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1. Kenneth Branagh to Direct the Artemis Fowl Movie

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2. Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference

I was recently able to represent ALSC at the Public Libraries & STEM Conference in Denver, CO. The conference was kept very small–around 160 people total–and thus was very concentrated, with plenty to learn from and discuss with colleagues from libraries, STEM organizations, and other institutions with missions for informal learning. And while the small size necessary means that the participant pool was limited, the takeaways weren’t. I particularly want to share with you one of my major takeaways: the library as a single element in a larger learning ecosystem.

Note: I tried visual note taking at this conference. Since my handwriting isn’t always great, I’m transcribing text in the captions of images.

Here’s what I learned and have been itching to share:

Public Libraries & STEM Conference (Image by Amy Koester)

Public Libraries & STEM Conference; Denver, CO, Aug. 20-22, 2015 (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

Help define a new 21st Century vision of STEM in public libraries. (Image by Amy Koester)

There were several goals of the Public Libraries & STEM Conference, but one in particular resonated with me immediately: to figure out what STEM/STEAM in public libraries could/should look like in our age of technology and innovation. What is the library’s role now, and what should it be? It’s within our collective power to create a framework for STEM in public libraries.

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaboration as a System of Collective Impact (FSG) From individual orgs with individual goals & pathways to collaboration of goals and pathways (Image by Amy Koester)

That said, while we, libraries, can certainly make some decisions and create some practices around this (or any other) topic, it’s imperative that we recognize that we are NOT the only institutions with a vested interest in STEM learning and experiences. Yet if we think of ourselves as wholly separate from other organizations even when  they possess similar goals to our own, we’re muddying the waters. Or, rather, as Marsha Semmel (formerly at IMLS) shared from an organization called FSG, each individual organization is moving in its own direction. It’s a little bit of chaos, no matter how well intentioned. But when we collaborate, however–and this is meaningful collaboration, in which we set a common goal and common pathways to achieve it–we can actually accomplish meaningful progress and change.

Progress moves at the speed of trust." Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Progress moves at the speed of trust.” Collectively see, learn, do. (Image by Amy Koester)

An integral part of meaningful collaboration: trust, said Marsha Semmel. If we observe together, learn together, and act together out of a trust that we truly are working toward a shared goal, we can accomplish transformative change much more quickly than independently, or even working parallel to one another.

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner - Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

STEM Learning Ecosystem: P-12 Education, Family, Out-of-School Programs, Higher Education Institutions, Business Community, and STEM-rich Institutions as spokes around the Learner – Ellen Lettvin (Image by Amy Koester)

Part of developing that trust is recognizing that we as libraries are a single aspect of a larger learning ecosystem. When it comes to STEM learning for youth, we fit into a larger puzzle of groups and individuals supporting students. Ellen Lettvin, of the U.S. Department of Education, emphasized some of those other players in this ecosystem, including students’ families; their schools; their out-of-school programs and activities; community businesses; institutions of higher education; and STEM-rich institutions, of which libraries may be one.

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public's STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Out of school experiences are increasingly central to the public’s STEM learning. (Image by Amy Koester)

Why do we need to recognize that we’re part of a larger learning ecosystem? John Falk, from Oregon State University, has researched this very topic, and has oodles of evidence supporting the fact that all of those experiences that youth–any age person, really–have out of formal school contexts are more and more important to overall STEM learning. Schooling isn’t sufficient in and of itself.

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

Learning is continuous and cumulative. (Image by Amy Koester)

That’s because, says Falk, learning is continuous and cumulative. It happens all the time, and it constantly builds on what a learner already knows. There is no place or situation that is not ripe for learning. As such, if the library is a place people spend time, the library is necessarily a learning place.

Libraries are hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Libraries as hubs & hosts of STEM. (Image by Amy Koester)

Now, we know this. We know that libraries are institutions of learning. But in what capacity? Are we mostly places of individual discovery? Of information support? What if we really embraced that concept of library as learning place to its fullest extent and intentionally and proactively support the public who use us? We could be intentional hubs and hosts of STEM learning–or, truly, any type of learning that our communities need.

R. David Lankes: "The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X." (Image by Amy Koester)

R. David Lankes: “The power of libraries is not in being a space for X, it is in being a space to facilitate connections between community members and local organizations that are experts in X.” (Image by Amy Koester)

David Lankes, from Syracuse University, was careful to emphasize, however, that our being hubs and hosts of STEM learning does NOT necessitate that we ourselves be the be-all, end-all experts. Should you tap staff expertise and interests in creating STEM programs and services? Absolutely. But remember that whole bit about collaboration for collective impact? Here’s where it really comes in. There’s a very legitimate school of thought that says that libraries’ best role in supporting STEM learning, across the board, is to meaningfully collaborate with organizations who are unequivocal experts in STEM so that we can connect our patrons directly to the experts. We are mediators, introducers. That makes our capacity so much greater than it could ever be on our own.

Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting." -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

“Partnerships help us develop more and more programs and to bring those programs to the people we are targeting.” -Sharon Cox, Queens Library Discovery Center (Image by Amy Koester)

This sentiment was echoed by Sharon Cox, from the Queens Library Discovery Center. It’s an entire library dedicated to children’s STEM learning and exploration, and even with that mission, focus, and staff expertise, they add huge value to what they are able to bring to their community through partnership with organizations who are expert in STEM and whose goals align with the library’s. As libraries, we’ve always thought of ourselves as the people who connect our public to the resources they need. This type of collaboration means that the definition of “resources” our public requires may very well include organizations other than our own.

