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1. The Book Bar is open - Please join us

Raising the bar on reading!

Welcome to "The Book Bar".  A beautiful space for you to order up your favourite drink and listen to guest authors, illustrators, musicians, anyone really, who has a love of books.  If quiet is what you are seeking you can take your drink and wander to the back of the bar and enter the room "Booked."  It is for those who want to curl up in a big comfy chair beside a cozy fireplace and get lost in their story with little or no distractions.  Other may join you there but all-in-all it is your space, a place created for you alone. 

This is the perfect venue to discover new books, relax yourself, discuss and meet people of like-minds and of course make new friends.  I also would like to highlight some great drinks for your enjoyment too from time to time.  

Today's author I'd like you to meet is Perrin Brair.  Let's find out who he is shall we?

Perrin Briar is an English author best-known for his Blood Memory series, black comedy Keeping Mum, and revenge tale Square. He was born in Huntingdon, grew up in Norfolk, graduated from Bournemouth, worked in London, and then chucked it all in to live in South Korea.
Prior to writing he worked as a TV researcher, teacher, stock counter, chocolate factory worker, and many (many!) others. These days he writes about whatever grabs him, and loves starting new writing projects he hopes will grab readers too.
He has written for BBC radio, and worked in the production and development departments of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
Sign up to his newsletter and get three free books, news of forthcoming new releases, competitions, special prices, advanced novel previews and exclusive email-only serial story Skip!
- See more at: http://www.perrinbriar.com/about/#sthash.eHR55T1X.dpuf

This is one of his books he is featuring today...

The happy feel-good novel of the year!

"Would you do anything to protect your inheritance? Modern-day Scrooge Hetty Loveridge saw the opportunity to exploit an inheritance tax loophole for her children, she took it.

She needed only live seven more years.

One week shy, she keels over, dead.

Peter and Kate get more than they bargained for as they attempt to fool the tax man into believe their mother is still alive.

At the heart of this fast-paced and hilarious tale is a story about family, redemption, and hidden secrets.

Black comedy at its best." 
                                                     -source perrinbrair.com

Well let me jump in here with my take on this book. First of all I loved the cover. I would get the book just for that reason alone, but that is just me. It is perfect for the story within.  

I started reading the book a while back and just kept on reading out of pure enjoyment.  I laughed a lot, got involved with all the characters and their lives and loved its whole vibe.  It is interesting how Perrin is marketing this book too.  You can go to his website and get the first part of the book for free (Amazon offers it there free too), and then if you like what you are reading you can buy the rest of the book.  I know once you get into it you will be hooked and want to purchase the entire thing. 

Here's an interview I did with Perrin just to give you some more insight into this amazing author...

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2. Illusionarium Book Trailer

A book I wrote, "Illusionarium", will be coming out soon.  {May 19th!}  My favorite part about this is that I got to make the book trailer!

{A book trailer is, like, a teaser to get people excited about the book.  I made the trailer for Entwined, so it was a lot of fun to do it for Illusionarium too.}  And, like the trailer for Entwined, the first version was totally the wrong direction.

I wasn't real happy with it.  The silhouettes I made felt too cartoony, the gears too heavy, etc.  And I felt like the there wasn't a unifying element in the style.

So, I scrapped it and went forward with a different look.  I made the vignette a lot more delicate, simplified the color scheme, and used images that were from the time period of the book.

I liked this much better!

It was a blast to make.  This is totally  my dream--to have a small-productions animation studio where I get to make, like, commercials and music videos and a bunch of different styles and I can get all artsy and stuff and there are dancing ballerinas everywhere

My other dream is to secretly live in Disneyland for the rest of my life.

A girl's gotta dream.

Anyway, here's the trailer.

A great big thank-you to Matt Gates {who did the music}, Jeff Meacham {sound mixing}, Joe Fowler {producer}, and After Effects, which is my favorite animating program EVAH!  Thanks, guys!

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3. Where does the word cyber come from?

Does the word cyber sound dated to you? Like the phrases Information Superhighway and surfing the Web, something about the word calls one back to the early era of the Internet, not unlike when you ask a person for a URL and they start to read off, ‘H-t-t-p, colon, forward slash…’

The post Where does the word cyber come from? appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Follow Follow (2013)

Follow  Follow. A Book of Reverso Poems. (Companion to Mirror Mirror) Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. 2013. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I loved, loved, LOVED reading Marilyn Singer's Follow Follow. If you love fairy tales, you MUST read Follow Follow. If you love good poetry, you MUST read Follow Follow. If you're new to reverso poems, to the concept of this form of poetry, you should really read Follow Follow or its companion Mirror Mirror. I love how the form itself is so engaging. It takes poetry to a whole new level for me! (It may do the same for you. I hope it does!)

