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1. Turning Pages Reads: PULL by Anne Riley

Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!Synopsis: It was pretty well going to be the most depressing visit to Blackheath 17-year-old Rosie Clayton had ever taken. Though she visited her grandparents in the London neighborhood from Nashville... Read the rest of this post

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2. Why We Read


Books were my salvation when, as I was growing up, my mother and I endured poverty, betrayal, and humiliation because of my violent, alcoholic father. From library books, I learned that not every home was like ours, that there were many ways to live. Books inspired my imagination; and imagination is the mother of hope. At thirteen, working part-time, I bought paperbacks, which were my treasure–the only one I needed. Authors, booksellers, and librarians were my heroes, providers of truth, magic, hope. And so they remain.
— Dean Koontz


Click through to sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable from my novel, Blue Birds. Enjoy!

The post Why We Read originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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3. Michael Pollan Talks Food in the New ‘Cooked’ Trailer

Netflix has unveiled a trailer for the Cooked documentary series. The video embedded above features narration by author Michael Pollan.

According to Tasting Table, the title of the show shares the same name as Pollan’s 2013 nonfiction book. Each installment will focus on a different element: fire, water, air, and earth.

Eater reports that all four episodes will be posted online on Feb. 19. To learn more about Pollan’s book, click here to listen to a talk he gave at the Google office.

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4. floating forest

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5. Be Frank With Me Giveaway!

You might remember that last Friday I posted my review of Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.  This week, I am so thrilled to be able to offer five readers the chance to win a copy of their own!  

Each of the characters in this book is delightful in his or her own way, but of course Frank really is the show stealer.  This book is a must read for fans of The Rosie Project.  It also had hints of About a Boy by Nick Hornby or even Matilda by Roald Dahl.

Interested in owning a copy?

The rules are simple - just leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you - preferably email, but feel free to leave a twitter or IG handle too.  I'll choose five random posts and email the winners for addresses.  

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6. I wrote a Fiction Novel based on true events...

Question: I wrote a Fiction novel based on a true story with a word count of 30200. Is this too short? I'm a first time Author and intend to go for self

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7. Poetry Friday: The Pity of Love by William Butler Yeats

A pity beyond all telling
Is hid in the heart of love:
The folk who are buying and selling,
The clouds on their journey above,
The cold, wet winds ever blowing,
And the shadowy hazel grove
Where mouse-grey waters are flowing
Threaten the head that I love.

- The Pity of Love by William Butler Yeats

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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8. New Beginning 1052

The snow around the cabin lay unmarked by man or animal.

“You never told me you owned this place,” Logan and his buddy Nick walked the last hundred yards. The four hundred mile drive from Vancouver left them dog-tired and cold.

“It was Uncle Ronan’s. I found out that I inherited it a month ago.”

“Were you close?”

“After Dad started drinking, I would hitch to the main road. This was my refuge from the beatings. We shared the love of outdoors. He taught me how to survive out here and be a man. I was fifteen when the sheriff called and said Uncle Ronan was missing and presumed dead; no investigations, no missing persons report, just a memorial service, and an empty coffin.”

Nick opened the door and set the LED lantern in the middle of the cabin. A large bed sat facing the fireplace. A rough-hewn table with chairs sat opposite with the stove and sink. Logan grimaced as he removed the drop cloths covered in years of dust.

“Glad I’m not asthmatic. Speaking of rustic, it’s so much more than I thought.” To Logan, rustic meant the scurrying of field mice in the walls, and “almost never washed” sheets. Which would make Nick's one-room walk-up in the city rustic. In Nick's mind, "rustic" was a last-minute hitch-hike beyond the range of the nearest cell tower with no chance to let people know where you're headed; an abandoned cabin in the middle of nowhere, untouched by man or beast; a sharpened ax with a worn but sturdy handle; a pot of slow-cooked stew with that special, sweet sweet meat; and a banjo playing wistfully in the background.

