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1. Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan

 

 

KNIGHT AVENGED
Circe of Seven, #2
Released July 15

Alone in a world on the brink of war…two unlikely allies will discover a love greater than time.

Exiled from her home, powerful oracle Cosmina Cordei holds the key to uniting those protecting mankind from evil. But just as she makes her way into the holy city to perform an ancient rite, the enemy closes in for the kill.

Drawn by a destiny he won’t accept…elite assassin, Henrik Lazar, detests the mystical curse handed down by his mother. But when the sorcery in his blood is activated and past pain comes back to haunt him, his new abilities come into play and he must learn to control them.

Rescued by Henrik in the heat of battle, Cosmina must decide whether to trust the assassin who loathes the goddess she serves or face certain death on her own. Forced into an untenable position, Henrik is left with a terrible choice—protect the magical Order he despises, or deny destiny and lose the woman he loves forever.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Avenged-Circle-Seven-2-ebook/dp/B008H5VWVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398342253&sr=8-1&keywords=knight+avenged

So pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t had a chance, grab the first book in the series, Knight Awakened, too and settle in for a wild, magic-filled ride.

BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/o_KdxrTIIlU

 

KNIGHT AWAKENED
Circe of Seven, #1

In AD 1331, warlord Vladimir Barbu seizes control of Transylvania. But in spite of his bloody triumph, his claim to the throne remains out of reach. The king of Hungary opposes his rule, the Transylvanian people despise his brutal ways, and the high priestess needed to crown him has vanished without a trace. But Barbu hasn’t come this far only to be thwarted by a woman. He unleashes his best hunters to track her down and bring her to him — dead or alive. For Xavian Ramir, killing is the only life he has ever known. Torn from his family when he was a child, he was trained from an early age to be an elite assassin. But now he longs for something more, vowing to start anew after one last job. The bounty on his target’s head is enough to set him up for good — if he can resist the long-dead conscience that stirs to life when he meets his beautiful mark. Afina Lazar never wanted to become high priestess, but the brutal murders of her beloved mother and sister leave her no choice. Now she is running for her life, desperate to protect the magical amulet entrusted to her care. But when Barbu’s assassin comes for her, she realizes her only chance of stopping the warlord’s rise to power is to convince this enigmatic — and handsome — hunter that she is more valuable alive than dead. Dramatic and fast-paced, Knight Awakened is a stirring love story between two people searching for a second chance in a magical world of assassins, warlords, unearthly beasts, and nonstop adventure.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Awakened-Circle-Coreene-Callahan/dp/1455885908/ref=la_B006NAHH48_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1349251261&sr=1-4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the only girl on all guys hockey teams from age six through her college years, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write about them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally succumbed to her overactive imagination and returned to her first love: writing. And when she’s not writing, she’s dreaming of magical worlds full of dragon-shifters, elite assassins, and romance that’s too hot to handle. Callahan currently lives in Canada with her family and writing buddy, a fun-loving golden retriever.

Connect with Coreene:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

http://www.coreenecallahan.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coreene-Callahan/173981189346509

https://twitter.com/coreenecallahan

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5321960.Coreene_Callahan

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

A signed copy if Knight Avenged & some dragon swag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Knight Avenged by Coreene Callahan appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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2. Whisper Down the Lane

Photo by Laurel Turton
I had the pleasure to perform in an Opera-Happening by Catherine Kontz and Ellan Parry who have made many strange and beautiful things in the past...
"Whisper Down the Lane" was a fringe event at the Tete a Tete Opera festival that's running around Kings Cross at the moment.

"Do you believe everything you read? Can you verify the source of the information and how it was passed on? Can you follow the trail? Is it a spin? Is it rumour? Is it actually true?
Even the most trivial snippet of news, however manipulated or bona fide it may be, is promoted to a worthier level as soon as it is written down in black and white. Unlike the elusive spoken word, evaporating instantly and leaving behind only the memory of its sound and meaning, the printed word weighs heavier, lives longer and comes to be literature! It becomes the truth. But can you trust it?
Expect fun tongue twisting imbroglios and misconstrued iterations 'whispered' around Kings Cross."


Photo by Claire Shovelton

Photo by Catherine Kontz








Photos by Laurel Turton (unless indicated otherwise)

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3. Author Interviews with Stephanie Diaz, Susan Dennard and Laurie Stolarz!

Stephanie Diaz, Extraction

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

My inspiration for writing Extraction came from a question that popped into my head out of nowhere: "What if the moon were poisonous?" I built a world around that and dropped characters into the middle of it.

How long did you work on the book?

The first draft of Extraction only took about two months to write. But it took another eight months of revising off and on before I finished the draft that landed me an agent. A couple more revision passes happened before the book sold to an editor, and two more happened after that. So, the revision process was by far the longest.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was quite long, but I started young. I finished my first full-length novel at age eleven and started pitching it to agents shortly afterward. That novel didn't fly (and no one else will ever read it), so I wrote another, and then another when the second one didn't land me an agent either. The third one, Extraction, did the trick. I was nineteen when I signed with an agent, and twenty when the book sold to St. Martin's.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Most of the time I write at home in my bedroom, usually with movie soundtracks streaming through my headphones. If I need a change of scenery, I'll go to the local library or a Starbucks.

What's some advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

My biggest writing advice is to keep writing even when you're afraid your work isn't good enough and to always trust your instincts. Also, read often and widely, anything you can get your hands on.

~~~

Extraction is Stephanie Diaz's debut novel and it arrived on shelves on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads












****

Susan Dennard, Strange and Ever After

How long did you work on the book?

This book took me about 3 months to write and revise before I turned it in. In some ways, it was the easiest of my trilogy to write because I was familiar with the characters and knew how the plot needed to wrap up. On the other hand, it was the most emotionally wrenching of the stories. (I must've cried a million tears.)


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I get up at 5 AM every day (weekends too), make a cup of coffee, and write at least 1000 words before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, I head back to work until the early afternoon. :) Some days, the writing is great, I'll write 5K, and I'll save every word. Other days, the writing is awful, I barely reach 1000, and I throw it all out the next day. But I find that a little bit everyday--no matter what--eventually gets me over the finish line.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. This was advice given to me by my agent early on in my career, and it really resonated with me. I think writers of all publication stages (aspiring, agented, debut, long career) get impatient--we want to finish this draft now and sell this book now and reach readers NOW! But there's really no rush. Unlike many other professions, you can write until the day you die. Plus, very few authors are successful right out the gate. A solid career takes many years and many books to build.

