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1. Taiwan Trip Diary: Days 1 and 2



Taipei from the bus.
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->Today I start my "Taiwan Diary" posts, outlining as best I can our 12 days of non-stop fun. 

Day 1 of the trip, a full travel day, might not sound like a thrill-a-minute, but I actually enjoyed it. Starting here at home in Albuquerque: up at 5.00 AM to shower, breakfast, and get to the airport (thankfully just a 20 minute drive away) in time for my flight to San Francisco where I would catch the plane to Taipei.

From Albuquerque to San Francisco I got the surprise of my life: several crates of puppies were packed behind me in the cargo area—aarf, aarf, aarf for the next two hours! At first I thought it was the guy sitting next to me--I was terrified he was making barking noises and I would have to call security.

When I realized he couldn't possibly be barking in three different languages (i.e., chihuahua, poodle, and mutt), I finally arrived in San Francisco: collecting luggage, checking in to EVA Airlines, and meeting up with the rest of the tour group. After a several hour wait, we then boarded our plane for a long (14 hours?) trip made bearable by movies, a much better system than the days when I used to fly back and forth to New Zealand. 

I watched The Theory of Everything (the recent film about Stephen Hawking); Someone to Love (Scandinavian tear-jerker about a selfish rock star who has to raise his grandson when the child's drug addict mother--the mean superstar's daughter--overdoses. It might have been a bit heavy for in-flight entertainment, but I felt I got to see a side of Scandinavian life I would otherwise have missed); and Gemma Bovary, a rather strange and dark French comedy (I think it was a comedy) about a woman whose life mimicked that of Madame Bovary. Which anyone familiar with the story would know is not very comedic!

By the time we arrived in Taipei it was a couple of hours before midnight, but we had yet to get through immigration, a seemingly endless line of night-arriving travelers. Once that was over, we were next into a shuttle van and off to the City Suites Hotel, a clean and comfortable stay perfect for when you have absolutely no idea where you are, what time of night or day it really is, and just need to crawl into bed. 

At first my roommate (who turned out to be the best roommate anyone could ever ask for!!) and I couldn't get the lights to work until we figured out we had to place our room key card in the light switch. And then we couldn’t figure out how to turn them off--I think we slept with the lights on. Until dawn, at least, when I got up and unplugged all the lamps without telling her so that she thought there were no lights at all. Not my smartest moment.

What I do think was a pretty smart move, though, was my idea to throw away my entire airplane outfit! Yep, this had been my plan all along. For traveling I wore my very worst yard clothes and during the rest of the trip I managed to throw out 1 pair of jeans, 4 tops, 2 cardigan sweaters, a pair of shoes, and ALL of my underwear and socks. Talk about traveling light. My "Throw and Go" system was the best travel brainstorm I’ve ever had: months ago I started collecting things that would normally go in the rag bag or trash and decided to wear them one last time on the trip. I will never travel any other way again. "Throw and Go" not only solved the laundry problem, it left plenty of room in my suitcase for shopping.

Day 2 found me getting up at 5.00 AM again—I felt completely rested and ready to see the sights. This pattern seemed to follow me the rest of the trip—I didn’t want to miss a thing! 

The day turned out to be cold and overcast, making me grateful to have brought a raincoat with a removable liner and hood. Coming from Albuquerque, I found the light drizzle something of a novelty, providing a mysterious dreamlike atmosphere that only added to my sense of adventure. Our tour guide also informed us that water brings good luck, a statement that proved itself just about every day.

After breakfast (with some of the best coffee I've ever had in my life--another great thing that continued throughout the entire trip) and waiting for everyone to gather for the bus, I took a few minutes to sketch the back view from the hotel lobby where a small canal or stream was flowing past:



My chosen medium was watercolor pencils, and everything was going fine until I went to fill my water brush with water and it broke in two. For anyone not familiar with a water brush, it's a brush that holds water in the tubular barrel and is (usually) great for travel. Except for when it breaks, which had never happened to me before. During the flight it must have developed some kind of airlock from the pressure, finally snapping in two. At first I was totally devastated; my whole "art plan" depended on my water brush. I consoled myself with the fact that we were going to an art supply store in the afternoon where I could buy a new one and I could always add the water at any time, but I wanted to paint now.

