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1. Home, Where the Heart Is

I have to thank Simon and Garfunkel for this post which was inspired by their song Homeward Bound.

The lyrics go: “I wish I was homeward bound. Home, where my thought's escaping. Home, where my music's playing. Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me.”

Hopefully, his love isn’t lying there silently because she is dead. If so, it would place the story in the mystery or horror category.

For most, the word “home” conjures warmth and belonging, especially during the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Home can be a place where Dick finds nurturance and love. It can be the place where he feels safe in a world gone mad.

Home can be a place that he longs to return to, a situation he longs to build for himself, or a place he needs to run from instead of to.

What kind of place do your characters call home? What lies in wait for Dick when he gets there? Home can remind Dick of all the things he lost or never had. Family get-togethers may be bitter rather than sweet. If a story problem forces Dick to go home, the game begins.

What if home is full of ghosts, personal demons and the walking dead, either literally or figuratively? Home can be full of mildly or severely dysfunctional people. If Dick’s family home or hometown is filled with addicts and felons, then it isn’t the cheery Hallmark scenario everyone imagines.

Going home can be psychologically or physically damaging. Can he tell anyone what home is truly like for him? Not necessarily. Shame is a huge motivating factor. It may keep Dick from telling anyone just how bad home really is. Even if Dick tells, he might be mildly rebuked for being so hard on his nearest and dearest. Surely it can’t be that bad? Except, it is. When his coworkers are rushing home, eager for the weekend or his schoolmates returning home at the end of school term, it can fill Dick with dread.

Coming from a family with something to hide places Dick in a precarious position. Even if he is brilliant and has a laudable talent or amazing skills, he has to be careful to not allow the spotlight to veer in his direction. It might startle the cockroaches from his past and make them frightened, which can make them dangerous.

Home can be a trigger for a recovering Sally. Most characters long for home. If going home puts Sally at risk for a relapse, it may not be the best place to visit. If the dysfunction that exists there is the thing that made her get high or drunk in the first place, the trigger will always be there, waiting like a land mine to blow up in her face. Sally may have to avoid home as much as she craves it. She will have to find a way to build her own home and that is not an easy thing to do. What if Sally feels more at home somewhere else? As much as her friends or other family members may like her, she isn’t really part of their home. Will they make room for her? Can they? Should they? To what extent?

Home can be full of actual ghosts or zombies. That places the story in the paranormal realm. Can Jane tell anyone? Maybe not. If she has to deal with the paranormal element at home while trying to live a normal life outside of it, Jane has serious conflict. Keeping a secret becomes a prison whether Jane is hiding that her Dad is a serial killer or a faerie King. How far is she pushed? Who could she tell? Who would believe her? How could she prove it? Her life is in danger either way.

What if Dick returns home and finds it markedly changed? He can return from college, a trip abroad, or from living on another coast or planet. What if it isn’t what he remembered? Dick may have a hard time reconciling the idealized version of home with the reality. How do the changes make him feel? Have things improved or gotten much worse. Has the town been invaded by trolls? Maybe Sally and Jane don’t remember things in quite the same way. Maybe Dick is forced to face a completely different “truth” about the way things were. The story can review all the things he thought he remembered and offer a completely different twist.

A fully drawn hero has both a home life and a work life. It’s important to give your reader a glimpse into both. It is unbalanced when we are presented with characters that are never at home or never at work. We don’t need to see every little thing they do at either location, but it helps to understand them if we see how the character operates in both worlds. They are defined by how they navigate the tricky waters both inside and outside the family.

For more on crafting conflict to create tension, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict available in paperback and E-book.

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2. The antagonist: Hero or villain?

In many stories, the antagonist may even be more important than your main character. Your main character cannot become sympathetic without an opposing force.

The antagonist is more than just a bad guy who tries to stop the good guy. A good antagonist actually pushes the protagonist to action. The bad guy gives the good guy a reason to behave like a good guy. Because he is so important, your antagonist has to be every bit as real, every bit as well-rounded, as the protagonist.