~~~

Susan Dennard is the author of Something Strange and Lovely, and A Darkness Strange and Lovely with Strange and Ever After hitting shelves this past week. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads














***



Laurie Stolarz, Welcome To The Dark House

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

A lot of readers ask me if I ever get my ideas from dreams or nightmares. The truth is that I don't. I don't really dream too much – not that I can remember, anyway. But about two years ago, I did have a nightmare and Welcome to the Dark House is the result. I dreamed about a contest in which horror film fanatics (all of them eagerly awaiting the next film in a certain famed director's cult-followed movie series) enter a contest in which they have to submit their worst nightmare. The winners would get flown from all over the country to see the director's long-awaited, highly anticipated film. As the winners arrive, they couldn’t be more excited. The place where they’re staying has been hand-tailored to all of their tastes. They can’t wait to meet the director and see the film. This is a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity - or so it seems. My nightmare continued, and let’s just say there’s a creepy amusement park involved, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll have to read the book;)

How long did you work on the book?

It took me about seven months to write the first draft and then another six months to edit it (delete, add, reconsider, rework, strengthen, tighten, tweak, repeat).

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My initial path to publication was a rough one. I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the young adult supernatural/paranormal genre). It took me over a year to sell my first novel. I have a folder filled with rejection letters. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive young adult market.” That same young adult novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, has sold over 200,000 copies, has been translated into numerous different languages, has appeared on many different award lists, and was optioned by Blondie Girl Productions (Ashley Tisdale's production company) in partnership with Mandalay Entertainment, and sold to ABC Family for a TV series.

When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, after I received my first – or my 40th rejection letter – I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my career. BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES came out in 2003 and it's still in print. I followed "Blue" up with WHITE IS FOR MAGIC, SILVER IS FOR SECRETS, RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE, and BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS, all published by Llewellyn/Flux.

I’ve also published several books with Disney/Hyperion: BLEED (2006) and PROJECT 17 (2007); these are companion books to one another, though stand-alone titles. I also published my five-book TOUCH series with Disney/Hyperion, the first book of which is DEADLY LITTLE SECRET (2008), and now WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, the first book in my DARK HOUSE series is also with Disney Hyperion.

I’m grateful to have been very busy with work after publishing my first novel.


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc.

When I’m on deadline, I write ten pages per week, revising as I go along. I normally work at home, though I can also work pretty much anywhere - coffee shops, waiting rooms, libraries, the car. I don’t have too many requirements, but a cup of strong black coffee is always nice.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

