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1. SDCC ’14: Careers in Creativity

 

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

Industry people discussing roles open in creativity.

By: Nick Eskey

In today’s world, with the level of connectivity we all share, and all the available options for entertainment, there is a greater need to stand out from the competition. To achieve this, there’s a greater need for creativity. Creative jobs exist in all different avenues, whether it be comics, movies, television, or that brand-new-fangled thing called the “internet.” Dawn Rivera, Evan Spiridellis, Brook Keesling, Andy Cochrane, Scott Campbell, and Kim Makey, all individuals who in some way are connected to creative roles. They all represent their various industries at this year’s Creative Careers in Entertainment panel.

Back in the earlier days of the internet, Evan Spiridellis and his brother began to create animated flash videos, and got wide recognition. In 1999, the brothers founded Jib Jab Studios, around a time when they felt the internet looked promising for storytelling. But when they weren’t seeing much in terms of revenue, they eventually realized, “interweb cartoons are BAD business.” At the suggestion of Evan’s brother, in 2007 the pair started Jib Jan Ecards. Their ecards allowed customers to customize them, to the point of placing their faces in the animation. “The beauty of the internet is that you can do whatever you want. There’s more room for creativity,” said Evan. And two years ago, Jib Jab launched what they felt would be the equivalent of “Sesame Street” if launched today. “Storybots is fun, safe, and with teacher approved apps such as storybooks… Storybots’ mission is to fuse art, technology, and fun to further entertainment.”

Dawn Rivera, talent development and outreach for Disney Animation, discussed the Disney legacy and mindset. “Disney believes  in making compelling stories, appealing characters, and believable worlds.” Right now, Disney is working on a new movie called Big Hero 6. It will be their first Marvel inspired film since their acquisition. If interested in Disney, they have their own school of animation.

Sitting somewhere between the level of Jib Jab and Disney, Cartoon Network Studios is always on the lookout for new talent. Brook Keesling, talent development for Cartoon Network Studios’ art program, talked of the various in house cartoons that they currently have in production, such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Uncle Grandpa. They all are from artists that work directly for the studio. “I’m always looking at work from students, all the way to professionals.” Aside from cartoonists, Brook also spoke of how they are always looking for storyboard artists. “They’re the ones that actually do the writing.” If you’re interested in working for Cartoon Network, look up “Cartoon Network Next Generation.”

Kim Mackey, head of recruitment for Dreamworks, talked on how the studio is always looking to grow their business, not just from the movie side of things, but also in publishing, television, and graphic design.

In videogames, such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft, Blizzard Entertainment is known for their large scale environments and their high attention to detail. Artistic recruitment lead Scott Campbell described all of the different cogs that go into their designs. Aside from the game art itself, there is also the 2D and 3D visual elements, concept art, and props that fully flesh out their games. “We rely on our cinematic artists, creative developers, texture artists, environment artists, character artists, and prop artists for the visuals of our games.” If interested in positions in Blizzard, check “Jobs.Blizzard.com.”

And the largest in my opinion in this creative pool, is one word: Mirada. Guillermo Del Toro, filmmaker and effects artist, founded the studio. What do they do specifically? Andy Cochrane, interactive and new media director, as well as FX supervisor, joked about how hard it is to describe what Mirada exactly does. “We do so much. It really depends on who we are working with or what we are working on… We’ve described a few times as ‘Guillermo Del Toro’s imaginarium.’” Mirada can range from anywhere between animators, to visual effects artists, to audio mixers. Guillermo Del Toro founded Mirada because from what he feels, “There are two people in story telling; one’s on the front of the ship looking forward, and those on the back… looking at how far they are moving away from where they came from.” Mirada is part of those who are on the forefront of where story telling is going.

From all these industries, we can see how large of a scale there are for creative individuals. If you are someone who wants a job in artistic work, research what companies are out there, and what openings they might have that match what you’re looking for.

0 Comments on SDCC ’14: Careers in Creativity as of 7/28/2014 1:16:00 AM
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2. Four People and a Playwright Looking for a Decent Play

This was a time-waster while developing characters in my play, "Gin..." As the playwright plodded along adding and deleting dialogue, the characters of the play began to show signs of rebellion - at least they thought it was rebellion since they weren't exactly sure what a rebellion was. It's a longer piece but an enjoyable light one. It's cut and pasted from Word so ignore the formatting.


By Eleanor Tylbor
 
 
AT RISE:      
 
Four women are seated on fold-up chairs around a card table, absorbed in adjusting the playing cards in their hands. Bowls of popcorn and soft drink cans litter the surface of the table. On the other side of the stage the playwright (JULIE) is sitting at a computer desk, arms bent at elbows, staring out into space. She works the keyboard as the characters recite their lines
 
BRENDA
In case anyone cares, something is about to happen…very soon now…could even be momentarily…I can feel it…
                         Lays cards down on the table and thrusts remaining card in the
                         air for all to see
 
(Cont’d.) Victory is at hand – or inmy hand, in this case! Oh I’m a winner all right!
CHARLENE
                         Shoving a hand full of popcorn in her mouth
 
Goof fo' you. Paf me de drink, Miffi
 
BRENDA
Didn't your momma teach you it's not nice to eat and talk? Then again for some people, a full mouth is part of a lifestyle. Isn't that right Mitzi, honey?
 
MITZI
Jealousy will get you nowhere, sweetie.  At least I'm not a dried up where it counts!
 
BRENDA
Touchy! I was merely commenting to Charlene that well-bred people don't speak with their mouths full! But then being that you’re a multi-tasker…I mean handling more than one person at a time…
 
MITZI
Breeding comes naturally in your family, doesn't it? Did they forget to give you your cube of sugar today? Clop your hoof once for yes and two for no
 
CHLOE
(to herself)
Bicker, bicker…bicker, … It would be nice to have a quiet game of cards for a change without throwing verbal knives at each other
 
CHARLENE
I think I'm close to calling Gin…
 
BRENDA
I would stay out of this if I were you, Chloe. Is your brother eligible for parole, yet?
 
CHLOE
I'm gonna start calling you Bossy, along with the other "b" word that rhymes with itch, and usually associated with a female dog! I try to be nice to you and what do I get in return?
 
                         CHLOE stares into space for approx. 10 seconds in silence
 
What do I get in return? Does anybody know?
 
CHARLENE
Do we guess?
CHLOE
I don’t think so. My mind is a complete blank. Is that normal?
 
           Pause of 10 seconds while they all stare out into space
 
CHARLENE
I’m waiting

BRENDA
Me too. What are we waiting for?
 
MITZI
Some words and sentences I think

 
BRENDA
(puzzled)
Don't blame me for what comes out of my mouth. I just say the words. I don't create them. By the way, Chloe, what's your brother in for this time? Armed robbery or is it murder? I didn't mean to say that…or maybe I did…I’m not sure
MITZI
I really don't know why but I feel compelled to tell you…
 
                         Stands up and leans over the table towards BRENDA
 
BRENDA
(standing up)
What? Anybody?
 
MITZI
Why am I standing? I mean, what's my motivation? Could somebody tell me, please?
 
CHLOE
So sit down if you’re not sure. My philosophy is when in doubt – don’t
 
MITZI
Don’t what?
 
CHLOE
Um - I dunno. Take my word for it and just don’t. That’s all
 
CHARLENE
(excitedly)
Gin! What’s supposed to happen, now?
 
BRENDA
I’m not sure but I think something important is gonna happen. I can feel it in my bones. Does anybody have any ideas?
 
MITZI
Well…for starters, we’re all holding these hard pieces of paper in our hands
 
CHLOE
I wonder if that’s significant. What do yours look like, Brenda?
 
BRENDA
Let’s see… White background with red and black thingies…
 
MITZI
Thingies?
 
