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26. On writing success and intelligent persistence

As Ellen Jackson said, success as a writer or illustrator depends depends more on intelligent persistence than raw talent.

Excerpt from Ellen's excellent advice:

"By 'intelligent persistence' I mean the ability to learn from mistakes, to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then to change it. I know a talented writer who gave up after one rejection from one editor. I know another writer–with very little natural writing ability--who writes and rewrites and gets rejected over and over. The first writer has never been published. The second writer has published more than thirty children’s books. As James Michener said: 'Character consists of what you do on the third or fourth tries.'"

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27. Sixteen Lovers Part 1

#storybuildingblocks,#writingtips,#amwriting,#fiction,#screenplay
Crafting Characters
Romance remains one of the highest selling genres over time. 

Many romance novels rely on stereotypical characters that perpetuate a specific script for what constitutes true love, like flowers and candy, and romantic walks along the beach. But what if your characer is allergic to flowers, can't eat candy, and is afraid of water?

What people consider romantic is highly individual, based on their temperament, conditioning, culture, and past experiences.

Over the next few weeks, we'll examine the relationship styles of the sixteen mannequins featured in Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict and the Build A Cast Workbook

Keep in mind that each character could be male, female, transgener, androgynous, or alien life forms. When it comes to temperament, it really doesn’t matter. For the purposes of your fiction, you can play them any way you like. I gave my mannequins androgynous names and refer to them as he or she depending on whether there are more males than females in that temperament category.



1. Wynn

Wynn is all about making her partner happy and being appreciated for it. She needs cards, flowers, and romantic words. A distant, critical partner would annihilate her heart in under thirty seconds. She puts her partner first and looks for a permanent bond.

Wynn is emotionally intense, but guards her heart. She is happy with the traditional role assigned to her. She puts the comfort of her partner at the top of her to-do list. She is caring, empathetic, and willing to gloss over minor indiscretions. Her habit of keeping things to herself to avoid conflict leads to inappropriate scatter blasts of anger and resentment during a confrontation. She often says things she can’t take back. She becomes rigid when anxious. Those tactics won’t have the effect she desperately needs. She has difficulty leaving an abusive relationship and accepting that a relationship has ended. She blames herself and obsesses over what she could have done differently, especially if she feels she has been faithful and kept up her side of the bargain. She might remain faithful to the memory of a deceased partner.

Wynn’s selflessness puts her at risk of being taken advantage of or steamrolled. She hides her distress and keeps her resentment and anger under wraps until something comes along to uncork them. If she feels unappreciated, she leaves mentally or physically. It takes a lot of provocation to push her there. 


Wynn views sex as a way of strengthening the emotional bond. It is her duty to make sure her partner is happy. She is affectionate. She may not utter loving affirmations, but needs to hear them. She shows her love through gifts and small actions. She might go along with a kinky partner at first in an attempt to make him happy, but the situation will tear her down emotionally and the exit door is only one step away.


2. Francis

Francis is more interested in being right than being happy. He hates challenges to his authority and viewpoints. All is well as long as his partner accedes to his point of view and decisions. He might dominate but would react viciously to anyone who tried to dominate him. Francis is true blue and committed. He wants a permanent relationship. He takes the “until death do us part” vow literally.

Francis goes through the tradition of dating and wooing because it is expected, not because he prefers it. He struggles with huggy-touchy stuff. He is supportive and cares for his partner. If his partner points out he isn’t meeting her emotional needs, he does his best to meet them. He feels love passionately but struggles to express himself. He is faithful and loyal. He wants his home and family to run smoothly. He struggles with chaos and family members who don’t behave as they should. He imposes restrictions on his partner. He meets what he considers his obligations, which may not be the priorities his partner values.


If his partner berates him, he listens to the part that addresses functional points such as, “You need to take the trash out on Thursdays.” He ignores the emotional context, “You work too hard and are never home when I need you.” If he marries one of the feeling types, he could wreck her self-esteem.

Being right is very important to Francis. His partner may walk away if her point of view is never considered. He isn’t threatened by constructive criticism and can handle conflict without taking it personally as long as he isn’t called wrong. Leaving Francis requires a really good lawyer, or a shotgun.

Francis views sex as a physical release and his duty more so than an expression of emotion. He expects intimacy to occur on a scheduled basis. He brings home flowers and chocolates if he has been told it is expected, not out of inspiration or because he felt like it. He thinks his actions should speak for themselves. Working hard every day should count. He gives positive affirmations if his partner asks for them, even though he doesn’t need them. He deflects his partner’s attempts to praise him. The female version of Francis goes along with whatever her partner wants, though she is uncomfortable with anything out of the ordinary.



3. Nevada

Nevada’s currency is appreciation. He craves loving affirmations for working hard and providing for his partner.

Nevada takes commitment seriously and believes in living up to his obligations. He would not be a natural candidate for either submission or dominance.

Nevada avoids confrontation at all costs. He considers criticism, and the need to discuss a problem, as a personal attack. He is prone to depression and low self-esteem, so he could become submissive if warped by life. He is overly concerned with appearances and expects his partner to maintain them, so he would hide whatever he was up to.


He is good around the house. He takes care of things that need attention. He is cautious with money, because he thrives on security. He works hard to make life secure. He needs to belong: to institutions, teams, and his family. This makes him very social. He throws parties and attends events at work, social club functions, and community events. He expects his partner to participate. Pairing him with an introvert who hates parties is problematic.

Nevada needs a lot of positive reinforcement from his partner and resents it if he doesn’t get it. He is passive-aggressive in response and often does the wrong thing to elicit the adoration he craves. He won’t quit easily.

Nevada is warm and loving. He invests a lot of time and energy in making his partner happy. He views sex as an opportunity to express affection and considers withholding a deliberate insult. He is highly traditional, but eager to please his partner, so he is open to suggestion. He resists anything too out of the ordinary for fear that someone might find out.


4. Arden

Arden’s currency is gratitude and appreciation for his integrity. As long as his partner feels grateful and appreciates his hard work, things go smoothly. Arden fulfills what he sees as his commitment to the full extent of his capacity. When he chooses a partner, he plans to be with her forever.

Arden likes to be in charge and is controlling. He could become dominant, but it would not be his natural affinity. He works hard to provide financial security with a focus on the material things that signify success. He provides a secure home life, but makes room for fun and leisure. He schedules vacations. He expects his partner to do the right thing and be a good example in the community. He would be horrified to do something “unseemly.” 


He sees himself as a guardian. He freely gives positive feedback when he is impressed by his partner’s behavior or accomplishments. He is open and honest with his thoughts and opinions. He expects his wife to take part in the social requirements of his job and the community. Don’t pair him with an introvert who hates going out or there is war. A feeling character is hurt by his perceived criticism and overwhelming expectations. If his partner firmly, factually, and preferably unemotionally, expresses her unmet needs, he does his best to accommodate them. He wants to do what he is supposed to and takes care of details.

Arden would not consider divorce lightly. Problems arise if he doesn’t feel appreciated. His job is to shield and protect. He can carry that too far and infringe on his partner’s autonomy. His partner might not appreciate his instructions or guiding hand. Arden is a lively lover. He tends to be traditional and may be rather regimental in his expectations. He sees sex as a physical demonstration of affection rather than a spiritual communion. He may not remember to use sweet words. He expresses love through hard work and dedication.