The Antagonist is Evil


 No. The good antagonist is not evil. OK, he could be, but not for the mere sake of being evil. It's fun to write the bad guy who ties maidens to railroad tracks for fun, and throws the hero's One True Love on to the conveyor belt at the saw mill just because he can. The kind of bad guy who spends his time laughing maniacally while he twirls his 'stache. There's one secret, one thing you need to remember, if you want your antagonist to be truly interesting:

The antagonist honestly believes he is the good guy. Everything he does has a reason, and to him, those reasons are Right. They are Correct. They are Good.

Your good guy needs flaws and your antagonist needs positive characteristics. In some stories, the reader might even start to wonder just which character is the good guy and which is the bad guy. Few characters are as dull as the arch-villain who is evil just because being evil is evil. People aren't like that. Even people with a warped sense of reality (another little secret: we all have a warped sense of reality, shaped by our imperfect perceptions), do things for a reason. There are truly evil actions, and your bad guy might do some of them. But we humans have an almost unending supply of rationalizations for what we do.

A Rebel With a Cause

Your antagonist has his own character arc. Give your antagonist a cause. She wants to accomplish something, wants that more than anything else. And, like your protagonist, she is prepared to do what she has to do to achieve it, because that's what people do when something is of ultimate importance. Even a bad guy who wants to do something truly awful, like blow up a stadium full of innocent people, does it because he believes it has to be done to achieve the end result, which he believes to be for the ultimate good.  
  • Sauron thought he was doing Middle Earth a favor by taking dominion.
  • Saruman thought he was doing good by trying to stop the Black Lord and taking the power himself.
  • Darth Vadar probably saw the Jedi as nefarious upstarts who wanted to thwart his plan to make the universe a better place.

A Hero in His Own Mind

The antagonist believes he's the hero. Your protagonist, who stands in his way, is the villain.

We are both nice people. The last cookie is sitting on the counter. You want it. I want it. Boom: conflict! In my story, you are now a villain because you want what I want.


My favorite example of this principle comes from politics. No matter what your political position is, your side is right and the other side is wrong. Maybe even evil. The thing is, the other side looks at you the same way. Why? Because each side believes it is right. If they were allowed to have their way, the world would be a spectacularly better place. It's the same with your hero and villain.  

Which one is the bad guy?

Molly has a new puppy. This puppy is so naughty. When she takes it for walks, it pulls at the leash and tries to go its own way. It doesn't follow Molly's perfectly reasonable rules. When the puppy runs away, Molly is devastated. How could her puppy be so wicked?

But what is the puppy doing, really? It's being true to its own puppiness. It doesn't understand Molly's unnatural rules. All she does is try to to restrain it and she scolds it for simply being what it is. 

Let your reader sympathize with the villain, and understand why he wants what he wants, and maybe even see his point. If your reader can sympathize with both the hero and the villain, the conflict becomes more real, the stakes are raised, and your reader is more engaged.

Read More About It

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The Book of Secrets (Forbidden Books 2) released today (e-book)! Paper should be ready in a week or two!
The world was turning out to be not just a book of secrets, but a whole library full.
Dexter and Daphna Wax have learned incredible secrets. Their mother was thousands of years old and on a Council devoted to destroying the First Tongue. And there are connivers, like Asterious Rash, who would do anything to learn Words of Power. They also know the Words were hidden in the Book of Nonsense.
But now it’s out of their hands, and they may not survive long enough to get it back.
The twins might stand a chance of completing their mother's mission—if they can get on the same page—but danger looms closer to home than they ever thought possible.
And the new secrets Dex and Daphna uncover are ones they never wanted to know.


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4. Week in Review, November 23rd-27th

Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

November’s Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book: world religions, natural history, medicine and diseases, space and space exploration, food and cooking

Love for Christopher Myers’s 2013 article “Young Dreamers.”

Reviews of the Week:

Out of the Box:

Calling Caldecott:

Events calendar

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

The post Week in Review, November 23rd-27th appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 11/25/15: San Diego is getting MORE hotels!

