On Syliva Plath, Janet Malcolm and Molly Crabapple

When I reviewed Molly Crabapple’s illustrated memoir Drawing Blood for Booklist I included the following lines:

Jaw dropping, awe inspiring, and not afraid to shock, Crabapple is a punk Joan Didion, a young Patti Smith with paint on her hands, a twenty-first century Sylvia Plath cut loose from the constraints of Ted Hughes. There’s no one else like her; prepare to be blown away by both the words and pictures.

Booklist reviewers don’t comment when questions are raised about their reviews (we honestly don’t really interact with the public at all on them), but I noticed that while some folks understood and agreed with my comparisons to Didion and Smith, the Plath comment was a bit more confusing. This didn’t surprise me – everything about Syliva Plath seems to be confusing – but I knew why I put it in there. This past week I have been reading The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes* by Janet Malcolm and I think it has affirmed the aptness of the comparison.

Malcolm does a bit of a master class in this book about the biographer’s duty to the truth and how incredibly sticky that can be. (Especially in the case of Plath.) She reinforces so much of what I thought about Plath’s fierceness in her final writings and it was that unflinching writerly toughness that I was thinking of when I wrote the review for Drawing Blood. Here is a passage from The Silent Woman about life for Plath after she and Hughes broke up:

In a letter to her friend Ruth Fainlight, (which begins with the obligatory abuse of Hughes) Plath wrote, “When I was ‘happy’ domestically I felt a gag in my throat. Now that my domestic life, until I get a permanent live-in girl, is chaos, I am living like a Spartan, writing through huge fevers and producing free stuff I had locked in me for years. I feel astounded and very lucky. I keep telling myself I was the sort that could only write when peaceful at heart, but that is not so, the muse has come to live here, now Ted has gone.”

Malcolm also writes of the controversy Plath engendered by incorporating references to the Holocaust directly into her poems, most notably “Daddy”. Some reviewers at the time were deeply disturbed by her claim of suffering comparable to the Jews, (remember this was barely 10 years from the end of WWII) but what stood out for me in reading Plath, and what Malcolm writes of here, is that Plath didn’t think she had to ask permission. She had something to say, and she said it. Here is Malcolm again:

To say that Plath did not earn the right to invoke the names of Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen is off the mark. It is we who stand accused, who fall short, who have not accepted the wager of imagining the unimaginable, of cracking Plath’s code of atrocity.

It was that bold nature of Plath’s that resonated with me when I read Crabapple; that demand to be heard on significant subjects and the fearlessness to move forward with those demands. Plath found a stronger voice without Hughes, a voice that might have been hers much sooner without their relationship. It was that aspect of Sylvia Plath that came to me as I read Drawing Blood, and why I made her a part of my review.

*I’m reading The Silent Woman for the #wlclub on twitter. Check it out if you are interested in reading about women’s lives.

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22. Day 8: Guy A. Sims

GsimsAdapting a book by Walter Dean Myers –  award-winning children’s book creator and former national ambassador for young people’s literature  – is a tough job. Monster, his acclaimed novel, won the first ever Michael L. Printz Award and countless other honors. But Guy A. Sims is used to challenges. In 1990, he, his brother Dawud Anyabwile and Brian McGee debuted Brotherman, a ground-breaking comic that helped fill a void in the industry.

With Emmy Award-winning Anyabwile as illustrator, Sims plunged into writing. His hard work paid off. Monster: A Graphic Novel (HarperCollins, 2015), a stirring black-and-white adaptation, has already won accolades and a starred review. We are proud to celebrate Guy’s great work on Day 8:

The Journey:

Writing has always been a natural extension of myself. From my early years in elementary school through today, writing (and my other loves; theater, forensics, film, songwriting, etc.) has provided the outlet for how I see myself, my place in the world, and perspectives for what could be. I discovered early the power that comes from the written word and the realization that the power could be mine. My father cautioned me to take care in what I write, to fully own what I write because others will take your words to heart and apply them to their lives. A powerful lesson for a powerful medium.

When I was in eighth grade, I had my first short story published in my elementary school newspaper. I cannot recall what the story was about, but I do know the feeling of excitement and anxiety when I heard other kids reading my words. That experience probably solidified my passion for writing. In 1984, I wrote the first children’s book on African American cultural celebration Kwanzaa. The book, The Kwanzaa Kids Learn the Seven Principles, was a collaborative effort with my brother Dawud Anyabwile as the illustrator.

Many people are familiar with street artists and performers, but I don’t know if there is a category called a street writer. During my high school days, I would write on the bus, the subway, different places downtown, at my local playground, wherever. I would engage all kinds of people into my writing process, asking them questions about what they thought were going on, what they were doing, and eventually, to take a look at what I wrote to see if I captured the essence of the environment. I always found my city, Philadelphia, to be a rich tapestry of tales from which to draw. In fact, the majority of my fiction takes place in and around Philly.