Next week, we'll meet four more mannequins.

You can learn more about each mannequin  in Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, available in paperback and E-book.

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28. Marvel’s terrifying mullets


 In 1992, the MTV News crew visited the Marvel Bullpen and talked to then Editor in Chief Bob Harras, the late Mark Gruenwald and the legendary Darren Auck, among other. You’ll be charmed and delighted by this look back at the olden days, and terrified and perhaps haunted by the astonishing number of mullets […]

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29. The Martian Audiobook Receives 100,000 Fan Ratings

themartianThe audiobook edition of The Martian has drawn 100,000 fan ratings on the Audible website. The company released this audiobook back in March 2013.

Here’s more from the press release: “In addition to the 100,000 people who positively ‘rated’ the audiobook, it also enjoys a superb 4.8 out of 5-star average, and has had a continuous presence at the top of Audible.com’s bestsellers list. The Martian’s achievements demonstrate the burgeoning global popularity of audiobooks and their ascent as a rival to other entertainment mediums like books, television, and film.”

Andy Weir’s popular science-fiction novel was adapted into a critically acclaimed movie starring Matt Damon. Click on these links to watch the first trailer, the second trailer, and the third trailer.

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30. Face-Lift 1303


Guess the Plot

The Iron Legacy

1. Why aren't robots allowed to submit crazy plots?What would Issac Asimov say?

2. Beautiful, fiery Lily St John is the only child of railroad tycoon David St John. Scheming, cunning, and an insatiable desire allow her to build the most powerful railroad network in the South. Then she meets Conner Reed, scion of a coal mining cartel. Will her heart allow for a union of interests, or must the mighty iron horse prevail?

3. Wolf is the son of legendary WWI ace Manfred von Pferdenthal. With WWII about to break, can he follow his father's lead in the air--or will his fear of failure doom him to the typing pool?

4. Sharlene likes keeping clothes neat and well-pressed. So she's got her trusty Rowlenta packed, her luggage full of clothes, and she's on her way to Kuala Lumpur for the International Extreme Ironing championship.

5. Gintal learns that great-grandfather Henry invented the electric iron. But Gintal's family received no royalties. He decides General Electric owes him. Gintal proceeds to murder the top executives of the company. Hot detective Marcy Clarke, winner of the women's Ironman competition, heads the homicide investigation. By coincidence the two meet and fall in love. What could ever go wrong with this romance?

6. Planet Earth has been overrun by alien beasts, all except the city of Alexandria, thanks to its iron gates. Now the city's chancellor has decided to open those gates, and it's up to teenaged Bailey to stop him from letting the nightmares in and ending the last bastion of humanity.

7. Mining was Jadder's family's livelihood until the empire burned their village, killed everyone, and sealed the mines claiming plague, black magic, and treason. Now an undead warlock spreading pestilence throughout the empire, Jadder figures he'll finish making the empire's lies real by killing the emperor. 

8. Despite their kindness to Aunt Loo Loo, the iron legacy was enacted in her will, leaving her three doting nieces, Poppa, Pippa, and Penelope with just ten thousand dollars and Aunt Loo Loo's "friend", handsome Joe Smiles with the rest, a cool 50 million. The three distraught nieces go on a retreat in California to recover and discover that they can communicate with dolphins, who want to build a fusion reactor.



Original Version

Dear Agent X,

Bailey MacKinnon’s city, Alexandria, is bursting at the seams with slum kids and drunks, so honest folks like herself are rare. [I don't think you need "so honest folks like herself are rare." It suggests that the presence of slum kids and drunks is responsible for the scarcity of honest people.] After the beasts known as the Tuatha De Danann overran Earth, they also sent her mom to an early grave, so she’s spent years training to become a soldier. Once she travels beyond the city gates with the military, she’ll give the Tuads hell. However, the day she joins the ranks, she overhears a conversation that would sentence [destroy] her city—their Chancellor’s plan to open the gates and let the nightmares inside. [Hard to believe beasts capable of overrunning the entire planet can't get into this one city because the gates are closed. Has every place that has a gate been spared? Are the gates opened to let delivery trucks bring in food for the slum kids and alcoholic beverages for the drunks? Probably not, as there probably aren't any farms or distilleries that haven't been overrun. Why haven't the military killed all the slum kids and drunks so there'd be more food for the military, as would happen in real life?] [What does the Chancellor think is the upside to opening the gates?]

No one buys the tale, not from a green recruit like her, so she gets proof by breaking into the Chancellor’s office. [I'm pretty sure she couldn't possibly do that.] Or at least, she tries.

The military catches her and kicks her out, [Out of the Chancellor's office or out of the military?] and once that roundhouse kick is delivered, her friends ditch her too. [Her friends probably tried to talk her out of joining the military in the first place, but now they ditch her when she gets thrown out? Nice.] No one believes her, until she meets an underground band of street trash and carnies [With the Earth overrun by beasts and the city bursting at the seams, are there actually carnivals in operation? Or are these carnies actually ex-carnies who prefer the moniker "carnie" to "street trash"?] who trump themselves up as druids. ["Trump up" is accurate only if they aren't really druids. "Claim to be" is better if it's not clear whether  they are or not.] She might be honest, but she’s no idiot. Bailey doesn’t believe their claims of magic [Despite how terrible it felt when no one would believe her story, now, when she finally finds someone who does believe her, she doesn't believe their story? Nice.] until they reveal the fate of Alexandria they divined—the same plot she overheard. With only a couple of carnies, flaky magic, and a shoestring plan in their [her] corner, [I love (out of context, anyway) the descriptions we get on this blog of those who help the main characters in their quests, like "With only a couple of carnies, flaky magic, and a shoestring plan in their corner." Here are a few more, which took me very little time to find:


Aided by a cranky witch with authority issues and a mysterious priest who is too comfortable in combat situations, 

aided and impeded alike by many bizarre individuals, including a constantly babbling imp, a werewolf whose handsome looks hide inner turmoil, a talking stallion who prefers a good debate to a good fight, and a dwarf who would rather invent magical potions than mine gold,

Aided by her newfound friends, the advice of a monk, and only a moderate dose of sarcasm, 

helped and hindered by three men – a Thai policeman trying to balance loyalty to the force with his desire to find the truth, a charming but roguish British journalist addicted to life in the fast lane, and Sugar, her driver, who, like most Thais, sees a supernatural explanation behind everything.

with the help of a pet-shop owner who seems to know too much and is close to the leader and a doctor on a quest for a mythical recipe for Twinkies.

...will be helped by others in her quest: Saska, who also wishes to be trained as a summoner; the priest Denson, who knows much about Nerea's past; the angel Seth, and his summoner companion Arentil; Melody, Arentil's book-wise granddaughter, and even the goddess Yethde, who directly opposes Onago's plans for Nerea.

