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1. Making Things Clear -and 'anonymous' flamers

For those who seem to think I'm after event freebies (thank you for the emails but have the balls to comment on CBO and give your REAL names) let me point something out.

Look to the right (that's THIS way---->) 1, 616, 997 views. Events publicised and reviews posted get a LOT of views which is why companies send me review books.   Now, for some reason Google+ views are not shown on this blog. I can tell you that as of this moment CBO postings have been viewed by 783, 666 -and I've only been posting there since May.

From CBO and Google+ most of the postings are picked up by other sites, bloggers and they in turn add extra views. 

You want better free publicity? You can look and good luck.

I have no objections to paying for tables at events.  Free entry? Yes, that is the norm in EVERY industry for people who promote or are considered "Press".

Just grow up and try to be professionals or at least pretend as best you can. Irritating 'anonymous' emailers...well, you just are not.  You really need to catch up on internet technology. 

Now go away.

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2. GalleyCat Editor Takes Maternity Leave

gclogosmall.jpgThis GalleyCat editor is about to have a new baby. I’ll be taking for a couple of months to adjust to life with a newborn and a toddler.

During this break, the site will be in the capable hands of GalleyCat contributors Maryann Yin and Claire Davis. Email them with any story ideas or releases.

I will return later this fall, just as things get exciting with holiday book releases and The National Book Awards!

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Week in Review, September 15th-19th

banner weekinreview 550x100 Week in Review, September 15th 19th

This week on hbook.com…

Marla Frazee Talks with Roger about The Farmer and the Clown (outtake — “Marla Frazee, wipe that smile off your face!”)

If I Stay movie review

Reviews of the Week:

Read Roger: Does one size fit all?” How well do board books and picture books really adapt to digital?

Out of the Box:

Calling Caldecott:

Lolly’s Classroom:

September children’s literature events

See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!

share save 171 16 Week in Review, September 15th 19th

The post Week in Review, September 15th-19th appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. lots of bows. lots of stars.

©the enchanted easel 2014

{new painting in the works AND it contains one of my favorite characters ever!:)}

oh, and the nightmare before christmas painting is done and waiting to be posted. trying to wait til at least the last week in september to post it, as it's more of a halloween piece. can't wait to share it!

until then, here's a peek at the full sketch, entitled "moonstruck"...featuring sally and her beloved black cat. (yes, i drew AND painted a cat. those who really know me what a feat that was..."feat" being the understatement of the year. let's just say i'm more of a dog person...)

©the enchanted easel 2014

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5. oooo baby, here i am. signed, sealed, delivered. i'm yours

For those who have enquired, I have had another delivery of books from my publisher and so they are back in stock HERE. Cheers.

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6. For Illustration Friday ~ NOVELTY

Of course it would be a novelty if Pigs really could fly... and someday one of them just might!

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7. Goodbye Hub Network, Hello Discovery Family

It was fun while it lasted: the underperforming Hub Network, an equal partnership between Discovery Communications and toymaker Hasbro is shutting down.

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8. Thoughts from a Sensitive #4


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9. The Marshmallow Test

From an expert psychologist comes an insightful, fresh take on self-control based on studies given to children on delaying gratification. In this wonderfully accessible read, we come to not only understand our impulses but learn how to effectively tackle and reappraise them. Books mentioned in this post The Marshmallow Test: Mastering... Walter Mischel New Hardcover [...]

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10. Massachusetts library events in September! I'll see you in Western and Eastern Mass!

Hey, Massachusetts friends! I'll be at two public libraries next week. 

This Tuesday at 3 PM I'll be at Newton Free Library to talk about comics and creativity. Book sales via Wellesley Books! 

And on Thursday of next week, find me at Hubbard Library in Ludlow, MA at 6 PM! 

See ya along the Mass Pike! 

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11. City Sonnet

Out-of-towners in the city,
Seeing folks go rushing by,
Seem to think it’s such a pity
Their hellos get no reply.

Small-town friendliness ‘round here
Sticks out like the sorest thumb.
In this urban atmosphere,
Self-absorbed we’ve all become.

There’s no room for conversation
With a person we don’t know.
Why allow a complication
To disrupt life’s ebb and flow?

Still, we might return a nod;
More than that, we’d find it odd.

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12. On This Day: A September 20 Birthday Meme

For me, in the Southern Hemisphere, it's September 20, though Blogger, a Northern Hemisphere program, will stick September 19 above this post. Ignore it. I'm going to write about September 20, okay? 