Do what you do best, and link to the rest." -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

“Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” -L. Rainie; Libraries should NOT be trying to do everything. (Image by Amy Koester)

Or, in other words, we continue to do what we do best and then connect our patrons to the rest of what they way. That was the overarching sentiment from Lee Rainie from Pew Research Center–that libraries are strongest not because they can do everything, but because they can connect you to people and organizations who can.

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

Cultivate collaboration. Ask: What are our shared interests and goals? -Dale McCreedy, The Franklin Institute, LEAP into Science (Image by Amy Koester)

So if we’re deliberately not doing everything, and we’re also going to best support our patrons’ STEM learning through collaborating with expert STEM learning organizations, how do we collaborate? Dale Creedy, who works at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and is a collaborator with the Free Library of Philadelphia to offer a LEAP into Science program, says that the first step in cultivating collaboration is to reach out to other organizations and straight up have a conversation. Your intent: to identify what, if any, are your shared interests and goals. If you determine that you don’t have sufficient shared interests/goals to merit the time and resources that would go into a formal collaboration, it’s no real loss–you now know more about the organization and can better identify when to direct your patrons to them. But if you do have sufficient overlaps in your interests and goals, the foundation is primed for you to work together. Now you can shift your conversation to what, specifically, your shared goal is, and how you might reach it together.

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

Collective Impact: How do we serve as part of a solution, as opposed to the solver? -M. Figueroa (Image by Amy Koester)

This type of conversation can actually be a little clumsy for libraries. We tend to think in terms of the library being the sole solver of a problem, rather than just one player in a larger solution–that’s according to Miguel Figueroa from the Center for the Future of Libraries at ALA. Collective impact necessitates that libraries be part of a collective solution, which may require a bit of a mindset shift.

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

Collaborations: Actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem; Re-envision the library with community input; Bring people to museums, and vice versa -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

So what to do to enact that mindset shift, to form those meaningful collaborations? Dr. Scott Sampson, Vice President of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (and also Dr. Scott the Paleontologist from Dinosaur Train), gave some suggestions in the form of a few progressively-more-involved strategies. Starting small, figure out how to bring people to libraries, and vice versa–that is, how to bring libraries to people. Where are the people in your community who do not come to the library? What spaces do they tend to use? Figure out collaborations with those places to bring the library to them.

Next in the spectrum is re-envisioning the library with the input of the community. We tend to get into a library echo chamber and create new programs and services based on what other libraries are doing or what we think would be appealing to the community. But that’s not the same thing as asking the community what they need the library to be. It could be through surveys, focus groups, inviting a cultural organization to the space… the possibilities are endless, and the results fruitful.

Last on that spectrum is actively participate in a robust learning ecosystem. Sound familiar? It should, and the concept is repeated here because it is so important. When we work on our own, we are limited to reaching the people we personally serve. But when we are part of a larger ecosystem, however, we not only draw on the strengths of fellow elements in the ecosystem but we draw from the people they reach as well. Maybe a person child will just never come to the library; that’s just the reality of their life. But they do go to school and out-of-school activities. So if the library is part of a learning ecosystem that includes that school and those activities–if we collaborate with them–we do reach that child in a fundamental way.

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

A Collaboration Workbook: 1) Install a collaboration team; 2) Find a common goal; 3) Listen to the community; 4) Generate ideas for collaborative programs; 5) Prioritize and implement programs -Heart of Brooklyn (Image by Amy Koester)

Dr. Sampson’s best suggestion for a model for collaboration comes from the Heart of Brooklyn, a cultural partnership involving the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park, and Prospect Park Zoo. Their method: Install a collaboration team whose first task is to find a common goal that al of the partners can get behind. Then listen to the community; is your goal their goal, too? From there, the partners and the community can generate ideas for collaborative programs and services–these should be in play with one another, building off one another, not simply a list of isolated programs that take place at isolated institutions. With those ideas in mind, it’s time for the collaboration team to prioritize and implement select programs. Obviously there will also need to be some evaluative piece after this implementation, but that’s a bit beyond the main takeaway of this post: collaboration.

What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision." -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

“What is holding us back is not money. The currency in short supply is collaboration and vision.” -Dr. S. Sampson (Image by Amy Koester)

And collaboration is vital for transformative, dynamic support of STEM learning by libraries. Yet many of the smart people at this conference indicated that, right now, collaboration–and the vision of collective impact that can inspire and support it–is in short supply. We need to recognize that libraries need not go it alone when it comes to supporting STEM. That is not to say that we shouldn’t invest in doing some STEM programing and providing relevant services ourselves; it is just to say that we can do so much more when we collaborate with others who also aim to support the STEM learning of our communities.

That vision of what we can do together is huge.

The collective impact we can have when we collaborate meaningfully is massive.

And what, after all, is our overall goal as libraries if not to support our communities in transforming their lives?

The post Collaboration for Learning: Notes from the Public Libraries & STEM Conference appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. It's live!! Cover Reveal: The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass + Giveaway (US/Canada)

Hi, everyone!

Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for THE CRESSWELL PLOT by Eliza Wass, releasing June 7, 2016 from Disney Hyperion. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Eliza:

 
We all have our story. Something that is unique only to us.
 
It isn’t always a happy story.
 
At least not all the time, but it’s personal, vibrant, heart-beating alive. And it’s scary to share.
 
The Cresswell Plot is that story for me. It was inspired by feelings of powerlessness, of being controlled, of fear, but also by laughter, lust and finding the strength inside to overcome any obstacle, even when you are fighting alone.
 