BRENDA
I dunno what you call them but they’re pretty, though. And there are numbers in the corners
 
CHLOE
Same here! Go figure!
 
MITZI AND CHARLENE TOGETHER
Ours too!
 
BRENDA
Okay. We’re making progress here. Hey! These are playing cards
 
 CHARLENE
You think?
 
 BRENDA
I know for a fact! Those words just popped into my head!
 
CHARLENE
So you say. You could’a just make them up on the spur of the moment to impress us
 
BRENDA
Have you ever heard me use them before?
 
CHLOE
I never heard them in my entire life and that’s the truth
 
BRENDA
Then you’re all just gonna hav’ta take my word for it! These things are called playing cards
 
MITZI
Let’s say you’re right. What about them?
 
BRENDA
I dunno…What comes next?
 
CHARLENE
Y’know - I’ve been wondering if I should be eating popcorn or maybe change it for something else like, candy for example or ice cream
 
MITZI
All you think about is food, food, food! There are more important things in life
 
BRENDA
Really? Like?
 
MITZI
Well…there just are. I feel it

 
CHLOE
Sometimes, I get the feeling like I'm a puppet on a string or something, bowing to someone's wishes. Do any of you ever get that feeling?
 
CHARLENE
I said, ‘Gin’! Hello? I'll try again. Gin… Gin… Gin!
 
ALL TOGETHER
So?
 
CHARLENE
Darned if I know. We show up every day and twice on weekends holding these playing cards in our hands. Why I keep asking myself. Why am I here? Why are we all here? Sometimes I yell out,  “Gin!” out loud but nobody answers. Shouldn’t somebody answer me? I’ve been screaming that word for the last six months. Always the same words and lines and then I call out, "Gin!"
                         Stares out in space and babbles to an invisible person
 (Cont’d.) ‘…she tries to make the others understand but they just stare at her blankly…she must determine the reason for her very existence…’
 
BRENDA
Who are you talking to?
 
CHARLENE
I really can’t say. Suddenly a bunch of words came tumbling out of my mouth for no reason. It's not the first time this has happened
 
BRENDA
Ask Mitzi. She knows all about objects in mouths
 
MITZI
I'm so sick of your sexual innuendoes, Brenda
 
CHLOE
Why do you react that way whenever the word “mouth” is mentioned?
 
MITZI
It’s not that I want to but I feel I have to. It’s as if I don’t have any choice in the matter
 MITZI stands up with hands on hips, leans forward until her face  is directly in front of Brenda

BRENDA
Yes?
 
MITZI
And…um…something else…
 
                         Moves away from table, hops up and down and starts
 shadow boxing, fists waving in the air
 
(Cont’d.) I took a self-defense course! My hands are lethal weapons!
 
                         Cuts the air with side of hand
 
CHLOE
And that means…?
 
MITZI
You are so not with it.  It means…it means…
 
BRENDA
Oh pllleeze! She doesn’t know
 
BRENDA
Let's settle this once and for all! C'mon – right here and now
 
MITZI
Fine with me…what are we supposed to do next?
 
BRENDA
Just… keep hitting the air and dancing around I suppose
 
                         BRENDA and MITZI spar, fists jabbing the empty air
 
CHLOE
                         Stands up and places her purse strap over her shoulder
 
That's it! Nobody seems to care that I have yelled “Gin!”…whatever that means, but I'm sure it's important.  I don't know about you all but I'm leaving! Anybody else gonna follow me?
 
 MITZI
                         Attempts to attract the attention of the playwright
 
Hello? You up there? Could you stop staring at that screen for a minute? This isn't working for me at all. I'm sick-and-and tired of being a slut with a one-track mind. This play of yours is a bunch of words with no plot or direction and it breaks every playwriting rule in the book. Where's the protagonist and antagonist?
 
CHARLENE
What are you complaining about? My character is insecure, indecisive and naive, and those are her strong qualities. How'd you like to have those? I'm smart, you know! I am very smart… I think
 
BRENDA
Off the top of my head, I would guess that part of your problem is that you're a minor character, while mine plays a major role and more attention is required to develop Brenda, properly
 
CHARLENE
See what I mean? How come I can't be the smart one for a change?
 
CHLOE         
With all due respect Charlene, honey, I don't think you have the emotional range to assume an analytical role of deep thinker, like we do. Right ladies?
 
                         CHLOE and BRENDA together:  ‘I dunno’
 
CHARLENE
It's just not fair! Every day I hav'ta play the part of a simple minded female when in reality, I got it up here (points to her head) I think this is what makes the words come out
 
CHLOE
You see, Charlene, sweetie, my background lends itself to being a character with class…one of the rich, beautiful people, while you – well dear - let's just say that you have interesting words in your sentences
 
CHARLENE
I'm as good as anyone here! You're all forgetting that we are the sum total of the playwright's vision. Hey – I can talk smart too! Why can't we take turns being each other?
 
MITZI
Let's not forget here that our origins are a computer memory chip. The only rich and famous person we're connected to is Bill Gates. I say…we walk. Are you with me, ladies?
 
VOICE OF PLAYWRIGHT (JULIE)
Is there a problem?
 
BRENDA
 
                         Hands on hips, facing direction of playwright
 
We got your attention, huh? We've had it with these crappy lines! We're bored of being portrayed as vacuous women with blank minds. We're people too! We have feelings and we hurt and…
 
JULIE
May I remind you that you're nothing more than a bunch of words strung together to make a sentence? I make you who and what you are and I can eliminate you all with a push of my forefinger and a delete button. You're only communicating with me now because I'm exploring dialogue choices. You're all a figment of my imagination
 
CHARLENE
No need for threats, here, dear. There's only so much that characters can take and we've reached the end of the line, so to speak. Do you like that, ladies? End-of-the-line?
 
CHLOE
Trés wit-ty, my dear
 
JULIE
What should I say? I've re-written and re-written you all at least two dozen times and no matter what I do, the dialogue sounds… wooden. And don't even ask about the plot, or lack of one, thereof
 
BRENDA      
That's because you really don't really believe in us, do you? Deep down inside you're toying with the idea of deleting the text and starting a whole new play that will move in a new direction. Do you know what it's like living under that threat? I'll tell you – it's very disturbing
 
PLAYWRIGHT JULIE
Did I write that? I don't remember writing those words…
 
CHLOE
Now there's a perfect example of what I'm talking about! We never know where you're gonna take us next, right ladies? It's like…there's giant hands hanging over the stage dangling precariously, ready to strike at a moments notice.  It's the uncertainty of the delete button that gets us down!
 
MITZI
For example, why do you always make me as an over-sexed whore? Maybe it would be good to be an upright female for a change.  Not necessarily a nun or anything but an intelligent woman who has a direction and purpose in life. Not somebody who dresses in clothes three sizes too tight. Let Charlene assume that part for once. Wouldn't you like that, dear?
 
CHARLENE
I'll pass but I know where she's coming from! In spite of all your attempts at re-writes, you still make me out like an empty-headed - duh! I want to be respected like the rest of them, except Mitzi…no insult intended…
 
MITZI
None taken, dear. I'm used to it by now
 
PLAYWRIGHT JULIE
I never realized you all felt this way
0 Comments on Four People and a Playwright Looking for a Decent Play as of 7/27/2014 10:06:00 PM
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3. Ballerina Girl

firebirdbookThis year, two beautiful picture books about black ballerinas hope to dance their way into children’s hearts and hands. The latest is a gorgeous forthcoming debut by American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland titled Firebird, the name of the classic role she was the first black woman to star in.

Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Christopher Myers, Copeland’s work is a love letter to a brown girl who dreams of being a dazzling dancer too. To lift the child, who sees a “longer than forever” distance between herself and her idol, Copeland reveals her journey from ballet dream to determined realization. In a stirring marriage of lyrical text and poignant images that affirm and encourage, Copeland and Myers create an evocative landscape in which a new generation of young dreamers and dancers can take flight. The book is available for pre-order now and releases on September 4.

