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1. Hat

“Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”
Henry David Thoreau

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2. Poetry Friday - From The Temple of Nature

In honor of Charles Darwin's birthday today, I'm sharing an excerpt from a book written by his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin.

From The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes (1803)

"Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world;
Earths from each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issued from the first.
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth;
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves.

"First Heat from chemic dissolution springs,
And gives to matter its eccentric wings;
With strong Repulsion parts the exploding mass,
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas.
Attraction next, as earth or air subsides,
The ponderous atoms from the light divides,
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines,
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines.
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite,
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite;
And quick Contraction with ethereal flame
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame.—
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth;
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.

Some may call this work didactic, but I think it's a fine early effort at using poetry to make science accessible to the average citizen.

I do hope you'll take some time today to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected byKimberley Moran at Written Reflections. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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3. Gail Gonzales Promoted to VP and Publisher at Rodale Books

rodale304Gail Gonzales has been promoted to vice president and publisher at Rodale Books. She first joined the company in May 2015 as vice president and associate publisher of the Trade Books division.

Gonzales will succeed Mary Ann Naples who is leaving the position for a new role at the Disney Book Group. She will report to CEO Maria Rodale.

Gonzales gave this statement in the press release: “It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role. In today’s dynamic publishing landscape, Rodale has proven itself to be an industry leader at the forefront of redefining what it means to be a successful publisher. I’m looking forward to continuing to publish the biggest and best names in the wellness space and to creating even more inspiring and empowering products for our customers to engage with.”

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4. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e February 12, 2016

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Where Real Drama Comes From (Lisa Cron)

Author Earnings Report: Amazon’s Ebook, Print, and Audio Sales (Writer unknown)

Secondary Characters (Mary Keeley)

5 Common Problems With Beginnings (Janice Hardy)

Sure, you can do your own thing, but not if you want to sell books (Kathryn Lilley)

7 Steps to Writing Success (Marie Lamba)

Before You Pitch Literary Agents, Watch Out For This One Dangerous Trait (Aine Greaney)

Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It? (Jane Friedman)

The Most Important Moment in Your Story (Larry Brooks)

Ten Penalties All Writers Must Avoid (James Scott Bell)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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5. 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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6. Week in Review, February 8th-12th: Black History Month Week 2

Week in Review

This week on hbook.com…

Black History Month

For Black History Month, we’ve selected articles by and/or about African American children’s book luminaries — one a day throughout February, with a roundup on Fridays. This week’s selections:

Starred reviews coming in the March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazine

February 2016 Notes from the Horn Book: 5Q for Tanita S. Davis, more YA about families facing serious situations, apps to take preschoolers through the day, nonfiction sports picture books, plucky fantasy protagonists

Reviews of the Week:

Out of the Box: 

Lolly’s Classroom: Fantasy and science fiction | Class #4, 2016: Feed and Far Far Away

Events calendar

See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to keep up-to-date!

The post Week in Review, February 8th-12th: Black History Month Week 2 appeared first on The Horn Book.

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7. Roiling Contradictions

AmericanahThe best book I read in my nine-month adventure of reading books only women of color was Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I composed and deleted several “reviews,” but I found it hard to get a handle on the material. The truth is that I loved the book for its two deftly-drawn protagonists and their story, but didn’t know quite what to make of the bloggier parts of the book. Ifemelu, one protagonist, has a blog and the book includes many of her articles, which are wry commentaries on race in the U.S. Were these an opportunity for Adichie to include her own commentary? Or was she showing the inner workings of Ifemelu’s mind? I had a hard time correlating the observations made by Ifemelu in her blog with the third-person glimpses into her mind.

The passage I think about the most is one where she gets a sales call from a long distance company and has a friendly but awkward conversation with the telemarketer. It’s a loaded scene for a simple phone conversation.  She accepts his compliment that she “sounds totally American,” after she tells him she is from Nigeria, but later resents it. She tells him she calls London a lot and he says he will look up the rates for France; his astonishing ignorance of geography amuses her. She visualizes him as pudgy, white, and naive, and obsessed with video games. In particular, Ifemelu sort of pities the young man for not understanding the “roiling contradictions” of the real world.

Is an appreciation for such roiling contradictions present in her own blog entries? I don’t think they are. They are amusing for the most part, sometimes have a good insight or observation, but tend to be broad-brushed. How white people think and what black people experience are represented as universal truths without roiling contradictions. If I knew Ifemelu only through her blog, I would think what I think about many blogs: passingly entertaining, but shallow and quickly tiring.