§ Rob Salkowitz gives an overview of the various subscription based comics services including Marvel Unlimited, ComicBlitz and so on. From Spotify and Apple Music to Netflix and Amazon Prime, huge chunks of the media distribution world are moving from paid downloads to monthly subscriptions. But since the early days of digital comics and graphic […]

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6. Cover Revealed for New Kate Elliott Book

Poisoned Blade Cover (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for Kate Elliott’s forthcoming book, Poisoned Blade. According to the NOVL blog, the story for this project will serve as a sequel for her 2015 young adult novel, Court of Fives.

We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has scheduled the publication date for Aug. 16, 2016.

To help fans cope with the wait, Elliott has written a companion novella entitled Night Flower. The publisher will release it as an eBook on Dec. 08, 2015.

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7. DinoWriMo: Imprints

You know some fossils are imprints. But did you know what a dinosaur’s favorite imprint is?


ROARing Brook Press.


For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Imprints appeared first on The Horn Book.

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8. Obsessing Over #1:

Most of the time I can just add a book to my TBR and move along, but every now and again a book comes to my attention that I cannot stop thinking about.  This happens every now and again (Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige; Firefight and Calamity by Brandon Sanderson; all of the Rot & Ruin books by Jonathan Maberry).

Last week I was alerted to the upcoming publication of this book:

The Dark Crystal--one of my all time favorite movies!!
This is a prequel to the movie!!
It comes out in June (JUNE!! That's forever away!)
Bask in the gloriousness of this cover. 

You can see why I am slightly obsessed with this book!

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9. Marvel's Jessica Jones - Official Trailer - Only on Netflix [HD]

So, I'm guessing the Purple Man is the baddie here?

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10. Chang3lings At Festive Toy & Comic Mart Edinburgh!

Yeah, I know I said I don't publicise events.  However, friends who run small businesses that I support go to events then I'll mention that event.

David (The British Manara) Gordon is not only a great comic creator but his Chan3lings items make me wish I had a bit of spare cash!

This from his Face Book page:

" Chang31ings will be at the Festive Toy and Comic Fair this Saturday https://www.facebook.com/events/1672913699605638/ (Nov 28th) come on by and see what Christmas goodies you could treat yourself to. This is just a sample of what's on offer here

 A selection of stock going to the Edinburgh Toy and Comic Fair at the peach Tree Edinburgh, Saturday 28th November, free entry."

And I am unashamedly going to show just some of the things -there is much more so go check out the table!


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11. DinoWriMo: Great Ladies

Who was dinosaurs’ favorite children’s book review journal editor? (sorry, Roger)

Zena Sutherland

Zena Sutherland

Xenotarsosaurus Sutherland.



For more terrible puns, click the tag DinoWriMo.

The post DinoWriMo: Great Ladies appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. ‘Einstein100 – General Relativity’ by Eoin Duffy

A short film celebrating the centennial of Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

The post ‘Einstein100 – General Relativity’ by Eoin Duffy appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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13. Random House to Publish 3 Translated Books by Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich (GalleyCat)Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize-winning writer from Belarus, has signed a deal with Random House.

According to The New York Times, the publisher will produce and release the English translations of three of her books. Each of these works features “oral histories compiled from extensive interviews.”

The Associated Press reports that Second-Hand Time will be released in Summer 2016. War’s Unwomanly Face and Last Witnesses will both follow in 2017. (Photo CreditMargarita Kabakova/Ersatz AB)

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14. Review of The Inker’s Shadow

say_inker's shadowThe Inker’s Shadow
by Allen Say; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School, High School   
Scholastic   80 pp.
978-0-545-43776-9   $19.99   g

This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes the fifteen-year-old Allen to Glendora, California, where he is enrolled in what seems to have been a distinctly mediocre military academy run by one of his (miserable) father’s old friends. That doesn’t go very well, and Allen soon finds himself, happily, enrolled in a regular high school, taking classes at an art institute in Los Angeles, and working part-time in a printing shop. Throughout, Kyusuke, Allen’s scapegrace comic-strip alter ego created by his revered Sensei, accompanies him in his imagination. Befitting adolescence, the tone here is sometimes sulky, even sarcastic, but, truth be told, Say can be so deadpan that it’s difficult to know when he’s kidding. The illustrations are a pleasing combination of watercolor cartoon panels — neat and nimble executions of the teen’s days — and black-and-white sketches that evoke what he was drawing at the time. Together, the two combine to provide an engaging and thoughtful view of the intersection of art and life.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Inker’s Shadow appeared first on The Horn Book.