My biggest piece of advice is to persevere. There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10, or even 50 rejection letters. Be open to learning and to getting better in your craft. If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again. Never pay reading fees while trying to get published – ever. Do your homework. Know to whom you’re sending your query letter, who that person’s clients are, what that person’s track record is (i.e. the details of his or her most recent acquisitions), and what that person is looking for. Every letter should be personalized and reflect that you’ve done your research. And, lastly, consider joining a writers group. There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

~~~

Laurie Stolarz is the YA author of the Touch series, with Welcome to The Dark House coming out on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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4. Still More Ebooks This Week! The Wake By Paul Kingsnorth

Last night I downloaded Paul Kingsnorth's debut novel The Wake, which is on the long list for this year's Man Booker Prize. I'm not really into literary fiction, but this is also genre fiction, which I do love. It's set in 1066(and all that, okay, it STARTS in 1066) and is not about celebrating a dead person's life but about a rebellion in the fens country against the newly arrived Normans. It happened. The story of Hereward's rebellion is a part of history, though it's been fictionalised a lot. Actually, there was a wonderful, beautiful novel, Saxon Tapestry, by Sile Rice, which I read while playing mediaeval church music to get me in the mood.

But this is different. I've only started reading, but the novel is in Old English - sort of. Even the author admits he had to play around with it or it would be even harder to read than it is. He cals it a "shadw language" that gives you the feel of the real thing.

Now, I did a semester of OE at uni, though I ended up focusing on Middle English because you couldn't do both and I was interested in doing my Honours thesis on King Arthur and Malory wrote in ME, not OE. I was quite good at it in the limited amount I did, because I had a background in Yiddish, which is related to mediaeval German, which is related to OE. So I'll manage this book a lot more easily than the average Joe or Josephine and even I'm going to take a while  to finish it. 

That said, I've found through reading it aloud that the general text and the dialogue is basically in modern English without the slang. If it wasn't using OE names and spelling for things, it really wouldn't be too hard, so stick with it. You'll get the hang of it. I'd suggest the ebook version, as the publisher has, I believe, done it as a manuscript between stiff cardboard covers and when you just want to read a book on the way in to work, that could be a nuisance. But up to you. 

It is, anyway, a brave experiment by the author. He could have sold it to a regular publisher if he'd just written it in modern style but he refused to change it and ended up instead going with a small press, Unbound, that has the policy of asking the author to crowd fund his or her book. He managed to get 400 pre-orders and here he is, up for a huge prize! Clearly his faith in his book as it was worked out. 

 I don't blame him, anyway; it must have taken a HUGE amount of research to get this done, not to mention getting the style just right. No convenient spell or grammar check on the computer - actually, you'd have to turn it off or go crazy.

Good luck to him!

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5. Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Sharpshooting

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 

Lego Storm Trooper

Courtesy of William Warby @ Creative Commons

Description: Shooting with incredible precision and accuracy. In most circumstances, this talent is applied to those shooting guns, because advances in modern weaponry makes it easier to hit one’s target. But with a little creative world building and foundational support, there’s no reason that sharpshooting can’t apply to other distance weapons as well:  slingshots, darts, bows, javelins, axes, knives, boomerangs, etc.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: a steady hand, good distance vision, being able to remain still for long periods of time

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: patience, determination, calmness, self-control

Required Resources and Training: Practice is obviously important if one wants to learn to shoot well. Practice perceiving distances, anticipating and planning for the wind, shooting different kinds of targets, shooting in different kinds of light—distance shots are impeded by many unseen, difficult-to-anticipate factors. While natural ability is an asset, consistent practice can make the difference between lucky shots and expert ones.

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: assassins, hunters, military personnel, and Olympians. Sharpshooters are often portrayed as very detailed, nit-picky, OCD types who take their ability very seriously. To turn the cliché on its ear, consider adding traits that defy the stereotype: laziness, naiveté, playfulness, sentimentality, etc.

A good example of a sharpshooter who doesn’t run true to form is Private Daniel Jackson from Saving Private Ryan—a gifted sharpshooter who humbly accepts his ability as a God-given gift that enables him to do a necessary job.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • when hunting is necessary to one’s survival
  • when the story resolution is dependent upon the hero hitting something very small that’s very far away (think Luke Skywalker vs. The Death Star, just…with sharpshooting skillz instead of mad Jedi skillz)
  • when one would prefer to injure or startle an opponent rather than kill him/her outright
  • in a kill-or-be-killed scenario
  • in a hostage situation
  • at a funhouse carnival midway, when it’s imperative to win a certain prize for a certain someone
  • when playing paintball, dodgeball, or other competitive sports

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Sharpshooting appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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6. The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.

But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

I've spent five minutes looking at synonyms for 'surreal' but none of them quite fit this novel - 'whimsical' is too flippant and 'absurd' doesn't sound complimentary and 'dreamlike' belies the sinister aspects. The Astrologer's Daughter leans towards the incredible and the extraordinary without ever stepping right over into paranormal. There are parts of it that feel not-quite-realistic. The astrology is detailed and authentic (or at least authentic-sounding - I wouldn't be able to tell). Joanna, for a character that never actually appears, is utterly fascinating. There is a surreal aspect to this novel but it is still very much cemented in our reality: the city of Melbourne is a beautifully evoked setting, drawn with much affection.

It is not quite like any other YA novel I have read, a fabulous mash-up of genres. The plot is beautifully constructed but not at the expense of character development. There is resolution but there also isn't resolution. I thought it was leading towards something but then it ended in another way entirely - it ends in very thrilling fashion, all the same. I think if you are looking for a novel that is refreshingly different - complex and curious and a bit not-of-this-world - this is maybe the novel for you. I really enjoyed it.

The Astrologer's Daughter on the publisher's website.

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7. THE TIME FETCH by Amy Herrick - Guest Post and Giveaway!


Amy Herrick On writing THE TIME FETCH,
her first book for young readers

      I’ve always wanted to write about the end of December when the wheel comes around and the old year reaches its end. We modern guys, we tinsel up the streets and devote ourselves to jollification and fail to notice that the days are growing shorter and shorter and something dark is moving toward us. With the passing of the years we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into forgetfulness. But the ancients knew what was happening when they sat around their fires in caves, when they erected their great watching circles of stones. They felt the implacable turning of the earth and the cold wheeling of the stars, and they stood together and pushed valiantly back against the darkness. What came would be terrible. Or wonderful. For a long time I’d been searching for a way to tell a story about this, but I could but never find my handle. It wasn’t until right in the middle of one of our December holiday parties that an idea came to me. We’ve been throwing this party for years. It’s a tradition that has been passed down from my side of the line. My mother threw such a party and her mother before her. For our family, it has grown into a reckless mix of Christmas, Chanukah, and Saturnalia celebrations. Every year we sit down in November and make a reasonably sized guest list, and in the following weeks my husband and my sons, without consulting me, invite everybody else they run into. It’s true that lots of people will bring food, but each day in the weeks preceding the party, the guest list swells. I come right up to the brink of losing my mind. There will not be enough time to get it all done. Now I must add to the multitude of everyday chores and interruptions all the sugar plum fairy tasks of holiday schlepping and cleaning and baking. There will be reindeer cookies and six-pointed star cookies, latkes and a gingerbread house, spinach pies and lasagna, a turkey and a ham and smoked fish. I will decorate every doorway and window, inside and out, with lights and evergreens. The menorah’s candles will burn bravely against the ticking of the clock. Our tree will look out upon the street, hung to within an inch of its life with birds and bells and chocolate Santas and the little blown-glass carousels passed down to me from my mother.