My central question about the book is whether Adichie means for readers to be struck by that contrast. If so, it is not clear enough. If not, it is a problem with the book. Mind you, I still think it’s brilliant novel and I’ve recommended it to everyone, but the bloggy parts fail for me as a critique of social media (too subtle) and fail more if this whole notion of the wisdom attained from hardship and travel doesn’t come through in the ultimate representation of Ifemelu’s experience, her own writing.

In any case, I think there is a conversation worth having. As bloggy-type commentaries becomes a bigger and bigger part of how we gather information and form opinions, the fact that they rarely appreciate roiling contradictions is very much on my mind. The whole economy of the Internet, the way clicks are baited and things go viral, relies on being able to do a quick take: give a soft elbow to the ribs like you’re nudging a friend. Whether it’s outrage or an inside joke (or both), I feel like if the prevailing McLuhanesque message is one of affinity. We find the like minded and feel less lonely.

Some who disagrees with you on the InternetThe problem is that those circles of affinity give us tunnel vision. We become less inclined to seek out opposing points of view, unless we mean to roast the author on Twitter with our like-minded friends. We become less inclined to express a slightly different point of view, because the response can be swift, unforgiving, and alienating. We become more inclined to go along with whatever everyone else is saying. And, over time, we become more like minded, more indoctrinated by the group, and more reactive to challenges from “outsiders.” From the inevitable fire-breathing Sanders-fan response to anything positive I say about Hillary Clinton, you’d barely know we have the same political values.

A while back a friend retweeted something about video games teaching you that when you’re encountering enemies, you know you are moving in the right direction. It had like a million retweets and comments that it was “brilliant.” For me it conveyed the central problem with getting your world view — like Imefelu’s telemarketer — from video games. You see not opponents, not good people with a different point of view, or even better information (heaven forbid), but “enemies.” And of course in video games, you never have a conversation. You hack and slash and defeat the enemies: that’s the point of the game. But I think this worldview has more to do with the effect of Twitter on a person’s worldview than playing video games.

Maybe I’m lapsing into my own simplicity by assuming people are as cut-and-dried as they seem in aggregate, and that they really stand behind every hastily retweeted platitude. But assuming that people were since in their appreciation of that sentiment, that life has no roiling contradictions, simply a path to find and follow, enemies to defeat, I have worries bigger than whatever we’re actually arguing about.


Filed under: Miscellaneous

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8. KING BRONTY! "Return To Witch Castle!"

Yes, we are finally returning to "Witch Castle" and here is the complete record so far, for your enlightenment and for mine. 
King Bronty and Prince Podoee finally left the pirates of the "Scurvy Shark" and took off in their little boat, the "Dino Flyer" with a promise to their father to be careful.
Today I have collected that story so far to bring us all up to date!


 I hope you enjoy this blog.  I truly enjoy making "King Bronty"!  "King Bronty" is drawn on paper then transferred to bristol board using tracing paper and a carbon-like paper.  The transferred drawing is then inked in black lines with either ink and a brush or a brush pen or a Sharpie marker.                         
Next, I use combinations of Crayola Markers, Pitt Artist's Markers, Prismacolor Markers, gouache paint and colored pencils. Then, of course, I scan each page, re-size it and post the strip for you to enjoy!    
 Please use the little PayPal button below to support "King Bronty" with any amount you wish.
Thank you!               
                                                                          John Randall York

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9. 2 Actors Cast for the Live Action Archie Comics TV Show

archie comics logoThe CW has cast two actors for the Riverdale television series pilot. Cole Sprouse will play Jughead Jones and Lili Reinhart will take on the role of Betty Cooper.

Archie Comics COO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has agreed to write the script. He will serve as an executive producer along with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter, and Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater.

Here’s more from the press release: “The show will focus on the eternal love triangle of Archie Andrews, girl-next-door Betty Cooper, and rich socialite Veronica Lodge, and will include the entire cast of characters from the comic books—including Archie’s rival, Reggie Mantle, and his slacker best friend, Jughead Jones. Popular gay character Kevin Keller will also play a pivotal role. In addition to the core cast, Riverdale will introduce other characters from Archie Comics’ expansive library, including Josie and the Pussycats.”

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10. Rise of the Wolf (2016)

Rise of the Wolf. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2016. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was excited to read Rise of the Wolf, the sequel to Mark of the Thief. (I did not reread Mark of the Thief in order to 'prepare' for this one. But after the first two or three chapters, I found myself managing just fine to remember the characters and the details.)