The Buzz on Firebird:

“The language soars into dizzying heights of lyrical fancy… Myers’ artwork… pulsate[s] with kinetic synergy… A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An inspirational picture book for children daunted by the gap between their dream and their reality.”—Booklist

starlightIn January of this year, another moving ballet story began weaving its magic. A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream (Philomel), written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by award-winner Floyd Cooper, tells the story of a 1950s Harlem girl inspired by first black prima ballerina Janet Collins.

Like Firebird, the text and illustrations are lyrical and full of heart and movement. But in this historical fiction tale, a girl whose mother works as a seamstress for a ballet school is immersed in the world of dance and dreams of being a prima ballerina. And seeing groundbreaker Collins perform at the Metropolitan Opera turns her dream into something more – a vision of who she can be.

Available in stores now.

The Buzz on A Dance Like Starlight:

“A warm, inspirational collaboration that will resonate in the hearts of all who dream.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

” . . . Though the narrator is imagined, the inspirational message is real. Cooper’s art incorporates his signature subtractive process and mixed media in tones of brown and pink to achieve illustrations as beautiful and transporting as the text.” —School Library Journal

Janet Collins Animated Film: Karyn Parsons (Hilary on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) launched a campaign to raise funds for an animated short film called The Janet Collins Story that would be produced by Parsons’ company, Sweet Blackberry. Check out the campaign here. Great news: It was fully funded. Now, we can look forward to a wonderful film for children about Collins.

Wouldn’t it be cool to share Firebird, A Dance Like Starlight and The Janet Collins Story with kids you know?


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4. Celebrate the Fruits of Summer With…Fruit!

I love all the fresh fruit that’s available this time of year.  Every trip to the grocery or farmer’s market is an olfactory and visual delight as summer fruits abound.  Why not take advantage of the color and variety and make your own fruit salad to have as a snack or for a refreshing dessert at the next barbeque.

For my fruit salad, I used peaches, kiwi, cherries, and blueberries.  You can add grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple or raspberries.  Think multi-colored and you’re sure to have a winning combination.  You can sprinkle unsweetened coconut on top or even some homemade granola if you want to add some crunch.   Don’t be afraid to try new combinations.   fruit saladIt’s all delicious!


0 Comments on Celebrate the Fruits of Summer With…Fruit! as of 7/28/2014 3:56:00 AM
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5. #620 – Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor by Julie Anne Grasso

Congratulations to Julie Anne Grasso, on the release of her third chapter book: Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor. No cinnamon this time, but there is a strange gnome, a parrot sous-chef, and a clueless inspector who fears Frankie will solve the mystery before he gets his first clue. Enjoy the fun. (Stay out of the pool.)

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Frankie_Dupont_And_T_Cover_for_Kindle-640x1024.

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Written by Julie Anne Grasso

Illustrations by David Blackwell and Samantha Yallope

Published by Julie Anne Grasso    2014

978-0-9254-3

Age 7 to 10     134 pages

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“When his cousin Kat disappears from Enderby, Frankie Dupont jumps on the scene, only to find bumbling Inspector Cluesome beat him to it. Cluesome thinks Kat simply wandered off. Frankie isn’t buying it.”

Opening

“Frankie bounded across the veranda and down the old wooden stairs.”

The Story

Frankie Dupont is waiting for something important in the mail—a black envelope. He is the son of a private inspector and wants to be an inspector like his dad. The strange black envelope arrives, but Frankie simply puts it in his pocket. When the phone rings, he expects it to be his cousin Kat, who calls him every day. It is not Kat. It is about Kat. Kat has disappeared.

With his father away on assignment, Frankie takes on the assignment of finding Kat. Last seen at Enderby Manor, Kat ate an early breakfast and has not been seen or heard from since. Frankie passes Enderby Manor every day as he walks to school, yet he has no memory of ever seeing the place. Strange for an investigator to miss a large hotel, sitting behind the lake—which Frankie has seen—all of which is situated behind a black iron fence.

cluesome

Inspector Cluesome is already on the scene when Frankie rides up on his bike. His aunt and uncle are frantically worried. They trust Frankie, which is good since Cluesome is extraordinarily clueless. Without any real detective work completed, Cluesome announces that Kat simply got lost and will come home at any minute.  Can Frankie find his cousin? Why couldn’t Frankie recall a large hotel he passes every day on his way to school? Will this unseen hotel figure into Kat’s disappearance? Where is Kat?

Review

evelyn of everlasting cupcake shopEnderby Manor is a strange place. The hotel itself is outdated, caught in a ten-year vacuum. The six-fingered chef has a parrot for his sous-chef. The maid, also the owner’s wife, keeps waiting for her husband to return and open the hotel—the Grand Opening. He will not arrive since he has been dead for ten years. Out back, a gnome named Gerome cares for the landscaping and the pool—but not the water. No one knows anything about Kat except the chef. He fed Kat an early breakfast, which she ate in the kitchen.

The grounds are as crazy as the people running the hotel are. The pool has  brown-slime covering the top of the water. Kat mada,e mcureecould not have swum that morning as some have suggested she did. Then there is Myrtle’s Mesmerising Maze, which Frankie felt a pull to enter. He didn’t, instead he went to Evelyn’s Everlasting Cupcakes, a shop with the most delicious cupcakes ever made; yet the place was empty. Frankie even loses it a little. He thinks he sees Kat in a mirror, but only for a nanosecond. Who knew he had a wild imagination.

Kids will enjoy Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor. For this story, the only place you will find cinnamon is at the cupcake shop, baked into the sticky caramel cupcake. Kids will like the crazy characters Grasso developed. Cluesome is a bumbling idiot, which kids will love. Frankie outwits the inspector at every turn. Igor the Great has the funniest lines in the story.

Grasso laid out the clues in such a way that Frankie will decipher them before the reader. Most of the fun comes from trying to put the mystery together and not being able to until the author wants you to understand. Still we try our darndest to figure out what is going on. What is going on? Frankie seems as confused as we are, until . . . then the story speeds up as the entire world collapses. Oh, what wonderful fun!

igor the great and chef simon lemont

Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor will delight readers. The fun chapter book is a short read at 132 pages. The eleven chapters, skillfully developed, will keep kids hanging on. The Mystery of Enderby Manor is a typical mystery, built layer upon layer, until time is about to run out. Only then, does Grasso let us understand her world. Frankie Dupont will hook even those kids who are reading their first mystery. Enderby Manor is not the biggest mystery. The biggest is a question: When will Frankie Dupont return to solve the next mystery?

FRANKIE DUPONT AND THE MYSTERY OF ENDERBY MANOR. Text copyeight © 2014 by Julie Anne Grasso. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Blackwell and Samantha Yallope. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Julie Anne Grasso, Melbourne, Australia.

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Purchase Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor at AmazonB&NBook Depository—Publisher’s Website—at your favorite bookstore.

Free resources from Frankie Dupont

Learn more about Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor HERE.

Meet the author, Julie Anne Grasso at her website: julieannegrassobooks.com

Meet the illustrator, David Blackwell, at his website:   http://www.kathyanddavidblackwell.co.uk/ 

Meet the other illustrator, Samantha Yallope, at her website:   http://www.samanthayallope.com/

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Also by Julie Anne Grasso

Escape from the Forbidden Planet

Escape from the Forbidden Planet

Return to Cardamom

Return to Cardamom

 

 

 

frankie dupont 1

 

 

 

 


Filed under: 5stars, Chapter Book, Children's Books, Series Tagged: Chapter book, children's book reviews, David Blackwell, Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor, mystery, Samantha Yallope, time travel

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6. Player Profile: Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

bytonymott_545Michael Robotham, author of Life Or Death

Tell us about your latest creation:

 LIFE OR DEATH is a love story and a thriller and a story of redemption. It’s a standalone novel that introduces Audie Palmer, a man who has spent a decade in prison for armed robbery, but escapes the day before he’s due to be released. For ten years Audie  has been beaten, stabbed, throttled and threatened by prison guards, inmates and criminal gangs, who all want the answer to the same question – what happened to the money? But Audie isn’t running from trouble. Instead he’s trying to save a life more important than his own.