"Why don't you light the stove," Nick asked his friend. "I'll see if I can find some music."

Opening: Dave Fragments......Continuation: ril


P2: If you use a comma instead of a period, we expect a dialogue tag: Logan said as he and his buddy Nick....   

Also, they just spent about seven hours driving to this place and Nick has only now revealed that he owns the place? Surely he told Logan where they were going before they left Vancouver. 

I can see how a 400-miles drive would leave them dog-tired, but not cold. Presumably their vehicle had a heater. Or were they driving a dogsled? 

Change "left" to "had left."

Shouldn't they walk the last hundred yards first and then see that the snow is unmarked by man or animal?

P3: I would say "my" Uncle Ronan's. Omitting the "my" suggests that Logan is familiar with Uncle Ronan, but the following paragraph suggests he isn't.

P5: Start with his answer to the question he was just asked. Possibly by dropping the first two sentences. At least by dropping "I would hitch to the main road." This cabin doesn't sound like it's on the main road, so it's not clear what that has to do with whether they were close.

Change "He" to "Uncle Ronan" and "Uncle Ronan" to "he."

"I was fifteen" would be more meaningful if we knew whether he was now seventeen or thirty-seven. Of course if they had a memorial service when he was fifteen, and he's much older than that now, why did it take till now to find out he inherited the cabin?

P6: Seems like if you're building a cabin in which you want a large bed and a stove, you'd want it where you can get to it without having to walk the last hundred yards. I'll assume there's a driveway that's impassable because of the snow.

P7: I think the removing of the drop cloths and the comment about asthma should be in the same paragraph.

If he means it's more rustic than expected, change "It's so much more" to "It's much more so". Also, field mice in the walls is rustic, and I think you're trying to say Logan hasn't been exposed to rustic, so you want something like: To Logan, "rustic" meant having only two bars on his cell phone.

There are no dialogue tags. I assume Logan is the first to speak only because it says "Logan and his buddy Nick" rather than "Nick and his buddy Logan." It wouldn't hurt to toss in "Nick told him," "Logan asked," "Nick answered," "Logan said" . . . 

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9. पानी पीने के फायदे

पानी पीने के फायदे अगर वजन कम करना है तो खाने के साथ साथ खूब सारा पानी पीना भी बहुत जरुरी होता है. डाइट प्लान का महत्वपूर्ण हिस्सा है पानी… आज मुझे अपनी सहेली मणि पर बहुत बहुत गुस्सा आ रहा है मेरा मन तो है कि उसे अनफ्रैंड ही कर दूं पर कर नही […]

The post पानी पीने के फायदे appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

"... There are several other sources of enjoyment in a long voyage... the map of the world ceases to be a blank; it becomes a picture full of the most varied and animated pictures." –from THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE

Charles Darwin was born 207 years ago today, on February 12, 1809. Today is also Darwin Day– a celebration of Darwin's life and amazing contributions to the world of science. Cake for everyone!

*Art detail from CHARLES DARWIN'S AROUND-THE-WORLD ADVENTURE (Abrams 2016), coming in October!

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11. Friday Linky List - 12 February 2016

From PW: 'A Long Walk to Water' Sells 1M Copies!

From The Bookseller: Google launches e-book 'experiment'

From SLJs Fuse #8 by Betsy Bird: Walking and Talking with . . . M.T. Anderson - have you seen these? They're very cool!

From PW: Is Amazon Opening More Bookstores? It's Hiring Booksellers. WOW. This is potentially huge news, and ripe for debate...

From PW: Angouleme Comics Festival Overshadowed by Gaffes, Protests Over Sexism - what a stink!

From The Guardian: Libraries saved me, now they need rescuing - Karin Slaughter - Go Karin!

From the Paisley Piranha Blog: F**k, fudge, frick, fug, flip, fiddlesticks... Dealing with swearing in children's book writing

At Sequential Art (via SCBWI British Isles): Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics - Exhibition at House of Illustration, London

From PW: Agate Unveils African American Children's Imprint - with books by my friend Denene Millner!