With the help of an ancient Oak, 

Accompanied by his annoying little brother, Caden; his skull-collecting neighbor, Alex; and Idona, a teenaged girl with purple hair and a temper, 

With the help of a bawdy, female dwarf, a delusional peasant who believes herself the banished heiress of a long-decrepit estate, a small potatoes thief, and a mediocre wizard who has a serious shapeshifting problem,

Aided by Gordie, an obsessive bagpiper with a penchant for Shakespeare and mischief,

...he somehow winds up with a ragtag group of companions: The stubborn mule of a centaur constantly complaining about his age and grumbling about how magic is always the first to go; the timid princess with unrequited feelings for Lim who runs away from home to escape an abusive father; the young rebel maid, rescued from a dungeon, whose general brashness and idealism disarm the boy's good sense faster than he can say "infatuation"; and the young dragonling who, after a near-fatal misunderstanding in the forest between his mother and Limorek, joins the quest as a sort of "studies abroad" outing.] Bailey’s ill-equipped to expose the Chancellor. [That depends on which carnies she has with her. For instance, the carnies who run the tilt-a-whirl and man the ring-toss game would be useless on this mission, but the ones who are good at guessing people's weight or hammering in tent stakes might come in handy.] However, if she can’t get her broken city to listen to the truth in time, the gates will open, and like the other husks razed by the Tuads, Alexandria will fall. [A "husk" is the outer covering of something. I'm guessing it was the cities that were razed and their husks are what was left when the razing was all over.]

"The Iron Legacy" is an 87,000 word YA fantasy.

Regards,



Notes


The word "iron" is common in steampunk titles. Not that you shouldn't use it in your title if it conveys something about the plot. Where did the title come from?

I would condense the first paragraph to something like:

After the beasts known as the Tuatha De Danann overran Earth and sent Bailey MacKinnon’s mom to an early grave, Bailey vowed revenge. Now that she's old enough, she's joined the military. But her first day in the ranks, she overhears talk of their Chancellor’s plan to open Alexandria's gates and let the nightmares inside.

Or, as the main plot seems to be stopping the chancellor, maybe we don't need Bailey's motivation for joining the military. We could open: Military recruit Bailey MacKinnon overhears a plot to open the gates of Alexandria, letting the beasts known as the Tuatha De Danann overrun the city. She tries to warn the populace, but no one will listen--until she meets an underground band of street trash and carnies
.  That leaves a lot of room to talk about their plan and what goes wrong and what will happen if they can't come up with something better. Devote less space to the situation and more to how Bailey and company handle it.

Years ago we had a query for a book titled The Theft of the Daidanna Dankenka Maru. If you could combine this book with that one, the query could begin: "When the Daidanna Dankenka Maru is stolen by the Tuatha De Danann," thus getting rejected before the end of the first sentence.

When she's eavesdropping on the conversation about letting the beasts into the city, does Bailey know it's not a couple soldiers joking around, or discussing a rumor? Is it the chancellor himself she overhears? If not, why haven't the people she overheard backed up her story? If so, does she hear him explaining that opening the gates will be a good thing because it's preferable to everyone starving to death? Or because it will clear the streets of all these damn carnies? Is he just an insane megalomaniac, and no one else has realized this and tried to warn the people until Bailey came along?


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31. Dino Buddies - The Secret of the Star Shaped Stones











Unwrapping...










Aunt Eeebs and Sprout have won the prestigious Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for their latest children’s book, Who Stole Second Base?, which focuses on overcoming bullying. With the awareness of bullying as a global epidemic, their book features the adorable Dino-Buddies in a challenging baseball game against the not-so-very-nice Dino-BuLLies who just won’t play fairly. But a baseball glove offers a special message regarding confidence and courage that enables the Dino-Buddies to overcome the bullying tactics of the Dino-BuLLies. Although the Dino-Buddies win the game, they more importantly learn that when you play fairly, you’re always a winner!


The Dino-Buddies are a family of colorful and caring dinosaurs created by this sister-and-brother team whose pseudonyms come from family terms of endearment. In addition to the writing of the books, Sprout creates all the illustrations that make the colorful world of the Dino-Buddies come alive.



"Friends of Distinction… Not Extinction™’, the Dino-Buddies™ are indeed Dino-Stars™! They are of a non-violent nature and enjoy wholesome activities, but sometimes they have to watch out for their not-so-very-nice neighbors… the Dino-BuLLies™!
The Dinosaur Debut is the first book in the series and introduces the Dino-Buddies™ characters. Currently, there are seven (7) titles:


The Dinosaur Debut
The Happy Campers
The Baby Buddy
Let’s Go To Grammy’s
Hit The Beach!
South of the Border

Who Stole Second Base?



About the authors...





The award-wining book, Who Stole Second Base? grew out of Sprout’s love for the game of baseball and the experiences he shared with his son in the sport. In fact, two of the dinosaur characters featured in the book series are namesakes for his children, “Lisi” and “Trey”. Response to the book and its message of anti-bullying has been overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by the 5-star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Aunt Eeebs and Sprout are currently producing Books 8, 9 & 10 of the series which will be available in early 2016.
Dino-Buddies books, t-shirts, CDs, tote bags, plush and other delightful gifts are available on DinoBuddies.com. Children can also play educational games and download coloring sheets from the website. The entire series of Dino-Buddies books is also available for purchase through Amazon, and are distributed through Follett Corporation, Baker & Taylor and others. Additionally, eBook Apps are available on Google Play and iTunes in English and Spanish with full narration plus 10 educational games – all for FREE!




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I put hours of work finding the best kid's books to review for you each day.  If you enjoy visiting Storywraps and would like to donate something for my time and effort I would greatly appreciate it.

Go to the top of my blog on the right hand corner (above my photo) and please donate what you feel lead to give.  The amount you donate and the frequency you donate is totally up to you.  I thank you in advance for your support.  I love what I do and appreciate any amount that you may give so I can make our community even better.  Thanks a million! 






Read on and read always!


It's a wrap.

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32. Dancing brush


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33. The Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship

Signs-try-e1349357333542

From our colleagues at Signs:

The University of Chicago Press and Signs are pleased to announce the competition for the 2017 Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship. Named in honor of the founding editor of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the Catharine Stimpson Prize is designed to recognize excellence and innovation in the work of emerging feminist scholars.

The Catharine Stimpson Prize is awarded biennially to the best paper in an international competition. Leading feminist scholars from around the globe will select the winner. The prizewinning paper will be published in Signs, and the author will be provided an honorarium of $1,000. All papers submitted for the Stimpson Prize will be considered for peer review and possible publication in Signs.

Eligibility: Feminist scholars in the early years of their careers (fewer than seven years since receipt of the terminal degree) are invited to submit papers for the Stimpson Prize. Papers may be on any topic that falls under the broad rubric of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Submissions must be no longer than 10,000 words (including notes and references) and must conform to the guidelines for Signs contributors.

Deadline for Submissions: March 1, 2016.

Please submit papers online at http://signs.edmgr.com. Be sure to indicate submission for consideration for the Catharine Stimpson Prize. The honorarium will be awarded upon publication of the prizewinning article.

Papers may also be submitted by post to

The Catharine Stimpson Prize Selection Committee
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
263 Holmes Hall
Boston, MA 02115

To visit the Signs site, click here.

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34. Cynsational News & Giveaways

Emma at her launch party signing Jan. 30 at BookPeople in Austin
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Emma Virjan on the release of What This Story Needs Is a Hush and a Shush (HarperChildren's, 2016)! From the promotional copy:

What this bedtime needs is a pig in a wig, brushing her teeth, combing her hair, and going to sleep with her pink teddy bear.