Author's note:
The reverso, a form I created, is made up of two poems. Read the first down and it says one thing. Read it back up, with changes only in punctuation and capitalization, and it means something completely different. When you flip the poem, sometimes the same narrator has a different point of view. Other times, there is another narrator all together.
The poems:
  • Your Wish Is My Command (Aladdin)
  • Birthday Suit (The Emperor's New Clothes)
  • Silly Goose (The Golden Goose)
  • Ready, Steady, Go (The Tortoise and the Hare)
  • Will the Real Princess Please Stand Up (The Princess and the Pea)
  • The Little Mermaid's Choice (The Little Mermaid)
  • Panache (Puss in Boots)
  • Follow Follow (The Pied Piper)
  • No Bigger Than Your Thumb (Thumbelina)
  • Can't Blow This House Down (The Three Little Pigs)
  • The Nightingale's Emperor (The Nightingale)
  • On With The Dance (The Twelve Dancing Princesses)
I think I LOVED almost all of the poems. There were a few that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED however.

The Little Mermaid's Choice

For love,
give up your voice.
think twice.
On the shore,
be his shadow.
keep your home
in the unruly sea.
Be docile.
You can't
catch him
"You'll never catch me!"

You'll never catch me
"Catch him."
You can't
be docile
in the unruly sea.
Keep your home.
be his shadow
on the shore.
Think twice!
give up your voice
for love.

Reading these poems is just a JOY. I love how engaging it is. How it makes you think and reflect on the familiar stories. I love how the poems play around with voice and perspective!!! So very clever!

Read this book!!!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Portrait of Inventor Dominic Wilcox

(Link from YouTube) Dominic Wilcox is an artist, designer, and inventor who builds working prototypes of delightfully bizarre concepts, such a stained-glass driverless car, GPS shoes that guide you where you want to go, and a hearing device that reverses right and left inputs.

Dominic Wilcox's Binaudios for magnifying faraway urban sounds

This video introduces us to his thought process, and we get to meet his parents. Mr. Wilcox wrote a book called Variations on Normal illustrated with his comic sketches. Here's his website.
(Thanks, Bryn)

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6. The Book Bar is open - Please join me

Raising the bar on reading!

Welcome to "The Book Bar."  A beautiful space for you to order up your favourite drink and listen to guest authors, illustrators, musicians, anyone really, who loves books.  If quiet is what you are seeking you can take your drink and wander to the back of the bar and enter the room entitled, "Booked!"  This room is specifically reserved for those who want to curl up in a big comfy chair by the  fireplace and get lost in their own story with little or no distractions.  Others may join you there, but all-in-all it is a space created just for you and your book to enjoy each other's company.

This is the perfect venue to discover new books, relax yourself, have discussions about books, meet new people of like-minds, and of course make some new friends.  

I would like to highlight some great drinks for your enjoyment from time to time.

I want you to meet to-day's author, Perrin Briar:

Perrin Briar is an English author best-known for his Blood Memory series, black comedy Keeping Mum, and revenge tale Square. He was born in Huntingdon, grew up in Norfolk, graduated from Bournemouth, worked in London, and then chucked it all in to live in South Korea.
Prior to writing he worked as a TV researcher, teacher, stock counter, chocolate factory worker, and many (many!) others. These days he writes about whatever grabs him, and loves starting new writing projects he hopes will grab readers too.
He has written for BBC radio, and worked in the production and development departments of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
Sign up to his newsletter and get three free books, news of forthcoming new releases, competitions, special prices, advanced novel previews and exclusive email-only serial story Skip!
- See more at: http://www.perrinbriar.com/about/#sthash.5PYBNEyd.dpuf

The Happy Feel good Novel of the Year!

"Would you do anything to protect your inheritance?  When modern-day Scrooge Hetty Loveridge saw the opportunity to exploit an inheritance tax loophole for her children, she took it.

She needed only live seven more years.

One week shy, she keels over, dead.

Peter and Kate get more than they bargained for as they attempt to fool the tax man into believing their mother is still alive.

At the heart of this fast-paced and hilarious tale is a story about family, redemption, and hidden secrets.  
                                                                  -source: perrinbrair.com

As for me?

I loved the cover.  It drew me in right away...it's perfect for the content inside and such fun.  I started reading the book, then I just had to keep on reading until I finished up the whole thing.  I connected with the well-developed characters and their lifestyle.  I laughed out loud on occasions, raised my eyebrows in some, and had my heartstrings affected by the romantic encounters that Perrin created for me, the reader.   