9780751552898Where are you from / where do you call home?:

My books might not be set in Australia, but I’m a home-grown boy. I was born in Casino, on northern NSW and grew up in Gundagai, where the dog sits on the tuckerbox. After living overseas for many years, home is now on Sydney’s northern beaches, where I write in what my daughter’s call, ‘Dad’s Cabana of Cruelty’.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 I wanted to be an author from the age of 12, when I discovered Ray Bradbury and wrote him a letter via his New York publishers. Three months later, I came home from school and found a package on the kitchen table. It contained the four or five Bradbury titles that weren’t available in Australia, along with a letter from the great man
himself, saying how pleased he was to have a young reader on the far side of the world.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

That’s like asking me which is my favourite daughter! All my books are special to me, but the one that changed my life was the first one: THE SUSPECT, which caused a bidding war at the London Book Fair and allowed me to fulfil my dreams. The latest book LIFE OR DEATH is a story I’ve wanted to tell for twenty years, but didn’t think I had the skills until now.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 As mentioned earlier – I write in the Cabana of Cruelty, a lovely outside space with wrap-around windows and a shingle roof, overlooking tropical gardens and a swimming pool. It is sometimes hard to conjure up the means streets when I’m looking at paradise.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 I read very widely. Mainly fiction. Although I have my favourites like James Lee Burke, Daniel Woodrell and Dennis Lehane, I tend not to read much crime fiction, but I do have about a four books on the go at the one time, in different rooms of the house, as well as an audio book on my iPod.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury opened my imagination and transported me and frightened my pants off. Lord of the Rings was also special. I borrowed it so often from my school library the librarian banned me from taking it out again. So I took to hiding it in the library. She found out, but instead of punishing me, she gave me the book. It is battered, broken and taped together, but still has pride of place on my shelves because it is the first book that I ever truly ‘earned’.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Nick calls himself ‘one of the few honest people that I have ever known’ and he prides himself on maintaining his standards in a corrupt, fast-moving world. He is a wonderful observer of people and events. He can see their flaws and foibles, but refuses to be overly critical. If I were Nick, maybe I could save Jay Gatsby from himself.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m so boring. When I’m not writing I’m reading. When I’m not reading I’m walking. And even when I’m walking I’m listening to a book. Peter Corris tells the story of bumping into David Malouf at a function and asking if he was writing just then,        ‘What else is there to do?’ he answered. That’s what it’s like for me…breathing.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 I love a gin & tonic at the end of the writing day and a glass of wine with dinner. As for food, it has to be spicy whether it’s a curry, stir fry and homemade pizza.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 My heroes are those people who we never hear about. The parents who look after disabled children and the wives who escape from violent husbands and the teachers, nurses and volunteers who give back more to their communities than they ever receive

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

 I think the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading is for publishers, authors and booksellers to find a business model that works for everyone.  Heavy discounting by online sellers and self-published authors, is  suffocating bricks and mortar stores and prompting more and more readers who think a book should only
cost 99c or $2.99. On top of this we have the spectre of piracy and illegal file sharing that is becoming more widespread with digitalisation.

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7. Zimbabwe International Book Fair

       The Zimbabwe International Book Fair apparently runs 30 July through 2 August, with a theme of 'Indigenous Languages, Literature, Art and Knowledge Systems of Africa' (certainly a worthy one -- and one hopes some word gets out beyond Zimbabwe ...). There's an 'Indaba Conference' leading into it, 28-29 July; see the schedule at Writers International Network Zimbabwe.
       In The Herald Stanley Mushava argues that with ZIBF @ 31: Time for inclusivity, with all sorts of suggestions, criticism (both constructive as well as merely critical), and a good bit of enthusiasm -- as, for example, in suggesting:

ZIBF must be a national buzzword just like the agricultural show and the trade fair, to some extent, because books are the engine that drives development.
       Some, of course, is just wishful thinking:
More outlets must come aboard to stimulate and sustain the reading culture of the country. Bookshops must be frequented at least half as much as fast food outlets to mitigate the cultural malnutrition which threatens the country.
       He does have a point about the lack of a proper web-presence for much of the industry (and ZIBF as well ...) -- colorfully suggesting:
Now that the communication protocols governing the reception of art have vastly changed over the years, committing your work to a publisher who does not operate a website, blog or social network account is as wise as fastening your book on the tail of a crocodile.
       I'm not sure anyone ever put it that way, but he does have a point.

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8. looking for front stabbers

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You trust someone, and then you’re stabbed in the back. Hurts, doesn’t it? Ever thought of inviting someone to stab you in the front? Sure, that’d hurt too. But it’d be a constructive versus destructive brand of pain. Okay okay, I know that sounds strange, maybe even a little creepy, but please stick with me for a few more sentences, and I’ll explain as best I can.

See, even though writing by its nature is a solo sport, that doesn’t mean you can’t invite others to join your team. By others, I mean other writers who can give constructive criticism–aka stab you in the front, to hit you where it hurts most–right in your writing.

Losing weight, staying on track with an exercise regime, even cleaning out the garage, are all easier if you have at least one person to come alongside you support, encourage–maybe even push–you. Why should writing be any different? If you’re frustrated with your lack of progress, either in term of pages or improvement, consider opening yourself up to a good, ol’ fashioned front stab.

[At least] three things are certain:

1. Someone pushing you without your permission will only make you want to push back.

2. You need to ask someone to hold you accountable. Nobody volunteers for that job, but most people will say yes if you invite them, especially if you’re willing to reciprocate.

3. You will make better and faster progress with accountability and input, than you will without it.

This is why I am so grateful for my critique group. They’re a friendly bunch of front stabbers who want me to become a better writer and I’m happy to help them do the same.

If you feel stuck with your writing, let me encourage you seek out your own critique group (ask around on Facebook, via your SCBWI chapter list serve or your local library). If a group isn’t already in place, start one. And remember, you don’t have to let geography limit you. Online critique groups can work very well and can include writers from all over the planet, if you like. (I suggest keeping your group Earth-bound. Anything beyond that can get too complicated.) If joining/starting a group sounds like too long of a leap, consider partnering with another writer and setting up a regular schedule for exchanging pages.

Connecting with other writers for criticism and accountability will make a positive difference for you. I promise.

G’head. Take a stab at it.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Psalm 27:17

My thanks to Ben Redmond, Director of Student Ministries at the Hub, for inspiring this post. He’s a wise man.


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9. Jonathan Gottschall on stories

       An interesting conversation (monologue ?) by Jonathan Gottschall at Edge on The Way We Live Our Lives in Stories, arguing that: "We live in stories all day long", and that most aspects of that haven't really been studied and considered very closely or well.

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10. SDCC 14: Marvel Turns 75 and Daredevil Celebrates 50, Neither Shows Their Age

By David Nieves
One of Marvel’s top cheeses…no not Mickey, the other one Joe Quesada, got together with two of the company’s best architects; Mark Waid and Dan Slott to remind everyone that this Comic-Con is also Marvel’s 75th anniversary. This panel was officially titled “Marvel Comics’ 75th & Daredevil’s 50th” because the guy who titles panels for Marvel was on vacation.

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Waid started by talking about the origins of Marvel Comics and the story of Martin Goodman. Inspired by the success of Action Comics a year before, Goodman published Marvel Comics 1 with Stan Lee as an editor at the time. After the decline of superheroes, Goodman continued to venture into lots of different genres. Quesada asked if it was fair to say Goodman was an “advantageous” publisher?