Nic is the hero of the story. He's a former runaway slave who is now staying with his sometimes-good-sometimes-quite-evil grandfather, Radulf.

Livia is the younger sister of the hero. She is not as defiant perhaps as Nic, but, she is more loyal to her brother than her grandfather. (The two did just meet their grandfather, and they know that he was plotting against Rome.)

Aurelia is probably the strongest female character in the book, and Nic's potential love interest as well. She is resourceful, stubborn, and never backs away from a fight. Nic mostly trusts her intentions, but, sometimes--only sometimes--would prefer her to stay far, far away from the danger.

Crispus is someone Nic has a hard time fully trusting. He is Valerius' son. Valerius was a tricky sort of 'friend' to Nic in the first book. Nic is jealous--does he have cause?--that Aurelia is friends with Crispus. Crispus declares himself mostly-mainly loyal to Nic, unless, Nic should suddenly become a traitor-ish threat to the Roman empire, in which case Crispus would have a hard time still supporting him.

Radulf is a Roman general. His loyalties are definitely questionable. He's power-hungry, ambitious, and not above using his grandson to get what he wants. He doesn't make the best first impression...or second impression. When the book opens, readers learn that he chains his grandson up at night in his room so that he can't escape.

The Praetors. The super-bad guys who are after Nic for the entire book. They want Nic to give them the key so they can find the MALICE. And once they have the MALICE and the BULLA, they want Nic to make them a JUPITER STONE. These are all magical items that wield great power and threaten to destroy life as everyone knows it--completely upsetting the Roman empire.

The plot is simple: As Nic continues to learn and use magic, his life is threatened by the Praetors. If the Praetors didn't have his mother as prisoner, Nic might consider running away from his problems with his sister and friends. But. He wants to save everyone he loves. And this leads him into dozens of confrontations with the bad guys. He has dozens of close-calls. A few of these close calls involve chariot races. But not all of them. There is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE battle at the end. And the book ends in a crime-worthy cliffhanger.

So did I like it or love it? I think I found it super-compelling as I was reading it. I found the ending frustrating because it was just WRONG to end the book the way she does. But. I found it action-packed and interesting. I mentioned that Aurelia was a love-interest, but, I want to point out there is more action than romance. There are one or two scenes where feelings are discussed, but, it is far from being a romance novel.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Little Women Bliss

I'm back to loving my life in Indiana with a grateful heart. Here is one of the reasons why.

 The DePauw University School of Music stages an opera production every year, and this year's selection is the 1998 opera by American composer Mark Adamo, Little Women. At a small liberal arts college like this, it isn't sufficient just to produce an opera. Oh, no. There must be all kinds of opportunities for campus-wide engagement with the piece.

Last fall the DePauw film series screened the 1994 film version of Little Women with Winona Ryder as Jo, which I was unable to attend as I was off campus in Boulder that semester. But last week I attended the talk by YA author Michaela MacColl about her fictional depiction of young Louisa May Alcott, The Revelation of Louisa May (hosted by the Putnam County Public Library, to get the larger community involved in all our Alcott enthusiasm).  Next week I'm looking forward to a lecture by historian Robert A. Gross on Alcott's life and work situated within the history of her hometown, Concord, Massachusetts.

As I savored the campus's Little Women festival featuring the opera of Little Women, film of Little Women, recent historical fiction making use of Little Women, and scholarly lecture on Little Women, I asked myself, "Hmm. What is missing here?" Yes: reading the actual book of Little Women! So I organized a reading group sponsored by the Prindle Institute for Ethics. The reading groups meet in the evening by the beautiful fireplace in the Prindle's Great Hall; the Prindle purchases the books for all the participants as well as wine and an array of lovely snacks.

Our group, composed of faculty from Philosophy, French, History, English, and Classics, as well as staff from admissions, the university science library, and other campus units, met for the first time last week to discuss the first half of the text. Some had never read Little Women; others hadn't read it since childhood; some were reading it yet again as a beloved oft-visited friend. I did force everybody to postpone the topic we wanted to talk about most: should Jo have married Laurie?! That will be the centerpiece of next week's meeting on the final half of the book.

I chose for us the Norton Critical Edition of the text, so our third meeting will focus on selected scholarly and critical essays included there. Our final meeting with involve a Skype visit with one of the Norton Critical Edition's editors, the brilliant and generous Anne Phillips of Kansas State University. In between the second and third meetings, we'll have time to go together to see the campus production of the opera.