There is no real literary-related stuff happening on September 20 in history, so here is the closest I can get: on this day, the Greeks defeated the Persians in the Battle of Salamis, in 480 BCE. A lot of stuff has been written about that, starting with Herodotus, the "Father of History" and one of the veterans of that battle was Aeschylus, one of the big three playwrights of ancient Athens. 

There's plenty more if you like wars, plagues, suicide bombings and such, plus a mention of the creation of the first petrol-fuelled car, leading to the great age of pollution and fights over oil that we all know and love, but I might skip it. I only mentioned Salamis because there was a famous writer fighting in it. 

Let's get on to the birthdays.  

There was Arthur, Prince of Wales, born in 1486, to Elizabeth of York and that nasty man Henry VII. Imagine how much would never have been written if the poor boy had survived to become king instead of his brother Henry VIII! I mean, really. The history of Europe would have been so very different, whether for good or ill. A lot of people writing about the reign of Henry would never have had the chance. For starters, no Wolf Hall and Bringing Up The Bodies. ;-). No Six Wives Of Henry VIII. No Anne Boleyn websites. No opera Anna Bolena. Though, knowing Henry, he would have found his own ways to power, even if he was just the kid brother of King Arthur. And maybe Alison Weir and Hilary Mantel would have found plenty of material about the reign of Arthur to inspire them. Still, we'd have missed a lot of literary enjoyment.

Then there's Steve Gerber, a big man in the world of comic book writing, specifically Marvel comics. He's dead, alas, but did a lot during his lifetime, quite apart from his creation Howard the Duck. He has an entry in Wikipedia if you want to look him up for his long list of works.

Today, September 20, is also the birthday of George R R Martin, author of the great mediaeval epic fantasy soap opera The Game Of Thrones! If you don't know about him, you have been hiding under a rock. Who would have thought when I read the first novel of the series back when it first came out, that t would go on to be so huge? To be honest, while I do like it - it has such a wonderful feel of grubby "real" Middle Ages - there are other books of his I like better. 

One of them, Fevre Dream is unlikely ever to be made into a TV series, unless they want something to follow up GOT once it's finished. There are some hints on the Internet that they might be able to get some interest in a film rather than a series. I'll believe that when I see it.  It's standalone, not too thick, and it has vampires in it, but Martin's vampires are a race, not undead. One of them who is tired of killing, has come up with a formula that will enable vampires to avoid drinking human blood. He orders a magnificent paddle-steamer built so he can travel up the Mississippi river finding other vamps with his attitude to join him. It's set in the pre Civil War era because, as Martin said at a Melbourne con I attended, it was a time when slaves could be killed easily without anyone asking questions. Another Martin book I like better than GOT is the delicious Tuf Voyaging, a series of connected short stories set in a seed ship travelling through space, with the title character and his many cats. A good book for SF reading cat lovers!

It's also the birthday of Keith Roberts, author of the wonderful alternative universe novel Pavane, a classic of AU fiction, which starts with the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I and goes on to speculate on a world in which the Church rules.

Today is the birthday of the totally un-writing-related Sophia Loren, but what the heck! Such a beautiful woman and fine actress!

There are a number of Christian feast days, but it's also the seventh day of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which play a big part in literature. Mary Renault's The King Must Die is in there, among others. That's a wonderful book I first read when I was about twelve. My copy is falling apart. I'm holding out for the ebook which isn't yet on iBooks, though some of her other books are.

So, what do you think of this day in history? 


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13. 5 mins quickies

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14. Enter to Win for Christmas


Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Release date November 5th

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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15. Ask a Book Buyer: Exploring Europe Through Fiction

At Powell's, our book buyers select all the new books in our vast inventory. If we need a book recommendation, we turn to our team of resident experts. Need a gift idea for a fan of vampire novels? Looking for a guide that will best demonstrate how to knit argyle socks? Need a book for [...]

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Despite Tsunami-type rains, the people still came out in full force in order to see Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC on Saturday September 13.

Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie, which was written and directed by Eric Graham, financed and filmed by Terrence Graham, and edited by Darius Carr, is a film, that has been described as a "psychological comedy," which takes a hilarious journey into the mind of a troubled teenager, who tries desperately to cope with his anger and self-hatred.

The thought-provoking film, to the many moviegoers in attendance, lived-up to all its hype, which surprisingly made them laugh, love, and learn as it took them on a roller coaster ride until the very end.

"This movie continues to grow in its importance.. every time it is shown, " said Eric Graham, who is a proud graduate of Winston-Salem State University.

"It, in fact, is a timeless piece, which I believe, will one day be considered a cult classic..."