Painting woes aside, it was time to get on the bus, and our first tour stop of the day was the residence, now a museum, of Chang Dai-Chien, Taiwan’s most famous splash ink artist. 

The entrance to the neighborhood housing the residence.


The Master's carp pond.


The Master's inner courtyard.


The back of the residence. Bonsai trees, rushing water, mountains, and white butterflies.


The Master's pickle jars!

The residence was definitely well worth the visit, an experience made even more interesting when our guide explained that the reason for all the water (ponds, waterfalls, river) was not only for the visual beauty, but for the sound. Chinese art strives to use, and be inspired by, all the senses, something I want to keep in mind for future artwork.

From the Master's House our next stop was the National Palace Museum—one of the largest collections of Chinese antiquities in the world.

I have no idea who these people are or how they got in my photo.

Before we started exploring the museum though, it was time for lunch. With chopsticks. Here is the sad story of me and chopsticks: despite having watched 3 Youtube videos prior to my departure on the correct usage of these darn little sticks, and practicing at home with knitting needles, I still made a big mess. Everyone else at my table seemed to be genius chopstick users. The thought occurred to me that I  was going to have to solve the problem soon or I might soon be banned from the table. I couldn't eat with my fingers forever!


From the museum steps. (And an exciting view of the backs of people's heads. Sorry!)

Once I was finished throwing my food around the room we were given several free hours on our own to wander and absorb the magnificence of the actual museum. Again I noted in some of the displays that same theme of Chinese art using all the senses, particularly those that help to find  the "chi" of whatever subject is being portrayed. For instance, if the artist was painting an animal, that chi might be found in the way the little creature lifted its paw or angled its head--an excellent starting point for any work of art.




Although the museum was far too big to cover in a single afternoon, I managed to see more floors and exhibitions then I thought I would, but it was tiring work. To recover I decided to get another cup of wonderful Taiwanese coffee and go outside for some more sketching. Another piece of advice I recalled from The Tao of Sketching was to cultivate "visual memory," so I tried to reproduce a Ming vase I saw in one of the exhibitions. I don't think I captured its "chi" exactly, but it makes a nice memory all the same.




My sketch and coffee finished, the chilly weather drove me back inside and surprise, surprise, into the museum gift store. I had wanted some cat art and sure enough, there it were two prints just waiting for me:

Lots of chi here, don't you think?
I'll be framing these soon for my office.

At last it was time to go to the art supply store, an old-world traditional shop up a steep flight of stairs and next to a street vendor making and selling delicious-smelling steamed pork buns (and that's from a vegetarian!). While the others in our group ordered authentic carved name seals (I opted out because I wasn't sure I really had a need for one) I started searching in vain for my water brush. Not only were they nonexistent, no one had a clue what I was talking about (neither in English nor with the help of Chinese translation.) 

Which leads me to this important travel tip: keep the various parts of your brush separated while flying. Better still, take at least two brushes—this was one case where “traveling light” was too light.

However, all was not lost. I ended up purchasing something much, much better: a little Chinese watercolor brush I will treasure forever. The only downside of this brush was having to use a bottle of drinking water for dipping and cleaning it, and then having to constantly remind myself not to drink my paint water . . .  


Such a sweet little brush. Excellent quality. I love it.

Last stop of the day was dinner and bed, all at the spectacular Grand Hotel where we turned into royalty. Sheer heaven. What a way to travel.



I reveled in the abundance of soaps, shampoos and lotions all smelling better than Chanel No. 5. Chinese artistry celebrates the senses for sure.

Highlight of the Day: Rubber stamps! Starting at the National Palace Museum I discovered that most tourist sites and even some hotels provide rubber stamps and ink pads to commemorate your visit with a mini work of art. It was so much fun collecting the various images throughout the country and I think they really enhanced my journal/sketchbook. The one I added to my museum sketch (and after I was able to use my paint brush) was one I found several days later at a Buddhist monastery. I have no idea what it says, or if I have the characters facing the right direction, but I'm glad I found it.