I wrote this book for people who feel alone, who question things, who stand up for what they believe in, no matter how powerful the opposition.
 
It’s just a book, but it’s about something that’s more than a book. It’s about standing up and telling YOUR story, whether it’s happy, sad or life-changing.
 
Thank you to Maria E. Elias for bringing this story such an exciting cover.
 
~ Eliza Wass (THE CRESSWELL PLOT, Disney Hyperion)
 

 

 

Ready to see?

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Here it is!

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_CreswellPlot_final.jpg

*** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Eliza's giveaway. Thank you! ***

 

THE CRESSWELL PLOT

by Eliza Wass
Release date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
ISBN: 978-1-4847-3034-0
 
 
About the Book
 
The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
 
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Casper, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
 
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice. 
 
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.
 

b2ap3_thumbnail_ELIZAWASS6.jpgAbout the Author

Eliza Wass is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She has thousands of friends, all of whom either come in a dust jacket or post obsessively on Twitter. Eliza spent seven years in London with the most amazing man in the world, her late husband Alan Wass of Alan Wass and the Tourniquet, who inspired her to pursue her dreams and live every day of her life. Visit her website at www.elizawass.com and follow her on Twitter @lovefaithmagic.
 

Twitter | Web | Tumblr | Instagram

 

Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a signed ARC of THE CRESSWELL PLOT (when available). 

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

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4. On crossing over: straight from the horses’ mouths

Why do some authors “cross over” from writing adult to children’s books or children’s to adult? To find out, we went straight to the source.

Shopaholic series author Sophie Kinsella (“The Queen of Romantic Comedy”), author of Finding Audrey — her first YA! — graciously submitted to our Five Questions treatment (sad to say she’s not a secret gamer).

We asked Patrick Ness and Ben Mezrich: What has writing adult books taught you about writing YA, or vice versa?

A Monster CallsPatrick Ness: That if you want either to be good, there can’t be any difference in emotional investment, personal investment, time investment, work investment. There’s only one danger in writing both and that’s snobbery to either. If a story needs to be for adults, I’m good with that. If it needs to be for teens, awesome, let’s go for it. And that’s the end of my thinking on the difference, really. After that, I’m just trying to write the best book I can, period.

mezrich_mouseBen Mezrich: After the movies 21 and The Social Network came out, I did a lot of events at high schools, and younger kids would come up to me asking if they could read my stuff. I really wanted to try and write a series for kids interested in the kinds of stories I write for adults. I always loved Encyclopedia Brown, and I want these books — about whiz kids beating the odds — to have that feel.

Also, now that I have kids (little ones, five and three years old), I can’t wait until they are old enough to read my books!

Here’s Gail Carriger‘s take, from an Out of the Box interview last fall.

Alice Hoffman talked about being influenced by Edward Eager, in The Horn Book Magazine.

Meg Wolitzer *hearts* libraries, and tells The Horn Book Magazine why.

Sherman Alexie’s Boston Globe-Horn Book speech for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about autobiography and not autobiography.

Rainbow Rowell‘s Boston Globe-Horn Book speech for Eleanor & Park describes insecurities and incomplete ideas.

For more on crossovers, click here.

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5. If you only had a brain

scarecrow-in-fieldFarah Mendlesohn called my attention to this bit of fuckwittery from The Guardian, in which their art critic Jonathan Jones opines that the late Terry Pratchett wrote “trash” while the equally late Günter Grass was a “true titan of the novel,” so why is everyone more sad about the passing of Sir Terry? The dumbness of this point–let’s start with the fact that more people love Pratchett’s books more than people love Grass’s–is exacerbated by the fact that Jones admits, nay, crows, that he’s never read a word of Pratchett and doesn’t intend to.

I have only read about half a dozen of Pratchett’s books and none of Grass’s, so I have no opinion of their comparative merits. (That didn’t stop Jones but I haven’t passed judgment on a book I haven’t read since that time I put Red Shift on a syllabus but never got around to reading it before the class began. I was younger then.) But his argument is straw-man specious–as far as I can tell, the only person comparing Pratchett to Grass is Jones.

He is right, though, that critical discourse is now both puffed-up and flattened. I blame the internet, although God knows even The Horn Book has tossed around words like “brilliant” and “ground-breaking” for books that are in hindsight “smart” and “different from those other books we’ve been seeing lately.” But not only has the internet brought together readers, critics, creators, fans, and publicists in what can be an orgy of self-serving hyperbole, it has leveled distinctions between high, middlebrow, and disposable culture, with TV episodes, for example, dissected with the same assiduousness as, well, the works of Pratchett or Grass. It makes me think of Anne Lamott writing in Bird by Bird about her brief but over-reaching career as a restaurant reviewer, where one of her friends had to remind her gently that “Annie, it’s just a bit of cake.”

It is a peculiarity of books for youth–along with speculative fiction and romance novels–that its devotees frequently feel burdened by the genre’s putatively second-class status of not being “real literature.” The defensiveness is certainly warranted–witness critics like Jonathan Jones!–but it can also lead to claims of greatness than only resound in the choir loft. If I were to write “Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books are awfully good children’s books” (talk about clickbait) I would inevitably be scolded for putting limits on their goodness. But can’t it be enough that something be an awfully good children’s book without claiming it stands among the titans of literature writ large?

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6. Marketing 101: The Best Social Media Platforms For Authors

This post is part of an ongoing series at The Open Book answering questions about book marketing and publicity.