      A few years ago, at the very topmost moment of the turning of the year, smack in the middle of one of these parties, I sat down for the first time in weeks. Slightly delirious, starving, and victorious. As always, I had no clear idea how I had gotten it all done in time. Outside, the cold and the dark pressed their faces to the window, but in here was light and warmth and everybody I loved. Over on the other side of the room, musical instruments were being toodled and tuned and tapped, an electric piano, a guitar, a violin, a set of bongo drums. Someone handed me a plate of food and a glass of wine, and my oldest friend, Kate, took a seat by my side. I’ve known her since we were six. Our moms were pals. “I swear,” she said, “it comes around faster and faster every year. I don’t know how you get this all done.” (Photo Credit: Breukellen Riesgo)
      I laughed. “I was just thinking the same exact thought.”
      “Doesn’t it seem to you our mothers had more time in their days?” she pondered. “More hours?” It was true. Our childhoods had felt so much roomier. It was then that the thought popped into my head and I said it out loud.
      “Wow. Wouldn’t it be weird if it turned out that something had gotten into our world and was stealing our time? I mean, what if all our minutes are just a little bit shorter than they used to be, and we just haven’t noticed it yet?”
      She looked at me nervously. She is easily spooked. “Who would do that? Who would steal time? What would they do with it?”
      Those questions, of course, I had no ready answers for, but I knew I had the beginning of my winter solstice story, the turning of the wheel, a time thief, and a gathering of friends to fight off the darkness and the cold.

Bio: Amy Herrick is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Every morning, she and her dog take a long walk in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, looking for adventure. They’ve seen and heard many wondrous things there, some of which have served as inspiration for this story.

GIVEAWAY!
Algonquin Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of THE TIME FETCH to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

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8. Things that no-one tells you about publishing: deadlines - Cavan Scott

Aaaargh!

That's the noise I'm making today. Why? Because this blog post is an hour or so late going up online. Quick, hit me with a stick ancient deadline-gods.

Douglas Adams famously said: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by!"

I'm the other way. I have a pathological fear of missing deadlines. It comes from my magazine background. My first ever job in publishing wasn't in editorial but in print production, sending the files - long before digital - to the printers. Most of the time, this meant I was in the hands of the editorial teams. If they were late, I was late and would have to field increasingly angry calls from my contact at the printers, worried about the yawning gap appearing their print slots.

Now, as a work-for-hire writer, I'm forever juggling deadlines. But one thing no-one ever, ever mentions when you start out is that deadlines can shift when you least expect it, which can have a house of cards effect. It could be as simple as having to rely on materials sent by a publisher to write your book. If the materials are late, it knocks everything back. Usually the publisher will try and give you a new deadline, but it's not always possible. And if they do, that can impact on another project.

I've had another case recently when a big deadline suddenly came forward as the the publication date came forward six months. Cue much frantic rescheduling and biscuits. (Biscuits always help)

Usually, despite the stress, such goalpost-moving is manageable, even if it means burning the midnight oil from time to time and, in one extreme case last year, cancelling a holiday. And, by and large, publishers are understanding, especially when they've made the change. It's just another of those things you're never really told when you start out in this crazy business. Hmmmm, perhaps we should start a list of things you should expect but no-one ever talks about...

Anyone got any others?



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9. A Little Shout-Out to the Kidlit Con...

"Difference. Unlikeness. Variety. Multiformity. Diversity. It’s not even really easy to define terms. When one person says “diverse” another person nervously hears race, or ethnicity, or gender. But diversity in children’s lit can be – and... Read the rest of this post

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10. #618 – Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog by Jackie Clark Mancuso

9780615545424-cover.

Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog

written & illustrated by Jackie Clark Mancuso

presenting Hudson

distributed by Small Press United         6/05//2013

978-0-615-54542-4

Age 4 to 8     36 pages

.

“When Hudson, an adventurous Norwich Terrier, moves to Paris, he loves the new sights and smells. But when he tries to make friends, he is surprised to discover that the dogs only speak French. Little Hudson’s desire to make friends and thrive in his new environment is so strong that he learns a new language. Hudson becomes a Parisian, or Paris-Chien, (chien means dog in French).”

Opening

“Hi. My name is Hudson. My mom is a writer and we’ve come to live in Paris for a year.”

Review

Poor Hudson, the real-life dog who owns author/illustrator Mancuso, he now lives in a new culture, with a new language, and one he does not understand or speak. Hudson tries to make friends, but cannot understand anything the French pooches are saying. He wants to go back home. Mom said no, but did have an idea.

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I like the beginning of Paris-Chien. Hudson tells us about life as a dog in Paris. People take their beloved pooches everywhere.  One guy even takes his dog to work at a shoe store where he greets people. The dog also greets entering customers. How cool is that? Even restaurants accommodate dogs with a human; sometimes with the best table. Hudson also goes to all sorts of places, along with his mom. No matter how he tried, poor Hudson cannot communicate with any other dog.

The story flows nicely from point to point. When Hudson takes lessons in French—Mom’s brilliant idea, taught by a French Poodle (of course)—he begins to pick up the language and other dogs can now understand him. Hudson even found himself a girlfriend! She is a lovely looking French poodle. Did you expect any other breed? The illustrations are nice. Done in gouache, the bright areas are nearly flawless and the lighter areas give the illustrations texture. I love Hudson as he studied—with heavy black glasses perched on his snout.

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Children who like dogs will love Paris-Chien, as will adults. Anyone who has experienced the dog culture of Paris will recall memories of time spent there on each page. The animals are adorable, with many breeds represented. There is also a cat, and a squirrel (which is risky given how dogs take off after the rodents). Ex-pat Mancuso’s Parisian dogs are obedient and stay where the illustrator places them in the real Parisian locations. The funny and unexpected twist in the story is good.

Dog parks are finally starting to appear throughout the US, but with Paris dogs having nearly free reign (going to work, and in and out of restaurants. When Hudson cannot find a place to play, and the park he finally finds does not allow dogs—the only one in all of Paris—I loved the twist. Inside the back cover is a list of French words with their English counterpart. Maybe kids who read about Hudson will learn French right long with the smart ex-pat canine. Debut author / illustrator Jackie Clark Mancuso lived in Paris with her dog, Hudson. She based the locations on places she and Hudson frequent.  Now that he knows some French, Hudson is a happier dog, willing to somplete their tour of Paris.

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PARIS-CHIEN: ADVENTURES OF AN EX-PAT DOG. Text and illustrations copyright ()C 2012/2013 by Jackie Clark Mancuso.  Reproduced by permission of the author, Jackie Clark Mancuso, Los Angeles, CA.

Buy Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesauthor’s websiteat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Jackie Clark Mancuso, at her website:   http://jackiemancuso.com/

Find more books the Small Press United website:   http://www.smallpressunited.com/

French Press.

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paris chien adventures of an ex pat dog

 

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: chinldren's book reviews, dogs, Hudson, Jackie Clark Mancuso, making friends, Paris, Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog, picture book, Small Press United

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11. Query Question: Should an introvert try for a writing career?