But here's the best part. Two of the students in my seven-person Honor Scholar course on "The Ethics of Story" are School of Music voice students, and both have roles in the opera: one as Laurie, one as Mr. March. This week the composer himself is here on campus doing intensive coaching of the students in their roles. "Laurie" invited me to come sit on his coaching session. He sang the role so beautifully and became Laurie so completely before my eyes that I was sure Mark Adamo would find no suggestions at all for improvement, but of course Mr. Adamo had suggestions on every syllable. It was fascinating to see such attention to the details of each breath, phrasing, and gesture.

Now "Laurie" and his real-life girlfriend who is playing Jo (!!!) are going to join us at the third meeting of the Little Women reading group to talk about their interpretative choices as they developed their roles.

This feels to me like everything a liberal arts education should be and offers to me every pleasure a professor at a liberal arts college could possibly dream of experiencing.

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12. 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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13. Steven Spielberg Narrates a Video for a First Book Campaign

Steven Spielberg served as a narrator for First Book’s “Share the Magic of Storytelling” piece. The video embedded above features references to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, The BFG.

Here’s more from a First Book blog post: “Disney has donated a record 50 million books to First Book. To celebrate this milestone, Disney, ABC and First Book invite you to join the fourth annual Magic of Storytelling campaign through March 31.”

Spielberg directed a film adaptation based on Dahl’s novel. The theatrical release date has been set for July 01, 2016. Click here to watch the first movie teaser.

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14. Topsy Turvy

Tomorrow will be frigid
Or at least that's what they say,
With wind chills on the minus side - 
An indoor-staying day.

But then on Tuesday, temps will rise
To 52 degrees,
Allowing all the icy spots
To rapidly unfreeze.

I never know which jacket
Is appropriate to wear
In this topsy turvy weather,
Once considered very rare.

When unpredictable's the norm
What's surely come to pass
Is, like Alice, we have ventured forth
Beyond the looking glass.

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15. #STBAblogtour16 DAY FIVE

 The "grand finale" of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour is a virtual panel discussion amongst the various winning authors and illustrators. As always, this roundup is hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah.

The participants made comments about the experience like "Always inspiring to be included in a group of such accomplished, thoughtful authors and illustrators!" (Leslie Kimmelman), "It's wonderful to read all the blogs!" (Kathy Kacer), and "It has been an honor and a privilege getting to know all of you. See you in Charleston!" (Heidi Smith Hyde). We hope to see you as well, dear reader, in Charleston at the 51st Annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference where the Sydney Taylor winners will receive their awards!

The entire blog tour may be found here.


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And here, for the first time, is the cover of my latest children’s humorous fantasy to be released during 2016 by Crimson Cloak Publishing!


BCarefulWhatUWish4-FINAL FRONT

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17. Casting Your Characters: 16 Lovers Part 2

#storybuildingblocks,#fiction, #genre, #novel, #romance, #writingtips, #storybuildingblocks, #writingtips, #amwriting, #screenplay, @Diana_Hurwitz
Casting Characters
Last week, we began our exploration of the character mannequins presented in Story Building Blocks II and Build A Cast Workbook. Remember, each mannequin has a male/female/adrogynous counterpart. This week, we explore four more.

5. Blair

Blair’s currency is affection and admiration. If she isn’t praised for being wonderful, she deflates. She would be deeply wounded if anyone demeaned her. At the first sign of disapproval in any form, she’s gone in a flash of lightening. Blair places her relationship on top of the list. She wants a long-term commitment. She struggles to choose, but sticks with her choice forever if possible.

Blair loves deeply but is slow to warm up. Her partner may not understand just how much she cares. Few people know her extremely well. She is secretly intense while appearing outwardly light-hearted. She is vulnerable and easily hurt, though she won’t tell her partner. She expects him to “see” he has hurt her. She is disappointed when he doesn’t. When hurt, she withdraws. She hates conflict and goes to great lengths to avoid it. She is an easy going partner. She doesn’t ask for, or expect, a lot. She is traditional and organized and takes care of what needs to be done. She wants to be adored for it.

Blair feels attacked when an argument gets heated. She releases all the negative impressions and feelings she has repressed. She isn’t likely to leave, even if her partner is dissatisfied. She stays and works it out if at all possible. If she found herself with a partner who revealed his secret life, she’d try to deal with it, but eventually the negativity would chase her off.