One of the questions I get most often from authors—both new and MARKETING 101: The Best Social Media for Authorsexperienced—is, “Which social media platforms do I have to be on?” There are a lot of ways to answer this question but I want to start by addressing the question itself, which is often phrased in exactly this way. The answer is: you don’t have to be on any social media platforms that you don’t want to be on. Social media can help you connect with new readers, raise your discoverability, and sell books, but it can also be a drain on your time, attention, and ideas. Social media is not for everybody, and not every platform is for every writer. So the first thing to do is let go of the guilt and pressure you feel to be on every social media platform that exists, posting content in real time. Almost no authors can pull this off and it’s not worth losing your sanity to attempt it.

With that in mind, the question to ask becomes not “which platforms do I have to be on,” but “which platform(s) would benefit me most to be on, and which are the best fit for me?” When considering where to be on social media, the number one thing you should ask yourself is whether a particular platform will be enjoyable and sustainable to you. Here are some things to consider:

  • How often do I want to post?
  • Realistically, how often will I have time to post?
  • What kind of content do I enjoy posting most? (i.e. do I enjoy curating content by others, creating my own content, or a mix of both)
  • What subjects will I be posting about?
  • How much time will I be able to dedicate to each post?
  • Am I text-driven or image-driven?
  • Do I want a platform that is very interactive or less interactive?

While you could make any platform work for you no matter how you answer the above questions, it helps to find the platform that’s the best fit for you, so social media can become an activity you enjoy instead of a slog or obligation. So, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular social media platforms and a couple things to consider about each:

TWITTER:
Ideal frequency of posts: At least once a day, preferably more
Type of content: Mixture of curation and new created content
Time commitment: Surprisingly high
Interactivity level: Varies, but higher interactivity is recommended

Twitter is a weird social media platform- even though it’s been around for several years now, it can still be hard to describe, and even harder to understand the purpose of. Think of Twitter as the world’s biggest cocktail party, happening online 24/7 without end. It can drive you crazy, but it’s also a great equalizer: where else can you tweet to celebrities and have them answer you directly? Where else can readers and authors come together so seamlessly?

Twitter is what you make of it: you can have a minimal presence there and use it mostly for “lurking,” but the truth is that unless you are very, very famous, you will get almost nothing out of Twitter unless you are on it frequently and using it in a very interactive way. Yes, it can be overwhelming and a total time suck, but it can also be a nice break from your other projects and an easy way to key yourself in to important conversations going in within the industry.

Bottom Line: If you want to do it right, Twitter takes a lot of time and attention – but the rewards can be big.

FACEBOOK:
Ideal frequency of posts: once a week minimum
Type of content: More created content than curation
Time commitment: Low-medium
Interactivity level: Medium-high

Remember when Facebook was a novelty? Over the years it’s morphed into something more akin to an Internet staple, right alongside Google. If you’re not on Facebook, you’ve probably been met with shock and awe more than once. If you are already on Facebook, you may think you’ve already got this one in the bag. However, there’s an important distinction that needs to be made here between personal pages and fan pages. As an author and therefore a public figure, you should absolutely have a separate Facebook account for your author persona apart from your personal Facebook account. This allows you to build a following, tweak your privacy settings, and save your family and friends from seeing posts about your book in their feed all the time (unless they want them).

Once you set up a fan page, what you post and how often is up to you. Unlike Twitter which is really pretty useless if you’re not using it frequently, I think there are still benefits to having a Facebook fan page even if you only update it every couple of weeks – it’s a way to allow people to demonstrate that they like you, and allows them to “subscribe” to get updates from you. It won’t let you meet new people as easily as Twitter does, but it can help you build a stronger relationship with your fans, and that’s always a nice thing.

Bottom Line: A little effort can go a long way when it comes to Facebook, so it’s a good place to be.

BLOGGING:
Ideal frequency of posts: Once a week minimum
Type of content: All created content
Time commitment: High
Interactivity level: Low-medium

I don’t technically consider blogs to be a social media platform but they always seem to get tied into this discussion, so I wanted to address them here.  The number one thing to remember about blogs is that they are a LOT OF WORK, and that amount of work never really diminishes. When you start a blog, you are essentially starting the equivalent of a one-woman (or one-man) newspaper and giving yourself the job of creating all new content for it. You may think you have blog ideas aplenty, but will you still want to be writing new posts every week six months down the road?

There are a couple questions you should keep in mind when considering starting a blog: How much extra time do I have to write? Will my blog have a specific theme or focus? A helpful thing to do is to sit down and create a list of 20 blog post ideas, and see where that gets you. If you find this exercise fun and can’t wait to start writing some of your ideas up into posts, a blog might be a good platform for you. But if getting to 20 ideas is a bit of a struggle and you can’t see yourself doing this kind of thing for a couple of hours each week, a blog might not be right for you.

A big thing to keep in mind about blogs is that if you want to get the most out of your blog, the time demands go way past writing the posts themselves. It takes time and effort to build a blog readership, and requires a good deal of marketing. So if you begin a blog, you will also probably want to be on Twitter and/or Facebook so you can use those platforms to share your content – otherwise you’re just putting your great content into the black hole of the Internet.

That’s not to see blogs can’t be worth it. When done well, blogs give you a terrific platform as an author. There’s nothing better than writing a blog post you’re proud of and seeing it reshared in many different places. Blogs can help new readers discover you and can help you connect with readers, reviewers, and other authors. Just have a sense of what you’re signing on for before you start.

Bottom Line: Probably the most demanding of all the social media channels, blogs can offer a lot but should be started with an understanding of the work they will entail.

OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Ah, to go back to the days when you could count the number of social media platforms out there on one hand! The fact that we now have Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, and many others only seems to make writers more anxious about where they “need to be.”