That’s probably the definition of advantageous, Joe. We’ll let it slide because you had that phenomenal run on just about everything.

Waid then talked about Lee being burnt out in the comic book business. That’s when his wife, Joanie, advised him to take one last shot, but to do it the way he wanted to do it. Along side the godfather of comic book art, Jack Kirby, this last try would become Fantastic Four and the rest is make my Marvel history.

Waid brought up the question of first reading Marvel experience to the panelists. Quesada talked about it being the anti-drug issues of Amazing Spider-Man 96-97.  “I never did drugs, but I got addicted to comics. Which may have cost me more money in the long run,” said Quesada.

Quesada talked about the difference between Marvel and DC characters. He feels that DC Comics tend to be lots of Clark Kent is a mask while Superman is the real identity. He credited Stan Lee with switching that around and making guys like Matt Murdock and Peter Parker what the story was about. He related it more to real life; in it being that we all have to put on masks to be someone else instead of them disguising who we really are.

The group turned the attention to Daredevil and discussed the work of character co-creator Bill Everett. He noted the character was one of the few to come fully formed, except for the costume. Quesada joked about the original color scheme being “court jester-ish.’ Quesada talked about his work on the character:  “there’s something beautifully heroic and tragic about the character, and the fact that his powers, while they were somewhat super, you could also probably just explain them away with a person who can hone their own human abilities to utter perfection, if you really wanted to explain them that way. Something about that I really gravitated towards.” He praised the all-star list of creators that have had runs with the character like Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Bendis, and Brubaker.

Just by mentioning his name, Waid had us all voluntarily clapping for his current Daredevil artist Chris Samnee. He joked about how they’re never leaving the book. Personally, I hope they never do leave the book because Samnee is the best artist of his generation. But I also think that if Waid was ever made king of some land, he’d have a giant drawing of himself by Samnee hanging over the fire place of his presidential moon palace.

Slott then talked about what he loves about Daredevil, “everything about him is really messed-up.” Even joked about Waid’s Daredevil being happy but still messed-up.

The fan Q&A started.
First up was the subject of how the movies have affected the comic books. Waid talked about how he meets many female fans that came to comics through the 90′s X-Men cartoons. He credited Quesada with never pushing the books to be like the movies and realizing that the comics are what drive everything.

The group was asked what they’d be like if they met Steve Ditko. Slot was the only one who ever met him, he did so while working a job at the Marvel office. His face when he answered the question probably looked a lot like the face of excitement he had when actually meeting Ditko.

Netflix Daredevil details were asked, specifically if Power Man and Iron Fist would be partners. While it’s still too early to talk about anything, Quesada did say the plan is to lead to a Defenders series.

Another fan asked if Slott would do something similar to what JMS did on Amazing Spider-Man 36 with the new World Trade Center opening. Slott said he’d be afraid of doing it but thought it was a great idea.

The legacy of Jim Steranko was brought up to the panelists. Waid talked about not knowing of anyone else that had more influence in comics with that small a body of work.” Quesada chimed in saying that, in person,  the man lives up to the legend. At this point I realized I missed the Steranko panel, D’oh!

Q&A closed with the final question being about if Marvel was making the Daredevil series to combat the negative reaction given to the 2003 Ben Affleck film. Quesada sharply intervened saying, “Marvel didn’t make that movie. This is our take on Marvel’s making Daredevil. That’s the only way we’re looking at it.”

The three thanked the crowd for their passion and devotion to the house of ideas and the panel closed. But I’d just like to say Dan Slott is the nicest guy in comics and he can kill however many Spider-people he wants to.

 

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11. Writings and paintings

This passage from Kate Rundell's gorgeous Rooftoppers always makes me think of an impressionistic painting:


Paris lay still below them. From where Sophie stood, with both her hands wrapped round the neck of a carved saint, it was a mass of silver, except where the river shone a rusty-gold colour in the lamplight. (p.224)

The way she adds the 'rusty-gold' to the 'mass of silver' - what a lovely contrast of warm and cold metals... and look at those tiny yellow specks from 'the lamplight', which you can just see, can't you, on the surface of the Seine? 

I love the fact that it's a child seeing all this from above, from a place that people generally don't go to, and that she's there with her arms hugging a stern, stone figure - as if trying to give it the affection it's never had. For me, it's this painting:

Gustave Caillebotte, Rue Halévy (1878)

Stories almost never unfold in my head like films when I read, but I do sometimes 'see' static images - paintings, photographs - often specific styles or artistic currents. Sometimes it's the other way around: I'm reminded of a book when I look at a work of art. The other day I went to Madrid for the first time, and I saw in the huge and wonderful Prado museum this well-known triptych by Bosch:

Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1490?)
Immediately I was reminded - of course in part because I'd just read it - of J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm, with its grotesque gallery of monstrous protagonists and torture scenes:

charming
But also, one little detail called back to my mind a similarly gripping summer read from years ago I'd almost entirely forgotten, Michael Connelly's A Darkness More Than Night... A Harry Bosch adventure, not coincidentally:

it's a story full of Boschian owls, that's all I can remember...
Now Galbraith and Connelly are linked in my mind as inextricably as Rundell and Caillebotte.

Generally, it happens with very famous rather than obscure works of art, perhaps because those tend to stick in one's head more. In children's literature, here are other associations, personal and therefore not always logical, though some are much more obvious than others:

Lois Lowry's The Giver and the 1956 French film The Red Balloon
Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses and Norman Rockwell's 'The Problem We All Live With' (1964)


Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon is Anselm Kiefer all the way. Anne Fine's The Tulip Touch is this Edward Hopper...:

yep, it's the Bates Motel, too... not a coincidence, I'm sure.

I didn't like Neil Gaiman's Coraline very much (sorry), but it was Louise Bourgeois's 'Maman' spiders:


Some authors make explicit reference to paintings, films or other visual art forms, like Marcus Sedgwick in Midwinterblood. I love that - I love looking up the works of art mentioned in books, especially when I have no clue what they are and it throws a completely new light on the text. Some painters, some paintings and some movements seem to crystallise writers' attention. Da Vinci, of course, but also the Surrealists in general, it seems.

Similarly, when I write, I never really picture my characters in my head, but there's always a lot of colours, and many static images, like paintings or stills from films or photographs. Fun adventure stories, whether I write them or read them, look quite like Sonia Delaunay's circles and spirals:

Pippi Longstocking!
Is it a kind of synaesthesia? Not sure, it's not automatic - it only happens with some books, and some paintings or works of art. It also depends hugely on what I've just read or seen, and in which contexts. Does that happen to you too? With which texts and which images? 
_____________________________________

Clementine Beauvais writes children's books in French and English. The former are of all kinds and shapes, and the latter humour/adventure series - the Sesame Seade mysteries with Hodder, the Holy-Moly Holiday series with Bloomsbury. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.

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12. Race Car Love for little (and big) kids: Metropolis II at LACMA

Do you know any kids who love, love, love race cars? I grew up with one -- my youngest brother loved race cars so much, his summer dream job in high school was working on the crew of a race car team. So this week, I'm sharing fabulous books for race car lovers--especially little kids whose eyes go wide at every fast car.

I'll start by sharing a video and experience--because books really are just one way to share an experience, to open kids' imaginations up wide, to create conversations. Chris Burden's Metropolis II is a room-size sculpture made of an intricate system of model cars and trains zooming through a maze of highways in a model city.

Metropolis II, by Chris Burden at LACMA
I tried taking pictures, too, but since the essence of this exhibit is how the cars ZOOM through the maze of freeways, a still picture just can't recreate the experience. Watch the video below, and let me know what you think.



Here's the museum's description (from the LACMA website):
"Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings." 
If you want to learn more, check out this video and interview with the creator: Metropolis II, by Chris Burden.