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15. Mock Caldecott Catch-up, part 1

In a recent post we asked for your local school and library Mock Caldecott lists, and several titles came up that we wanted to add to the Calling Caldecott conversation. Two of these are the subjects for today: Big Bear little chair by Lizi Boyd and The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House by Ida Pearle.

big bearBoyd’s Big Bear little chair was named a NYT Best Illustrated book this year, along with others we’re discussing this fall (A Fine Dessert; The Skunk; Tricky Vic; Leo; Funny Bones). Here’s what the NYT said about Big Bear little chair: “This ingenious take on the ‘opposites’ book shows the youngest children that big, little and tiny are all in how you look at things. Using just black, white and a velvety gray, with a bit of red, Boyd’s delightful cut paper compositions juxtapose the large and the small in unexpected ways: a ‘big meadow’ is big because it’s full of small flowers; a ‘big seal’ towers over a ‘tiny castle’ that’s made of sand.”

It is an opposites book, but it also encompasses the concept of relative size (big, little, and tiny). So it’s clever-clever. And as you can see from the cover, it has a striking shape and an equally striking palette (red, black, white, and gray) with the promise of strong, eye-catching compositions. Each individual page is striking. The art is stylish; so is the book design. The juxtapositions (of large and small) are indeed unexpected. The gouache illustrations are sometimes delicate; sometimes bold; always beautifully composed. It’s easy to see why the judges chose this book for the best illustrated list.

But who is the intended audience? The interspersed bears’ story (in which two bears eventually get matched up with her appropriate chair —and with each other) is clearly for very young readers, but the “opposites” in the intervening pages are sometimes quite sophisticated in concept. See Big Elephant/little trick. “Trick”? That’s an idea, not an object — different from and more advanced than most of the other pairs (Big Moon/little star; etc.). Visually, the use of red is inconsistent. Red almost always spotlights the “little” item on each page, but not always. Crucially, it isn’t used for the first example, where we see a “Big Plant” and a “little cocoon.” On this page the red highlights berries on the plant, not the cocoon. For the rest of the first section, though, and into the next section, red will be used for the “little” item on each page. This wouldn’t be a problem in a book for sophisticated readers, but — see the young-ish interspersed bear-chair story…

moon is going to addyThe Moon Is Going to Addy’s House is not your typical, sleepy looking-at-the-moon story. This is, rather, an ecstatic, intoxicating experience: a bacchanal for the picture-book set. In tour-de-force cut-paper collages, Pearle uses a controlled riot of vivid colors and patterns to evoke intensity and emotion. The text is much less emotional; all the feeling here is in the illustrations.

The Kirkus review said that the book is “exquisite, electrifying, soothing, and soporific, brilliant in color”; that the landscapes “throb with vitality.” The use of bright pink and deep purple is unusual and intense. Some of the double-page spreads take one’s breath away with their sheer beauty: such as the one where a striated purple sky and pink moon above and their reflection below (in a body of water) are separated by a thin stretch of dark-brown road. Other illustrations capture that universal human sense of connection with the moon: such as the one in which the girl sees the moon reflected in the car’s rear-view mirror and feels as if she could catch it in her hand (echoes of Thurber’s Many Moons?).

But in some illustrations, it’s difficult to know where to look; and although the way the moon sometimes seems to jump around in the sky may be realistic, it can be disconcerting. The book’s horizontal shape sometimes works in its favor (as in the gorgeous spread mentioned above) and sometimes to its disadvantage: see the “Look way up high / and way down low” spread, where the “high” and “low” aren’t that different.

So. Will the Real Committee have these two (very beautiful) books on its radar? Do you?

The post Mock Caldecott Catch-up, part 1 appeared first on The Horn Book.

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16. Flogometer for Mackenzie—are you compelled to turn the page?

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

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

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

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

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

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins engaging the reader with the character
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • The character desires something.
  • The character does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question.

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Also, if you think about it, the same checklist should apply to the page where you introduce an antagonist.