All Pig wants to do is sleep, but the farm animals are keeping her awake! Will she ever find some peace and quiet?

More News & Giveaways

Diversity in Reviews: Behind the Scenes with SLJ's Gatekeeper by Kiera Parrott from Reading While White. Peek: "How do I, sitting in a potentially powerful and privileged spot within the publishing ecosystem, ensure that our reviews not only shine a light on a diverse array of authors, illustrators, and subjects, but also surface stereotypes, cultural inaccuracies or insensitivities, or other problematic elements in text or illustrations?"

What Does Children's Literature in India Look Like? by Apoorva Sripathi from The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Peek: "Indian titles attempt to rethink stereotypes with relevant story lines, inclusion of words from regional languages (example, amma and appa instead of Mum and Dad), and scenes set in the Indian milieu."

Reconciling the Tug-of-War Between Teaching and Writing by Ryane Nicole Granados from Women Who Submit. Peek: "Being a writer who teaches or a teacher who writes means I have to train those around me to respect my time, and I have to learn to ask for help when the craziness of the world comes careening down upon me."

¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest from Lee & Low. Peek: "Next I prepared all the shades of acrylics that I would need for the spread and stored them in small clear jars. Each section of a color required several thin coats to achieve the rich look I was looking for."

The Older Writer by Juliet Marillier from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "...my first few years as a published writer, the roller-coaster feeling of that time, the steep learning curve, the need to make both business and artistic decisions without fully understanding what they meant, I think I had career hopes and ambitions that were rather different from my current ones."

Author Spotlight: Katherine Catmull from The Writing Barn. Peek: "...publishing is not an endpoint but the art of a long process."

Reflecting on Representation: Zetta Elliott and Edith Campbell from Zetta Elliott. Peek: "If there are 3000 novels published for young readers in the U.S. each year, then should we really be celebrating the publication of 30 Black-authored novels? And of those 30 authors, only two were making their debut in 2015?" See also Where Are the Diverse Children's Books? Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen and Matt de la Pena by Tracy Mumford from MPR News.

SCBWI Bologna Interview Series

Martha M. Rago
Martha M. Rago, executive creative director for Random House/Golden Books, will be participating in the upcoming SCBWI Bologna Showcase at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. She will be offering one-on-one portfolio critiques for illustrators who sign up in advance.

Stay tuned to bologna.scbwi.org for dates and times of the illustrator portfolio critiques and more information about the SCBWI Showcase at the Book Fair.

  

This Week at Cynsations


Cynsational Giveaways



More Personally

In the past week, I had the honor of participating in conversations about topics dear to me.

I joined Daniel José Older and Sabaa Tahir in answering questions on Diversity in YA Fantasy from Maggie Reagan from Booklist. Peek:


"The fantastical veil gives these kids the necessary distance, the perspective to relate and care. This is true for teens who we’d consider underrepresented in youth literature. It’s also true for those who see protagonists like themselves all the time. All of them need to see that diverse characters, diverse people, can be heroes that everyone cheers."
Shifting to format, see Writers on Writing: Cynthia Leitich Smith on Short Stories from Crazy QuiltEdi. Peek:


"My top pick would be Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005), with the caveats that I’m among the contributors and that I dearly wish there was a more current collection of shorts by Native authors."
Today, by 5 p.m. central, apply for the Austin SCBWI Scholarship for Creators of Diverse Characters.

Personal Links

LEGO Unveils Its First Disabled Character

Typewriter Rodeo: Valentine Poems
This Is Your Child's Brain on Reading
Rare Wild Jaguar in Arizona
#Women Not Objects
Lost Lion Population Found in Ethiopian Park
Linda Hogan Wins Thoreau Prize for Nature Writing
The Art of the Perfect Book Cover
Feral Hogs Spotted Near Round Rock (TX) Outlet Mall
U.S. Generals Want Women to Register for Draft
Why Aren't More Black Students Identified As Gifted?
BookPeople Hiring Director of Marketing and Publicity 
Discussion Guide: Watch Out for Flying Kids: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community by Cynthia Levinson
Want to End Prejudice? Watch a Sitcom


More about children's author Crystal Chan

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35. comix creatrix: 100 women making comics

Last night was amazing. The House of Illustration in London launched the UK's largest-ever exhibition of the work of pioneering female comics artists, in Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics.



Here's the striking poster by Laura Callaghan:



Do pop over to see the show, running until 15 May, just across from St Pancras stations (the one where you catch the Eurostar to France) and next to the glowing fountains of Central Saint Martins art college.



Speaking of France, this show couldn't be more perfectly timed. Curators Olivia Ahmad and Paul Gravett had been working with the House of Illustration to prepare the show for a long time, but it came right on the heels of a shocking announcement by France's top comics prize committee of an all-male shortlist of 30 international comics creators. What made it even worse was the board's surprise at public indignation and their follow-up explanations that there wasn't any strong female talent in comics, and general lack of supportiveness for women in the field. (You can read my article about that here.)



I only make comics occasionally and focus more on other kinds of children's book illustration, and go along to lots of social events dominated by women. But when I first started going along to comics events, very often I was the only woman in the room. Over the past ten years, this has changed so much, partly I think because of the coming-together of an arts & crafts movement with comics (look at comics by Philippa Rice and Isabel Greenberg to see what I mean), and comics moving away from being so entirely dominated by superheroes.


But there have always been women making comics, and the women who've made them have had to fight against all the odds that male comics makers struggle with (mostly do to with not getting paid enough), and also being marginalised by comics lovers who didn't care to look outside of their own very focused spheres of interest (Marvel, DC, 2000 AD, etc). But to pretend talented female comics creators don't exist makes some people VERY angry, such as comics expert Stephen Holland at Nottingham's Page 45 bookshop, retweeted here by comics legend Kate Charlesworth (who for a long time drew the comics for New Scientist magazine):


(Here's the Comics Beat article Stephen's referring to.)

So the best way to counter the Angoulême assertions would have been to set up a comics exhibition, just on the other side of the channel tunnel, rebutting that notion entirely. I can't even say how thrilled I am that this was already in the works, and here it is! I hope lots of men and women will go along to it; anyone interested in comics, drawing, illustration, storytelling, graphic design, history, typography, etc will find it fascinating.



Patrice Aggs was making comics long before I even moved to England, she makes comics with her son (John Aggs), and she's attended the Angoulême comics festival more times than I can keep track of. If they don't know who she is by now, they haven't been trying. It was great to meet her husband, Chris Aggs, who's a painter; I always see her zooming around on her own! She was always the last one to bed at Angoulême; the rest of us were dropping with tiredness and she'd still be up having intense conversations with comics people at 4am.



Here's Patrice's comics on display:



A lot of people know more about women in comics through Nicola Streeten, co-founded with Sarah Lightman of Laydeez Do Comics, an excellent series of talks (by anyone creative, not just women, but with a focus on women). Here's Nicola looking very fine with legend Suzy Varty in their matching lime greens.



Kripa Joshi goes back and forth between England and Nepal, and was in Nepal during the earthquake. The evening was great to get the chance to have a look at the anthology she and Elena Vitagliano have compiled to raise money for the earthquake victims.