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2. Conductor Paul Phillips


Yesterday we heard a performance by the Brown University Orchestra, led by Conductor and Music Director, Paul Phillips.

I drew the overall silhouette with two brush pens, one filled with clear water and the other with black ink. While that was still wet, I used a black water-soluble colored pencil to define some of the smaller forms.

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3. Monday Review: The SHADOWFELL Trilogy by Juliet Marillier

Summary: I want my epic fantasy to sweep me away but, at the same time, tantalize me with hints that this is a world that COULD be, a world that is tangible and believable and recognizable even if it isn't quite our own. Juliet Marillier does an... Read the rest of this post

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4. Cougar Bay Osprey

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5. Squirrels

Tourists gathered ‘round a tree,
With cell phone cameras out,
Are not impressed by daffodils
Or tulips soon to sprout.

They’re focused on a squirrel
Which, to jaded local eyes,
Wouldn’t rate a second glance
But somehow seems to tantalize.

For in many other places,
Squirrels simply don’t exist;
With their bushy tails and antics,
How could visitors resist?

Back when I was just a child,
An acquaintance pulled one’s tail
And was bitten rather badly;
Now a scar he could unveil.

Squirrels also raid the feeders
And deprive the birds of seed.
They’ll outsmart all the deterrents
With their cleverness and greed.

So let tourists take their photos
Of these rodents oh, so cute.
To New Yorkers, their attraction
Is a subject of dispute.

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6. Binc Seeks Donors to Help Support Booksellers

The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is looking for 50 new sustaining donors to give ongoing support to bookseller assistance programs which help provide a safety net to booksellers.

The program help booksellers that suffer medical expenses, domestic violence, homelessness or other issues in their time of need. The Campaign to Sustain is encouraging donors to commit to $40 a month in celebration of SIBA’s 40th Anniversary. In 2014, the organization saw an increase in grant requests with requests coming about once a week, which is the main driver behind the campaign.

To donate, follow this link.

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7. Cover Revealed For New V.E. Schwab Book

A Gathering of Shadows Final

The cover for the U.S. edition of V. E. Schwab’s forthcoming science-fiction book, A Gathering of Shadows, has been unveiled. We’ve embedded the full image above—what do you think?

According to the Tor.com blog, illustrator Will Staehle designed this jacket. This novel, a sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, will be published in February 2016.

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8. Chiming In With Humility and Grace

Chiming in with humility and grace
After several days of cold and rainy weather, a sunny afternoon enticed me to sit on the back porch. Enveloped in the warm rays of sunlight, I closed my eyes. A faint, peaceful ting-ting stirred from the metal, wind chimes.

Burdened for a Christian family struggling to find peace, I began to pray. I did not know all the details, but apparently years ago, their miscommunication hurt some friends' feelings. The family has sought forgiveness but the offended friends will not give it.

The most troubling part is the miffed ones are professing Christians as well, yet they will not let go of their grievances towards the family who upset them.

Oh, Lord, please give both families peace and restore the broken relationships. How can Your people harbor anger and resentment towards one another for years?  Help us to see this does not glorify your Son and the sacrifice He made for us all.

Lord, no matter what the situation, remind us that through Your power and strength we can forgive others. Protect us from Satan convincing us otherwise.
A gust of wind suddenly caused the ting-a-ling of the chimes to crescendo. I opened my eyes to see the metal tubes bumping crazily into one another. Yet, no matter how forceful the wind, each chime continued to produce pleasing sounds.

I sat listening, pondering how the chimes never ring a sour note. High, middle, and low tones work in unison to produce beautiful harmonies.
Oh, dear friends, God can do that. He created each of us with unique characteristics and yet the abilities to complement one another. Just as the metal chimes are bound together, so also we Christians are united by the love of Christ.

Trials will come as surely as the wind blows. Let us bear with one another and work together to produce a beautiful offering to our heavenly Father.
As soon as trouble begins to brew, address it with prayer and wisdom. Pray for a heart of patience, humility, and grace. As the storms press hard against us, only through love and forgiveness will we be able to orchestrate a magnificent concert of praise.