Mackenzie /strong> sends a rewrite of his first chapter of Flipped. The previous version is here. The rest of the chapter follows the break.

Please vote and comment. It helps the writer.

“Bella is going to die tonight. Do you understand?” I said to Elliot, my accomplice, on the way to Bella’s house. “Do you hae the Spaghettifier?” I asked Elliot.

He replied with a “Yes.” He knew that if he hadn’t had it, then he would await the same fate as Bella (especially since we just got to her house). “How will we open the door?” he asked and I burst into laughter.

“We have a portable black hole, so it should be pretty easy.” I replied. I used the Spaghettifier We snuck up into her bedroom. It was big, beautiful, and obnoxiously bright. It was almost as obnoxious as her.

I walked up to her bed and found a carcass. I felt her neck, there was no pulse. I couldn’t see the rise or fall of breath in her lungs. She was a doornail. What a fitting time to die though, in the dead of winter, in the dead of night. Nothing stirred and there were no crickets chirping tonight. “How do you kill someone who is already dead?” I yelled. Then I understood why her death bothered me so much. “She didn’t deserve it.” I sobbed. “She did nothing to me. Nothing!” I yelled. I walked home alone with a heavy heart in the rain alone, so, so alone. I cried myself to sleep. I dreamed about what caused me to try and murder her

It was the big test… and I bombed it. I knew I wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but I also knew that what I lack in left brain I make up in right brain. I was fine with this (snip)

Were you compelled to turn the page?

There are for sure some interesting things going on here, but ultimately I ended up on the confused side, and then the narrator starts to tell us about a dream. Little things got in my way—if it’s the dead of night, how come her bedroom was obnoxiously bright—if we’d been shown the lights were on or someone turned them on, okay, but that didn’t happen. I was willing to go along with the Spaghettifier as some kind of tool, but its name suggests children at play and not something involving a real death. So I'm not sure if I should take the reported death seriously. I’m going to assume that the “hae” instead of “have” is just a typo, though I guess it could be some kind of Scottish or Irish dialect.

For what it’s worth.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

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

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

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Mackenzie



. . . until I heard Bella yell “Kaliq failed his test! Kaliq failed his test!” so loud that I’m sure all of the city heard. This is pretty much all you can expect from Bella, the worst person I had ever known.

She kept yelling so, I thought had to shut her up. “Bella, what did you get on your test?” I replied. If luck was on my side she would act violent and be expelled, permanently. Then, she probably would still be alive.

Elliot, my wingman, diffused the situation before it would get out of hand by saying “You both scored horribly on your tests, okay!” He is a lifesaver… sometimes. All the other times though he’s just a pain in the neck, but, aren’t all brothers. Nobody ever fights here. There is no conflict of any kind here, so if anyone were to write a story about this city, it would have to be fiction. This city is like an old style clock because everything goes by like clockwork. The government is the face, the public are the gears. Eventually, I will be the face. Until then though, I’ll start spinning in the wrong direction to cause destruction, chaos, and to make everyone think in a new way because “we are all important”. Multiple people were preventing the fight. The government have a strict no violence policy or else you are kicked out of the city. Also, Bella probably didn’t want to get in trouble with the teacher either.

How could I think like this though? I’ve been so violent and negative. I’m too in the moment. I should have listened to Elliot.

Elliot! Where is he? I left him in the house. He’s like a little child out there. He doesn’t understand the criminal world. He’ll never make it out alive! Like Bella. Like Bella. Like Bella. I have to save him because I have a chance. I don’t need two on my killed list.

I ran all the way to Bella’s house hoping I had slept in and everyone was working. He was asleep in Bella’s room. It was still there. How did she become it? Why haven’t we cured death? We, as a city, can do anything with science, but maybe science isn’t the answer to everything. The entrance to death though is unconsciousness and Elliot is unconscious.

I woke him up. As soon as he woke up and realized I was there he asked “Why are you here? Bella is dead. You don’t want to be caught.” I explained the whole story to him and he understood. He’s always been like that. The only one I could trust. I took him home after I sprinkled my DNA all over it’s bedroom.