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12. Us and Books: We Ship It...

This year AF and I were on the same judging panel - which has never happened before! There were some really interesting finalists this year; do stay tuned to find out what we - and the rest of our hep cat crew - chose for the YA Speculative Fiction... Read the rest of this post

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13. A Book for Passionate Creators + a Giveaway

Have you lost your muse? Create Now is the kind of book you need to help you transform your creative process and get you inspired to write.

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14. Daniel Radcliffe to star in psychological thriller, ‘Jungle’

Dan Radcliffe certainly has a busy schedule with his upcoming roles in Imperium and Now You See Me: The Second Act, and he is now set to star in Jungle a thriller based on Yossi Ghinsberg’s memoir of his trip to the Amazon.

A young adventurer who trekked into the Amazon with two friends and a guide, Ghinsberg’s expedition soon took a dangerous and deadly turn. The Discovery Channel included Ghinsberg’s story in a docudrama series: I Shouldn’t Be Alive.

The psychological thriller is set to be directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), and Justin Monjo is in charge of the script. Dana Lustig, Gary Hamilton and Mike Gabrawy will co-produce alongside director McLean, with Todd Fellman as executive producer.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

Screen Australia and Screen Queensland have supported development and invested in the project, which is eyeing a shoot later in 2016 in Australia, among other locations.

“We’re extremely excited about Daniel Radcliffe joining the cast of Jungle,” says Gary Hamilton, managing director of Arclight Films. “He has an enthusiastic global fan base, a wide range as an actor as evident by his diversity of roles and is known for picking out unique and interesting projects.”

Dan is has favoured darker genres after his involvement in the Potter films. The Woman in Black, Kill Your Darlings, Horns and Victor Frankenstein all show Radcliffe’s talent for picking diverse characters to portray, and his latest appearance in Swiss Army Man (which received mixed reviews) depicts his venturing into more ‘unique’ independent films.

His upcoming appearances in Imperium and Now You See Me: The Second Act will add to his diverse array of roles, and with any luck, Jungle will continue to depict his talent!

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15. Harold Speed, "On Painting a Head"

Today we'll continue Chapter 9: "Painting from the Life" from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.
I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by comments of my own. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

Today we'll cover pages 144-157, "On Painting a Head."

Harold Speed, Old Tom, courtesy BBC

1. "Before commencing, select the colors you will need and choose the fewest that will serve your purpose."
This is good advice that will reduce confusion, eliminate habits of color mixing, and yield harmony in the final result.

2. Don't take the colors as they come from the tube; Mix your own colors.
Also a good idea. You can create your gamut primaries, instead of using the colors as they happen to come from the tube. So here you're not mixing the particular notes of your scene, but rather you're mixing the ingredients of your color scheme. Instead of using yellow ochre and cad yellow as separate palette colors you can mix the two, and then use that mixture as your gamut anchor. For example he recommends mixing Indian red and burnt sienna. This is what the manufacturers do, mixing pigments to get convenience colors.

3. "The paint as supplied in tubes is a little stiffer than is always comfortable to paint with, and it is as well to thin the white by mixing up some of your medium with it."
I find the opposite is often a problem with modern paint. Paint often comes out of the tube too runny. In that case you can stiffen tube colors by first placing them on blotter paper (or other absorbent paper or cardboard) a few hours before you need to use them. As Speed suggests, it's good to have some "stiff white" about the consistency of butter always available on your palette for impasto-rich highlights.

4. Sequence: background, hair, forehead (middle tone), planes of lower face, eye socket, nose, highest light in forehead, etc.
It might seem difficult to follow this procedure in the form of text, given that we're used to seeing videos that show the process much more clearly. But try to visualize it. This is close as we're going to get to a time machine back to the Royal Academy.