Imagine the songs of a multitude!
(The Singing Ringing Tree)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”   Colossians 3:12-17


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9. Alfred

 

The comic project my sister, Emily, and I have been collaborating on is ready to go. We're excited to share Alfred -- we've had a blast working on this and hope you like it, too. You can read weekly updates every Monday over here.

The back story? Over the holidays a coffeeshop conversation ended up evolving into Emily's idea for a comic. Many months, several late nights and a couple weekends later, we're ready to go. Alfred is equal parts sci-fi, fantasy and mystery, with a healthy dose of Maine thrown in. And let's not forget, lots and lots of salt water.

Enjoy!

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10. Don’t Believe Me Just Read

I finished Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything over the weekend and was going to write about it today but I need a little more time to sit with it and think about it and it might actually end up being two posts instead of one. Maybe. To be determined.

So because of that and because it is Monday, and who doesn’t need a little pick-me-up on Monday, and because librarians are so awesome — maybe I’m a little biased but I loved librarians before I began working as one — and because Uptown Funk seems to be latest hit that everyone wants to parody, I give you Unread Book:


Filed under: Books

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11. Former Cleveland Kidnap Victims Release Book

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, two of three women who were kidnapped and held captive for a decade by bus driver Ariel Castro in Cleveland, OH, have penned a book.

“Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland” (Viking), which was written in conjunction with Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, tells the story of how they were captured, raped and tortured in Castro’s basement.

“The full story behind the headlines—including details never previously released on Castro’s life and motivations—Hope is a harrowing yet inspiring chronicle of two women whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness ultimately delivered them back to their lives and families,” explains the book’s description.

Michelle Knight, the third victim, wrote a memoir called, “Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings,” which was published last year by Weinstein Books.

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12. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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13. Les Super-Héros à la Française !


I REALLY have to try to get a copy of this!

Bonjour !
A la une de ce numéro de mai, les Super-Héros à la française !


Une riche enquête signée Philippe Peter. 


Au sommaire également : Jano, Edith, Mathieu Sapin, Dominique Rousseau (Vasco), Carole Martinez, Patrick Marty, des travaux inédits d'Albert Uderzo pour l'armée de l'air, les studios Aardman... et l'histoire de Zig & Puce.


Vous découvrirez aussi que François Morel est un passionné de BD et de belles images.
Sans oublier nos actualités, critiques, intégrales et notre sélection jeunesse !


Bonne lecture à tous !

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14. Why do they do what they do?

Sometimes I think a very large part of writing is figuring out my characters' motivations. Why do my characters do what they do? Yes, it has to do with what they want and who and what stops them from getting what they want. And it also has to do with how they see themselves and how that changes when they get involved in the plot.

Being true to the motivation for all characters--even villains who, naturally, see themselves as the hero of their story-- can take you a long way down the narrative path.

But this motivation question  is not just about the big events.  Every scene, every gesture, every conversation and silence, has motivation in it and can, if done right, reveal character. Every little thing done by every character has to be accounted for. And when you have main characters who are on stage in a scene and act in ways that feel inauthentic, it is usually the unfortunate failure of motivation that is behind their inauthenticity.

Why do my characters do what they do in both small and large ways? I try to keep coming back to this question. A lot of discovering and revealing the secrets of character lies in motivation.

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15. Batman: Arkham Knight, Now With More Nightwing, Robin, and Azrael?

Here it is:

Batman: Arkham Knight developer, Rocksteady are ending their Arkham series with a nuke. Today’s trailer shows off a new feature for the series. This time around players will have the ability to switch between characters from the Bat-family. The trailer shows Nightwing and Robin executing co-op attacks on enemies. Previously these characters have only appeared as DLC for the game’s challenge maps, but now their going to be a part of the campaign narrative.

In addition comic fans will recognize the character known as Azrael. No word on if this version is Jean Paul Valley, who took over the mantle of the bat during the Knightfall storyline in the comics. So far all the marketing materials points to a bold move from the developer that may spell the demise of Batman.