At his home, we made a plan. “The funeral will be tomorrow,” I told him.

He said “Kaliq, you can stay at my house until the funeral, then you should get out of town. At 5 pm I will give you rations and you can sleep with me in my bedroom.”

I agreed and Elliot left for school. Tomorrow would be a big day.

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17. NaNoWriMo Tip #18: Be Thankful That You Are Almost Done

November is coming to a close and hopefully so too is your NaNoWriMo novel. Today’s tip is: Be Thankful That You Are Almost Done.

With the Thanksgiving weekend upon us, hopefully you will have plenty of free time from your day job to put the finishing touches on your novel. Even if you are traveling to visit family and friends, be sure to set aside an hour or two a day to work on your novel (ideally before you’ve eaten too much turkey!).

This is our 18th NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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18. Heroes and Villains Unite in a Trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Series

The CW has unveiled a new trailer for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow series. The video embedded above offers glimpses of a group made up of heroes and villains from The Arrow and The Flash television shows.

Here’s more from The Wrap: “The newest trailer delves deep into the backstories of each of the team members and their adventures through time. Darvill’s character, Rip Hunter, gets particular focus as he’s the man who assembles the eight-member team in order to stop Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), a supervillain who takes over the whole planet unless they go back in time and stop him.”

The cast includes actors Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter, Franz Drameh as Jay Jackson, Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold, Victor Garber as Dr. Martin Stein, and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance. The premiere episode is scheduled to air on Jan. 21, 2016. (via Tor.com)

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19. How to Order Signed Books -- The Perfect Gift

Books are a delightful way to brighten the deep midwinter. You can pre-order an autographed copy of Flamecaster (release date 5 April 2016) or order signed copies of any of my other books, hardcover or paperback, through my local independent bookstore,  The Learned Owl Bookstore . Just indicate in the comments how you would like the book to be personalized or signed. Call the store if you have questions about your order.

If you're ordering for holiday giving, get your order in as soon as possible so we can make that magic happen in time.

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20. Thanksgiving Greetings

watercolor illustration of animals having thanksgiving dinner by Jessica Lanan

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that wherever you may be you have plenty to be thankful for.

Congratulations to Priscilla Alpaugh, for winning a signed copy of The Story I’ll Tell. Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.

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21. Announcing the 2016 Best of Extravaganza!

This is my very favorite time of the year to be a blogger!  I love giving recommendations and writing reviews all year long, but my heart just has this special love for list-making - and what better kind of lists to make than book-related lists!  Before the week of Christmas, I'll be posting Best of Lists for various genres three or four days a week.  I've got a lot of books to recommend (and a few to pan) and I'm hoping to get them posted in time that you can use them as a shopping guide if you're looking for gift recommendations.  I'll be starting my list posts on December 2 and going until I run out of genres!  I'd love for you to add any recommendations you've got to the comments section of each list!

If you've got something or someone specific in mind, shoot me an email or post in the comments - I'd love to give a personalized recommendation just for you!

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22. It's live!! Cover Reveal: South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf + Giveaway (US/Canada)

Happy Wednesday, YABC! Are our US readers ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow?!

Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for SOUTH OF SUNSHINE by Dana Elmendorf, releasing April 1, 2016 from Albert Whitman & Company: AW Teen. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Dana:

Hey, YABC! I’ve waited for this day for so long, and now I finally get to share SOUTH OF SUNSHINE’s cover with y’all. I have so much love for this story and my characters.  LGBT romances are so underrepresented, and I’m glad my book is finding a place in the world. The overall feel of the cover perfectly captures the romance and southern setting. The title treatment is absolutely gorgeous. And I’m so glad my publisher made the decision to put two girls on the cover. It’s done in such a classy way, and I couldn’t be prouder.
~ Dana Elmendorf (SOUTH OF SUNSHINE, Albert Whitman & Company: AW Teen)



Ready to see?

Scroll, YABCers! Scroll!


































Here it is!