5. "In the case of a short portrait sitting...do not attempt any more complications in your tones. Keep them flat and simple at first."
Put your work into refining the edges instead of refining the tones. I would say to think of the head as a roughly carved block at this stage, and rejoice that there aren't too many details to worry about.

6. "Always paint with the least amount of paint that will get the effect you want. Reserve thick paint for those occasions when you want to make a crisp touch quite separate from what it is painted into."
For beginning painters there's a lot to think about when you mix a color: value, color temperature, hue, chroma, and now you've got to think about paint thickness, not to mention what brush to use, etc. As you read Speed talking about his thought process, note what considerations are foremost at each stage. Value judgments are most important at first, then edges become vitally important, then he's thinking about warm versus cool differences. 

7. Carefully define the eye sockets before detailing the eye.
Speed probably learned this method from watching Sargent, who was said to paint an eye in this way, like making a frying pan (eye socket) and dropping an eye into it (the egg). Later Speed says: "Remember the eye is a cavity, through which is pushed the globe of the eye, on which the eyelids are placed. The eyelids therefore partake of the spherical form, as do also the 'whites' of the eye."

8. "You should always talk to your sitters if you want to keep them alive."
Many first hand sources attest to the fact that portrait painters of the past talked to their models while they painted them. This is one of the most important points that is generally missed by modern practitioners. It makes all the difference in the disposition of the face and the expression of the model.  Sleepy, dull models yield sleepy, dull portraits. Talking models yield portraits that are alive. There's no getting around it. Here's a previous blog post "Talking Models" on the topic and another post "Speaking Likeness" on the same subject.

Detail of a portrait by Velazquez
9. The under eyelid: "I know of no part of a head that so easily shows the hand of a master as the painting of the under eyelid."
To find some examples of plane breakdowns as suggested in the detailed discussion on pages 153-155, such as the "three cherries" of the lips, etc. I recommend the anatomy books by Vanderpoel, Loomis, Peck, and others.

10. "Having laid in your work with the muted middle tones, you will be able to use much purer colour in the later stages, as they will be quieted by mixing with the middle tones already there."

11. "Finish is not necessarily the addition of details, but of refinements."
Try to accomplish what Speed calls oneness of impression, and look for that quality in the great portraits of Sargent, Velazquez, and Rembrandt. Accents are last, and you can think of the whole head painting as a setup for those last highlights and accents.

Next week—we'll continue with the chapter with the section beginning on 157.
In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.
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16. National Book Foundation Reveals New Executive Director

Lisa Lucas has been appointed executive director of The Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, the organization responsible for the National Book Awards.
Lucas will succeed Harold Augenbraum who revealed that he was stepping down last March.

Lucas will become the third executive director in the Foundation’s history.
Lucas comes to after serving as publisher of Guernica, a non-profit digital magazine focused on art and politics. Prior to Guernica, Lucas served as director of education at the Tribeca Film Institute.

The executive search firm Spencer Stuart conducted the search for Lucas and a search committee of the National Book Foundation Board oversaw the process. This team included: chairman David Steinberger, the board’s vice chair Morgan Entrekin, CEO and Publisher of Grove Atlantic; Reynold Levy, President of The Robin Hood Foundation; Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon and Schuster; Calvin Sims, President and CEO of International House; and Strauss Zelnick, founder of Zelnick Media Capital.

“We went through an exhaustive search process,” stated David Steinberger, president and CEO of The Perseus Books Group and Chairman of the National Book Foundation, “and we could not be more pleased with the outcome. Lisa Lucas is a dynamic leader who has served as a passionate advocate for literature and has built an impressive track record of accomplishment in the not-for-profit world across theater, film and literature.”

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17. Book Launch: Cash Kat


After reading Linda Joy Singleton’s newest picture book Cash Kat we think she is the coolest grandma in the world! This book was inspired by a game with her grandson where he learned to count money by helping out and then buying rewards with the money he earned.