Batman: Arkham Knight comes to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC June 23.

We’ll talk more about this latest trailer and the Silent Hill cancelation this evening, in the meantime what are your thoughts about this new Batman trailer?

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16. Stories Can Conquer Fear

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“Stories can conquer fear, you know.

They can make the heart bigger.”

— Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist

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17. "Someone has to decide something...."


Saturday, an earthquake hit Nepal, causing massive destruction and loss of life. An avalanche at Everest added to to the death toll, which will not be fully realized until relief help gets to outlining remote villages and recovery efforts in Kathmandu conclude their work. My heart and prayers go out to the people of Nepal.

Oddly, just a day before, on the TED Radio Hour on NPR, the subject was organization after natural disasters and other things and one of the interviews was that of Morgan and Caitria O'Neill, who after a "never happens in Massachusetts" tornado almost leveled their small town, they put their unique skill sets together to organize their community's recovery efforts...



I've talked before about my experience when my grandmother was in the Big Thompson Canyon's 100 year flood, the illustration above was inspired by that and have shared my frustration of being far away when less than forty years later in 2013 the canyons of North Central Colorado experienced a 1000 year flood and here over on the West Slope, I was glued to my laptop to get news of the places and people from my childhood. 

Not that long ago, we were evacuated when a fire burned in the canyon beside our homestead... 

We, along with our neighbors were advise in a briefing at a command post when and if we would have homes to return to and what  support and assistance was available in the meantime.Two years later, driving along the road, or walking in our forest we still will find plastic water bottles, donated along with snicker bars and such from the community, carried by the hotshots in the smoke and heat and dropped to the ground  when empty, Fire fighter and disaster workers are the only ones who I think should not be looked down upon for littering. 

The subject of the last weeks TED Radio Hour, wasn't about Disasters, but about Organizing and something one of the O'Neill's sisters said in the NPR interview hit a chord with me...

"Someone has to decide something..."

In their case, it was two barely twenty year old girls who rushed back to their hometown to help, ended up being "mostly" in charge because, they opened their mouths.

I have that problem too, I often am the one to, well, open my mouth and not be guarded and that trait, good or bad is why now, not even two years on, I'm the head cook of a soup kitchen...



 Caitria and Morgan talked of having to make quick decisions about a variety of things and that is something I often have to do...




What recipe will get rid of the most of our parishable items before they go bad? Based on the weather, the time of month, the time of year, how many patrons will show up today? What to do with the three large boxes of not trimmed and dirty produce which was starting to "bolt" that a local farm brought in a half an hour before lunch has to be ready to serve? How long are we going to stand at the counter and clean and trim the produce before we declare enough and toss the rest and go home and put our feet up after making lunch for a 100 people.
I burned out a $100 plus Cuisinart food processor trying to prep free sweet potatoes to put in the freezer. It is a constant struggle to balance what we have, both that is donated and bought, with the resources and time we have and often I get it wrong... 
I thing therein lies the trait that marks those of us who do start deciding things. We aren't afraid of the sky falling, the world falling off it's axis, or tossing a box of sweet potatoes if we get it wrong. We just move on, well sometime after a silent rant, but  keep making decisions, ready to factor in our mistakes the next time something similar comes along....




And like the O'Neill sisters who were amazed that someone would question if they were even out of high school but than take their orders as gospel, I have been amazed at how willing people, on the average fifteen years older than me, want someone else to make the decisions, even after I try and poll all who are involved, getting the response often that they do not want that responsibility, even if that responsibility is if we should have corn or green beans as a side. 
Now, the opinions and sometimes criticism does come after the fact or during, once the plan is committed to about why we are doing something a certain way. I try to be pleasant and patient but all that depends on how close to noon it is, how long the line is outside and how ready I am to be off my feet. 

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18. Adventure down the road less traveled

I have had the pleasure over the years of creating special pieces of both art and pottery for various customers. Creating custom artwork can be really fun, challenging and rewarding.  I like taking on custom work, because it often takes me out of my comfort zone or challenges me to do things that I didn't know I could do or to find a new way of looking at something.