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



by Dana Elmendorf
Release date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company: AW Teen
ISBN: 978-0807575680
About the Book
What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love? And what will she risk for acceptance? 
In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson. 
Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.
To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

b2ap3_thumbnail__DSC0603-1.jpgAbout the Author

Born and raised in small town in Tennessee, Dana now lives in southern California with her husband, two boys and her tiny dog Sookie. When she isn’t exercising, she can be found geeking out with Mother Nature or scouring the internet for foreign indie bands. After her family’s needs are met, you can find her dreaming up contemporary YA romances with plenty of kissing.

Twitter | Web | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pre-order Amazon


Giveaway Details

Five winners will each receive a signed ARC of SOUTH OF SUNSHINE (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:

What do you think about the cover and synopsis?

Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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23. बिग बॉस डबल ट्रबल

बिग बॉस डबल ट्रबल मैं अपनी सहेली मणि की tolerance के आगे नत मस्तक हूं क्योकि वो टीवी के सीरियल BIG BOSS-9 डबल ट्रबल को सीरियस होकर देखती है. इस बार मुझे एक भी पोंईट ऐसा नही मिला कि BIG BOSS देखा जाए. हैरानी है कि प्रतिभागी खुद ही रहना नही चाहते और जो आऊट […]

The post बिग बॉस डबल ट्रबल appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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24. Two Mice

Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
One house
Two Mice
Three cookies.
Premise/plot: Readers meet two mice and follow them through MANY adventures. The text is simple. And there is a definite pattern to it. One, two, three. Three, two, one. One, two, three. Three, two, one. And so forth. Because the text is so simple, in my opinion, most of the story is communicated through the details of the illustrations. For example, note the expression on the face of the mouse who only gets ONE cookie while his roommate gets TWO cookies. (The one with two cookies did get up earlier than the other mouse.)

My thoughts: I see this one as having again-again appeal for children. That is just my opinion or best guess. But there is something fun and playful and perfect about this one. I loved it. I really, really loved it. And the "really, really" was added after I read it several times. The first time I thought it was cute, it was good. But the third or fourth time through it was LOVE.

I loved everything about it. The jacket flap reads, "One house. Who lives there? Two mice. What's on their table? Three cookies. How many mice are needed for a big adventure? Two mice! You can go with them--it's as easy as one two three!" That has to be the best jacket flap I read this year. If a prize could be given for best jacket flap, this book deserves the win!!!

The story begins even before the title page. So DON'T skip past it. The story itself is wonderful and clever.

The illustrations are GREAT.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Warm vs. Cold

With the thermometer dropping, it's getting a little chilly to paint outdoors.
In this little 4x4 inch gouache study I was thinking about warm vs. cold in terms of color temperature, too. The fading warm sunlight only partially melts into the icebergs of the buildings. 

I'm using three colors plus white here: Prussian blue, burnt sienna, and cadmium yellow.

On a different topic, blog reader Jim Douglas asked:
"After following your creative habits for years now I've gleaned you often make a sketch study of a subject then move on to a new subject to make a fresh start. New sketchbook page, new subject. Sketches, especially ones as excellent as yours, can certainly stand on their own as works of art, but do you ever have the urge to develop a sketch and produce a larger scale work based on it? I've only known you to develop sketches into a larger piece of artwork as part of a commission, and I'm curious to know if you ever follow that rhythm when making art for yourself." 

Jim, thanks for the compliment and question. As you say, my sketchbooks are very much an end in themselves, a way of seeing and sharing the world. I'm not doing those paintings to sell, and am making a living in other ways. The benefit of keeping the paintings bound together in sequence in a sketchbook offsets the limitation of not being able to frame them individually on the wall. 

At the same time my sketchbook paintings (maybe I should call them "studies" rather than "sketches") are valuable to me as a means to at least three other goals. One, of course is video production. The instructional documentaries are one of my primary creative outlets at the moment and an important source of income. I'm also looking into ways of publishing those sketchbooks both digitally and physically. And, of course, I do use my sketchbooks as reference when doing studio work. 

And finally, it's funny you should ask about larger scale works, because I just completed two larger separate paintings that will be the subject of the next video. I haven't really shared those images on the blog yet. They're both concept art pieces created entirely on location. Compared to the little sketchbook pages, 11x14" and 12x16" seemed huge. The new video is in voiceover and final edit and will be released in a few weeks.

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