(You can find out more about their anthology project together here.)



One of the cool things about the launch party was seeing people who'd been lauded in their field for ages, but never actually been featured in an establishment exhibition. There was some big-time excitement. I'm not even sure who this creator is (Claudia Davila, perhaps?), but she was totally lit up, I got all giggly seeing how excited she was.





Kate Evans was pretty excited, too, and I got a copy of her new book, Red Rosa, about Rosa Luxemburg.




Somehow I was so busy looking around in the exhibition space that I missed the speeches. (Oops!) So I never got to meet co-curator Olivia Ahmad. But here I am with Paul Gravett, who is one of the top people I can credit with jump-starting my career. He found me, probably at the first comics event I ever went to (a Yahoo group pub meet-up), and pointed me in the direction of David Fickling, who published me both in his DFC comic and with my first UK picture book. There's this notion that women in comics is a Women's Issue that only women will be interested in, but it's not at all; it's just as much about the thoughtful and clued-in men (Paul, Stephen Holland, David Fickling, etc) who encourage women and help us get pointed in the right direction so we can make comics that everyone might enjoy.



And talking about clued-in people, here's Audrey Niffenegger, who doesn't let the confines of medium or genre limit what she does; she's succeeded in everything from comics to bestselling novels to printmaking to her work being staged as a ballet in the Royal Opera House.



Despite being fairly young, Isabel Greenberg has already created an impresssive collection of work and I'm a HUGE fan. She has this amazing way of bringing together a craft element with modern storytelling twists on old legends that's spectacular.



I loved being able to see old favourites at the exhibition, such as these Moomin pencil roughs by Tove Jansson:



And Posy Simmonds, who first inspired me to make comics with her Gemma Bovery book:



And another person who got me making comics was Simone Lia, with her Fluffy books about a rabbit that I found in a clothing shop in Brighton, when Simone was still self-publishing them through Cabanon Press. (The Fluffy books were later taken up by Dan Franklin at Jonathan Cape.)



Philippa Rice continues to inspire me with her innovative approaches to making comics, using non-traditional formats and materials and lovely storytelling (I think I've bought at least ten copies of my favourite of her books, We're Out, as gifts for friends.) Here's an interview I did with her about the book. And here's Karen Rubins having a look:



But it wasn't all familiar faces and work at the show. One of the great thing about the Angoulême debacle was the hashtag #WomenDoBD, which highlighted LOADS of female creators I'd never heard of. And this exhibition was like that. Lizz Lunney felt the same:




Check out this lovely piece by Aurelié William Levaux:



And I definitely want to get a copy of His Dream of the Skyland by Aya Morton. My top new find, I think.



A case of work by female comics creators from back as far as 200 years:



Hey, it's work by my former studio mate Ellen Lindner! Ellen was the one who introduced me to LiveJournal and its comics community, which shaped so much of what I know now. She edits a magazine of comics by women called The Strumpet, and lots of us at the show have had work featured in that.



It's one of my buddies from back in DFC comic days! Emma Vieceli and I have had lots of adventures, including a trip to Paris to exhibit with her French publishers. Emma used to organise the Cartoon Village at MCM Expo and she's one of the people everyone goes to when they want to know something about comics.



I really must go back to the exhibition for a longer, quieter browse. Besides all the displays, they have loads of interesting-looking books in the reading room.



The exhibition is aimed at adults, so while I think parents could bring older children, they should be aware that some of the content is graphic (but not horrific, I'd say) and that the frames might be hung a bit high for short people to read closely without assistance.



Three cheers for the House of Illustration and everyone who worked hard to make this show happen! You can follow the House of Illustration on Twitter: @illustrationHQ.

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36. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e February 5th, 2016



Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

13 Productivity Apps to Help Keep Your Writing Goals on Track (Jett Farrell-Vega)
www.thewritelife.com/13-productivity-apps-writing/

Adding Conflict to Your Scenes (Janice Hardy)
http://blog.janicehardy.com/2010/11/find-your-plot-fridays-forcing-issue.html

Filling the Silence (Donald Maass)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/02/03/filling-the-silence/

Why These 6 Catchy Headlines Work — And How to Re-Create Them (Nicole Dieker)
www.thewritelife.com/why-these-6-catchy-headlines-work/

How Research Amps Up Your Story (Jerry Jenkins)
www.jerryjenkins.com/how-research-amps-up-your-story/

Reading the Market (Wendy Lawton)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reading-the-market/

Finding Comparable Books (Rachelle Gardner)
www.rachellegardner.com/finding-comparable-books/

Research is the Spice of Life (Aimie K. Runyon)
www.writerunboxed.com/2016/01/31/research-is-the-spice-of-life/

The Ten Events of the Highly Successful Writer (James Scott Bell) [Jon’s Pick of the week]
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/01/the-ten-events-of-the-highly-successful-writer.html

The Fair Contract Initiative (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-fair-contract-initiative.html


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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37. Fox News Journalist Megyn Kelly Inks Deal With Harper

Megyn Kelly (GalleyCat)Megyn Kelly has signed a book deal with the Harper imprint. The Fox News journalist (pictured, via) has become well-known for questioning the temperament of Donald Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, during a debate held in August 2015.

Lisa Sharkey, the senior vice president director of creative development, acquired the manuscript. Matt Harper, an executive editor, will edit this project.

According to the press release, this book will mark Kelly’s debut as an author. The release date has been set for Fall 2016.

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38. ‘Mrs Ribeiro’ Poetry Video Goes Viral

Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet and the founder of the Project V.O.I.C.E. organization, honored an inspirational teacher by crafting a piece called “Mrs Ribeiro.” The video embedded above features her performance at Inner City Arts in Los Angeles.

The poem can be found in Kay’s 2014 collection, No Matter the Wreckage. To check out more of her work, click on these links to listen to a reading of  The Typea reading of Montauk, and her talk on the TED 2011 stage.

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39. Flogometer for Tamara--are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins engaging the reader with the character
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • The character desires something.
  • The character does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question.

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Also, if you think about it, the same checklist should apply to the page where you introduce an antagonist.


Tamara sends a revision of her first chapter of This Bitter Cup. The rest of the chapter follows the break.

“Cora, get away from the window!” mother shrieks. “Someone will see you.”

I leave the small window with murky glass, allowing the curtain to drift back into place. “Mother, just who is ‘someone’?”

Them! They will never stop until they have us. They seek us relentlessly and we must not let them win. We must not.”

“Let them win what? Since father died, we’ve lost everything.” My words come out too curt and I hadn’t intended that. So, I pull in a deep breath before trying again. “Exactly who is out there?”

“It doesn’t matter if you know who they are. You could know precisely who they are and still never find them. They are quiet clever, ingenious with disguise. Practically imperceptible. I keep telling you­­­­­­­­­­―do not trust anyone. You must listen to me; our lives depend on it and much, much more,” she declares, her agitation growing until she chokes with intensity. She swallows hard to compose herself. And when she speaks again, her voice is soothing, comforting, almost like a real mother. “Cora, I trust you.”

I want to believe her, but I see the manic eyes and crazed expression. They make me want to shout, yank out my hair, or run through the door, but instead I utter, “Then why won’t you tell me something—anything.”