I particularly loved the twists and turns, the catalysts, that kept me flipping those pages to find out what was next.  (Perrin and I seem to have  the same sense of humour, a little on the dark side).  Keeping Mum is black comedy at its best.  The way he is marketing the book is interesting too.  You can download part one from his website (or Amazon) for free and then if you want to read the rest of the book you can click on Amazon and purchase the whole book there.  That's kind of neat isn't it?  It's your choice.

Catch up with Perrin on his website:

* perrinbrair.com

* on Twitter

* On Facebook (give him a like please, I am sure he would like that)

An interview with Perrin by me...

Book Bar Q&A

Rapid fire questions!

1. What is your dream car?

I’d have to go for the DeLorean. What other car can travel in time?!

2. Do you prefer a sit down meal or a picnic?

Picnic. Hopefully if the weather is good enough for a picnic it’ll be good to go for a long walk and an adventure too!

3. Do you prefer to give a gift or receive one?

Definitely give. Receiving a gift sometimes makes me uncomfortable – especially when I don’t know what it is, and if it’s something I have to make up an excited expression for (I’m the world’s worst actor. I’d be seen through within thirty seconds).

4. Are you left-handed or right-handed? ( I was a school teacher so I like that question)

I am right-handed. Something I learned recently, according to a Ted lecture only ambidextrous people can claim to be more creative than others. Something to do with a greater amount of left and right brain interaction?

5.What is your favourite all-time drink? Alcoholic or Non-alcoholic! No matter.

Easy one. Milkshakes! I love all flavours.

Serious stuff:

1.What was your favourite book to read as a child?

Anything by Roald Dahl. I must have read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Danny, The Champion of the World about a hundred times… I read them again last year.

2.Were you a "budding" novelist in grade school or discover your talent later on in life?

Honestly, it’s a mixture of both. I’ve always enjoyed stories in their various formats, but it’s only with the ability to self-publish that I took being a novelist seriously. I’ve never liked the idea of having to jump through hoops for someone, to be what they expect. I’ve always understood that writing isn’t just an art form, but a business.

I think I’ve always wanted to write. I remember my 6th or 7th birthday when my parents came into my bedroom, waking me up, and gave me a typewriter with a ribbon wrapped around it. I was so excited. It looked like something from a fantasy story. The keys were hard and I had to jab at them with my tiny digits. I got blisters on the end of my fingers, but I kept at it, and now I have mighty fingers!

A few years later I got an electronic typewriter, and typing became much easier after that. Unfortunately I managed to turn some kind of setting on that meant I could only type up to the middle of the page before it refused to write further… With no internet I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off!

I got my first computer when I was 15. I finally decided that I wanted to be a storyteller when I was 18. I think my journey to becoming a writer coincides with the evolution of my writing tools.

3. How did you choose the title of your book? 

I made a list of a few dozen options and got rid of them one by one until I only had Keeping Mum left. I think the best titles communicate a lot more than just a name. They should indicate a tone, a genre, several layers of meaning. Keeping Mum does that for my story.

4. Did you write yourself into any of the characters?

I think it’s impossible to not have some part of myself in virtually all the characters, but I didn’t intentionally do so. I kept writing until the characters started talking to me, and let them tell me what they wanted to say and do. 

5.What other authors do you like to read?

I love to read any author who can spin a tale that makes me excited every time I reach for their book. I admire Agatha Christie’s sparseness, the way she focuses on what’s important and ignores the rest. But I also enjoy Wilbur Smith’s beautiful prose and his strength in description. There are as many reasons I like to read a book as there are authors to read! 

6. Do you have another book bubbling inside your brain crying to get out?
I have many, in fact! Ideas aren’t a problem for me. Every day I read news from various sources and each time I get an idea for a story I write it down. I now have hundreds! Sometimes it’s just a particular word I think would be a great title for a book and I’d be excited to write, or it’s a whole concept for a book.

Keeping Mum actually came from a news item I read. It was about a brother and sister whose mother had passed away. They took turns in dressing up as her to claim her pension money. These were obviously not likeable people, so I changed the whole set up so that the mother actually wanted her kids to pretend like she was still alive. That helped with empathy and didn’t seem so bad to me. I also increased the stakes and make it into a comedy.

Do I have many other ideas similar in tone or style to Keeping Mum? Yes. The trouble is getting around to them! 

7.Anything else you would like to share about yourself to our readers? 

A life lesson, really. If there’s something you want, you have to pursue it with all your heart. I’ve wasted a lot of time in delaying what I wanted to do. If there’s something you want to do, do it now. Don’t wait until tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Do it now.