Do you have any favorite things to do with race car loving kids? Every time we visit Disneyland, I insist that we go on Autotopia. Are there other video clips you would show to get kids thinking of all the things they could build or race?

I hope you enjoy the race car books I'll share this week. Come back tomorrow for more zooming fun!

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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13. Stop the Presses…and START HERE!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell "A B C"  in American Sign Language!

This may be the first book cover that actually teaches how to letterspell “A B C” in American Sign Language! (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with unveiling the cover itself. It features a lenticular!

And it’s going on press this month! I’m so excited!

Why? Because it all began as a list of words on a spread sheet almost five years ago. Gallaudet University Press lined up a team of illustrators for their upcoming definitive American Sign Language reference (think Merriam-Webster, but for signing), aimed at the pre-school through grade 3 level. It had to be usable for hearing families as well as the deaf and hearing-impaired.

Page 1 from the Dictionary

Page 1 from the Dictionary

 

One of the illustrators already on board was Debbie Tilley. When agent Richard Salzman discovered it was (a) Gallaudet first foray into children’s books and general trade; and (b) they expected Debbie to produce the layouts too, he recommended they contact me to pull it all together for them. It was a dream project for all of us!

Dictionary_p-105_Page_011   Dictionary_p-105_Page_008 Dictionary_p-105_Page_007

 392 pages of full color! It looks like a graphic comic, with over 1,000 word entries, fully illustrated. Plus it includes a DVD featuring a rainbow of children signing. There’s also a special feature on forming sentences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll guide you on the process. It will be like a diary on the making of a children’s reference classic. . .

Spread from pages 238-239

Spread from pages 238-239 (click to enlarge)

You will witness exclusive behind-the-scenes book making. Stay tuned. That’s why I’ve been away for so long. Been dictionary-ing…

 


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14. OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine {Quick-Fire Review}

Review by Andye OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine Hardcover: 336 pages Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 5, 2014) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon This love story for the ages, set in a reimagined industrial Asia, is a little dark, a bit breathless, and completely compelling. Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by

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15. Fan-fiction mania

       Lots of articles all over about the 'fan-fiction' phenomenon, but Julia Lllewellyn Smith's in The Telegraph How Downton's Lady Sibyl met Doctor Who offers a solid, basic introduction.
       It is a fascinating subject, from what folks come up with to the knotty copyright issues, but I have to admit I can't really find the time to dig into it.

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16. DRAGONS!


Drew these dragons on the back of a record album when driving up to Porland, ME today. Trying to name a dragon in a book I'm working on. It is a very friendly and playful sort of dragon. Suggestions for a name?

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17. Serving Parents of Children with Disabilities

Being a children’s librarian goes beyond serving children.  Certainly, that’s a HUGE part of the job, but the reality is that our jobs are more encompassing than that.  We are challenged and rewarded to serve the needs of patrons of all ages, and that includes the needs of parents and caregivers.  If your library is focusing on outreach to children with special needs, don’t forget that the parents of these children require our services, too.  Here’s just a short list of things that public libraries can offer parents of children with disabilities.

Special Needs Collections: If your library already has a parenting collection, think about expanding it or adding a new, targeted collection of items focusing on special needs related topics.  Whether this collection is simply made up of adult materials, or if it includes a combination of materials that both adults and children can use, there is a variety of ways you could serve the informational needs of your community.  And highlighting those materials in a separate collection makes those items more accessible and noticeable.  Make sure to gather input from your patrons first–you might discover that your community is interested in this collection having a specific focus.

Parent Workshops: Libraries are community centers for learning, so it makes sense to offer learning opportunities for parents about a variety of special needs related topics.  You could bring in guest experts to speak on topics, such as education, technology, language development, medical issues, or even advocacy.  Providing a forum for discussion of topic issues is a great way to get your community informed and involved.  At my former library, we hosted a series of Tech Talk parent workshop programs.  We knew we wanted to serve this audience of parents specifically, so we partnered with a local assistive technology specialist and offered a parent program called “Is There An App For That? Using iPads with Children with Special Needs.”  It was well received and well attended!

Booklists:  It’s been my experience that sometimes parents who have a child with special needs are looking for ways to introduce a new concept or topic to their child.  Often times, those parents are looking to the library to find a book to help that conversation along.   Quick and handy, booklists are perfect for getting book recommendations into the hands of you patrons right away.  They act as great passive reader’s advisory tools, as well, for those that are not comfortable asking more personal questions at the desk.  Be sure to freshen up your display of booklists often to check for currency and accuracy.  For a great example of what you can offer, check out Skokie Public Library’s comprehensive resource guide for parents and educators of children with disabilities.

Social Stories: Did you know that there are now free social story templates available through Microsoft Office?  Autism Speaks has partnered with Microsoft Office to offer free and customizable Social Story Templates available for download from their website.  As with any social stories, parents can use these tools to help teach various social situations to children with autism.  Topics include potty training, taking turns, going to the doctor, and even bullying.  Helpful tips like this one could easily be shared on a library’s social media page, as a way to quickly get the information out to those that need it.

Meeting Spaces:  More and more libraries are making their meeting spaces available to the public–sometimes even at a reasonably minimal cost to the user.  If you already are in touch with local support groups or parenting groups in your area, they may be interested to know that the library is a place they can come together and meet.  Once you have made contact with these groups, they may be interested in having a representative from the library come in and speak with them.  The more conversations we can have with actual library users (or non-users) to find out what they want their library to be, the more informed we are.

 

….and these are just a few ideas.  What are YOU doing at your library to serve the unique needs of parents of children with disabilities in your communities?  Share your ideas below!

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18. Do You Want to Review My Books? (Aug/Sept ARCs)

***Wow guys, that was so stupid fast!!  All the books are gone.  Check back next month!!*** BEFORE YOU COMMIT, MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS POST! (nothing new added if you've read this before) Every month, I'll write a post of all the books that I didn't get a chance to read/review, and you can choose which you'd like to review ON THIS BLOG.  I will send you the book, and you have . . . let's

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19. Is #Mentoring Right for You?

There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that mentoring is pretty good for you. In adult-mentoring-children scenarios, research shows that the mentoring relationship assists in developing stronger ties to the community. Individuals who participate in a mentoring relationship experience:

  • improved self-esteem
  • improved communication skills
  • reduction in depressive symptoms
  • greater social acceptance
  • better academic attitudes

Career mentoring isn’t much different. Professional mentoring relationships help create connections and foster career growth. In fact, these are two of the objectives of the ALSC Mentoring Program. The others:

1. Build the skills and confidence of early career children’s librarians and those new to the profession
2. Encourage personal and professional connections
3. Give members the opportunity to acquire peer-taught skills
4. Re-energize and re-invigorate members in their work
5. Create interest and familiarity with ALSC committee service and participation
6. Build familiarity with ALSC’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries
7. Foster the development of a new cohort of leaders

The ALSC Mentoring Program is entering its second year of existence and we’re looking for some good mentors and mentees. Applications for the Fall 2014 program are now open. Please submit your application by Friday, August 25, 2014.

We hope that you’re interested in participating, because we think you’ll get a lot out of it.

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20. SDCC 14: Marvel “Next Big Thing” is Actually Pretty Big

By David Nieves

One of Marvel’s last SDCC panels came with several announcements on Sunday afternoon. Nick Lowe introduced the panel which consisted of fellow editor Mike Marts, writer Mark Waid, Gerry Duggan, Sam Humphries, and Charles Soule and editor Jordan D. White. Dan Slott was ” just talking to someone on the side.” Why not have him join.

To open, several recent announcements about new Sam Wilson Cap, Iron Man, and Thor were hyped again. In addition to these a new Deathlok series will be coming. We can all thank AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D for getting this title as the fan response seemed to demand it according to the panel. The Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier series is going to feature the creative teams of Ales Kot and Marco Rudy, look for it this October.