Were you compelled to turn the page?

Good story questions and tension in this opening, enough to make me want to know more. The writing is pretty clean, but you should capitalize Mother and Father when they are used as names as you do here. And I think you meant “quite clever,” not “quiet clever.” Stay with it, there’s promise here.

For what it’s worth.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2016 Ray Rhamey, chapter © 2016 by Tamara

 

Continued:

“I don’t want them to have any information they can torture out of you.”

Chills cascade over my body and I shiver.

Mother nods sagely, acknowledging that I’m right to be fearful.

But I push the dark, forbidding feelings away. They’re a temporary weakness. A feral response to her threatening predictions and I refuse to be frightened of something without a name. It could be a person, a thing, or some existential idea—I don’t know. Because living with my mother is like living in a bizarre, tangled-up spy conspiracy. Except, the only true twist to our scenario —we play the game alone.

I glance over at mother; she’s pale and ragged, too thin and unkempt. A mere shadow of her former self. My scrutiny moves to the lank brown hair she’s carelessly chopped short. It’s a chaotic wreck; a hapless, derelict helmet dumped on top her head. Without meaning to my forehead furrows.

Mother senses my gaze and the clickity-clicking of her rapid knitting needles stops. She glances up from the cloister of the shabby, green chair and blinks back at me, resembling a confused, old owl. So, forcing a reassuring smile, I meet her eyes and hold them until she’s content to resume her work.

Meager sunlight seeps by the taut curtains, leaving a single gas lamp to provide illumination. The stale room holds no decorations and only a minimal amount of furniture: mother’s chair, the gas lamp on a short table, a blocky ottoman. Since all mother’s moving has whittled down her existence, she lives like a transient; hence the house resembles its owner, an empty shell.

I wander toward the only other piece of furniture and perch myself on the edge. In unsatisfied silence, I wait for the clock to drag its hands to noon. Until a knock at the door shatters the calm.

Mother’s head whips up, her body rigid, her breathing rapid.

“I’ll get it.”

“No! Go to the kitchen. Do something quiet,” mother flings out her words like silent, whizzing shrapnel.

I purse my lips and roll my eyes, but I obey.

Mother waits until I step around the corner to open the door.

“Mrs. Kent, a grocery delivery for you,” a man states.

“I only receive deliveries on Wednesday.” A pause. “Why are you really here?”

“Ma’am, your delivery date changed. It is now Tuesday. Check the bags, they should hold everything you ordered.”

I hear rustling, then mother says, “It’s all there. But, that doesn’t mean this isn’t odd.”

In my imagination I picture mother staring at him with a hawk-like stare while the man squirms with discomfort.

“I don’t understand what you mean,” the man replies after a brief pause.

“I know who you are and why you’re here, but don’t believe for a moment I will tell you anything. My husband and I made a pact and I don’t intend on breaking it now.”

Feeling sorry for the man, I step out of the kitchen. “It’s fine, mother. Let me carry the bags.” I give the man an apologetic smile, but he stares back at me with a well-arched frown, his long, stretchy neck reaching forward so his eyes can examine me.

Mother looks back at me with horror before she shoves the man backward, steps out after him, and shuts the door behind her, barricading me inside. A muffled exchange of heated words follows and then improbably fast, mother bursts through the door and slams it shut.

“Mother, it was a grocery delivery. You must recognize the grocer. He’s not one of them.”

“You can’t know that,” she snaps.

“It doesn’t matter anyway, Father wasn’t killed by them. You realize where he worked—in the wilds, one of the most hostile, most impossible environments anywhere.”

She huffs back at me before moving to place her ear at the door, listening for some unseen evil that lurks around doorways in broad daylight.

“And that was just the benign landscape. What about the Duroians. Those monsters roam the countryside like a plague and they would have annihilated father and his team in an instant.” I wave my hands in intensity. “But, the Duroians are not them, and they had nothing to do with Father’s death. Ill-fated circumstances caused his end. Father warned us many times of the risks and we both accepted it, always thinking nothing unfortunate would ever happen...,” I let my voice trail off.

“Foolish, naive girl,” is the reply she deigns. For like always, mother remains silent on the subject, refusing to discuss or even acknowledge father’s death and our reality.

But as long as she’s stuck in this black, sucking void of delusion, I’m alone in the world. Mother’s all I have left, so I can’t give up. “Surely you haven’t forgotten everything. Somewhere in your mind you’ve got to remember what father told us. His caution, his concern, his surety that tragedy would disrupt his work. You can’t have lost it all.”

But she gazes back at me with this sad, pathetic face. Almost like she pities me.

Her reaction makes me angry. Angry she can be so weak. That she can wallow, broken and helpless when she should be strong. Strong for me. I was the child. But somewhere our roles got mixed up, and she became the child, insistent and irrational and incapable of caring for me or herself. And this weakness, this inaction makes me want to lash out, shake her, strike her, throw things, and shout. Anything. I would do absolutely anything to make her see reason.

But all the fury in the world, all the force, all the sound arguments could hold no sway over the fantasy. I need proof. Hard facts. I must discover the truth and bring back my mother. I understood long ago real evidence was the only way to right her mind. So, I resign to say no more. Instead of angry, self-righteous, indignant arguments, I will smile, reassure, and play the good daughter. It is the right thing to do, the kind thing. And it is more important to be good.

I’m deciding my course of action while mother sneaks around, listening at every opening for even a whisper of a threat. When she feels satisfied no imminent peril threatens, she moves back to her knitting, resuming a frenetic pace. I slouch on my seat opposite her and stare into the empty air wondering why I haven’t taken her to a therapist.

When the carriage finally arrives for me at noon, we give each other a stiff hug in an unemotional farewell. She gives me her usual somber warnings with a face pale and pinched from anxiety while I dutifully accept her advice. Then she holds out a pair of knobby, woeful socks and nods at me to accept them. Our eyes meet for the briefest moment before I take the socks with a tight smile and scamper out the door towards the waiting carriage. As soon as the door clicks shut, it begins to rumble away and like always, I try to hide the hollow, empty spot in my chest that emerges when I must go.

Sticking my arm out the window, I give mother a quick goodbye wave she doesn’t see, but only because she’s already slammed the door shut. Probably securing all seven heavy-duty, industrial locks too. So, I don’t bother checking to see if she will peek through the curtains to watch me fade into the distance. I know she would never risk such unnecessary exposure. I don’t even turn to watch the elementary shape of mother’s house disappear into the surrounding identical homes. Instead, I lean back and speculate how long it will be before mother moves on because of another threatening notion.

After traveling for five days along lonely, poorly maintained roads through a sea of muted greens and browns, I arrive at the gate to the forward operating base I call home. Bags in hand, I check in with the gate attendant while my carriage rambles away. The man with the too-small eyes and little-to-no neck processes me at a glacial pace, asking an exorbitant number of questions, checking then rechecking my bags, conducting an overly thorough physical inspection and then cross-examining me again. When he finally grants me clearance, I lug my baggage towards the main compound that is dark, institutional, and foreboding.

In the Social Republic, my base is considered quite modern. Although in reality, we operate in antiquity like everyone else. We may have electricity, but it’s for contemporary technologies, not human comfort. The government wants our commander in possession of every tool to war against the Duroians. For a residual amount of energy resources are left and a small amount of power is still in production, but there’s nothing available for average citizens. The Socialist and Duroian governments hold a monopoly on the dwindling energy supply and they wage war for what little remains.