Greetings oh cartilage-finned QOTKU,

I happen to know a young lady who is immensely talented at writing. However, she is also VERY introverted. And by introverted, I mean that she has a minor disability (which is possibly worse to her mind than it really is, but still) which makes it unusually stressful for her to meet new people, speak in public, and sometimes even travel. I can relate to her on a smaller scale – at least I no longer vomit in anticipation of social gatherings; age and the necessity of holding an actual job go a long way toward lessening that kind of thing. Plus, you just learn to fake it. However, it’s one thing to overcome a bad case of shyness and another thing to have a real problem that is sometimes recognized and understood by the general public, and sometimes not.

This woman asked my advice on whether or not she’s wise under these conditions pursue a career at writing. On the one hand I wanted to say HOLY COW, YES (she’s so talented!). On the other hand I wanted to say, DO YOU LIKE GIN? Seriously though, here’s the thing: I’ve been told that promoting your work – regardless of genre – is of vital import. I know that many (most?) writers are introverts, and I imagine that giving readings/doing book signings/ attending release parties is probably difficult for a lot of us. But for my friend, this is the stuff of nightmares.

I know that if anyone can be trusted to deliver the straight poop on this (or any) subject, it’s you. What is your advice to someone who would have a hard time with the social aspect of the writing biz?


Pursue a career in writing? Please, hold my tiara while I gasp for air. I'd sooner advise her to pursue a career in taxi-dancing.

"A career" implies that this is how she will earn her daily bread. That's not something most writers can do. Most writers need a full time day job and a spouse to make ends meet.

However.

If you were to ask me if this woman, lovely and talented as she is, should write with the goal of being published, I give that my rousing support.

Writing is how many people express themselves creatively, how they learn to think clearly and communicate well.  It's one of the most satisfying things in the world to know you've said something with pith and vinegar.

To connect with readers, to have readers write to say they find value, or solace, or entertainment in your words, well...I've never done heroin but I'm thinking that feeling of euphoria might come close.

Of course she should write.  All that other stuff is just an excuse not to sit down, stare at the wall, and commence with "it was a dark and stormy night."



And if her writing requires her to have a public presence, well, we'll solve that problem when we get there.  You won't achieve anything in this life if the only thing you can see are reasons you shouldn't try something.

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12. Soldering in the Library

It has almost been one year since my library opened our makerspace for kids, cleverly branded the T|E|A Room for technology, engineering, and the arts, by Kiera Parrott. While we have seen a flood of new experiences in the library due to the growth in STEAM-related programming, the most inspiring thus far have been T|E|A Room family programs. The majority of maker programs offered could have easily been transformed into family programs, and our plan is to combine this new wave of library programming with our desire to grow intergenerational activities in the community.

A grandfather and his grandson working on their skill badge. Photo courtesy of author.

A grandfather and his grandson working on their skill badge. Photo courtesy of author.

One program that caused families to make the library a destination point one cloudless spring day was the Intro to Soldering class. Neither my colleague nor I had ever soldered anything before, and to be quite honest we both couldn’t even tell if the L was silent! Fortunately there were many reasonably priced soldering kits available to teach families as well as ourselves. We also made it a point to ask the library for assistance and both the Assistant Director and Building Engineer graciously offered to help us with supplies, and even gave us a tutorial on soldering basics.

The project we decided to use, mostly for its simplicity, was the Skill Badge from the Maker Shed. This is a perfect introduction to soldering and because the families learned so quickly we were able to make multiple blinking robots. Here are some tips for any librarians who may want to take their makerspace programs to the next level with soldering:

  • Safety First: Make sure to provide all the necessary items to ensure safety. This includes safety goggles for both parents and kids. Check to see within the community who might be able to donate or loan goggles for the program. In the beginning of the class I stress listening, wearing goggles, asking for help, and never touching the tip of the soldering iron. One thing I noticed was that online there were many images of kids soldering without safety goggles. I made it a point to not use those images in the class. Also, make sure to purchase lead-free solder when working with kids. It’s difficult to find, but available online.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: I’ve definitely winged it for some programs, but with soldering that’s not an option. You want to be knowledgeable about the process so you are best equipped to help your participants. If you are terrified (like me) then ask some of the library staff to assist. I discovered many staff members and parents had soldered before and were more than willing to lend a hand. It only took two skill badges before I got the hang of it, and both of blinking robots’ eyes lit up with ease.
  • Provide Visuals: I found it helpful to make each step visible to help guide us through the activity. Since the project we purchased had clear instructions on the website, it was easy to use the photos and text to explain how all the parts came together. I created a Keynote document which helped to open up discussion on defining soldering, objects that need to be soldered, and the tools and materials we would be using. Accessing tutorial videos whenever possible allows kids to see soldering up close and personal before they even heat up the iron.
  • Location, Location, Location: Be wise about where you decide to host a soldering program and feel free to limit the amount of families. We ended having two separate classes so we could manage the activity effectively. We also needed a location that had enough outlets, ventilation, and space. Smoke does come from the hot soldering iron, so I brought additional fans and asked parents to fan away the smoke.

Both sessions were a huge success, both for the kids and their adults. Those in attendance included parents, teenage siblings, and grandparents. One mother mentioned recently that a few days following the event her son’s grandfather dug out his old soldering kit so they could work on other projects together.

When I became a children’s librarian I had no idea it would lead me to the art of soldering. This program has far exceeded what families thought would happen within the library. T|E|A Room programs have challenged both my staff and I to discover ways of exposing kids to new learning opportunities. It’s refreshing to think that libraries are now becoming known for both reading and robots.

Want to learn more about soldering? Check out these resources:

Tech Will Save Us – How to Solder and Desolder A hilarious kid-friendly video on how to get started soldering. The instructor does a great job of stressing the importance of safety.

Science Kids – Soldering Lesson I specifically used this video to show how to tin the solder.

Raspberry Pi Blog – Soldering is Easy Comic

This seven-page comic is an illustrated guide to more in-depth projects. The visuals are descriptive, accurate, and fun.

Claire Moore is a member of the School-Age Programs and Services Committee. She is the Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library in Darien, CT.  For further questions, please contact at cmoore@darienlibrary.org.

 

 

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13. How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

By David J. Peterson


My name is David Peterson, and I’m a conlanger. “What’s a conlanger,” you may ask? Thanks to the recent addition of the word “conlang” to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), I can now say, “Look it up!” But to save you the trouble, a conlanger is a constructed language (or conlang) maker — i.e. one who creates languages.

Language creation has been around since at least the 12th century, when the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen created her Lingua Ignota — Latin for “hidden language” — an invented vocabulary she used for writing hymns. In the centuries that followed, philosophers like Leibniz and John Wilkins would create languages that were intended to serve as grand classification systems, and idealists like L. L. Zamenhof would create languages intended to simplify international communication. All these systems focused on the basic utility of language — its ability to encode and convey meaning. That would change in the 20th century.

Tolkien: the father of modern conlanging