When it comes to these more peripheral platforms—and I mean peripheral specifically in the context of online presence for authors—my advice is simple: have fun! Love photography? You might enjoy connecting with readers on Instagram. Love design? You might have fun making Pinterest boards inspired by your books. If you’re intrigued by a platform, try it out – there’s no rule that says you have to stay on it forever (though you should delete your account if you decide it’s not for you, rather than being inactive). Ultimately, all of these platforms are about the same thing: connecting with people. So if you want to be on any of them, make sure that’s what you’re getting out of it in the end, and that you’re enjoying the ride.

More Marketing 101 Posts:
What to Put on Your Author Website
Five Things to Do Before Your Book is Released

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7. 2015 Thurber Prize Finalists Announced

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8. Five questions for Sophie Kinsella: Crossover Week edition

Photo: John Swannell.

Photo: John Swannell.

Sophie Kinsella, author of the Shopaholic series for adults, is known as “The Queen of Romantic Comedy.” Her new book, Finding Audrey, is her first foray into YA territory…and it’s a good one. Kinsella graciously submitted to The Horn Book’s Five Questions treatment during Crossover Week.

1. Your portrayal of anxiety disorders is so vivid and true. How did you do your research?

SK: I have always written what I see around me, and I see more and more young people struggling to deal with the pressures of the world and modern teendom. I particularly looked at CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), which I believe has a great role to play in helping people deal with anxiety issues.

2. We never find out exactly what Tasha, Freya, and Izzy did to Audrey — which, in some ways, makes it all the more terrifying. Did you have in mind what they did as you were writing, or did the specifics not matter?

kinsella_finding audreySK: In my first draft, I actually wrote a section that explained what happened to Audrey — but then I took it out. I feel it diminishes the story if the reader has a full explanation, because it distances the reader from Audrey. They might think, “That wasn’t so bad,” or they could be so traumatized that they’d focus on her experience rather than the recovery. This way, any readers who suffer or who have suffered from bullying or social anxiety can relate to Audrey’s journey.

3. There’s humor in this book, your YA debut, but it’s not nearly as light and frothy as your very entertaining Shopaholic books for adults. How did you strike the right balance, given the serious subject matter (bullying, anxiety, family problems, etc.)?

SK: I didn’t deliberately set out to write a more “serious” book. I find that when I write, the appropriate tone and scenes come to me as I’m planning. I knew that with a character like Audrey, it wouldn’t be right to have a lot of slapstick comedy — although I always like to see the comic relief of life, which is how Audrey’s family came to be as they are! I knew that Audrey would be a wry character who keeps her humor despite all her difficulties, but I also wanted to portray her plight in a realistic tone. She’s in a pretty bad place.

4. Is Land of Conquerors a real game? (And are you a secret gamer?)

SK: No, it isn’t — and no, I’m not a secret gamer, I’m afraid. I’m actually quite rubbish at computer games! But I have seen quite a lot of gameplay of DOTA 2. That’s what comes of having teenagers in the house…

5. What did writing adult novels teach you about writing YA, or vice versa?

SK: I didn’t really set out to write a YA book when I wrote Finding Audrey. The story just came to me, and I saw I had to tell it through Audrey’s eyes. So I haven’t approached YA in a very different way, as far as the writing goes. Having said that, when you’re writing a story about teenagers, you do feel a responsibility to treat their very difficult problems accurately. I consulted my own teens along the way, which I would never normally do. I think they were quite pleased to have me deferring to them!

For more on crossovers, click here.

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9. Are We Graduating from Hogwarts?

As September 9th approaches, Pottermore posted on both Facebook and Twitter that Pottermore students are leaving Hogwarts.  A printable certificate is available to mark the occasion.

As we prepare to move beyond the gates of Hogwarts, we want to thank you for sharing the Pottermore experience with us…

Posted by Pottermore on Thursday, September 3, 2015

The owl notifications say more about what will happen to the site this month:

Part one of Pottermore’s story, in which you have enjoyed the depiction of Harry’s story through illustrated ‘moment’ art work and experienced life within Hogwarts, is ending. We are now preparing for part two of Pottermore’s story to begin. As J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World expands, so too will Pottermore, becoming a place to imagine more and share in a world beyond the seven book series.

If you haven’t finished visiting the moments of the seven books, it’s time to do it.  That part of the site will be gone, along with the previously announced House Cup.

What will happen if we must now become adults in the Wizarding World, as so many of us already are in the real world?

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10. Choosing Courage - a bookwap












Unwrapping...







"Choosing Courage"
Inspiring Stories of What It Means to Be a Hero


Authored by Peter Collier
Grades 4-8


About the book...




This fabulous book is inspiring and very educational.  It is a story of courage in our modern day world.  The superheroes of the book are Medal of Honour recipients from WW2, Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Collier also highlights civilian counterparts who step up and display outstanding bravery in the face of extreme danger.

Today the very word "hero" has been overused and overrated.  Kid's link the word to fictious cartoon characters, anyone who aces an exam, or wins a race in the Olympics.  While all those things are truly wonderful the genuine men and women who deserve that word bestowed upon them are those who step into harms way selflessly rising up and moving forward to protect others from the impending dangers at large. 

Peter Collier's book gives us insight into these individuals using stories of combat veterans and normal everyday people who spring into action and literally put their own life on the line for the greater good of those around them.  