I write in a variety of genres, but if there is one thing that links them all it is that my characters are proactive, they get out there and do things. Sometimes they end up going on an adventure along the way. That’s how I feel with writing. I’m on an adventure. If you get time, pull up a chair join me :)

Happy hour humour...

"Sorry no Wifi - Just have to talk to each other."

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-Benjamin Franklin

The Book Bar will be a regular monthly feature here on Storywraps.  Stay tuned for next month's venue.
It's a wrap.

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7. Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.)

We enjoy making things in the Children’s Room.  Catapults for rubber band balls and elaborate paper airplanes. Colorful chemical reactions. Louise Nevelson-inspired shadow boxes. Hand-sewn pillows stuffed with lavender.  Even sushi and super delicious doughnuts topped with cinnamon sugar.  But as delightful as we’ve found stirring, stitching, and sculpting–and designing projectiles of all shapes and sizes–we’ve recently discovered how much fun we can have unmaking.

For a recent pTaking Things Apart 1rogram we called “Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.),” we collected old computer system units that we begged from a university IT department, where offices constantly update and swap out their CPUs.  With a few screwdrivers and pliers from around the library and a few others brought in from home, we set up the computers on card tables and gathered fourth to sixth graders in small groups around each unit.  And then we asked them to find out what’s inside.

This wasn’t an electronic scavenger hunt–we provided no specific objectives or procedure to follow.  We talked about safety, though, and reiterated our goal to disassemble the computers, not to break them.  (There’s a reason we didn’t give them hammers, after all.)  Because the power sources can occasionally hold a dangerous charge even after unplugging the computers, we showed the kids how those components are labeled and instructed them not to touch the batteries.  As they got further into the guts of the machines, we came around and removed the power sources ourselves.  And we’re proud to report zero electrocutions.

Once they pried open the computer casings, the kids required no additional prompting to explore the electronics.  They delicately unscrewed hard drives, unhooked data cables, and plucked segments froTaking Things Apart 2m the motherboard.  Many of the larger pieces have their own serial numbers, and when students wondered about the purpose of a part, we offered them a (functioning) computer to enter the number and read about the component’s use.  And they cooperated!  Passing around the tiniest screwdrivers and holding sections steady for each other, they rooted around in the guts and held out their micro-trophies for everyone else to admire.  “Can I keep this part?” one asked, over and over.   “What about this?  I want to take this piece home with me.”  (No one took anything.  Everything went to hazardous waste at the dump the following week.)

Near the end of the program, one girl who had spent half an hour dismantling a DVD drive plopped into her seat.  As I scooted over to check in with her, she set her tools down and yelled: “This is so much fun!”  So, we had no projects to take home.  And we spent the hour deconstructing and not creating.  But we definitely made a good time.

Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at robbin@chappaqualibrary.org.

The post Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.) appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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8. Textile Printing & My Sketchbook

It's been a hugely busy month, and I'm trying to keep up with everything. So here's another little glimpse at what I've been doing at college ... loads of experimenting in my sketchbook. Here are a few pages where I'm playing around with watercolour and masking tape, working on different ways of perceiving self-identity, for my neuroscience project:




Striving for a loose, fragmented background to reflect the loss of memory and lack of self-identity experienced in the short story/case study that I've decided to illustrate. Still a long way to go, I'm afraid. But it's a great feeling just trying out different ways of expressing disconnections.

Meanwhile we've begun learning to print on textiles and I'm having a wonderful time mark-making and printing onto calico ... I started off tentatively, using fabric inks and oil pastels:




After which I got into the swing of things and enjoyed myself:




Everything I'm doing recently is just so different from anything I've done before that I love it. Not that it's either better or worse, it's a learning process and that's exactly what I needed to do, learn and add some depth to my own creative perception. It feels absolutely right.

Wishing you a wonderfully creative week. Cheers.


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9. Why I Hated the Movie Whiplash

I have been cramming my spring break week about as full as can be. I've had three breakfasts with friends (including one three hours long!), three friend-lunches, two friend-dinners, untold walks with our little dog, Tank, plus hours galore cuddling my sweet grandbaby. I've also seen four movies: The Imitation Game, The Red Balloon, Into the Woods, and Whiplash. Well, the first half of Whiplash. I hated it so much I had to turn it off after an hour or so. I was stunned to find that many friends of mine loved it. Here is why I didn't.

The film depicts the relationship between an ambitious young jazz drummer at a prestigious music conservatory and one of his teachers, who hurls endless bigoted, homophobic, cruel abuse at his students (as well as slapping them repeatedly in the face) to get them to achieve musical greatness.