Before crafting the tales of Middle-Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien was a conlanger. Unlike the many known to history who came before him, though, Tolkien created languages for the pure joy of it. Professionally, he became a philologist, but he continued to work on his own languages, eventually creating his famous Lord of the Rings series as an extension of the linguistic legendarium he’d been crafting for many years. Though his written works would become more famous than his linguistic creations, his conlangs, in particular Sindarin and Quenya, would go on to inspire new generations of conlangers throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Due to the general obscurity of the practice, many conlangers remained unknown to each other until the early 1990s, when home internet use started to become more and more common. The first dedicated meeting place for conlangers, virtual or otherwise, was the Conlang Listserv (an online mailing list). Some list members came out of interest in Tolkien’s languages, as well as other large projects, like Esperanto or Lojban, but the majority came to discuss their own work, and to meet and learn from others who also created languages.

Since the founding of the original Conlang Listserv, many other meeting places have sprung up online, and through a couple of decades of regular conlanger interaction, the practice of conlanging has evolved.

Game of Thrones dragon

Conlang typology

Conlangs have been separated into different types since at least the 19th century. First came the philosophical languages, as discussed, then the auxiliary languages like Esperanto (also known as auxlangs), but with Tolkien emerged a new type of language: the artistic language, or artlang. At its most basic, an artlang is a conlang created for artistic purposes, but that broad definition includes many wildly divergent languages (compare Denis Moskowitz’s Rikchik to Sylvia Sotomayor’s Kēlen). Finer-grained distinctions became necessary as the community grew, and so emerged the naturalistic conlang.

This is where the languages of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Syfy’s Defiance come in. The languages I’ve created for the shows I work on come out of the naturalist tradition. The goal with a naturalistic conlang is to create a language that’s as realistic as possible. The realism of a language is grounded in the reality (fictional or otherwise) of its speakers. If the speakers are more or less human (or humanoid) and are intended to be portrayed in a realistic fashion, then their language should be as similar as possible to a natural language (i.e. a language that exists here on Earth, like Spanish, Tagalog, or Cham).

The natural languages we speak are large, but also redundant and imperfect in a uniquely human way. Conlangers have gotten pretty good at emulating them over the years, usually employing one of two different approaches. The first, which I call the façade method, is to create a language that looks like a modern natural language by replicating the various features of a modern natural language. Thus, if English has irregular plurals, such as mouse~mice, then the conlang will have irregular plurals, too, by targeting certain nouns and making their plurals irregular in some way.

The historical method: making sense of irregular plurals in Valyrian

Game of Thrones DaenerysA contrasting approach is the method that Tolkien pioneered called the historical method. With the historical method, an ancestor language called a proto-language is created, and the desired language is evolved from it, via simulated linguistic evolution. The process takes a lot longer, but in some ways it’s simpler, since irregularities will naturally emerge, rather than having to be created by hand. For example, in Game of Thrones, the High Valyrian language Daenerys speaks differs from the Low Valyrian the residents of Slaver’s Bay speak. In fact, the latter evolved from the former. As the language evolved, it produced some natural irregularities. Consider the following nouns and their plurals from the Valyrian spoken in Slaver’s Bay:

hubre “goat” hubres “goats”
dare “queen” dari “queens”
aeske “master” aeske “masters”

Given that the singular forms all end in ‘e’, one has to say at least two of the plurals presented are irregular. But why the arbitrary differences in the plural forms? It turns out it’s because the three nouns with identical singular terminations used to have very different forms in the older language, High Valyrian, as shown below:

hobres “goat” hobresse “goats”
dāria “queen” dārī “queens”
āeksio “master” āeksia “masters”

Each of these alternations is quite regular in High Valyrian. In the simulated history, a series of sound changes which simplified the ends of words produced identical terminations for each of the three words in the singular, leaving later speakers having to memorize which have irregular plurals and which regular.

Conceptualizing time

Simulated evolution applies to both grammar and the lexicon, as well. For example, natural languages often derive terminology for abstract concepts metaphorically from terminology for concrete concepts. Time, for instance, is an abstract concept that is frequently discussed using spatial terminology. How it’s done differs from language to language. In English, events that occur later in time occur after the present (where “after” derives from “aft,” a word meaning “behind”), and events that occur earlier in time occur before the present. Thus, time is conceptualized as a being standing in the present, facing the past, with the future behind them.

In Irathient, a language I created for Syfy’s Defiance, time is conceptualized vertically, rather than horizontally. The word for “after”, in temporal terms, is shei, which derives from a word meaning “above”; “before”, on the other hand, is ur, which also means “below” or “underneath”. The general metaphor that the future is up and the past is down bears out throughout the rest of the language, where if one wanted to say “Go back to what you were saying before”, the literal Irathient translation would be “Go down to what you were saying underneath”.

Ultimately, what one hears on screen sounds and feels like a natural language, regardless of whether or not one knows the work that went on behind the scenes. Since the prop used on screen is a language, though, rather than a costume or a piece of the set, the words can be recorded and analyzed at any time. Consequently, a conlang needs to be real in a way that a throne or a 700 foot wall of ice does not.

It’s still extraordinary to me that in less than 25 years, we came from a time when many conlangers were not aware that there were other conlangers to a time where our work is able to add to the authenticity of some of the best productions the big and small screen have to offer. The addition of the word “conlang” to the OED is a fitting capper to an unbelievable quarter century.

David J. Peterson is a language creator who works on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Syfy’s Defiance, and Syfy’s Dominion. You can find him on Twitter at @Dedalvs or on Tumblr.

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Images: Game of Thrones Season 3 – Dragon Shadow Wallpaper and Game of Thrones Season 3 - Daenerys Wallpaper. ©2014 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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14. Look What I've Got From Christmas Press!


Here it is, the latest beautiful picture storybook from Christmas Press, another Aussie small press, which does lovingly-crafted books only a couple of times a year, but worth waiting for.

This one is written by well-known children's and YA novelist Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by the amazing David Allan. YESSS!

I'll be reviewing it shortly, as it comes out in early August, but couldn't resist sharing this with you.

I know what the next book is - a collection of Christmas-themed children's stories - because I have a tale in it myself, a story set in Australia in a world where Armorique, the setting of Wolfborn, exists and can be looked up on Google. :-) I have recently realised, though, that I forgot the triple moons, so it isn't the same world as Wolfborn, exactly... Oh, well.
Anyway, look out for my review of Two Tales Of Twins, coming soon!

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15. The month that changed the world: Sunday, 26 July 1914

July 1914 was the month that changed the world. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and just five weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. But how did it all happen? Historian Gordon Martel, author of The Month That Changed The World: July 1914, is blogging regularly for us over the next few weeks, giving us a week-by-week and day-by-day account of the events that led up to the First World War.

By Gordon Martel


When day dawned on Sunday, 26 July, the sky did not fall. Shells did not rain down on Belgrade. There was no Austrian declaration of war. The morning remained peaceful, if not calm. Most Europeans attended their churches and prepared to enjoy their day of rest. Few said prayers for peace; few believed divine intervention was necessary. Europe had weathered many storms over the last decade. Only pessimists doubted that this one could be weathered as well.

In Austria-Hungary the right of assembly, the secrecy of the mail, of telegrams and telephone conversations, and the freedom of the press were all suspended. Pro-war demonstrations were not only permitted but encouraged: demonstrators filled the Ringstrasse, marched on the Ballhausplatz, gathered around statues of national heroes and sang patriotic songs. That evening the Bürgermeister of Vienna told a cheering crowd that the fate of Europe for centuries to come was about to be decided, praising them as worthy descendants of the men who had fought Napoleon. The Catholic People’s Party newspaper, Alkotmány, declared that ‘History has put the master’s cane in the Monarchy’s hands. We must teach Serbia, we must make justice, we must punish her for her crimes.’