Not surprisingly, keeping in character, however, the star of the film, William Isiah Shakur, who played Bobbee Bee "The Hater," failed to make an appearance to his own film due to the bad whether.

Despite Shakur's no show, everyone who viewed the film admitted that he did an excellent job in his portrayal of Bobbee Bee, which was based closely own his own life experiences as a teenager.

"I am very proud of  my son..." confessed his father Terrence Graham, who currently works as an Academic Advisor at the prestigious Hampton University.

"This film couldn't have be made without his brilliant performance..."

Even though Bobbee Bee wasn't presence, another character named "Smoking Joe Black," who created a lot of buzz throughout the film, which was played by Andre Walker, tip-toed smoothly down the Red carpet with his signature well-groomed Afro and Afro-pick.

To his surprise, Walker's father, Andre Robert Lee, traveled all the way from Washington, DC in order to view his son's acting debut in the movie.

"Please support this movie...it was very entertaining and my son was outstanding as "Smoking" Joe Black." said the proud father.

" I would like to thank Terrence Graham for giving him the opportunity to shine."

With Walker's acting skills being displayed on camera along with a host of other budding young stars, Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie has the potential to land up in somebody's film festival or the big screen as well as B.E.T. in the near future -the sky's the limit.

Honestly, it's simply amazing what a couple of "country boys" from Magnolia can accomplish, especially if they don't let their inflated egos get in their way.

With that said, many people will be shocked to find out that 95% of the cast and crew in the film are all from Duplin County, which is a testament of the GREATNESS that resides in this small tight-knit community.

After the film was over, the Graham brothers, asked the audience, who viewed it Saturday night at Johnston Community College to utilize social media, whether on Instagram, Twitter, or FaceBook in order to help them promote the movie.

"We utilize social media, especially Facebook, to post a lot of stupid stuff..." said Terrence, during the question-and-answer portion of the film.

"However, now, you have an opportunity to post something positive, which potentially could have a direct impact on the minds of our children."

If anyone still denies the importance of this small independent film, Scott and Tammy Pettiford Bonds, who were in attendance with their two sons, made it crystal clear that the film made an instant impact on their 16 year old son.

"Bobbee Bee The Hater is already a household name...we've already made connection to the movie last night when parenting our 16 year old. He got it!!

Stay tune for the next viewing of this film.

Because, it is coming to a town near you.

For more information about Bobbee Bee contact Eric D.Graham at lbiass34@yahoo.com

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17. Top 10 Toys (and Candy) at the Turn of the (Last) Century: Wheels of Change (plus a giveaway!)

??????????You know I love lists. I’m a listophile. This blog features t a list of 500+ Things that Kids Like, Things They DON’T Like, and a list of over 200 fun, cool and interesting words. List-o-mania! List-o-rama! The lister! (Pretend I’m talking in Rob Schneider’s SNL “annoying office guy” voice.)

Today I invited debut author Darlene Beck Jacobson to the blog to share the Top 10 Toys and Candies of the early 1900’s, the time when times, well, they were a-changin’. It was also the time during her new middle grade novel, WHEELS OF CHANGE! (Don’t you just LOVE that cover?)

TOP TEN TOYS OF 1900-1920

  1. Teddy Bear (1902)—in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who, on a hunting trip, had an opportunity to kill a bear and didn’t.
  2. Erector Set—invented by AC Gilbert, a gold medal Olympian in the 1908 Pole Vault.
  3. Lionel Trains (1901)
  4. Lincoln Logs (1916)
  5. Raggedy Ann Doll
  6. Radio Flyer Wagon (1917)
  7. Tinker Toys (1914)
  8. Crayola Crayons 8 pack (1903)
  9. Tin Toys
  10. Tiddlywinks

Other popular toys of the time  included: Baseball Cards (1900), Ping Pong (1901), Jigsaw Puzzle (1909), Snap Card Game, playing cards, marbles, checkers, chess, yo-yos, wooden tops and (of course) dolls.

Let’s see, what would the top 10 toys of today be? I think Teddy Bears might still have a shot at it. Maybe Crayola crayons, too. But I bet no one back then could envision an app being the most popular toy. (An app? they might say. You mean a tiny apple?)

Now let’s devour the top tasty treats of the era!


  1. Candy Corn (1880-s)
  2. Juicy Fruit Gum, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum (1893)
  3. Tootsie Rolls (1896)
  4. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (1900) with Almonds (1908)
  5. Necco Wafers (1901)
  6. Conversation Hearts (1902)
  7. Brach Wrapped Caramels (1904)
  8. Hershey Milk Chocolate Kisses (1906)
  9. Peppermint Lifesavers (1912)

Hmm, I think Hershey would still rank pretty high today. But my kids love Sour Patch and Fun Dip and AirHeads and all kinds of gross things now. Give me a Hershey’s any day (although make it a Cookies-n-Cream bar).