I turned it off in part because I have only another forty or fifty years to live and I don't want to spend precious minutes of what time I have left in the company of anyone, real or fictitious, who treats another human being the way the J. K. Simmons character treats his students in the film.

But I also turned it off because it is deeply false to suggest that artistic greatness is achieved in this way, that students who live in constant, abject terror of a teacher's physical, mental, and emotional abuse grow into their best creative selves.

Any writer knows that the way to write the best stories is NOT to write with a constant critical voice harping in your head, but to silence that voice and listen instead to the voices of your characters, voices you can't hear if you are already imagining the savage response you'll get from editors or reviewers.

Any actor knows that the way to produce an immortal performance is NOT to act with half of your brain focused on the tyranny of the director, but to become your character as fully as possible, to be that person, not the person of an actor who is cowering in fear of a director's disapproval.

Any musician aims at becoming one with the music, inhabiting the work so completely that you leave behind any thought of what anybody else thinks, past, present, or future.

The student musicians in Whiplash look stiff and terrified as they play. They follow every single commandment of their conductor with slavish obedience. They radiate no joy in the music. They never make the music their own. It is, always and forever, his. But, folks, this is jazz we're talking about. Jazz! An art form where improvisation is absolutely central. An art form that values collaboration between musicians who will jam together for hours in the sheer delight of making music with their friends. An art form that values play.

I'm the mother of a jazz musician who is right now playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in California. I have attended so many jazz performances in my life. And I am here to report that it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. A swing that has some joy in it.

The jazz community has repudiated the film, to my great relief, according to articles in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Downbeat Magazine, claiming that it misrepresents jazz music, jazz pedagogy, and jazz history (including the famous incident when a fellow musician threw a cymbal at emerging jazz great Charlie Parker).

I'm here to claim that it also misrepresents everything I know about how great art is made. I'll stick with the poet John Masefield, who wrote, "Great art does not proceed from great criticism, but from great encouragement." I'll add, and from great joy.

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10. Day 28 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

ANNOUNCEMENTS Please be sure you are leaving the permalink to your blog post each day (and not the link to your blog’s homepage).  You can find the permalink of your post by clicking on… Continue reading

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11. let's all be kind for a week: a modest social media proposal

Last night, 11 o'clock-ish, my hair flat, my eyes slightly swollen, my red and white striped socks in grotesque visual combat with my too-tight but also floppy-collared top, I read this story by Pamela Paul in the New York Times. You'll get the gist from the title, perhaps: "She Sounds Smart, but Look at Her Hair!" If you need more, I share this paragraph below—an email Paul received following her seemingly successful (televised) moderation of a book-fair panel in Miami.
“Had the unfortunate experience of seeing you on Miami Dade College video tossing your head around and continuously pushing the hair out of your face. What the hell is the matter with you? Why wear hair that covers your eye? You are an insult to women.”
Paul's piece goes on to feature a handful of other women (Lori Gottlieb, Rebecca Skloot, Bridget Todd) who spend time in the glare of the media sun talking real issues. Women who, after adding something to the intellectual exchange, are barraged later on by inane commentary. Hair. Baggy eyes. A twice-worn purple sweater. The works.

My first thought (and I have been having this thought a lot lately): Glad I am not famous or TV-worthy. Indeed, except for those few days after a stylist has blown some sense into my tresses, I am not even hair-fit for the gym. I've lost friends over the wilderness of the stuff that sprouts from my head. I've endured the exasperation of a colleague who, while perfectly balanced on a stool in a swanky bar, implored me to find a way to fix it.

I have tried. I cannot. Imagine what the anonymous, peering-in-from-their-living-room crowds would say about me were I equipped to endure the media glare in an attempt to say something that mattered.

My second thought (and this should have been my first): Why does it give so many people so much pleasure to be unkind, inconsiderate, ruthlessly shaming? What sports zone are we living in? Why have so many grown so vigorously immune to seeing the bigger picture, and of exercising compassion?

My third thought (and this follows on the heels of my compassion post) is this: What would happen if we all agreed to use our social media channels—our blogs, our Facebook walls, our Twitter, our LinkedIn—for unadulterated good? I know it's a tall order. Heck. There are times when I want to shout, and sometimes do. But what if, for this week ahead, starting now, we set aside our inner mean and only wrote kindly of others (or, as our mothers taught us, held our tongues)?

I'm going to give it a shot. Perhaps you'll join me.

And if you want to join me, pass it on.