Kaiser Wilhelm

Just how urgent was the situation? In London, Sir Edward Grey had left town on Saturday afternoon to go to his cottage for a day of fly-fishing on Sunday. The Russian ambassadors to Germany, Austria and Paris had yet to return to their posts. The British ambassadors to Germany and Paris were still on vacation. Kaiser Wilhelm was on his annual yachting cruise of the Baltic. Emperor Franz Joseph was at his hunting lodge at Bad Ischl. The French premier and president were visiting Stockholm. The Italian foreign minister was still taking his cure at Fiuggi. The chiefs of the German and Austrian general staffs remained on leave; the chief of the Serbian general staff was relaxing at an Austrian spa.

Could calm be maintained? Contradictory evidence seemed to be coming out of St Petersburg. It seemed that some military steps were being initiated – but what these were to be remained uncertain. Sazonov, the Russian foreign minister, met with both the German and Austrian ambassadors on Sunday – and both noted a significant change in his demeanour. He was now ‘much quieter and more conciliatory’. He emphatically insisted that Russia did not desire war and promised to exhaust every means to avoid it. War could be avoided if Austria’s demands stopped short of violating Serbian sovereignty. The German ambassador suggested that Russia and Austria discuss directly a softening of the demands. Sazonov, who agreed immediately to suggest this, was ‘now looking for a way out’. The Germans were assured that only preparatory measures had been undertaken thus far – ‘not a horse and not a reserve had been called to service’.

By late Sunday afternoon, the situation seemed precarious but not hopeless. The German chancellor worried that any preparatory measures adopted by Russia that appeared to be aimed at Germany would force the adoption of counter-measures. This would mean the mobilization of the German army – and mobilization ‘would mean war’. But he continued to hope that the crisis could be ‘localized’ and indicated that he would encourage Vienna to accept Grey’s proposed mediation and/or direct negotiations between Austria and Russia.

By Sunday evening more than 24 hours had passed since the Austrian legation had departed from Belgrade and Austria had severed diplomatic relations with Serbia. Many had assumed that war would follow immediately, but there had been no invasion of Serbia or even a declaration of war. The Austrians, in spite of their apparent firmness in refusing any alteration of the terms or any extension of the deadline, appeared not to know what step to take next, or when additional steps should be taken. When asked, the Austrian chief of staff suggested that any declaration of war ought to be postponed until 12 August. Was Europe really going to hold its breath for two more weeks?

Gordon Martel is a leading authority on war, empire, and diplomacy in the modern age. His numerous publications include studies of the origins of the first and second world wars, modern imperialism, and the nature of diplomacy. A founding editor of The International History Review, he has taught at a number of Canadian universities, and has been a visiting professor or fellow in England, Ireland and Australia. Editor-in-chief of the five-volume Encyclopedia of War, he is also joint editor of the longstanding Seminar Studies in History series. His new book is The Month That Changed The World: July 1914. Read his previous blog posts.

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Image credit: Kaiser Wilhelm, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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16. Confidence and courage in mentoring

By Mary Pender Greene


Mentorship is one of the most compelling assets for professional success. The mentor-mentee relationship offers one of the most priceless of all human qualities — transparency. The mentor offers the mentee hope for the future by sharing both wisdom and past challenges. Mentors help mentees be their best selves by helping them overcome their fears of failure and apprehension of taking risks.

Everyone struggles and gets scared. It takes courage to ask for help. Many of us are afraid to take the risk of being vulnerable. So we pretend to know. In fact, we are often encouraged to “fake it until we make it.” But if we never talk about our challenges and fears openly, we will never get help with those challenges. More importantly, we miss out on key authentic moments. Being fearful about our imperfections and abilities — as well as of the future are all universal human emotions — and it is at the intersection of these authentic moments that we learn, accept, and grow. If we pretend to know it all, no one reaches out to us. When we ask for help and guidance, many hands are extended.

Mentoring

There has been a paradigm shift as to how professional knowledge is passed on. It no longer happens naturally through traditional professional grooming and succession rituals. With greater turnover, less time, lower budgets, and more uncertainty, traditional mentorship models have become nearly obsolete in today’s workplace. This dramatic upheaval in the professional landscape has changed how 21st century professionals can most effectively cultivate career success. Mentorship is more important now than ever before.

Some benefits of mentoring are:

  • Enhances career development initiatives
  • Creates a “learning organization”
  • Improved on-boarding and training programs
  • Improved diversity initiatives
  • Improved adjustment to the workplace culture
  • Improved employee engagement & retention
  • Targeted skill and leadership development
  • Can address skills gaps

Mentoring has existed throughout the ages as an effective way to develop talent. More formal mentoring programs comprise structured components, such as training and onboarding programs. These programs are often tied to specific, quantifiable business goals and objectives. There are many new mentoring styles too, including:

  • Reverse mentoring: Senior employees are mentored by junior employees to fill a specific skill gap.
  • Team mentoring: Work teams are mentored by a supervisor.
  • Group mentoring: Groups from within different departments or the same department are mentored by a senior manager
  • Distance mentoring: Mentor-mentee pairs who are working in different locations.

Less formal mentoring relationships are less hierarchical. There is an equal partnership where both parties greatly benefit — and learn — from the relationship.

Mary Pender Greene, LCSW-R, CGP is a psychotherapist, relationship expert, clinical supervisor, career & executive coach, trainer, and consultant, with a private practice in Midtown Manhattan. Mary’s background also includes executive management roles at America’s largest non-profit organization, The Jewish Board of Family Services in NYC. Mary is the author of Creative Mentorship and Career-Building Strategies: How to Build your Virtual Personal Board of Directors.

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Image: Computer industry entrepreneur workshop by Dell’s Official Flickr Page. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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17. The Madmen of Benghazi review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Gérard de Villiers' 191st SAS/Malko Linge novel -- and the first to appear in English (next week) in about three decades, his timely 2011 novel, The Madmen of Benghazi.
       De Villiers got a nice publicity-boost from the 2013 The New York Times Magazine profile by Robert F. Worth, The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much; he passed away later last year, but still, publishing The Madmen of Benghazi in the US was a no-brainer -- this time under imprint Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (of Penguin Random House), rather than, as most of the dozen-plus previous Malko Linge-works to make it into English (mainly in the mid-1970s), from Pinnacle Books.
       Surely the title alone should make for decent sales -- despite the lack of any Hillary Clinton-conspiracy connection ... -- but it's a decent (if on the trashy side) piece of well-informed pulp spy fiction. You can see why the guy was so successful in France (and also why his books might not be quite to American tastes).

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18. Evil Editor Classics


Evil Editor Exposed






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19. Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski

 

colleen_baby_cropped_300x300Colleen Rowan Kosinski has always been involved in creative projects. She is an alumna of Moore College of Art and graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Visual Arts. While in college, Colleen worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Hospital as part of her curriculum. She developed, designed and constructed step-by-step instruction booklets to be used by nursing staff. After graduation, Colleen worked as a jewelry designer. While working as a designer she won a scholarship to the Gemological Institute of America and earned a certificate in Colored Stones. Colleen, having a great interest in science, volunteered at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. She worked with Dr. John Gelhaus in the entomology department rendering illustrations of insects for scientific publications. She also worked at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA, were she designed illustrations for a cookbook featuring Ben Franklin’s favorite dishes.