Blair is serious about sex. It is a sacred act that should be given the time and attention it deserves. She is sensual and enjoys the physical expression of love. She shows her love through this communion. She needs positive affirmations to feel good about herself but doesn’t offer them. The SMBD subculture is the opposite of her core need.

6. Dallas

Dallas wants to be adored for being Dallas. She wants her partner to appreciate her sense of fun and adventure. Everything is fun until the party is over. She likes exploring all the options. Once she commits, she intends to stay. She might not if the situation grows tense. She always wonders if there are better bachelors behind other doors. Dallas might take up SMBD as a sport as long as it doesn’t get too heavy or intense. The minute things turn dark, she’s off to chase the sunshine.

Dallas is passionate and fun-loving. She cares about her partner’s happiness. She is flexible and open to suggestion. She takes her partner’s emotional temperature frequently, which irks some mannequins. The problems set in when she encounters conflict and confrontation. She takes criticism, even objective statements, as a personal attack. Her partner would have to be very, very careful of what he said. Conflict stresses her. She represses her initial response for the sake of smoothing things over, but continues to fester. She gives in to avoid a protracted disagreement. She ignores a problem until she can’t. This just delays the inevitable.

Dallas is loyal and views it as her responsibility to fix things that aren’t working. She isn’t one to give up easily. If things get too intense, restrictive, or boring, she moves on. She finds it hard to do so and blames herself for the failure.

Dallas is playful and creative. She has a rich fantasy world which she applies to sex. She sees sex as a natural expression of her love. She needs positive affirmations. She may fish for reassurance and compliments. If she doesn’t get them, she lavishes them on her partner in the hopes of sparking them.

7. Hadley

Hadley wants to be adored for breathing. Since she is adorable, her partner usually complies. If the adoration fades, trouble sets in. She would be deeply offended if anyone criticized her, much less spanked her. The relationship would die off instantly.

Hadley isn’t overly interested in being tied down (or tied up). She places a relationship on the back burner. She struggles with long-term commitment and likes to explore all the bachelors. Hadley loves to be in love and struggles when the initial adrenaline rush tapers. She may overcome her desire to flit and settle down, as long as the relationship isn’t too restrictive or her partner too critical.

Hadley loves to date and encourages her partner to enjoy life as much as she does. She is weak at planning and follow-through. She takes every day as it comes and wants to grab the gusto. If that means changing plans, she changes plans. She doesn’t ask for much. She wants to be happy and wants her partner to be happy. She schedules a busy social life. She changes things to keep them from becoming dull, whether it’s rearranging the furniture or their lives. She hates to miss out on anything she considers fun. She doesn’t like vague promises or “we’ll see” as an answer. If you stated it, you promised. She is bored by analyzing the past and worrying about the future. Tomorrow will take care of itself. She ends a necessary conversation. She would not deal well with someone who likes to debate for fun.

Hadley isn’t good with conflict and lashes out angrily in the moment with words she can’t take back. She retreats when criticized or restricted. A controlling partner sends Hadley off to find someone more fun to play with.

Hadley energetically embraces romantic love. She seeks out and enjoys intimate contact. She is tactile and sensual. She is generous, warm, and highly motivated to make her partner happy. She is lavish with loving affirmations. She isn’t big on gifts, but can provide them when requested. She might go along with her partner's suggestions as long as they remain playful. The moment the tone shifts, she’s gone.

8. Shelby

Shelby wants to be honored and respected. As long as her partner makes her feel respected, things are fine.

She is loyal and committed. If she isn’t in a permanent relationship, she continually searches for one. Once committed, she places her relationship at the top of her list. On a subconscious level, she feels vaguely dissatisfied with all of her relationships because they are never truly “ideal.”

Shelby seeks a harmonious, loving relationship and works hard to make it a success. She may need reminders to do the bill-paying and housekeeping. She often pushes routine tasks to the bottom of the priority pile. That annoys a partner who expects her to be on top of things. Once committed, she may romanticize a bad relationship in her own mind as a form of protection.

She may attribute virtues to her partner that he lacks and place him on a pedestal. She struggles to reconcile the idealistic romance novel relationship with the demands of a real one. She overlooks imperfections for the sake of connection. She avoids conflict and confrontation. So if her partner decided he wanted to play a few games, she’d be offended. 