Soule then jumped into Death of Wolverine. Well, it’s about the Death of Wolverine,” Soule quickly fired. “He’s lost his healing factor and doesn’t bounce back the way he used to. That’s all the setup you need to have.” Each issue will have a distinct genre in it, like Bond, western, maybe even sci-fi.

After the series we’ll see Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy issues 1 and 7 will be written by Soule with various writers and artists doing the in between issues. Gerry Duggan and Scott Kolins will be doing a special called Death of Wolverine: Captain America & Deadpool with the de-powered Steve Rogers. If you still have your Captain America Annual 8, go back and read it because there will be a lot of call outs in it.

Then a new series was announced Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program. It’ll be five issues written by Soule with the art of Salvador Larroca. Look for it in November. No other details were given.WEAPONX01COVC

Ryan Stegman will join Soule on Inhuman. The series will continue to explore those turned into Inhumans and the people that want to use them. “One of the fun things about Inhuman is that we get to make up new superheroes.” Soule would go on to explain a particular character that reads things to make them real and when the town found this out they blinded him so now his powers are activated by reading braille.

The panel shifted to their other event Original Sin. Original Sin Annual 1 with Woodrow McCord will be written by Jason Latour. In Original Sin 5 we learned about the history of Nick Fury now we learn about the man who hired him to go all space protecting assassin.

Thanos will come to Legendary Star-Lord #4; it will be an Original Sin tie-in that deals with some unfinished business.

Cyclops new creative team will be John Layman and Javier Garron. Greg will be back in the X-Universe but his novel is forcing him to take some time out of other projects.

Mark Waid will have yet another book. S.H.I.E.L.D launches in December. The book will have rotating artists and be in-continuity while bringing characters from the TV show over to comics. Fitz!  “This is SHIELD the TV show but with an unlimited budget,” Waid said. Pacheco, Alan Davis, and Chris Sprouse are just a few of the artist scheduled to be on the book. It appears as though the series will read like television in that each issue is the one-and-done structure.SHIELD_1_Deodato

Gerry Duggan and Mark Bagley are the creative team of Hulk as of August’s issue 5. Waid chimed in whispering to Duggan “tough act to follow.” The series promises a lot of Hulk on Hulk action with Bagley turning in some incredible pages according to Duggan.

Then came the fan Q&A.

The first fan asked about getting more female creators.
Lowe: “More women would make me very happy, too. Believe me, our door is always open to it.”

Another fan asked how long Wolverine will stay dead?
Soule; “This is the perfect time to tell everybody the ending. Don’t worry about it, Lowe. So on the second to last page, Wolverine has won the day, we’re all so happy, he’s gonna make it out. And on the last page, Jubilee pops out and bites him. He dies, and he comes back as a Vampire. So he died so it counts.” A fabulous answer!

Q: Why no X-Men panel this year?

Apparently it was just a victim of circumstance, but there are big plans for the X-books in the coming year, but Lowe did comment on a recent controversy.

Lowe: “And I wanted to say, there have been rumors that we’re cancelling or sabotaging the X-Men and Fantastic Four – we’re not. We don’t put leading creators on titles we want to ‘sabotage’.”

The last fan asked Slott about plans for Silk, long term.
Slott: “Long, serious plans for Silk, and you will see her in the Spider-Verse.”

With that the panel came to an end.

0 Comments on SDCC 14: Marvel “Next Big Thing” is Actually Pretty Big as of 7/28/2014 1:16:00 AM
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21. 5 Essential Tips for Writing Killer Fight Scenes

Fight scenes are dangerous territory for writers. On the surface, they seem as if they’re guaranteed to keep the reader glued to the action in the same way as they often do at the movies. In reality, though, readers tend to skip over fight scenes – skimming the long, tedious, blow-by-blow descriptions in favour of getting back to the dialogue and character-driven drama that truly engages them in the story.

My novel, Traitor’s Blade, is a swashbuckling fantasy in which fight scenes are a crucial part of the storytelling. This means having to ensure that every piece of action is vital and engaging; it means that every duel must draw the reader in and not let them go until the end. So how do you keep the pacing, flow, and more importantly, the drama moving forward with so many fights?

GIVEAWAY: Sebastien is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 11.44.18 PM     Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 11.44.04 PM

Column by Sebastien de Castell, who had just finished a degree in archaeology
when he started work on his first job. Four hours later he realized how much he
hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician,
ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager,
actor, and product strategist. His first novel is TRAITOR’S BLADE (Jo Fletcher
Books, July 2014), which can be found on Amazon or IndieBound. The
swashbuckling fantasy was recently praised by NPR. Connect with the
author on Facebook or Twitter.

1. Make every fight advance the plot

No matter what you might think, violence is actually boring. Watching two hulking brutes bash at each other with clubs isn’t interesting. Only when one of the brutes is smaller, weaker, and trying desperately to stay alive long enough to let his people know that the enemy is coming does the action start to matter to the reader. But don’t just think in terms of climactic battles or killing off enemies. Sometimes the fight provides a crucial piece of information about the antagonist such as a particular type of cut they make that could explain the wounds on a victim the protagonist discovered in the previous chapter. The fight might also wound your protagonist, slowing them down in later scenes and giving you a chance to make their lives harder and therefore increase the suspense.

2. Reveal character through action

The way your protagonist fights – and when they choose to fight or walk away – tells the reader a great deal about them. Your hero might be a skilled but retiscient warrior or they could be an amateur but with a bloodthirsty streak that comes out when confronted with violence. But don’t just stop with your protagonist or their opponents. Think about what the action reveals in those watching the fight. Does the seemingly helpful mentor figure suddenly become enraptured watching the blood flow? Do the innocent bystanders just sit there or do they scramble to help? Fight scenes that reveal character are by far the most compelling ones for readers – they get to investigate your characters by seeing how they deal with violent situations, allowing you to follow that classic dictum of modern writing: show, don’t tell.

(Hear agents get specific and explain what kind of stories they’re looking for.)

3. Your fight scenes must fulfill the promise of your book

Traitor’s Blade is a swashbuckling fantasy so every fight has to give the reader some of that sense of wonder they first encountered watching classic adventures like the old Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks films. But perhaps your genre is gritty historical fiction. If so, the last thing you want to do is break suspension of disbelief. You have to carefully ensure that the weapons and fighting styles are true to your era (note: this doesn’t mean you can’t have a longsword in the 18th Century since they were around for long periods of time after their proper era, but you can’t have King Arthur swinging a rapier around in 6th Century Britain!)

4. Make every fight unique

I read a YA fantasy recently in which almost every fight involved the main character jumping up and spinning in the air to kick opponents in the face (usually two or three.) Regardless of how unrealistic this would be (after all, realism only matters if it’s part of the promise of your book), the fact is you probably couldn’t remember one fight from another. By contrast, think of a movie like The Princess Bride, in which every fight is special – every conflict is resolved using different means, whether trickery or skill or simply iron-willed determination.

(The skinny on why to sign with a new/newer literary agent.)

5. Let the reader choreograph the action

If you describe every action of the fight, not only will you bore the reader but your pacing and flow will fall apart. So think of your job not so much as having to meticulously choreograph the fight but rather to give the reader enough insight into the action that they can build the scene in their minds. Show them early on in the fight how each weapon moves through space—make that vivid and visceral. Make the reader feel as if they could actually pick up that weapon and defend themselves even just a little bit. Then you’re free to focus on the character’s actions and reactions—making them distinct, personal, and emotionally motivated just as you do with their words. The reader will then be able to fill in the action while you describe what your characters are saying, what they’re thinking, and what’s showing on their faces. In other words, help the reader to choreograph the fight so that you can spend your time on the drama. This also lets you vary the length of your fight scenes, which helps to keep them from becoming predictable. In Traitor’s Blade there are fights which span an entire chapter and others which are told in four lines.