Cash Kat starts out with Gram Hatter and Kat setting off on a treasure hunt. This crafty grandma folds many hats as the pair encounter new challenges volunteering for the park clean up day. Throughout the day Kat has her eye on the ultimate prize, ice cream; but in the end she must choose between her favorite treat or donating her findings to the park.

In celebration of the launch of Cash Kat here is a pattern to make your own paper hat and set out on your own adventure!


Meet the author and illustrator of Cash Kat by visiting the book’s homepage. Where there are many more activities including the “For Creative Minds” section.

Enter to win your very own copy of Cash Kat in our Goodreads giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cash Kat by Linda Singleton

Cash Kat

by Linda Singleton

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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18. Cynsational News & Giveaways

American Indian Youth Literature Awards & Honor Books (click to enlarge)
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Avoid Melodrama by Writing Deeper by Martina Boone from Adventures in YA Writing. Peek: "Experts tell us there are really only twelve universal emotions: interest, surprise, excitement, joy, love, sadness, fear, shame, guilt, contempt, pride, and anger."

Tim Tingle on House of Purple Cedar Winning the AILA YA Literature Award from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "...I will walk the road of goodness, wave the light of forgiveness, and smile warm jokes along the way, as so many of my Choctaw kinfolks did." See also More Coverage of the AILA Awards from AICL and 10 Books About Residential Schools to Read with Your Kids by Chantelle Bellrichard from CBC Radio Canada.

Disability in Kidlit and the Changing Landscape of Disabilities in Books: An Interview With Corinne Duyvis by Alex Townsend from The Mary Sue. Peek: "Most authors genuinely try, which means they’ll do research and want to treat their character with the utmost respect; that leads to a lot of good. At the same time, most authors aren’t disabled themselves, and don’t have a lot of pre-existing knowledge on disability tropes or the specific disability they’re portraying, so they’re starting from square one; that leads to a lot of missteps."

Too Late to Start Writing? by Keith Cronin from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Don’t use age as an excuse – either for doing nothing, or to complain about how you no longer have a chance."

Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature by Kimberli Buckley from YALSA Hub. Peek: "...teen depression can affect a teen regardless of gender, social background, income level, race, or school or other achievements, though teenage girls report suffering from depression more often than teenage boys."

Secrets, Lies, Mistakes & Wounds: Creating Engaging Characters by Martina Boone from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "They may not want people to see them the way that they see themselves, and so--consciously or without being aware of it at all--they may lie to themselves and others about who they really are and what they are really like." See also Writing Memorable Characters via "Finding Nemo" by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers.

The Writer, The Reader & Mirror Neurons by Sarah Johnson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "Our neurons fire in the same location in our brain when we move and when we observe the same movement by someone else."

Author Interview: Cynthia Levinson on Hilary Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Chelsea Langford from Kirkus Reviews. Peek: "Levinson understands that most kids love reading about other kids, 'even if that subject is a grownup,' and that making Hillary known to readers as a child first is a natural way to show how Hillary became the person she is today."

Favorite Picture Book Revision Tips by Elizabeth Bluemle from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "I invited my writer friends and colleagues to share their favorite picture-book tips for new and young writers. Here’s what they said...."

28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children's Literature

See also Celebrating Black History Month with Poetry by Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children and Celebrate Black History Month with Five Collections from Lee & Low.

This Week at Cynsations

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win from Marion Dane Bauer.

More Personally

NAACP Image Awards acceptance speech by Kekla Magoon.
Congratulations to 2016 NAACP Image Award winners Kekla Magoon and Ilyashah Shabazz (X: A Novel (Candlewick)) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Jamey Christoph (Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America (Albert Whitman))!