Last night was back-to-school night at my daughter’s elementary, and I’m astounded every year when the principal says, “Our children will be working in fields  that haven’t even been invented yet.” That’s how fast things are moving. I’m sure in another hundred years the top toys will be time machines and molecular transporters that will bring the catchphrase “Beam me up, Scotty” back in style.

Today’s world is moving fast, and that tempo is paralleled in WHEELS OF CHANGE with racial intolerance, social change and sweeping progress. It is a turbulent time growing up in 1908. For twelve year old EMILY SOPER, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic. Emily is more at homehearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer, than trying to conform to the proper expectations of females. Many prominent people own Papa’s carriages. He receives an order to make one for President Theodore Roosevelt. Papa’s livelihood becomes threatened by racist neighbors, and horsepower of a different sort. Emily is determined to save Papa’s business even if she has to go all the way to the President.

Sounds exciting, right? IT IS!

And guess what, you have yet another chance to win another book! Leave a comment stating what YOU think the #1 toy and #1 candy is right now, in 2014. You have until the last seconds of September 29th to enter. The winner receives WHEELS OF CHANGE.

To learn more about Darlene Beck Jacobsen and WHEELS OF CHANGE, visit DarleneBeckJacobson.com.


Tara and Darlene at NJ-SCBWI 2013!


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18. Poetry Friday - Saved From the Discard Pile

I've frequented some library sales and second hand bookstores recently and have added some lovely titles to my poetry collection. Today I'm sharing two poems from the book Sweet Corn: Poems by James Stevenson.

Screen Door

When fog blurs the morning,
Porches glisten, shingles drip.
Droplets gather on the green screen door.
"Look," they say to one another.
"Look how dry it is inside."


The ladder leaning against the barn
Is like the man who used to use it:
Strong at the beginning,
Okay in the middle,
A few rungs missing at the end.

Poem ©James Stevenson. All rights reserved.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at The Poem Farm. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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19. Flogometer for Joanne—are you compelled to turn the page?

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

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

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

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

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

Storytelling Checklist

Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character

Joanne sends the prologue and first chapter of Re-homing Pigeon. The full chapter follows the break.

If it weren’t for the Voo-Doo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman drew spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading right toward the mouth of the Mississippi. Mayor Nagin advised people to evacuate, while the die-hards of New Orleans planned their hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and 'taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) At 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies. They named her Katrina.

Cecile told herself that she'd be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish on the east side of the Mississippi River and New Orleans proper. Her husband, Armand, had made preparations ahead of time, boarding the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane she'd witnessed in her thirty years, and it wouldn't be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn't leave without Armand. He had responsibilities as drilling manager for Murphy Oil Refinery and hadn't been home in three days.

She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Joanne's first page?

Right away the subject matter of Katrina creates interest, and the first paragraph does a good job of setting that scene. But the tension falls off considerably in the second paragraph as we do a little info-dumping and set-up. I ended up not turning the page.

I recommend eliminating much of that second paragraph and starting with ominous things happening, and include the fact that she’s pregnant. I think the stakes need to be raised right away. Here’s a rough draft of material from later that I’d replace that paragraph with. With the edits to the first paragraph, this would take you through 17 lines on the first page:

She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. Grey sky that turned black pelted rain in straight arrows, and then suddenly whipped sideways, almost knocking her over, sending loose shingles and garden tools rolling across yards and down the center of streets. She staggered inside and locked the door.

The baby kicked hard against her rib cage. “Agh. Whoa there Junior.” Straightening, she rubbed her swollen belly, soothing her son that wouldn't arrive for another ten weeks. Through the boarded windows, she heard large objects slam against the house. She prayed they wouldn’t (snip)

What do you think? For me, I get much more involved with the character and the trouble that’s coming, and I would have turned the page with this as an opening. Here are notes on the pages as it is:

If it weren’t for the Voo-Doo voodoo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman drew had drawn spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading right toward the mouth of the Mississippi. They named her Katrina. Mayor Nagin advised people to evacuate, while the The die-hards of New Orleans planned their hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and 'taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) At 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies. They named her Katrina. I realize that the spelling of voodoo might be charactercentric, so keep it if that’s the case. Otherwise, my dictionary says it’s “voodoo.” The rest of that sentence, though, didn’t work for me because there’s no clue as to her being a bad mother—no sign of children, anything. In other words, the reader has no idea what this refers to with no expansion and so it is, in essence, meaningless. Either give it meaning or delete it. I eliminated the first mayor reference because there’s another that’s stronger, and one seems like enough. The magic marker is a terrific detail. I moved the naming of the hurricane up to seat the information and end the paragraph with the deadly bit about magic markers and bodies.