Think of it this way: violence is dialogue. Make your fights into a conversation spoken with actions in which the real conflict is happening in the hearts of the characters and in which the reader themselves are helping to tell the story.

GIVEAWAY: Sebastien is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

Need help crafting an awesome plot for your
story? Check out the new acclaimed resource
by Ronald Tobias, 20 Master Plots.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

 

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22. No Fee Short Story Contest

KendraShedenhelm_YouTheMagician_Space

Kendra Shedenhelm sent in this “out-of this world” illustration from an upcoming book she illustrated titled, “You, the Magician.” You can visit her site at http://kendrashedenhelm.com/.

Creative Writing Institute’s

International Short Story Contest Now Open

No Entry Fee

DIRECTIONS: Read all guidelines (rules) carefully.

CASH PRIZES!

First place: $200 USD or a free writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Second place: $100 USD or a credit of $150 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Third place: $50 USD or a credit of $100 toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260, + publication in our anthology and eBook.

Plus: seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our anthology & Ebook, entitledWhat Could Possibly go Wrong?

ONE submission per person

  • When you’re ready to submit, scroll to the bottom of the page at http://CreativeWritingInstitute.Submittable.com/submit and click on SUBMIT. Entries will only be accepted on that form. Fill out your name and address, and follow the prompts to a space where you can copy and paste your document into it.  Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.
  • Especially note our requirements for G-rated literature. Please see #1 below for further definition.
  • By entering this contest, you are saying this story has not been previously published, you grant minor editing rights for publication, and Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

This is a themed contest. Your story must be original and unpublished (except on personal blogs, critique groups, or personal web pages) and must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words.

Your story may be any genre, but these exact sentences must appear together in the story:

I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?

Accepting submissions until midnight, August 9, 2014, USA Eastern Standard Time.

  • Entries will only be accepted through the submission form. As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document into. Do NOT send attachments or emailed entries as these will NOT be accepted.

ENTRIES MUST FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES OR BE DISQUALIFIED.

1. Any genre: Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Humor, Romance, Children, etc., No erotica, profanity, swearing, or gore. (Swearing includes but is not limited to the following: hell, damn, bitch, taking God’s name in vain, and other similar words.) This is a “G” rated contest. One swear word will disqualify your entry. Good writers can make their point by showing the character’s attitudes. Questions? Query the head judge at cwicontests@gmail.com.

2. Entries must be 1,000 to 2,000 words. (This is a strict word count, but don’t count the title or personal information in the word count.) Place the word count at the top of page 1 before submitting.

3. One entry per person, please.

4. By entering this contest, you are stating that the story is your own copyright. You are stating that it has NOT been previously published by a professional or semi-professional publication. You are stating that you grant minor editing rights for publication, and if chosen, Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Choice stories in our anthology, “What Could Possibly go Wrong?” All Rights return to the author upon publication.

5. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, style, and technique.

6. Be sure that your entry has been proofread and edited. Points will be deducted for poorly structured sentences, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Your entry should reflect your commitment to writing.

7. Read tips and tricks on how to win a contest on http://www.cwinst.com .

Winners will be notified by email on or before September 12, 2014.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Competition, Contest, opportunity, Places to sumit, writing Tagged: Cash Prizes, Creative Writing, No Entry Fee, Publication in anthology, Publication in ebook, Short Story contest

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23. Issues :3

Question: I'm unsure as to which category this would fall under, but my writing partner and I are having trouble agreeing or understanding things to do

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24. Interview: Celebrate Twin Peaks with Kenneth and Ross

By Alexander Jones

Twin Peaks fans have been eagerly awaiting the Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery DVD since it was announced. During the panel for the show on Saturday night, some mysteries about the show were revealed, such as both the Fire Walk With Me and the deleted scenes from the original show. Meaning, that this is as close as we are going to get to everything about the show ever shot on one single DVD collection. With the added bonus of a visual HD restoration to the package–speaking of the packaging, this includes a wonderful package featuring the ominous face of Laura Palmer in the flesh or more like wrapped in plastic. Take a look at the following interview conducted with CBS General Manager Kenneth B. Ross, along with actress Kimmy Robertson chiming in towards the end in order to get the primer on what to expect for the new DVD box set. TwinPeaks_EM_BRD_3D_Oslv

During that call at the panel you mentioned that you acquired a full 88 minutes worth of footage, and that you also scored it and restored it. So how long did it take between the team getting the new footage, and then getting it ready for the showing on Tuesday?

Ross: David and his team are the ones that did it. I really don’t recall exactly how long the work took because I was so immersed with all the details of working it out, and France was involved and it was CBS, and it was David Lynch, and it was MK2, and this had been going on for years literally. The physical post-production work took about 8-9 months to deliver the elements.

After all this time, this television show has really become iconic, and it has influenced so many other pieces of media from comic books–to other television series. Do you have any idea on what has sparked the new interest on the show? At the panel beforehand there was a good amount of people in attendance.

Ross: I think that you know in the entertainment business, and I think I said I touched on this on the panel so I apologize if I was repeating this, but I there’s a word called ‘classic’ some people say ‘cult’ some people say ‘classic’ some say ‘evergreen’ you know the Sound of Music is still loved today. I was involved in putting the I Love Lucy Christmas special on CBS last Christmas, and it got the highest rating in the time setting. You know a show that was fifty plus years old because people still love Lucy. Kimmy: I watched it. twin-peaks TP_EP02.023Ross: People love I Love Lucy. This is one of those properties, and there are not a lot of them, but a bunch of them where the love, never the flame, never the fire, never and so what it’s about is it’s showing it in a way that it has never been experienced before which is what we are trying to do–in terms of technology to make the experience as satisfying as possible picture, audio, etc. By showing more than you’ve ever seen before–new high definition scenes, deleted scenes from the series, lastly what the fans have been clamoring for for nearly 20 years–the Fire Walk With Me deleted scenes. Then you have the entire fan base to them. I read a tweet that Brian showed me that made me as happy as I can be when we walked into this room, because I had said all along you come to Comic-Con. I have been a comic collector since I have been a kid. Comic-Con for me was I live in New York, I used to go to to the McAlpin Hotel, I am talking about 40 years ago and buy comic books that were in baggies you know with my friends and that’s what Comic-Con was you know. There was no show business, no Hollywood, no actors, none of that, and now I don’t have to tell you guys what it is; but I knew that this property Twin Peaks was like a pillar of Comic-Con and the Comic-Con community. Just like Star Trek for example. People here would go wild and love it, and the tweet was; I heard Marvel announced something blah blah blah, Twin Peaks is coming out at Comic-Con and this is amazing. That is sort of my answer to your question, it is sort of as relevant as it has ever been. TwinPeaks_EM_BRD_3D_Beauty_Grey I actually think it’s more relevant than it has ever been because there is so much media drawing from it.

Ross: As you say, think about the shows where the creators you know, I mean David Chase has said that inspires him and on and on and on think about the shows that wouldn’t exist today if not for Twin Peaks having come out and changed the landscape of television.

Kimmy Robertson: I heard Mark Burnett on the radio yesterday or the day before saying Survivor– that he got the guts to do that because of Twin Peaks. Survivor! Mark Burnett!

Ross: Another CBS show!

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25. INNOCENCE - In Select Theaters August 29

Love. Beauty. Wealth. Eternity. Get ready for the latest YA book-to-film adaptation, INNOCENCE, in select theaters August 29th INNOCENCE, based off the 2001 novel by Jane Mendelsohn, tells the story of Beckett Warner, a teenager dealing with the recent death of her mother. Yet, once she moves to Manhattan to put her life back together and begin a new school, Beckett realizes that her troubles

0 Comments on INNOCENCE - In Select Theaters August 29 as of 7/27/2014 10:32:00 PM
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