*"Colonel Jack Jacobs, USA (ret) is one.  Jacobs was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in 1968 Vietnam. He is a thoughtful man who explains how in the midst of battle, wounded in an ambush that killed many of his troops with a piece of shrapnel in his eye, remembered the questions posed by Hebrew scholar Hillel of two thousand years ago 'If not you, who? If not now, when?' Jacobs knew that if someone didn't take charge, the slaughter would continue, and if he was the only person capable of action, then he needed to get on with it"

*Jack Lucas was a thirteen year-old boy who keeps his age a secret so he could enlist in World War 11; at the Battle of Iwo Jima he deliberately covered a grenade with his body and absorbed the explosion to save his buddies.

*Jencie Fagan, a middle-school teacher in Reno, Nevada risked her life to disarm a trouble eighth grader before he could turn his gun on more of his classmates."

"Choosing Courage" provides context and background for each profile. Boys will especially be fascinated by the essays, photographs and sidebars on battles and weaponry.  The book is both entertaining and historical.  I think it is would be a wonderful resource for classrooms, libraries or at home.  It truly is an ennobling read and I highly recommend it. 




********



NOTE:  Like Collier's New York Times bestselling adult book, "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty", "Choosing Courage" is published in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.  The Foundation not only celebrates the individuals who have received the nation's highest military honour but helps Medal recipients spread the message that citizens of all ages and backgrounds can make brave choices in their everyday lives.





About the author...

Peter Collier has written extensively about bravery in battle in the New York Times bestselling "Medal of Valor: Beyond the Call of Duty", first published by Artisan in 2003, which has more than 330,000 copies in print.  He lives in Nevada City, California.









Read on and read always!


It's a wrap.


Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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11. More Praise for Maggie Storyteller Tavia Gilbert!

How did you spend your summer vacation? A huge highlight for Margaret (Maggie) Wheatley was her dream visit to Grain Valley, Kansas. The South Florida resident traveled there by listening to Maggie Vaults Over the Moon on audio book performed … Continue reading

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12. Jesse Eisenberg to Narrate His Own Audiobook

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13. Torill Kove Receives Norway’s Top Cultural Prize

The Oscar-winner's native Norway awarded Kove the Anders Jahre Cultural Prize tonight at a ceremony in Oslo.

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14. Sci-Fi Janet 1963 - 2015


You WILL be missed.





Tempus fugit
 Sci-Fi Janet

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15. Emma Watson’s New Focus on Fair Fashion

As we know from her recent social justice endeavours, Emma Watson is eager to use her celebrity status to make a positive impact on the world.

Watson, who is the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, is working to promote ethical, socially conscious fashion, reports Vanity Fair:

The actress, who has made Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List for the past few consecutive years, has embarked on her own fashion challenge during the current press tour for Alejandro Amenábar’s Regression. Her goal: encouraging a green carpet, rather than red, full of stylish ensembles from designers who do not use fur or chemicals that could harm the environment.

Inspired by Andrew Morgan’s recent documentary, The True Cost, which explores the disturbing underbelly of “fast fashion,” Watson began the challenge with the following message posted on Instagram: “Inspired to consider the whole process of creating a fashion look, we are thinking about all the people, pieces and moving parts! This rack includes designers that are considering local craft and production, artisan skills, the environment, sustainability and the longevity of fashion!”

In a review of The True Cost this May, the New York Times recounts the horrors that the documentary uncovers in the fast-fashion industry including “zealous pesticide use,” underpaid factory workers who are abused to meet America’s affordable demands, and clogged landfills. The review ends as follows: “The True Cost stirs and saddens. Not least because it’s unlikely to reach the young consumers most in need of its revelations.”

Hearteningly, Watson wants to use her celebrity to reach that exact demographic.

Watson has an active Twitter presence, and has posted several tweets about her new cause:

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 1.28.19 AM

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 1.28.50 AM

You can read the full article from Vanity Fair here.

 

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16. Gurney Museum Exhibition in Philadelphia

A new exhibition of my original art has just opened at the museum of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The Art of James Gurney includes more than 25 oil paintings from the Dinotopia books, as well as natural science science illustrations, preliminary sketches, and maquettes. 

One of the featured images is "Waterfall City: Afternoon Light" from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. This is the only image that overlaps from the Delaware Art Museum exhibition a few years ago; the rest are all different.

The Art of James Gurney will be on view at the The Richard C. von Hess Gallery of Illustration is at 333 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA through November 16.

In connection with the exhibition, I'll be doing a public presentation on Thursday, October 29: 1 - 2:30 pm at Levitt Auditorium with a reception following.

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17. "Overture fo Kings" Medieval Card Game

I've illustrated a new Medieval theme card game called "Overture of Kings" that is now in an active campaign on Kickstarter.  Jeff Goodman, Michael Branin and I have worked on this project for the last year and a half.
Here's a link to the project with several layers of participation, all with rewards.
Overture of Kings Kickstarter
The illustrations are fun and colorful, done in my "old school" style.





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18. I Skip. I Sing. I Draw. (and I may fart a bit too much)

 Above: 2013 and one of these Old Farts is a lot older than the other...Mr Brown? ahem.


Back in October, 2014, I wrote an incredible post.  It should have won an award.  It DID. It won the Hooper Pillitser.  Remember "I'm Too Radical For The Kids"?  If not -here: http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/im-too-radical-for-kids-bczf.html

Why am I mentioning this now?  Simple.  If you watched Howlermouse and his DC 52  rant video (just go down this page a post or two) I think it was one of his best video blogs.  Firstly, he lives in the United States, has been a life long DC comics fan and collector and, more importantly, I don't know him and he does not know me.