Cecile told herself that she'd be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish on the east side of the Mississippi River and New Orleans proper. Her husband, Armand, had made preparations ahead of time, boarding boarded the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane she'd witnessed in her thirty years, and it wouldn't be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn't leave without her husband Armand. He Armi had responsibilities as drilling manager for Murphy Oil Refinery and hadn't been home in three days. I felt the overly detailed location wouldn’t mean much to a lot of people, and it clogs up the story. It’s a little awkward when you’re in close third person to use something like “her husband, Armand,” so I made little changes that will let the reader know who he is without having to state it directly.

She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business (snip)

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.



Submitting to the Flogometer:

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

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

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Joanne



being airborne. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. It's coming . . . please let it pass over like all the others. Those news people always blew things out of proportion, right? Grey sky that turned black pelted rain in straight arrows, and then suddenly whipped sideways, almost knocking her over, sending loose shingles and small garden tools rolling across yards and down the center of streets. She staggered back inside and locked the door.

She phoned her father to ease his mind. Maybe it would ease hers as well. It was times like this she really missed her mother’s soothing voice.

“Come home, CeCe. There's still time,” her father said. Butte La Rose was one hundred and nineteen miles northwest, along the Atchafalaya River, safely out of the eye of the storm.

“I'm fine Daddy, really.” She forced her voice to sound steady. “Armi will be here soon.” She could hear grandmother, Mamère Le Bieu, chanting in the background. “What's Mamère doing?”

Her father snorted. “You know Mamère. She's beckoning spirits to keep you safe. You should'a seen her chasing dat gecko 'round the house to use in her potion. It was hysterical.”

Cecile's laugh came out jagged and raw. “Well, tell her I 'preciate her Voo-Doo and I'll sleep safer know'in the spirit of Evangeline is protecting me. Talk atcha later. Kiss Kiss.” She tugged on the small leather amulet tied around her neck.

They were prepared. The bathtub was filled with water, they had fresh batteries and flashlights, the cupboard had enough canned goods to last three days. The news warned those that had not evacuated to stay inside. Interstate 10, Highway 39 and Route 61 were deadlocked. Automobiles and gas stations were running out of gas. Babies were crying, cars engines were running hot. She glanced at the packed suitcases by the front door. They couldn't leave now if they wanted to.

By 11:00 a.m., winds reached 175 miles per hour. The sound of a train barreling down tracks rattled the rafters. The power went out. Oh God. She felt her way through the darkness for the edge of the kitchen table and slid into a chair. This is all normal, she placated herself. We're okay. She stooped to pick up a flashlight that rolled to the floor.

“Agh. Whoa there Junior.” The baby kicked hard against her rib cage. Straightening, she rubbed her swollen belly, soothing her son that wouldn't arrive for another ten weeks. Through the boarded windows, she heard large objects slam against the house. She prayed they wouldn’t break through.

She padded barefoot down the hall and stepped in water. She aimed the flashlight at the floor. “Shit.” A small stream weaved through grout lines in the tile foyer toward the thick padding under the front room carpet. Water pooled on concave window sills and seeped down the wall.

She dialed Armi's cell. Pick up, pick up, she pleaded to herself. Stay calm. The stilted voice of the machine kicked on, and she groaned as a second pain doubled her over. “Babe, are you coming home soon? Things are getting kinda scary here. Water's coming in under the doors and windows. There's no power. Oh . . . and your son's kicking up a fuss too. He mustn’t like the storm either.” Beep. The line went dead.

She rolled bath towels and shoved them under crevices. The flashlights standing upright on the table cast eerie round circles on the ceiling.

Okay Cecile, stay calm. He'll be here soon. There was nothing else she could do. She propped her legs up on the sofa, practicing her Lamaze breathing techniques. Deep cleansing breaths. In and out, in and out. She concentrated on her breathing as the howling of the wind faded into humming. A familiar cloud settled in around heras she started to nod off, No, no, please go away.


Armand listened to the voice mail from his wife. He made the decision to leave and send everyonehome. The CEO and operations managers had been in a dead-end debate on what to do with the oil tanks for three hours. One wanted to empty the tanks into huge storage containers and let them float in place tethered to docks. Another wanted to fill them with water so they were too heavy to float away. Armand made a decision to fill the empty tanks. What to do with tanks containing crude oil? Either decision would turn him against the opposing side. “Tie them down,” he ordered. “Then everyone get the hell out of here. I've got to get to my wife.”