I tell myself that even though I work on a military base, I am not part of the war effort. I’m only a physician here. I heal people. Though sometimes I’m not sure. Sometimes, I think I am part of the problem, mending soldiers that will fight for the government’s self-indulgent greed. I have talked about this with my only real friend on the base, Pasha. She tells me I think too much and to quit over-analyzing every detail— it’s a job; just do my job. I guess she’s probably right.

Pasha is one of the few women who work here. She’s a research scientist, and she’s extravagantly intelligent, but she doesn’t flaunt it to the extent she comes off eccentric and obscure like the other scientists. She has smooth, caramel skin and a slightly hooked nose that’s not so definitive as to make her unattractive. But her best feature by far is her long, glossy black hair. Except she knows this and having a flair for the dramatic, she often tosses it around. Honestly, I believe the only reason she works here is the abundance of single men.

Pasha finds me not long after I arrive and sits on the bed in my small, simply furnished quarters, eager to fill me in on the latest news and gossip. Well, mostly just gossip. She leads in with the most mundane news she deems worthy of repetition, “Matthew McGuffin broke his arm last week. He slipped on a pile of mashed potatoes in the dining hall. And, surprise, surprise, Shannequa Jamison dyed her hair again, blonde. She looks absolutely ridiculous and now she will never catch a man.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she concedes. “But that’s not the best news.” And before she will disclose a single, delicious word, Pasha waits for me to glance up while tapping her foot with impatience.

Catching the hint, I pause my unpacking to look back at her with the most pathetic attempt of showing interest imaginable.

She laughs. “You won’t look so afflicted when I tell you the news.”

My face remains unchanged.

Undeterred, her eyes grow large, her face animated. “A large company of soldiers will arrive, accompanied by a new base commander. His name is Commander Alessio Ferrair and I understand he is a vision to behold.”

I turn back to my unpacking.

“You could try to act interested, Cora. This will matter to you tomorrow.”

I sigh and sit, turning my face towards her with unblinking eyes to show I’m giving her my full attention.

She puckers her face up, disgruntled. “Well, it obviously doesn’t matter to certain people, but I’m tired of weak, ugly men who think having a backbone means shouting, issuing threats, and degrading people. I’m ready for a handsome, young man who understands how to lead and also happens to be single.”

“What does that have to do with the new base commander?”

“You really don’t pay attention to anything that isn’t right in front of your face do you?”

“Then please explain,” I reply, wishing she would get on with it. I have so much to accomplish before my shift in the infirmary tonight.

“I told you that a new commander is arriving. But what I haven’t told you yet,” she pauses for dramatic effect, “is that he’s supposed to be devastatingly handsome, not just a nice-looking guy, but inhumanly gorgeous. He’s tall, powerfully built, and a real muscle man. Absolutely Grecian god-like.” Pasha raises her eyebrows in tantalizing expression.

“My source says he’s young for a commander as well. Maybe only a few years older than us. Kinda makes you wonder how he rose to the top so fast. I bet there’s a good story there and I will find that out, but for now, the incomparable Commander Ferrair leads the only battalion entirely comprised of men and it’s one of the only groups with enough skill and passion to equal their Duroian counterparts. It’s reported that they are so fierce and so brilliant they have never seen defeat. Well that’s what I’ve heard anyway, though I’m sure it’s true, because it came from a very reliable source.

“But I am warning you, there will be many injured, because these men are arriving straight from a bloody engagement with the Duroians in the volcanic mountain range and it’s said they drove the Duroians deep into their own territory. Of course, this success must be credited where it belongs.” Pasha beams. “To Commander Ferrair, obviously.” Her eyes hold a far-away glaze, “He must be so dashing.”

“I wonder how this commander can do anything but fail, with such unrealistic expectations,” I counter.

Although Pasha continues as if I hadn’t spoken, citing an ever-increasing list of mythical qualities the new commander and his soldiers, must certainly possess. Until finally, she concludes with a confident raise of her chin, “Well, now that I know everything about him, it’s obvious we’re fated for each other. I mean he’s so perfect. How could we not fall madly and desperately in love? So, I’m preparing for our wedding. Military style, of course. I mean you never can start these things too early. Military men expect everything to be meticulous.” She pauses to sigh dreamily. Before recovering to add, “Well, I can hardly wait to meet him. I’ve picked out my outfit and make-up combination, but how do you think I should wear my hair?”

Now, I smile at her openly and she grins confidently at me in return, though I can’t help wondering how she found out so much concerning the commander and his battalion. I mean the new battalion is big news and such interesting information spreads fast, but the extent of Pasha’s knowledge is ridiculous. However, within hours of her predictions regarding the state of the arriving men, I find out that Pasha was right. About everything.

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40. Harold Speed, Painting from the Life: Part 1

Today we'll start Chapter 9: "Painting from the Life" from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by comments of my own. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

The chapter on "Painting from The Life" takes up a major part of the book, so let's break it down into parts, starting with the introduction and Painting from the life in two colors.


1. "Painting from the antique [plaster casts] is now much out of fashion."
Fortunately it's not out of fashion any more, and is very much a part of the curriculum of modern academic ateliers.

2. Why it's good to paint from casts before painting from a live model.
Speed explains why painting from plaster casts is a good idea. Skin has a lot of variation in local color. This variation has to be considered in addition to the modeling. Also, hair also doesn't follow the normal principles of modeling. I would add that if the light is placed too near the model, there's a variation in value intensity that also must be considered.


3. "Keep your work as large and simple in treatment as possible."
 This is consistent with Speed's advice throughout: State the broad masses with a big brush first and save the nuances for later.

4. "Reflected lights in the shadows are what give the luminous quality to them, without which they are heavy and opaque."
Speed explains how reflected light usually comes from the direction opposite to the light, making the darkest part of the shadow (often called the "core" of the shadow), just beyond the terminator. This isn't always true, however. If there are sources of reflection or secondary fill lights near the viewer, the core won't be apparent. It's often an artistic choice whether to include it. The core of the shadow is also generally not apparent with indirect, diffused, or overcast light.

5. Painting from the life in two colors.
Speed suggests using blue-black for the cool color. You can mix such a blue-black by mixing some French ultramarine deep with ivory black. On the warm side, you can use Venetian red or burnt sienna. As Speed says, the relationship of warm and cool colors is one of the most important features to watch in flesh painting, or for that matter, any painting.


6. The advantages of painting with limited palettes
"In training oneself, the thing to aim at is taking the difficulties one at a time, and concentrating the whole attention on them....Muddling along with a full palette, and the whole difficulties of painting presented at once, which is the common method, is asking for trouble."

Using limited palettes is like living within a strict financial budget, where you're forced to account for every expense. It forces the painter to get the most out of the limited resources, and encourages clean handling.

"Fine coloring usually results from a simple palette the range of which has been fully used. You are forced, by starting with two colors, to find the utmost that can be obtained with them." Later when you use a full palette, you won't be seduced into using too many bright colors.