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12. Dorthe Nors on short-story-form

       Karate Chop-author Dorthe Nors 'reflects on the beauty of the short story form' at PEN Atlas, in A form close to home.
       I've always been a novel-man, through and through, but I'm surprised to find my lack of interest in the story-form has actually increased recently. I can appreciate the qualities of Nors' collection, but I can't say it really engaged me; indeed, very little story-writing has, ever. In part -- especially in recent decades -- it's a reaction to/lack of interest in the horribly dominant MFA/Carver-Lish school of writing -- all too polished, all too simple, all too reduced -- but even beyond that, stories tend generally, in some (or many) way(s), not to be enough for me (unless, of course, the reduction is complete and absolute: Heiner Müller's Herzstück (arguably a drama ?) likely would make my list of ten favorite works of literature). Those that do impress tend to be strongly concept-based: Borges' Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is probably the story that has most impressed me/had the most lasting effect; Queneau's Exercises in Style is among the few top-rated ("A+") books at the complete review; the last story-writer I really got excited about was Krzhizhanovsky (Memories of the Future, etc.); probably the last collection I was really impressed by was Ogawa Yoko's Revenge, which I've insisted from the beginning is a novel, not a story collection .....
       Anyway, it's something I want to examine more closely at some point.

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13. Question: have you missed a big book?

 This question is a little different, but I'm curious. Have you ever rejected a query, proposal, or manuscript, but much later down the line saw the book on the shelves, selling like mad, and thought, "Damn."

Oddly, no.
I've certainly seen projects I've not taken on go on to be repped and sold, but I don't think I've passed on anything like 50 Shades of Gray, or Harry Potter, or even Lee Child.

On the other hand, I'm probably not the right person to answer this question because I don't really keep track of things I've passed on. It's entirely possible I have passed on things that went on to do well, and I'm just unaware of them.

I do know that editors are a bit more keenly aware of what they were offered [and not.] I've sold a couple books on very exclusive submission, only to have other editors call to ask if someone else at the publisher had seen the book and passed.

It's easy to have a million regrets in this business, but it's critical for morale to keep them at bay. My focus is on what's coming up that will knock your sox off, not what I missed two years ago. 

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14. Latvijas Literatūras gada finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the Latvijas Literatūras gada -- the Latvian Literary Awards.
       Always interesting to see what the local talent is doing (among the names: Inga Ābele, whose High Tide has been published in English by Open Letter) and also what the top translations into the local language are (a Curzio Malaparte and Josef Škvorecký's The Engineer of Human Souls, among others).
       The winners will be announced 24 April.

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15. Disaster

Why does disaster
Come oh, so much faster
Than happenings flowing with joy?
A plane crash or fire
With death does conspire
To enter our lives and destroy.

Just hearing such madness
Imbues us with sadness
No matter if we are involved;
But while we’re existing
This pattern’s persisting,
A puzzle not easily solved.

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16. Tom McCarthy Q & A

       The Globe and Mail has a short Q & A with Tom McCarthy (Remainder, etc.).
       Fun to see him rag of Thomas Hardy.

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17. Seuss on Saturday #13

The Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 61 pages.  [Source: Library]

First sentence:
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.
Premise/Plot: Sally and her brother can't find ANYTHING fun to do on a rainy day until a strange cat comes to their house, invites himself in, and turns everything topsy-turvy. This rhyming book also stars a fish, who knows that the Cat in the Hat's fun only leads to trouble, and Thing One and Thing Two.  (One of the games they play is up-up-up with a fish. Another is fun-in-a-box.)

My thoughts: I've read this one dozens of times. It's so familiar, so fun. It's hard for me to imagine what it would be like to read it for the first time. I've also heard the audio book read by Kelsey Grammer. Is this my FAVORITE Seuss book? I'm not sure that it is. But it's so fun and silly.

Have you read The Cat in the Hat? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you think of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or reading Dr. Seuss' picture books (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. 7 Best Ways To Get Book Reviews - Part 7 - #authorpromotion #bookpromotion


Today I have the amazingly awesome Alyssa, a book blogger and reviewer from Riverina Romantics, to share her insight and advice on author promotion, book marketing, and how to successfully get book reviews. 

How would you describe your blog? 

A group of ladies who enjoy the escape of books, the passion of reading, and the sexy hunks involved.

Reading preferences? 

I am personally a sucker for paranormal romances, but I enjoy contemporary romance and romantic suspense as well.

What inspired you to start reviewing books? Why do you continue to do it? 

I love reading books, but I often had no one to really talk to about them because I didn’t know anyone who enjoyed reading like I did, so I started reviewing books so I could reach other people that enjoy what I do. I continue to review books because I like being able to reach other readers in hopes that they will enjoy what I do and find other authors that they might otherwise never have found.

Have long have you been reviewing books? 

Oh gosh, going on 3 years now I believe.

Where do you prefer to buy your books? 