Personal Links

AICL recommends!
Take What Your Stories Give You by Brian Yansky
‘Bring Them Home’: Rosebud Sioux Seeking Return of Relatives Buried at Carlisle
"The Great Gilly Hopkins" Movie Trailer
If Jane Austen Got Feedback from Some Guy in a Writing Workshop
Sara Zarr: Manuscript Consulting 
Gravitational Waves: Ripples in Space-Time

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19. Worm Loves Worm – Perfect Picture Book Friday and Diversity Day

Title: Poet: Worm loves Worm Written by: J. J. Austrian illustrated by: Miike Curato Published by: Balzer & Bray, Jan 5th, 2016 Themes: celebration of love, marriage, wedding, worms Ages: 3-7 Opening: Worm loves Worm. “Let’s be married.” says Worm to Worm. Synopsis: A worm meets another worm and falls in love. One proposes; … Continue reading

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20. Ruta Sepetys and Marissa Meyer Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

Stars Above (GalleyCat)We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Feb. 7, 2016–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #1 in Young Adult) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys: “World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.” (Feb. 2016)

(Debuted at #6 in Children’s Fiction Series) The Lunar Chronicles: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: “The enchantment continues…The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories – and secrets – that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic.” (Feb. 2016)

(Debuted at #12 in Hardcover Fiction) The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel: “In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.” (Feb. 2016)

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21. Great Websites for Kids

I'm back from vacation and blogging for ALSC today.
Click on over to the ALSC Blog and check out the list of eight new sites added to ALA's Great Websites for Kids, the online resource featuring hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children. [http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2016/02/eight-new-sites-added-to-great-websites-for-kids/]

Have a great weekend!

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22. Dame Maggie Smith’s interview with ‘The Evening Standard’ on winning Best Actress

Last Sunday, Dame Maggie Smith was named Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards for The Lady in the Van. The Evening Standard caught up with Dame Smith to talk about Sunday’s awards and her wide-ranging career.

On her latest win, Smith remained modest as ever, highlighting the brilliance of the actresses she was up against:

“Quite honestly, the things one was up against, it doesn’t seem fair,” she says. “Brooklyn [starring Saoirse Ronan], and 45 Years in which Charlotte [Rampling] was so terrific, and Sicario [with Emily Blunt], although I didn’t really get that…” 

She puts on a Uriah Heep voice: “I just feel ever so ‘umble. It does seem awfully unfair and I can’t help feeling it’s because I am so old.”

The interview developed more on recent interviews about Smith’s early career conducted by LA Times (read here) and CBS News (here). Smith tells more about her portrayal of The Lady in the Van‘s Mary Shepherd in Nicholas Hytner’s West End production in 1999, alongside writer Alan Bennett:

“I was fascinated by the mystery of her,” says Smith. “And of Alan, the way he coped with it and put up with her. I don’t know who was the oddest. You just wonder where her head was. You think ‘confused’ but she was very clear in what she thought, trying to form these political parties and writing letters to [Seventies TV personality] Eamonn Andrews and all that. 

“As I have got older I wonder how the hell she did it. Honest to God, the filming finished me off and that was sort of deluxe. The van was… cleansed from time to time.” She couldn’t have been the Good Samaritan Bennett was, she says.

A film was immediately mooted in 1999 — “the material is actually more filmic” — but for some reason was only made 15 years later. “Whether it was just that Alan decided he wanted to do it, or Nick nagged him, I don’t know,” says Smith. “It certainly wasn’t me! I didn’t go on about it at all. But I was very pleased to sort of finish her off in a way.” 

The loss of Alan Rickman is also mentioned in the interview, along with the recent passing of Frank Finlay – another member of the first National Theatre company in 1962. Smith starred as Desdemona alongside Finlay (who portrayed Iago) in Laurence Oliver’s Othello:

“One night dear Frank came off stage and he flew to the prompt corner and started tearing at his eyes, like Oedipus,” she recalls. “I got very worried, and went over, and said ‘Are you all right?’. He had terribly bad sight, Frank, and was wearing contact lenses, which he never normally wore, and he said: ‘I’ve just seen Sir Laurence for the first time! And I never want to do it again.’” 

She gives a husky laugh, then says: “You get a bit wobbly, you know, when you get to a certain age. It [mortality] seems to be too near.”