If she ends up with a partner that is all action, no talk, she grows resentful. She values personal space and the freedom to do her own thing. If her partner respects and supports her, she thrives. She is not the possessive or jealous type. She understands her partner’s need to indulge in his own pursuits. She respects his privacy and independence. She rejects hints that something is going on and firmly defends her partner while secretly worrying that she has done something wrong to drive him away. She might not join in, but could turn a blind eye to her partner's afterhours hobby.

Shelby resents a controlling spouse, so the minute a partner tried to dominate her, she’d start figuring out a way to escape. Her need to avoid conflict and criticism is a problem. No matter how a comment is presented, she takes it personally. She responds with irrational emotion. Her distress, and immediate assumption that she is somehow at fault, make her lash out. She manipulates her partner through guilt to obtain the positive feedback she craves. It is a very unhealthy dynamic. She would not leave easily, but will if things become unsatisfactory enough.

Shelby is slow in letting someone close. Once trust has been established, she embraces the opportunity to express her intense love and affection. She is affirming and affectionate. She values the romantic aspect over the physical aspect. She places her partner’s pleasure above her own.

Next week, we will meet four more mannequins.

For more about how to craft characters, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, available in paperback and E-book.

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18. New York Public Library Team Creates an Interactive Map of Fictional Romances

nypl logoDo you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend?

The New York Public Library team created a map of fictional romances set in New York City. According to the organization’s blog post, a group of book experts shared some of “their favorite romantic scenes that take place in the city.”

This interactive map features several well-known spots such as The Museum of Natural History, The Strand bookstore, and the 7 train. Some of the books that provided these locations include The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. Follow this link to view the map.

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19. 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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20. It's Live!! Cover Reveal: ECHO OF THE WITCH by Jen Wilde + Giveaway (International)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for ECHO OF THE WITCH by Jen Wilde, releasing March 1, 2016 from Limitless Publishing. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Jen: Hey YABC! I’m Jen Wilde, and I’m so excited to reveal the cover of...

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21. Five superhero shows put to the Bechdel test; only one fails

theflashLast week, fellow Beat writer Alex Jones wrote this article about the TV show Arrow and it's treatment of female characters. I don't really follow Arrow, so I can't say whether I agree with his assessment. But the premise got me thinking about whether any of these shows could pass the Bechdel test, i.e. the new standard for fictional female characters.

5 Comments on Five superhero shows put to the Bechdel test; only one fails, last added: 2/12/2016
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22. Book Launch: Compare and Contrast Books

Mammals SharksDolphins

It’s nonfiction Friday and we are featuring two new books that launched this week. Mammals by Katharine Hall and Sharks and Dolphins by Kevin Kurtz!

Written for young nature enthusiasts the Compare and Contrast Book series takes children into the wild with beautiful photographs and simple text to explain complicated concepts.

Katharine-Hall2014Author Katharine Hall began the series with Polar Bears and Penguins showing children that these animals live at opposite ends of the earth. Then she dove into plant life with Trees and flew to the sky with Clouds. Hall set her sights on slithering and slimy creatures comparing the similarities and differences in Amphibians and Reptiles even introducing the field of herpetology to young readers. This week Mammals joins the lineup comparing animals that live on land and in the sea along with two-legged and four-legged animals.

kurtz_kevinTeaming up with Hall, aquatic educator and expert Kevin Kurtz joined the Compare and Contrast Book series releasing Sharks and Dolphins this week. The no-nonsense facts will help young readers understand that although both of these animals live in the salty ocean each has a different way of life.

Extend the learning with great activities in our Teaching Activities Guide. This, along with author interviews and more information about the series is available on each book’s homepage. Visit Mammals or Sharks and Dolphins to learn more.

SharksDolphins_TA 1

Win your very own copy of each of these books on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mammals by Katharine Hall


by Katharine Hall

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sharks and Dolphins by Kevin Kurtz

Sharks and Dolphins

by Kevin Kurtz

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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23. 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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24. Reading Habits on Valentine’s Day: INFOGRAPHIC

Digital publishing community Wattpad has created several infographics exploring reading habits around Valentine’s Day.

One graphic reveals that 9 percent of readers read a romance on the holiday last year. Another breaks out smut versus romance. Another breaks down reading behaviors by state.

We have the series of graphics for you after the jump.

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25. ANNOUNCEMENT: How Charise Harper’s CRAFTY CAT Will Teach Kids to Embrace Their Inner Strength Through Art!

2From First Second Books comes a new series about a young girl and her artistic alter ego!

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