Armand patted the dashboard of the high SUV, glad that it maneuvered through the rising water as he made his way home. Rain water had nowhere to go in below-sea-level New Orleans and most of the streets were already flooded. The levees would hold back the overflow of Lake Ponchatrain and the MRGO, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, as long as water didn't breach their tops.

Wind and rain beat against the windshield and rocked the heavy vehicle, sometimes tipping it onto two wheels. By the time he reached their home on Ventura Drive in Chalmette, the garage had four inches of water. The front lawn was strewn with debris.

“CeCe, where are you?” He bellowed as he pushed hard on the door blocked with rolled towels.

“In here,” Cecile said.

Armand sloshed through the kitchen to the front room. Two inches of water covered the thick beige carpet. “CeCe, look!”

She pulled herself into a sitting position, swung her legs onto the floor, and then jerked her bare feet out of the cold water.

“Are you all right? And Junior?” Armand stroked her stomach.

She managed a smile. “Better . . . now that you're home. He's not liking this storm. I can tell you that. The curse, Armi . . . I saw the cloud.”

“Nonsense, there’s no curse. We had better stack as much as we can.” Armand started piling things; dining chairs atop the table, ottoman and magazine racks on the kitchen counter.

Cecile followed behind him, lifting smaller items out of harm’s way as a sense of dread folded around her. Why won’t he believe? He blasted the battery-operated radio and she cringed. It offered nothing but pending doom. “Please, turn that off.”

He flipped it off. “If you're sure you are okay.” He kissed her cheek. “I guess we already know what to expect. The storm will pass, it'll get quiet when we're in the eye, then we'll get hit again as it comes around the other side.” He rubbed her back. “Want to curl up on the bed until it's over? . . . Unless you want to do something else to take your mind off the storm,” he said with a twinkle in his chocolate eyes.

“Oh, no you don't.” She laughed nervously. “Snuggle only Mr. Boudreaux. Junior is so active you're liable to give him a black eye.”

Their nap was short lived. The water kept rising.

The water reached knee-high, almost even with the mattress. “CeCe,” Armand said with alarm. “We've got to go higher.”

“Where?” She asked, staring at the rising water. “It's not like we have a second story? Should we leave?”

Armand forced open the door and peeked through the crack as water gushed in. The entire street was a river and the storm had not let up. “Up,” he said. “Into the attic. You go, and I'll gather flashlights and batteries.”

“Omigod! Don't forget bottled water.” said Cecile. “And whatever food you can. And pillows and blankets from the bed.”

Armand steadied the ladder as she crawled through the trap door of the attic, her wide girth squeezing through the hole.

He pushed water bottles, the battery-operated radio and as many other supplies that he could think of through the hole before he pulled himself to safety.

Cecile tried to adjust her eyes to the filtered light in the small attic. The air was stifling. The temperature had to be one hundred degrees. She tried to get comfortable on the thin blankets and pillows, amidst boxes of Christmas decorations and old college memorabilia.

“Armi, my back is killing me.” she moaned.

“You've done too much. And it's hotter than hell in here. Try to be still. Practice your breathing.” He pushed boxes farther into the eaves, giving at least the illusion of more space. He patted an old electric fan with large black blades in a round metal cage. “Why didn’t I buy that generator I’ve looked at a dozen times in the hardware store?”

“It’s okay. The storm won’t last long.” Cecile wanted to sound optimistic as she laid her head on the pillow, twisting and turning, trying to get comfortable. The back pain circled around to the front. “I think I'm going into labor.”

A loud crash pummeled the roof. Armand threw his body over hers to protect her from whatever came through. When the roof held, he responded. “No, no. it's too early. It's the stress causing Braxton Hicks contractions. They'll stop.”

A wet spot spread across the blanket. Cecile saw it, even if Armand didn’t. An ethereal cloud settled around her in a grey shroud. Her water broke and she let out a primal scream. Omigod! I can't have the baby here, in this attic.”

Cecile noticed Armand's ruddy complexion pale.

“I'll get help,” He said as he punched numbers into his cell phone. No service. Frantically, he dug through boxes. He found a small ball-peen hammer. He pounded on a metal vent as she watched. Without too much effort, the aluminum vent gave way as the wind grabbed and tossed it away. The opening was about twelve inches wide. He reached his arm through but it was too small to fit his head and shoulders. Rain poured through the opening and he choked as he pressed his face as close as possible.