For the first time in her career, Maggie Smith has found herself a lot less busy, and whilst The Evening Standard picks up on the fact that she hasn’t much relished the fame brought on by her roles in Potter and Downton, Smith still finds the quietness ‘weird':

Margaret Natalie Smith was born in Romford but moved to Oxford aged four, her father a pathologist and her mother a secretary who thought young Maggie would never work on stage “with a face like that”. Actually, Smith says, she benefited from not being a “juve”, or ingénue, and has worked constantly, though latterly she’s been stuck playing “’orrible old women”. This is the first time in her career that she hasn’t had a job to go to, “and it’s weird, because suddenly there is no shape to anything”.

On the prospect of taking up future work, Smith says ‘big TV shows’ are out of the option, but on a role in film, she retains her sense of humour and answers:

“I can’t think what the part would be, can you?” she says. “It’ll be another old bag won’t it, hurr-hurr-hurr.”

Smith tends to keep her personal life away from the press, but her spoke briefly about her marriages:

Smith was married to the fiery but rackety actor Robert Stephens for seven years and they had two sons, Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin, both actors “and both out in South Africa at the moment, can you believe, doing this thing called Black Sails, being piratical”. 

After her divorce from Stephens in 1974 she married playwright Beverley Cross in 1975. He died in 1998; Robert Stephens had died in 1995. Smith says it doesn’t get any easier being on her own, especially when fans intrude. But she doesn’t think she’ll enjoy an autumnal romance like the one her friend Judi Dench is having: “No, I don’t think I would get that lucky. I don’t think I would find anybody who would come anywhere near Bev.”

Given how rare interviews with Dame Maggie are, we’re very lucky to have had so many recently! Read the rest of the interview here, and make sure you catch her latest award-winning performance in The Lady in the Van.

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23. Harlequin TEEN and Seventeen Magazine Team Up to Form a New Imprint

Harlequin TEEN LogoHarlequin TEEN and Seventeen Magazine have partnered up to launch a new imprint called Seventeen Fiction. The editors plan to work on a variety of projects such as novels,  lifestyle manuals, advice books, and nonfiction digital books.

According to the press release, the executives behind this imprint “will focus on multi-dimensional and empowered fictional female characters and explore topics and situations that authentically reflect the challenges and joys of being a teenager today, just as Seventeen does across all platforms.” Natashya Wilson, an executive editor at Harlequin TEEN, has already acquired the first manuscript: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz.

The story “follows the daughter of immigrant parents who is living the American dream—until her world shatters when she learns she is ineligible to receive the National Scholarship Award because her family is in the country illegally and may be deported.” The release date has been scheduled for Fall 2016.

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24. Poetry Friday -- Found Object Poem Project

Photo by Jone MacCulloch

"A pipe gives a wise man time to think 
and a fool something to stick in his mouth." 
- C.S. Lewis.

Packing the tobacco correctly is as
Important as the
Proper breaking in of the pipe.
Each pipe
Smokes differently, and a good smoker can
Make one last up to 45 minutes.
One must tap the dottle from the bowl,
Know how to ream the pipe, and
Embrace the subtleties of the experience --
Rather like shooting or fly fishing or drinking

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2016

This is my favorite of the poems I wrote this week for Laura Shovan's month-long Found Object Poem Project. I got the object wrong -- it's not a pipe-reamer, it's a blood-letter -- but I had fun with the poem, so we'll claim success! 

I interviewed the former pipe-smoker who lives in my house and took these notes:

In case you're curious, to break in a pipe, you have to char the bowl gradually by smoking just a little tobacco, then a little more, then a little more. (Who knew?!?!)

I originally thought the word in my acrostic would be tobacco, but for more variety of letters, I went with pipe smokers. 

Kimberley has today's Poetry Friday roundup at Written Reflections. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!

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25. SNOWY VALENTINE Children's Read Aloud Along Story Book

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