I usually buy my books through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

What do you mostly base your decision on before offering to review a book? (book cover, blurb, or by reading an excerpt online, etc.) 
Book covers, for me, play a huge role in how I view a book. I just don’t feel drawn to a book if the cover doesn’t appeal to me. After that, I look at the blurb. That has to draw me in further. If both peak my interest, then I’ll usually offer to review it.

What’s your advice for authors about promoting their book? 

First and foremost, if you’re going to a blog, look at their rules. They usually have them for a reason and it does cause problems sometimes if they are not followed. Always be courteous as well. If you have a good experience with the reviewers, they are more likely to help you again in the future. Even if they can’t review the book, they will usually offer other ways they can help.

How many requests do you get on average monthly

I myself usually get around 10-15 requests a month.

Do you respond to every request? 

I do. Sometimes it might take me a while because life tends to get in the way at times. But I always make sure to try to respond to each one.

Do you review Indie or self-pubbed authors? (Why or why not?) 

I am careful with Indie / Self-published authors. I will review them, but I have run into some with a few issues. I’ve read some that I didn’t like, and some that were great. So it’s a toss of the coin. If their cover and blurb attract me, I will usually read them.

When an author requests a review, what information do you need? 

We at RR usually require all the basics, like Title, Genre, Author, book blurb, etc. Links to information about the book is also helpful. If the author wishes to put other information in there as well, it is usually a bonus.

Do you prefer to read an excerpt before accepting a book for review? 

I don’t. As I’ve said, usually a cover and book blurb are enough. But excepts help because they give us a taste of the author’s writing style, and that sometimes can push us to decide to review the book.

What do you do if you’re not enjoying a book or don’t want to finish reading it? 

At Riverina Romantics, we will email the author and let them know privately that there was some reason we found that we could not review it. We are either always polite about it or express that it wasn’t to our style, or we could not rate it high enough. We never wish to give a bad review for an author and will not write a review that will in any way damage an author’s sales or reputation.

What do you include in your reviews? 

I will usually give an opening opinion, and then go into the hero and heroine as individuals before addressing them as a couple. If there are secondary characters that I enjoy, I will usually do a little thing on them as well. Then I’ll close with an overall view of the book in total.

Where do you post reviews besides your own site? 

I usually put my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. If another site is requested by an author, I do my best to do that as well.

Do you host book tours, blog hops, or guest posts? (Why or why not?) 

Yes. We like to help authors get their work out there. So we do our best to help in any way we can.

Can you tell if an author hasn’t bothered to read your ‘review policy’? 

Yes. All of the ladies on the blog have a general group where we communicate everything. If something pops up with two of us at the same time, we usually know right then and there that whoever sent the request did not look at our policy.

On your site, do you clearly state what types of books you review and what genres you don’t? 

No. A book does not necessarily need to be romance to be reviewed by us. As long as it is the main theme, we are willing to review it.

Give us an example of the “wrong” way to request a review: 

I’ve gotten requests before that went something along the lines of…
“Hi! I’m (insert author name here.)
I’d like you to review my book! Thanks!”
That’s all I would get. Requests like that don’t draw me in and I am a lot less likely to review it if I have to hunt down all the information about it.

Provide us with an example of the “right” way to request a review: 

Ones that go like this…

“Hi! I’m (insert author name here.)
I’m would be happy if you could read my book, (insert book title). It’s about…(enter small description here.) Below is the blurb and some links in case you would like more. Thank you for taking the time to consider my book.”

Usually the more information that is given, the better.

Any rants? 

I’ve had a few dealings with unpleasant authors because I did not share their opinion of their work.

Any additional advice? 

Even if you do not agree with what a reviewer has said about your work, please do not retaliate in a negative way. It is only one person’s opinion, one that you may have asked for. Responding to us poorly is the quickest way for us to refuse you in the future.

Blog: www.riverinaromantics.com
Twitter: @RivRomantics

Hopefully these will give you some ideas of creating fantastic guest posts of your own. Thanks, Alyssa!

Also, my handbook "Get Book Reviews the WRITE Way" has TONS of suggestions on great ways to market your novel!

Hope this info helps. Best of luck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

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

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

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

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20. Collecting and evaluating data on social programs

On 31 December 2014, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution wrote a compelling op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled, “Social Programs That Work.” Haskins shared the need for our nation to support evidence-based social programs and abandon those that show small or un-enduring effects – a wise idea.

The post Collecting and evaluating data on social programs appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. Why Are My Comics Not All Bagged In Mylar?

Having watched my vlog on comics I received an email comment and the sender was surprised my comics were not all in Mylar bags.