“Help! Somebody,” he sputtered. “Can you hear me? Help! We're in here.”

Only the screaming sound of Katrina answered back.

His arm waved frantically through the small opening.

Cecile knew there would be no one to witness his plea for help. “Armi, Armi.” Sweat poured down her face as the cloud circled around her. “It’s taking our baby again. Why is this happening to us again?”

He shook his head, spraying water over her. He gave up the futile call for help and looked around for something to plug the hole. Not finding anything, he tore off his shirt, exposing the dark furry chest she loved to run her fingers over. But not now. She moaned, watching him roll the shirt into a ball and stuff it into the opening. Too small, it dropped onto the plywood floor. Worry lines crossed his brow. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his arm. “I'm here for you Baby. What can I do?”

Cecile sobbed. “I don't know. He's coming. I can't stop him.”

Pains continued every three minutes through the night. Barely conscious from exhaustion and pain, Cecile sipped from the water bottle Armand held to her lips. The lack of air, screaming wind and constant bombardment of flying projectiles hitting the roof drove them into a near state of delirium. Transformers exploded not far away and a strange creaking sound strained against the storm.

Barely conscious, Cecile heard Armand’s prayer for God to spare their child. He knelt between her legs as she pushed their child through into the world. It was 10:56 a.m., Monday, August 29, 2005. They were in the eye of the storm.

So relieved to have the pain stop, at first she didn't notice the sudden eerie silence. She closed her eyes and let the pain ease from her body. The cloud around her dissipated. After her breathing returned to normal, she asked for her son.

“Don't CeCe. You don't want to see.”

“Please,” she whispered. “Let me hold him.” She saw the tears that streamed down his face. He was trying to stay strong for her, but she knew his heart was ripping in two. All those dreams he talked about —of tossing a ball with his son, teaching him to fish, sharing “guy” stuff, dissolved in his tears. “No, no, no.” Cecile clutched their third stillborn child to her chest. “Did you see it? It took our baby again. It’s my fault. I’m so sorry. It’s the curse.” The Gris-Gris made by her grandmother did nothing to protect her. Cecile knew they wouldn’t. The curse was too strong.

Defeated, he stroked her damp forehead. “No CeCe. There is no curse. It’s not your fault.”

When the back side of the storm hit, she expected the house to collapse. They lay on the thin blankets on plywood floors, their child swaddled between them in a beach towel. If the curse took her too, she was resigned to it. She prayed Armand would be spared.


By morning, the house was still standing and the storm had passed, but the danger had not. With bare hands and the small hammer, Armand ripped at roof shingles and studs until he had a large enough opening to fit his entire body.

For as far as he could see, there was nothing but rooftops and devastation. Along with trees and street signs, bodies of small animals floated by along with bits and pieces of people's lives; a wooden cane, a curly haired doll, a soccer ball.

Armand shouted until his voice gave out. Silence loomed as deafening as the roaring Katrina. He flipped on the radio. It told of total devastation. Levees had given way and over ninety percent of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish were under ten to twenty feet of snake infested water. He made a flag out of his shirt, tied by its arms to the end of a broom handle and affixed it to the chimney with bungee cords found in college boxes. Cecile moved in and out of consciousness, calling for Armand and her Mama and mumbling about the curse.

Armand sat on the roof in a hundred degree heat, his back blistered by the sun, waiting for someone to find them. Where was everybody? Why were there no rescue boats? Once, he spotted a helicopter fly over. It flew off into the distance as he stood, waving his hands and shouting for help.

Cockroaches came next, in swarms, swooping in through every hole and crevice, landing on any surface, arms, faces, into their hair. He watched Cecile fight to keep them off the bundle she hugged close to her chest.

By Wednesday, Armand forced the last swallow of water down Cecile's throat. All of the food was gone as well. He gagged on the overpowering stench emitting from the rigid bundle Cecile rocked in her arms.

Finally, two men appeared in a small flat-bottomed fishing trawler. On the roof, Armand waved them toward him. “Help, please. My wife is inside.”

The men threw him a rope and tied up. Armand gently took the bundle from Cecile’s arms and helped her through the hole and into the boat, promising that he would hand the infant back the second she was settled.

Bloated animal carcasses floated by. The men didn't even ask what the atrocious smell was coming from the beach towel. The boat owner agreed to take them to St. Bernard Parish Hospital. It was also under water, but rescue helicopters were expected soon. That turned out to be an inaccurate time line.