7. "In flesh, seen under an ordinary indoor aspect, the half-tones are usually the coolest colors, the warm being in the shadows and to a lesser degree in the lights."
I'm always a little skeptical about such hard and fast rules, but this is a good one to think about and experiment with. The Bouguereau detail at left shows a very nice distribution of warm and cool colors, with slightly cool halftones and warm colors in the shadow and the forms and hollows of the form. I suspect that subsurface scattering and the peculiar qualities of how skin reflects light may be a part of this principle.


Next week—Chapter 9, "Painting from the Life," continued.
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In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.

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41. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 2/5/16: Artful smears

CLOWES.lg_.jpg  § Hoo boy the drumbeat for Patience by Daniel Clowes is beginning and here’s a petty epic profile of Clowes by Robert Ito with ILLUSTRATIONS by Rutu Modan, Anders Nilsen, Richard Sala, Isabel Seliger, Seth (above, der) and Anuj Shrestha just as a super duper bonus feature. Ito weaves together Clowes history with the rise […]

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42. Beyond the Red: Review

A scorched desert planet, politics, rebellion, and star crossed love. What could go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out. Beyond the Red is a love story disguised as political science fiction, but not a particularly effective one. To make matters worse, there is a love triangle. Let’s take a look at the many ways in which this novel does not work. The story is told in dual POV. We have Eros (seriously, that’s his name. Why?), the half human, half Sepharon outcast who is captured and enslaved to the Sepharon elite. We also have Kora, the Sepharon queen fighting to hold onto her throne. When Kora and Eros meet, he is taking a beating for being an insubordinate and unruly slave. For reasons that are completely indeterminate, Kora decides this insubordinate stranger would be the ideal personal guard. She knows him barely several minutes, and barely tests his combat skills,... Read more »

The post Beyond the Red: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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43. Contextual cartography: an email exchange with Henry Greenspan and Tim Cole, Part 2

Two weeks ago, we published the first part of an exchange between Henry Greenspan and Tim Cole. Below, they wrap up their conversation, turning to the intellectual difficulties of taking context into consideration. The issues they raise should be of interest to all oral historians, so we want to hear from you!

The post Contextual cartography: an email exchange with Henry Greenspan and Tim Cole, Part 2 appeared first on OUPblog.

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44. MEET THE AUTHORS KIMBERLING AREA LIBRARY

Fourth Annual Free Event More information Ozark Writers league Facebook page.

 Meet the Authors Festival Kimberling Area Library Saturday, February 6, 2016 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM

Meet more than 40 regional authors, Listen to these 11 interesting speakers. Speakers 9:50 AM---McQueen, Newman, Racing, and Sailing--Fred Harshbarger 10:10 AM—Winds of Deception--Cover-up by President Johnson--Tierney James 10:30 AM—History of Fort Leonard Wood--Paul William Bass 10:50 AM—History of a Professional Baseball League in the Ozarks--J. B. Hogan 11:10 AM—What’s the Big Deal about Ginseng--Madison Woods 11:30 AM—Orbit the Famous Dog--Peter Longley 12:00 PM—I’m One of the Hillbillies You’ve Heard About--K.D. McCrite 12:20 PM—Your Tongue Determines Your Destiny--April Shenandoah 12:40 PM—Choices Along our Path--Diane Yates 1:00 PM—Fate and Timing Changed My Life and History--Billie Armstrong 1:20 PM---Bringing Out the Best in Our Youth--Eddie Bowman (Chester Drawers) A door prize will be given after each speaker’s presentation. Complimentary Coffee and Cookies will be served throughout the day.

 For more information go to: www.authors.kalib.org or call 417-739-2525 45 Kimberling Blvd., Kimberling City, MO 65686

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45. Will it work?

Question: I am writing a new adult book, but it has magic in it because it is a fantasy/fiction novel. Will readers like the novel because it has magic

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46. Mystery

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47. Poetry Friday: The Awakening of Dermuid by Austin Clarke

Sleepy moths fluttered
In her dark eyes,
And her lips grew quieter
Than lullabies.
Swaying with the reedgrass
Over the stream
Lazily she lingered
Cradling a dream.

- the final stanza of The Awakening of Dermuid by Austin Clarke

Read the poem in its entirety.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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48. Posy the Puppy

Posy the Puppy (Dr. Kitty Cat #1) Jane Clarke. 2016. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was most impressed with Jane Clarke's new series Dr. KittyCat. Posy the Puppy is the first title in the series. The premise is simple and fun. Dr. KittyCat is a cat who is a vet. In this first book, she and her nurse, Peanut, see several animal patients. In particular, they see Posy the puppy, who is mysteriously sick and unable to compete in a Field Day competition. Can Dr. KittyCat help Posy feel better? Will Posy be able to compete after all?

I think the book is super-sweet, super-adorable, super-fun. The illustrations use "real" pictures of animals in their mostly purple illustrations. The fact that I love, love, love cats, I like animals, and I love the color purple, well, it helps me really love this new chapter book.

Chapter books and series books are both important stages in the learning to read, learning to love to read process. Do you remember which books you read as a child that helped you learn to love reading?
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Avoid Melodrama by Writing Deeper by Martina Boone

If you've ever read one of our own Martina Boone's books, you know that she rocks emotion. So, who better to listen to if you're seeking to add more emotional depth to your writing. We're revisiting one of Martina's old craft posts today that will help you do just that. Read how Martina will take you from bland writing to something deeper...even with zombies!


Writing Deeper: A Craft of Writing Post by Martina Boone

"Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought – even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation." ~ Geoff Dyer

Books are about what happens and why. But what keeps us turning pages is our desire, our need, to know how the protagonist feels about it and how those emotions will make her respond.

Think back to when you were a kid. What books kept you up with a flashlight under the covers? What books lately have kept your heart racing long after hubby was snoring happily beside you? Chances are, it wasn’t just high-action and shoot-em-ups. For me, at least, that compulsion to find out what comes next isn't the result of chases or explosions, it comes more from emotional resonance, from an MC whose response is honest and prompts her to make decisions that lead to new complications and new decisions. That’s when I fall in love. THAT'S when I connect.

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50. Eric Carle's HAVE YOU SEEN MY CAT

A reader sent me some photos of Eric Carle's Have You Seen My Cat? First published in 1973 by Little Simon, it looks like it may have first been published in German, in 1972. It is a Ready To Read book. It is also available as a board book. You can also get it in Dutch. Or Afrikaans.

Here's the synopsis:

In Eric Carle’s charming and popular story, Have You Seen My Cat?, a little boy worries about his missing cat and travels to different places in search of his pet. The boy encounters numerous feline counterparts as he searches, including lions, leopards, and tigers—but it isn’t until the last page that he finally finds his missing pet!

Is this kid a time traveler?! Or, is he going to Hollywood movie sets?! What I'm getting at is this: the illustrations depict people--who are not like the, shall we say American white boy--as exotic. This is just like we saw in 2015's much acclaimed Home, by Carson Ellis.  Remember that?! I wrote about them, and so did Sam Bloom at Reading While White. 

Here. Take a look at some of the illustrations in Have You Seen My Cat? This is a page from the Chinese board book edition:



Here's two pages from a video of someone reading the Ready to Read edition:





I'm going to be a bit snarky here...

Have you seen this book? Is it on your shelf?


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