The Back Story:

My brother Dawud had worked with Walter Dean Myers before, illustrating the book monster - graphicSmiffy Blue. When the folks at HarperCollins decided to adapt his award-winning young adult novel Monster into a graphic novel, Dawud was tapped to illustrate. In seeking out a writer, my brother suggested me, sharing that I understood the process for writing in the comic book style, thanks in part to our creation, Brotherman Comics, which we started back in 1990.

When asked if I would work on the project, I jumped in head first, unfamiliar with the source material or about Walter Dean Myers. In the end, I am glad that I didn’t because after learning about him as an author, I surely would have been intimidated. In fact, I didn’t get my first taste of his “artistic celebrity” until I visited several of my family members who lived in the NY/NJ area. When I told them, I was working on the Monster book they were more than excited and began sharing with me his importance to the literary world. At that point, I knew I had to do my very best on the project.

During the book development process, I didn’t communicate with Mr. Myers directly, but I would receive positive responses after pages were submitted. Unfortunately, just before the final press, Walter Dean Myers passed away without seeing the final product, although he did see it completed. I understand he was very pleased with how we translated his work. I look forward to similar opportunities to translate popular works into graphic novels.

The Inspiration:

I owe a great deal of credit to really wanting to be a writer to my father who set me on the path. One day he shared with me a recording of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, narrated by Brock Peters. I was mesmerized both by Wright’s words and Peters’ presentation. When I finished listening to the record, I picked up the book from the library and read it. This is who I want to write like is what I told myself. There are numerous writers, theater actors, and pieces of music that have influenced my writing and writing style, but the ignitor was Richard Wright.

The Process:

Writing projects come to me in various ways. Often it is a concept or even a draft of a title that sets the wheels in motion. I begin with the key player or protagonist and let the story build itself from there. Although I have a desktop and laptop, I still draft out my writing in longhand. I tried carrying my laptop around but found I had to concern myself with finding power, the sun glare, etc. The old pen and paper never fail. I save the editing until the end so that I don’t bog myself down with the rules of writing. I write on my lunch hour and for about an hour during the week and use the weekend to transfer what I wrote from paper to the computer. I also usually have two to three projects going on at the same time which requires a high level of time management on my part. When at home, I write in my small office but I still have interruptions thanks to my children, which is okay with me.

Under The Radar

My favorite author currently is Yvvette Edwards, author of A Cupboard Full of Coats and the forthcoming, The Mother. She has a wicked way of keeping her characters in close proximity to each other, maintaining tension, and creates resolutions that take you by surprise. She’s from London, so her UK expressions are also a joy to experience.

The State of the Industry

I have two sons who they are strong readers, whipping through the Harry Potters and Hunger Games with ease. We often talk about the absence of characters that would appear to look like them or come from similar backgrounds. My advice to them is the same my father gave me. If they don’t exist, you must create them.

Guy A. Sims is also the author of the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim detective series, and the novel, Living Just a Little.

The Buzz About Monster: A Graphic Novel

“The superbly rewarding format serves to powerfully emphasize Myers’s themes of perspective and the quest to see one’s self clearly. A must-have for public and school libraries, and a standout graphic novel.”

— Booklist (starred review)

“It’s not easy for an adaptation to please both old and new readers, but this respectful one pulls off that trick.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“This graphic novel adaptation will introduce this story to a new generation of fans.”

— School Library Journal


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23. #821 – Olga da Polga by Michael Bond & Catherine Rayner

Olga da Polga Written by Michael Bond Illustrated by Catherine Rayner Kane Miller    10/01/2015 978-1-61067-433-1 176 pages    Ages 6+ “With a head full of stories and a nose for adventure, Olga da Polga is also quite a handful. And when she moves into the Sawdust family’s garden, life for Noel the cat, Fangio …

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24. Found While Googling Myself


I was Googling myself, as you do, when I found the above. Apparently it came out last year, written by a university academic from Deakin uni, and it spent a couple of pages on my novel Wolfborn. Like other academic tomes it would cost $$$ to buy and even the ebook cost about the price of four paperbacks. So I decided to see if the State Library had a copy and take a look before deciding to order a copy for myself.

I went today, after work, and sat down in the Redmond Barry Reading Room with my prize. If I'd been there on a weekend I might have curled up with it in a corner and read the lot, but I was tired and had to go before the library closed, so I settled for a browse through the pages about my favourite writers - and, of course, the pages about me. 