 I remember doing special projects for people as far back as high school and feeling so proud that someone would not only trust me with their vision for the thing that they wanted to be created, but that they would give me money to do it.

Most of my artistic life has been spent as a painter using oils and more recently acrylics. Three years ago I became a potter which has been a never ending journey into various techniques for making and glazing. In addition to these areas of experience, I have often been called up to expand my repertoire and create pieces in media that I have little experience with which is especially fun.

My "People on the Couch" series of paintings is always a unique adventure as I create them from a customers candid snapshots  of themselves and/or loved ones on the couch.

I love this painting from a 1960's family snapshot

This one was created without any people in it from a series of snapshots of family pets and favorite items for a special  Graduation couch picture.

See more couch paintings here

A wooden blue hen painted as a fundraiser for the Newark Arts Alliance in Newark, De.

A large hand thrown bowl glazed with my well known colorful cows

A whimsical cat painting featuring a "cat in the beanstalk"

A really neat project. A lineage of piano teachers from Beethoven to my clients husband painted to look like parchment.


A custom  yarn bowl for an Irish shop in Delaware



A little acrylic guitar  and keyboard painting for a teen
Donut shaped Salt and peppers

A door sign for a bake shop

a spoon rest




A whole set of large, colorful cappuccino mugs
      Have an idea for custom art that you would like to see brought to fruition? Feel free to contact me!

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19. A-Force #1 Preview: Yes, Captain Marvel Punches a Shark…Stop Asking!

Marvel’s A-Force #1 from G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett with art from Jorge Molina features a stable of the publishers mightiest female heroes — and Captain Marvel punching a shark. The comic takes place during Battleworld in the upcoming Secret Wars event, which see’s nearly every Marvel character converging (haha) on one singular planet. The warriors attempt to defend their section of Battleworld, and Marvel notes that they have to fight off a mysterious horde. Nestled in the preview art is a mysterious woman in the back of the roster (five points to anyone who can figure out who she is in the comments!) The title includes a large roster of characters including familiar faces like She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Rogue, Dazzler, Phoenix, Pixie, Captain Marvel, Medusa and more. The new comic is set to debut at local comic shops on May 20, 2015 at a $3.99 price point. Cover artists include Jim Cheung, Jorge Molina, Stephanie Hans, Russell Dauterman, Adam Hughes, and more. Thanks to CBR for the preview. More importantly, Captain Marvel punches a shark in this comic…you’re welcome.

A-FORCE #1 (MAR150665)
Written by G. WILLOW WILSON & MARGUERITE BENNETT
Art by JORGE MOLINA
Inhumans 50th Anniversary Variant by ADAM HUGES (MAR150666)
Variant Covers by RUSSELL DAUTERMAN (MAR150667) STEPHANIE HANS (MAR150668)
JORGE MOLINA (MAR150669) and SKOTTIE YOUNG (MAR150670)
Blank Variant Also Available (MAR150671)
FOC – 04/27/15, On-Sale – 05/20/15
As the Secret Wars begin, the Avengers as you know them are no more – and a new team will lead the way! In a secluded corner of Battleworld lies Arcadia, an island nation fiercely protected by a team of Avengers the likes of which has never been seen before!
So who are the Marvel powerhouses taking center stage? “She-Hulk, Dazzler, Medusa, Nico Minoru and other fan favorites, will take charge,” says series co-writer G. Willow Wilson. “We’ve purposefully assembled a team composed of different characters from disparate parts of the Marvel U, with very different power sets, identities and ideologies.”
And there came a day unlike any other, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroines found themselves united against a common threat. Fighting to protect the small sliver of their world that’s left, they stand tall, shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to take on the horde. Ushering in a new day with a rallying cry heard across Battleworld – A-FORCE ASSEMBLE!









A-Force-1-Dauterman-Variant-af093 A-Force-1-Hans-Variant-dfea6 A-Force-1-Hughes-Inhumans-50th-Anniversary-53121 A-Force-1-Molina-Variant-693ae A-Force-1-Preview-1-b7c75 A-Force-1-Preview-2-81b31 A-Force-1-Preview-3-ffa1a

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20. finishing touches....