Someone else asked me why they (comics) were not all "Mylar'd up" so......,

Above: what is left of my once great Class collection.  They WILL be archived up at some point.
Seriously, up until my mid forties I had no permanent home.  Even the one I'm in now the Council is pratting about over.  I have a few 1940s/1950s and 1960s comics in bags but there are things I have to consider
 In the corner are bagged Silver Age and Bronze ages comics. My complete run of the 1960s Sub-Mariner and I even bagged The Essential Sub-Mariner. Also The Invaders (Marvel), some Marvel Super Heroes (#1- ) and a few others I like to read through every so often such as DC Comics "Judgement Day".  See -I do bloody bag some comics!
1) I just pick up comics to read them.  I'm under no illusions they are my "retirement fund" in waiting.

2) I have comics of all size: US as well as A6, A5, Quarto (along the size of Class), A4, UK weeklies -all shapes and sizes -even the 1980s Eagle and Battle Force and 2000 AD could vary slightly in size from week to week (as I found to my cost) and in the 1970s/1980s Battle and some other comics look longer -they aren't really it's just that that are not as wide.  I think for my old weeklies I once worked out I would need SIX different bag sizes.  The Tarzan weekly/monthlies I showed, again, are thick and a little larger than regular UK weeklies  And my Russian fold-out Piccolo comics?

I did buy some "British Magazine size" bags once -just annoying.
Above: that shelf by the doorway has been re-stocked!  Ignore the gaming stuff but in the comic bags behind the tanks and lead cowboys are my volume 1 Mighty Avengers collection.  These I bag up.  Sooo many were stolen!
Denis Gifford didn't bag up all his comics!

3)  I have been put under no illusion by my family that when I snuff it anything other than my books being sold off and, if no one buys, burnt, is going to happen.  Bristol Central Library has no interest.  Personally speaking I'll be dead so....  Of course I'd like to have seen others appreciate the books but in my near 60 years (60??!!!) I have seen research friends and people I have worked with pass away and the same thing happens -as a rule most stuff gets dumped or burnt -we're talking naturalists, wildlife researchers and researchers into the odd and weird -famous ones to boot.  I shall be no exception as I cover all those categories and have huge paper files.
Above: under the doorway shelves are archive boxes containing bagged comics and after I sort the entire room out they are going to need re-boxing!

This is the hallway cupboard. Some 16 archive boxes with Marvels, DCs, Archies, some Independents and, again, some bagged but standard comic bags not Mylar and not boarded (though my silver age stuff is boarded).  There are a further....8 of these boxes in my room.

So, long-winded, but I have comics in archive boxes.  My volume 1 Mighty Avengers are bagged as are a few others but as I am the only one who cares about the huge collection...that said, my Great Nephews will be getting quite a library when they are old enough.

If I could drive and had a van (truck) I think I'd sell at events IF it were possible to get a table at any!  That or a small book stall.  I can dream.  Certainly would be no stock shortage!

Maybe I'll be cremated on a mound of comics and graphic novels in my garden -that'll get the neighbours moaning!

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22. Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015)

       2011 Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer has passed away; see, for example, The New York Times' obituary.

       Only one of his titles is under review at the complete review: Memories Look at Me.

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23. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

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24. What kind of Prime Minister would Miliband make?

Ed Miliband spent a year-and-a-half in the Cabinet between 2008 and 2010, and spent more than five years working as an advisor in the Treasury before he entered parliament in 2005. If he does become Prime Minister after May 7th, then, he will start the job with far more familiarity with government at the highest level than some of his recent predecessors, not least Tony Blair and David Cameron.

The post What kind of Prime Minister would Miliband make? appeared first on OUPblog.

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25. Chuck Jones Exhibit in Texas

The Fort Worth Museum of Science is currently presenting an exhibition of the animation art of Warner Brothers director Chuck Jones.

"Chuck Jones brought to animation an unparalleled talent for comic invention and a flair for creating animated characters with distinctive and often wildly eccentric personalities. Jones perfected the quintessentially suave and wisecracking Bugs Bunny, the perpetually exasperated Daffy Duck, the hapless but optimistic Elmer Fudd, and created the incurably romantic Pepé Le Pew, and the eternal antagonists Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner."
Chuck Jones said, "Eschew the ordinary, disdain the commonplace. If you have a single-minded need for something, let it be the unusual, the esoteric, the bizarre, the unexpected."

"What's Up, Doc?: The Animation Art of Chuck Jones" through April 26 at the Fort Worth Museum of Science in Texas. After that, it will continue at the EMP Museum, Seattle, WA; the Minnesota History Center, in St. Paul, MN, and the Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntville, AL.

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