Again, why is that important?  Firstly, because he has underscored literally everything I have written about Marvel and DC and, to an extent, the current "new fans" and how the companies are treating their fans as morons who are told what they want in comics because it is the latest "cash cow" plan. I think "Enough is enough!" has been screamed out by so many long time comic fans that if Marvel and DC really did have that open-ness to fans and creativity of the 1960s/1970s they would have taken notice long ago.

Instead, we all know that DC and Marvel are run by "suits" who get a great deal of sexual gratification when they see that $ sign....the higher the number the better it gets (though some require sedating when it gets too intense).

Another point was that George Perez is "one of the old guys" but the companies don't pull them into conventions because they want, what they see as young, hip and cool creators so that their companies look young, hip and cool.  Some of the "old guys" do get to comic book conventions like Perez or Neal Adams but usually independent of Marvel or DC.  You know, the "young, hip and cool" are not that good and people like Sal Buscema have to tidy up and make their comic work presentable.  Do these old guys get credit?  HELL NO!!  Is DC or Marvel going to tell their purchasers (I won't say "fans") that "old guys" have to finish off the latest 'star's' work because he is not capable?

WHY do you need six pencillers and some times even more inkers on one feckin comic???  You work it out.  In the old days when quality was the key word and artists pencilled and inked without a computer it was one penciller and one inker unless a deadline had been moved up and so a book had to be rushed through.

My conversations with youngsters (I'm old and "rad" enough to be able to write that) on putting comics together usually goes like this.

Me: "I pencil straight onto the page then ink it"
Anon: "What computer program?"
Me: "Don't use one for anything but lettering"
Anon:"So HOW do you draw -?"
Me: "I use a pencil -different types- and then various pens for inking or brush and ink for solid black areas"
Anon:"On the computer?"

At this point I usually pull out pencils and a pen and demonstrate.  Usually to dumbfounded expressions.

Me: "Like that"
Anon: "You...pencil...AND you...ink??"
Me: "You got it! "

A silence usually falls as the person stares at what I've drawn.  It's almost like them trying to push their brains through thick molasses!

Anon: "Every page?"
Anon: "You don't do any drawing on the computer?"
Me: "No. Not one page. Only lettering because I simply cannot letter to any publishable standard -that I use the computer for"

Oh lords!  They see a colour illo and when I explain I used colour inks, water colours or a mix of tools a few have to be taken away in an ambulance.

Come on, I am not the only one out there does this and it surely cannot be beyond the little minds to understand that I use a pencil for what pencils were designed for and pens and inks for what they were designed for?

I almost feel like I've been thawed from a block of ice having been frozen in 1950!

Jim Lee does drawing demoes at events using a Wacom. Big feckin deal.  I've seen one after another "computer artists" have near nervous breakdowns when their computers fail because everything -everything- is stored on it.  "Art studio", comic work -everything.  I just have to go to my folders and pull pages out.  Word.

"Old school" they say to me.  "Artist" is how I normally respond to the non-pain-in-the-ass ones.

In the United States and UK "it's all about age", as Bollo once said.  Howlermouse nailed that.  And I pointed it out in my "Too Radical" post.  I mentioned how I got the strange looks and even the rudeness of other creators there -and it really did seem to be because of my age.  Drawing, writing and publishing comics at my age?  My response is this: how dare YOU fucking demand that I conform to your inane and grotesquely stupid idea of what someone of my age should be doing.

In Europe you have musical performers who started in the 1960s and still continue today because it is the talent and music NOT their age that is taken into account.  If you do not know that or understand it then get back inside your tin can.

Hansrudi Wascher...well, I could make a very long list of comic creators from Europe who are well past 60 years of age and still going strong.  In the UK many comic creators and cartoonists are kicked out into retirement on reaching 65. There is no reason WHY any publication cannot use them as freelance or, in more recent years, continue to employ them.  Let's not get started on British comics because that is dead unless someone with money comes along.

You see, following my response to a comment on CBO as to WHY I am unable to get a table at event after event in the UK (excluding the little minded conspirators) I hear from two comic people that when they mentioned to certain event organisers my post on the subject the response was also a whince and (that ***** expression again) "Well, he's really old school and we want to attract younger people".  So Howlermouse REALLY nailed it. 

I mentioned someone into maths had worked out the odds of my being "unlucky" enough not to get a table for five straight years for every event I contacted. Doug responded in an email: "Actually, easiest way of putting it when it gets broken down, is that the odds against this happening over that period come out as 99.8% against it"  I think the term is "screwed".

I get far more views of my Maakika Art from Europe -mainly France.  UK hardly ever registers.

This is why, and I was only just sitting down to catch up on videos yesterday, I shared the video. I had not intended to but I thought "See? Ain't just me!  I'll show everyone" and that was it.

No one told Jack Kirby "You iz too old, man!" (but then he had 99% more talent than me!)


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19. ‘But Milk is Important’ by Anna Mantzaris and Eirik Gronmo Bjornsen

A man with social phobia gets followed by a naive and clumsy creature.

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20. Extension Activities for Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya

We recently picked up a wonderful book from the Blount County library, this wonderful Kenyan Tale called, Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya by Mary and Rich Chamberlin, Illustrated by Julia Cairns.

Mama panyas pancakes

This beautiful heart warming story shares the great message of “give and you shall receive.“ As Mama Panya and her young son Adika walk to the market, Adika invites every friend he meets to come and eat pancakes with him and his mother.

Having barely enough money to feed herself and her son, how will Mama Panya ever cook enough pancakes for everyone? Luckily, all the guests arrive with food gifts to further extend the feast.