©the enchanted easel 2015
on these two commissioned cuties.
that's what's going on tonight!

©the enchanted easel 2015

{will be selling PRINTS of this painting SOON! :)}

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21. I Am Listening: Austin Bunn’s Playlist for The Brink

When I first started writing, I'd give stories to friends and press a mix tape into their hand: when you read this, listen to this. Let me take this moment to apologize to all the friends of my youth for those tapes. I was like that: gushy, curatorial, annoying. It goes without saying that I [...]

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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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23. Book Review: Homemakers by Brit Morin

From Goodreads:
Over the past three generations, the rules of homemaking and our very notions of what a homemaker is and does have radically changed. We are still a nation of makers, but we are crafting and creating beyond the home, in both the analog and digital worlds. And in the next ten years, "making" and "homemaking" will evolve further. Tomorrow's women will find themselves actually manufacturing everything from decor to clothing, from right inside their homes.

In Homemakers, Brit Morin, founder of the wildly popular lifestyle brand and website Brit + Co., reimagines homemaking for the twenty-first century. While today's generation thrives in the virtual world, they like to work and create in the physical world. Morin inspires you to combine the best of analog and digital, to help you reconnect with your inner creative child-the one who used to love to draw, to build, and to play-to make your home a more creative, functional, and beautiful place.
Writing
The writing here is fine, although, to be honest, there's not that much of it.  Or at least that much of it to judge as far as quality goes.  That's not a criticism, because it's exactly what you'd expect from this kind of book - heavy on pictures, how-tos, and infographics.  Pretty to look at and fun to experience, but not a lot of text, with the exception of captions and lists.

Entertainment Value
This has a lot of valuable information on the basics of homemaking and is presented beautifully with lots of images and graphics, rather than blocks of text.  I especially the list of recommended apps included with each chapter and the look at upcoming technology that will change how we live, work, and play.  If there's a downside, it's that most of this information can honestly be found online without the purchase of the book.  It's nice to have and I'm still debating whether or not to keep my copy as a reference or pass it on to the library.  It's super pretty and I love all of the information, but it's a chunky book and, like I said, doesn't have anything in it that I couldn't easily find on Pintrest.

Overall
I thoroughly enjoyed the read, but I think this may be one that I'd recommend you check out from the library rather than buy - unless you have a particular spot in your heart for pretty Pintrest-like style images.  It would make a nice coffee table book, or if you collect home-decor/fashion books.  While I'm not sure it's a must-own, it did inspire me to follow Brit + Co online and gave me some great ideas for my house.

Thanks to Harper Collins for providing me with a copy to review!

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24. CPSA 23rd International + other stuff


I'm happy. Just found out my "Fried Egg on Sourdough Toast" drawing has been accepted into the Colored Pencil Society of America's 23rd International Exhibition! Here's a list of everyone who got in. I am in some esteemed company, for sure.

I also just signed up (like, minutes ago) for some new website builder thingy, so my old sad site will be down for a while until I get this one up and running. Wish me luck. I actually don't have all the art I want to use ready to go - I thought that signing up would just let me sit here until I was ready, but nooooo, (has to do with switching hosting plans and technical stuff). So I have my week cut out for me. Thankfully my email will still work though, so that's good. Also, the thing I signed up for has the new 'mobile - friendly' stuff included, so I should be all set. It will be nice to be a little more up to date with things!

Oh, and I guess I have to go get this piece framed now! Details, details . . .

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25. Don M. Mankiewicz Has Died

Pen and PaperDon M. Mankiewicz has died. He was 93 years old.

As a writer, Mankiewicz specialized in creating novels and screenplays. The Los Angeles Times reports that his first novel, entitled The Trial, was published in 1954 and later adapted into a film featuring Dorothy McGuire and Glenn Ford.

According to Deadline.com, Mankiewicz “received an Oscar nomination in for his screenplay adaptation of I Want to Live!, a 1958 film about a prostitute falsely accused of murder. It was loosely based on the true story of Barbara Graham, who was put to death in California’s gas chamber three years earlier.”

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