I hadn't heard of all the authors, though, as a passionate children's/YA reader and librarian, I had heard of a fair few. And I must say, first, that I'm flattered to be one of only two local writers among those I did know. The other was Catherine Jinks, for her novel Pagan's Crusade - I didn't get around to checking the section on Saving Thanehaven, but it's an unusual choice, as the novel is set inside a computer game, some bits of it based on the author's own space horror novel. I would have thought that Anna Ciddor's Viking Magic novels would get a mention, and the Quentaris series, but  one can't read everything.

In fact, there may have been a few too many books crammed into a rather small volume as it was. 

And my book got two pages, while Tolkien got about two paragraphs and it wasn't The Hobbit, it was Lord Of The Rings. Susan Cooper was there, of course, but not for The Dark Is Rising, but for The Boggart. Now, The Boggart is a beautiful book, but The Dark Is Rising is her masterpiece, which will become a classic. And it had Merlin in it and many references to history and folklore, whereas the mediaeval connections in The Boggart were slight. 

The section about my book was in a chapter on monsters. There was a section in the same chapter on Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and other urban fantasy. I suppose it fitted into the theme because the fairies it involves are traditional, the stuff of folklore. Melissa Marr is also a university academic, I believe, and her research for that series was thorough. I was just finishing Wolfborn when I read WL and was fascinated by her bibliography, which was similar to mine. 

So, what did she have to say about Wolfborn? I couldn't help feeling, by the wording, that there was a somewhat disapproving  sneer under the academic speak. More than once she reminded her readers that my characters were aristocratic and the character who was executed in the first scene was a peasant(and, it was implied, it was unfair, dammit!). Well, yes. But the boy who is executed in my prologue isn't killed for being a werewolf, which isn't illegal in the Kingdom of Armorique, but because in his wolf shape he had killed a child. He would have been executed if he'd done that in human shape. And my hero Etienne's father says it would never have happened if the boy's werewolf father, a wandering mercenary, had been around long enough to teach him and take him off to learn the trade. He regrets having to give this order, but feels he has no choice. 

Etienne had to be an aristocrat because if he was, say, a pot boy in the castle kitchen, he would never have got as close to his master as he did in this book and would certainly never have married his daughter. 

But the point I make in the novel is that most werewolves are aristocrats because they're more likely to be able to hide it and less likely to be murdered by a mob. For example, the heroine of The Sword And The Wolf, my WIP, is a peasant (born) werewolf who has managed to survive her childhood, though everyone knew about her father, because her mother was the local wise woman, too useful to annoy; soon after her mother's death, the girl has her first skin change during an attempted rape by village louts and has to flee. She is no longer welcome in the village. However, after living alone for a while, she accidentally releases a Merlin-like wizard from a tree with the earth magic she is practising and then gets involved with aristocratic things as she accompanies her new teacher on a quest to find the prince who went missing when the wizard's previous apprentice locked him away. Sorry, but you just can't do an exciting adventure purely centred around mediaeval peasants and their surroundings! Well, maybe you can. I offer this as a challenge for anyone who would like to try. 

The author of the academic tome says that the werewolf knight's wife is "packed off to a women's community". Wrong. She goes at her own request - conveniently, I admit, but the author of this book never says that - because she really doesn't feel that she can handle any longer being married to a man who frightens her because he isn't quite human. The women's community(read "convent") is run by a relative and is rather like Hildegard of Bingen's community, where she will finally be able to get an education. 

Still, anything on which academics get their hands is running the risk of being misinterpreted and it's quite exciting to have been mentioned in a non fiction book. I am still in two minds as to whether I will buy a copy. But I will certainly go back, perhaps during the next term break, and read the book in full at the library. It's a slender volume that I could read in about two hours

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25. Monday Mishmash 2/8/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Blues Bones Cover Reveal  I couldn't be more excited to share the cover of Blues Bones by Rick Starkey because this is the first book I offered on as an acquisitions editor for Leap Books, Seek. It's an AMAZING story, and the cover is just as awesome. Check it out and preorder the book here for a special discounted price. The book releases March 7th.
  2. Into the Fire's New Cover  Into the Fire's new cover has been revealed as well. This book has been heavily edited AND new content has been added. I'm really happy with the end result and think readers will be too. For now, check out my gorgeous cover designed by Deranged Doctor. And thank you to everyone who participated in the social media cover reveal this weekend.
     
    Preorder it here.
  3. Editing  More client edits and edits for Leap this week. :)
  4. The S-word  No, I don't mean spring, though I wish I did. I'd like snow if it was warm and melted within a few hours. ;) We're getting two storms this week and I'm not thrilled.
  5. Drafting  Because my editing schedule is crazy, I got an idea for another adult romantic suspense. Of course! So I'm literary jotting down snippets of dialogue and scenes while cooking, lying in bed at night, and any other time when I can spare a few minutes.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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