The illustrations captivated my children with their bold colors, vivid patterns, and lush Kenyan scenery. It’s as if we were walking along with Mama Panya and Adika to market.

mama panyas pancakes

We thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it several times. We also enjoyed the recipe for Mama Panya’s pancakes. In the back of the book there is a map of Kenya, details of daily life, and facts about the Kenyan language called Kiswahili and general facts about Kenya.

panya3

Mama Panya’s Pancakes makes for a fantastic read aloud. The text is written in little boxes making it easy for young readers to follow along or take a turn reading out loud themselves.

Somethings To Do

Make a batch of Mama Panya’s Pancakes

mama panyas pancakes activity

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients with a fork.
  2. Preheat a nonstick pan at a medium to low setting.
  3. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the batter to about the size of a grapefruit.
  4. Cook until you see tiny bubbles in the pancake, then gently flip it over.
  5. When the second side begins to pop up from the heat, the pancake is ready.

Serving Suggestions

You can fill your pancake with jam, tuna or chicken salad, seasoned hamburger or roasted nuts. Anything at all will do. Place your filling on one half and then roll it up and eat it.

Kenyan Animal and Tree Guessing Game

panya5

In the back of the book there is a section called Walking to Market. We photocopied both pages from the book, cut out the animal or tree, glued it to an index card. On the other side of the index card we wrote the African name. Turn the cards with the African name facing you and try and guess what it means.

Learn Kiswahili Greetings

Excerpt from Mama Panya’s Pancakes: “Kenyans speak many languages, but the main ones are Kiswahili and English………Kiswahili means “speaking the language of the coast people.” Kiswahili is a mixture of Bantu, a native African language, and Arabic, a Middle Eastern language.”

It isn’t uncommon for people like Adika and the people living in his village to speak three languages. Greetings are expected when you meet someone. Otherwise you will be considered rude. A simple hello is said like this in Kiswahili, “Jambo”. There are many more greetings at the back of the book. Take some time to enjoy saying them. The pronunciations are all there to make things easy for you.

This simple and engaging story leads to many days of fun activities as we explore Kenya.

Find it in Your Library!

  • Title: Mama Panya’s Pancakes
  • Author: Mary and Rich Chamberlin
  • Illustrator: Julia Cairns
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books
  • Genre: Easy
  • ISBN: 1905236646
*********************

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The post Extension Activities for Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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21. Chicken Soup for the Soul Movie to be Released in 2016

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22. Comic: Picture Book Restaurant

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23. City Atlas

Illustrated by the wonderful German artist Martin Haake, 'City Atlas'  takes us on a delightful tour of 30 international cities with Haake's inimitably stylish and witty maps. Written by Georgia Cherry and published by Wide Eyed Editions... 








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24. Writing Workshops

How important are writing workshops or conferences to writers? In my opinion, they are critical. However, we have to face facts that we can't all afford to attend them. I've found that some are very reasonable in price where others can be quite expensive. But the real question is are they worth it?

Almost every one I've attended has been worth it. Some more than others. I have to admit I've attended a few where I didn't learn much that I didn't already know, but I came out of there meeting a few new contacts or a few leads on book signing events. And both of those are critical to making it in this industry. And then there have been the workshops where I learned a ton of new stuff. So you just never know.

But to me, attending as many writing workshops or conferences that my budget and time will allow, has only benefitted me. They are a chance to "recharge" my juices and get me excited about the  writing process all over again. Each time I attend one, I come directly home and start a new story or edit an old one. My batteries are once again revved up and my imagination is raring to go!  There is nothing better than spending a whole day talking and listening to people who feel the same way I do about writing a book. 

It's also a new adventure for me. Never in school did I ever raise my hand to answer a question the teacher asked. I never wanted to speak up for fear that I would look stupid because I didn't know what I was talking about. But when I attend anything writing wise, my hand doesn't hesitate to raise even when I try to stop it. So it's a weird and new experience for me, but one that I love and am proud of myself for giving it my all. Heck, I've even been the speaker at a few of these myself! And for me, that's a big "gold star" for the day.

So to those of you who are thinking of attending a workshop or conference, think no more. Just do it! I guarantee it will pay off in some way and you'll be glad you did it.

So, when's your next writing workshop or conference scheduled?

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25. There and Back Again.

This blog has been so very quiet.

Here's what's been going on. I went home. 




A soft welcoming blanket of fog. People who knew how to drive safely   in lanes, and not stop for NO reason- (because in the U.S. you would get a ticket arrested for being a danger on the road to others and you have a freaking CLUE). Driving was stressless and fun- especially in Fred's car- Sasha. I relished it. 

There were California brown Pelicans  gently drifting overhead in clean smokeless air - they look like creatures that belong to another time. Glorious. 




And sunsets of the awe inspiring kind. 

I hung out with our neighbors who have been keeping watch over the casa. And I was grateful for having such kind, generous and caring people in our lives. All of them inspiring- we are the youngens on the street and the folks around us are farther on down the road, but   totally awesome. 

I took a quick trip to see loved ones in Minnesota. I was happy to see that my parents are looking great and getting better and better- you would never believe their age if you saw them. I admire that they are heading off on new adventures and this next year are venturing over here to visit and we are heading out on safari with them in Botswana.  I also popped down to Rochester to visit my sister and her family. She and her hubby have 3 teenagers now- all doing fabulous. Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon quote tag line , " Minnesota where the women are strong, the men are good looking and all the children are above average. "

Can you tell I loved being home? But I missed this guy 


he's good reason to cross a globe...but I had some more adventures in between...

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