They weaved through flotsam and around snakes knotted together hanging from low-hanging tree branches. Cecile spotted a little dog paddling furiously, his eyes bulging with fear. Twice he slipped under the water, unable to find a foot hold.

“Help him.” Cecile cried. “You can't let him drown.”

“There's no room for him in the boat, and no place at the hospital,” said the boatman. He looked numb.

Cecile screamed with all her strength. “No, NO, HELP HIM! Armi, please, you can't let him die too.”

At that, Armand jumped into the black, rancid water and swam toward the little dog. At least he could save someone. He grabbed the pup by the scruff of the neck and hauled him back to the boat. Tossing the canine over the side of the boat, Armand clung to the hull. “He can have my space.”

“Oh for Christ sake. Get in the boat before you get bit by a copperhead and we have to save your ass . . . again!” The man pulled on Armand's belt and heaved him over the side, nearly capsizing the small vessel.

The trembling little dog curled up beside Cecile. “It's okay Neptune, your safe now.” Cecile purred.

“Neptune?” Armand lifted an eyebrow.

“Because you pulled him from the sea.”

They arrived at the hospital and Armand was surprised to find Cecile's OBGYN tending to patients on the roof of Saint Bernard Hospital. The doctor briefly examined Cecile, shaking his head. He sedated her before prying the child from her arms. He spoke quietly to Armand, who strained to hear over the white noise rushing around in his head.

“Armand, that's three stillbirths,” the doctor said. “The drastic drop in barometric pressure caused women all over the area into premature labor. He was too young. If he would have had a few more weeks . . . and Cecile's body is weak. Next time you'll lose her too. There can't be any more babies.”

Armand reached inside the bundle and stroked the tiny cheek of his son one last time before handing him to the staff. The body would stay with the other corpses at the flooded hospital to be retrieved later. He knew the doctor was right. This had to be their last child.

Cecile mumbled incoherently, “The potion, drink the potion.”

“What’s she babbling about?” Armand asked the doctor.

“You need to talk to Cecile about that when she’s stronger.” said Dr. Teekell.

“If you know something . . .”

Dr. Teekeel shook his head. “HEPA laws. It’s past history and irrelevant to what’s happening today. It can wait until she can speak for herself.”

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20. NO Event Is "Exempted"

Comic Event Organisers Please Take Note!

I think the time has come to put a stop to absolute freebie advertising of events. CBO gets thousands of hits per day and comic event news are amongst the most popular items.  However, I am quite willing to sacrifice those views.

Do I get invited as a guest to these events? NO!
Do I ever get offered a table at these events for the promotional work I put in for them?  NO!
Do I ever succeed in getting a table at these events? NO!

What do I get out of all the work I put in for these UK events?  Absolutely nothing.  Organisers seem to think they are doing me a favour by deeming to grace me with their press releases.

No. It stops.  Time for me to be 'selfish' -I'm a person who publishes -biggest publisher of Independent comics in the UK.  Yes, but I don't know so-and-so.  I get invited to vote in the Harvey Awards and others -and I get invitations from outside the UK.

All my years promoting UK comics, the Small Press, my work, my publishing means nothing to a convention organiser which, let's put it mildly, is a bloody outright insult.  So why should their events mean anything to me?

From now on there are no more freebies -and please don't say you never saw this posting as its going out to you by mail also.  £20.00 a posting of a Press Release from an event organiser or you can pay £50.00 each year to have all your PRs on site rather than individual charges.

That's it.

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21. Rooms

If ghosts are real, they are probably like these: cantankerous, prone to snits, and deeply curious about the warm bodies living in "their" rooms. Oliver's dysfunctional family reunites in a lost-and-found whirlwind of mystery and secrets, with the housebound spirits as unexpected guests. Books mentioned in this post Rooms Lauren Oliver Used Hardcover $17.95

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22. Last day for Early Bird Rates!

Sign up today!


Look for these boxes above on the class pages, and pick out your class from the catalog. Classes start September 26th.

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23. Haven't I see you someplace before? Dueling cover of layers across faces


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24. Days and Weeks

I started working on a 2015 calendar this week and here's the current month in bloom. Also: how are there only three months left to the year?

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25. Millennial​s: Libraries Brightest Hope?

1101130520_600Millennials tend to get a bum rap. Remember that Time magazine cover that painted them as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents?”

They’re the ME ME ME generation, the cover reads, but then boldly proclaims “why they’ll save us all.”

Yes the cover girl may have been pictured with an iPhone in her hand, but chances are she had a library card in her back pocket.

Could libraries be among the first of the Millennials heroic conquests?

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project the answer is a hopeful perhaps. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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