After the birth of her first child, Colleen opened her studio and virtual gallery. She has been working as a visual artist, with clients all over the United States, for the past eighteen years. You can visit her site at http://www.myartsite.com. She specializes in pet portraiture and still life. Her mediums of choice are oil or pastel.

Colleen resides in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband, three sons, doberman pinscher, rottweiler, and miniature dachshund and volunteers at the local animal shelter. During the summer you can usually find her nursing a sick squirrel or robin back to health.

Here is Colleen explaining her process:

This painting example was created for the NJSCBWI 2014 Conference. I knew I wanted a dreamy, fairytale-ish feel. I wanted the viewer to wonder what would happen next. I also wanted to include the theme of the Jersey shore.

First I researched elements I needed for this particular piece of work, ex. I needed to research old-fashioned bathing suit attire, seagulls, and Victorian style homes in Cape May for this piece.

Next, I drew (in pencil) each element that was to be included in the artwork. I scanned in the early sketches and placed everything in the space to see if worked. I’d drawn a lifeguard chair and the Cape May lifeguard boat but they didn’t fit in the composition, so they were cut.

Then, I went back and shadowed each drawing in pencil.

I scanned each shadowed piece into the computer and placed them on the page.

All the shadowed pieces were built as their own layers. I then painted in colors, using varying opacities and brushes.

colleenstep_1_pencil_sketch_cape may girlOriginal pencil sketch

colleeenstep_2_scan_and_cut_cape may girl

Scanned image, cut out, cleaned up and contrast adjusted.

colleenstep_3_color_layers_cape may girl

Colored layers built up.

colleenstep_4_highlights_shadows_cape may girl

Shadows and highlights are added last.

colleenseagull_pencil_sketch

colleenseagull_full_colorI brought the colored drawings back into the original composition.

colleencapemayflag sketch

colleencape may flag_full_colorI adjusted scale and brightness.

colleencape may houses_pencil_sketch

I then layer in shadows into the final composition and sometimes I add various textures into the composition.

colleencape may girl 3_head_tilt

Finally, when the painting looks finished to me, I put a bump map of a watercolor texture over the entire painting. This makes the work look less “computer-like”. Copyright ©artshow colleenscbwi entry 2_6

After critiques by my trusted artist friends, I add my finished piece to my portfolio. For example, they suggested her head should be tilted toward the bird so I made the adjustment as seen here.

colleendiving girl comp5

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing forever. I participated in my first “show” when I was thirteen (and won first place.) I’ve been seriously working on illustrating for children for the past three years.

What made you choose to get your degree in visual Arts at Rutgers University?

I was originally granted a full scholarship to Moore College of Art when I happened upon a portfolio day after a Saturday class at the Philadelphia College of Art. I attended my freshman year, but then transferred to Rutgers to follow my boyfriend. I know. I know. But we’ve been married now for 27 years. : )

colleenbeach girls14

What were you favorite classes?

I loved figure drawing, creative writing, and anthropology. I’d always try to convince my professors to hold class outside on beautiful days. All except figure drawing. Naked models posing outside in the middle of campus would have been frowned upon—but would probably have drawn quite a crowd.

Did the School help you get work?

Actually, Moore College of Art helped me get my first internship as a scientific illustrator for the entomology department of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

colleenriver of wishes9hair lowered a smidge3tdep5_6_14_3NO-WORDS

What was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

In high school the teachers would commission me for artwork.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

After college I worked in a jewelry store and did some jewelry design. I was fascinated with gemstones and won a scholarship to study colored stones with The Gemological Institute of America.

 

colleenmermaid comp 8Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?

The figure drawing classes may have helped a bit but my style has organically evolved over the years.

When did you do your first illustration for children?

I started working on children’s books illustrations about three years ago.

colleenswimming with the fish7

How did that come about?

I had worked as a fine artist for many years, but stopped drawing to seriously study writing. I’ve written screenplays, YA novels, and MG novels, along with picture books. NJSCBWI was holding their first illustrators showcase three years ago and I decided to participate and developed a character, which then became a story.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

After all the positive feedback at the NJSCBWI conference.

colleengoldilocks comp_v7

How did you get interested in writing novels and when did that happen?

I had a friend who worked in the SAG office in Philadelphia. I had an idea for a movie and asked her how I could try to sell my idea. She told me I’d need to write a screenplay. I bought books on the mechanics of writing screenplays and started networking with other screenwriters. I decided to try to convert one of my screenplays into a novel. Then I wrote bad novel after not as bad novel until I finally had one that I thought was good enough to submit. But it really wasn’t. So I kept writing more and more. I think my eighth book was the charm and is now being read by several editors.

Are you open to illustrating a picture book for a writer who would like to self-publish?

I think I’d rather work on my own books or be paired with an author from a traditional publisher.

colleenflying girl comp4

Have you worked on illustrating a book dummy to help market your illustrating skills?

Yes.

Since you already are writing novels, have you thought about writing and illustrating you own picture book?

I’ve written quite a few PBs and I have one finished dummy and one in process.

colleenbad luck boy new comp6

Do you have an artist rep.? If not, would you like to have one?

I’m presently not represented, but would love to work with an agent interested in an author/illustrator. I’m a hard worker and not afraid of revisions.

What types of things do you do to market your work?

I show at conferences, tweet, network on FB, display my work on the SCBWI illustrator showcase, and I have a website—ColleenRowanKosinski.com

colleenjaquar11What is your favorite medium to use?

I’m currently working with a combination of pencil sketching and digital painting. I also love oils, and soft pastel.

Has that changed over time?

Many years ago I worked primarily in pen and ink and watercolor. I did a lot of hand-numbing stippling with a rapidograph pen. I transitioned to pastel. Sold quite a few, then fell in love with oil painting. Oil painting is a long process because of the practice of building layers of colors and the drying times involved. That’s why I love digital so much now. I approach color the same way I did in my oil painting but have zero drying time!

colleentweed_composition_v6

Do you have a studio in your house?

I don’t have a designated studio. Because of very bad back issues I have trouble sitting for long periods of time in a regular chair, but I’ve found a recliner takes the stress off of my lower back so you can usually find my there, either writing, sketching or working digitally. I do have an office with my supplies, a desk, computer, scanner, printer and bookshelves from floor to ceiling.

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

My laptop computer.

colleenHanging Around4

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I work every day for at least eight hours or more. I try to attend at least one SCBWI conference a year and as many other workshops that I can fit into my budget and schedule.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Yes, I take pictures and research reference images online.

colleenskunk girl_portfolio3

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. I used to have to find reference photos by paging through books and magazines for hours. The Internet also helps me network with other writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

What do you feel was your biggest success?

I don’t know if I’ve experienced a “big” success yet. I just keep doing what I’m doing while constantly trying to improve.

colleenfox running picture 16Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?

I actually use GIMP, which is a free version of Photoshop. I did finally bite the bullet and start subscribing to Photoshop (you can’t buy it outright anymore, you must pay a monthly fee.) I’m experimenting with it but feel more comfortable with GIMP.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, I use a Wacom pad when creating my artwork.

colleen02_2ps_mother_and_baby_all_the_layers4

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I dream of finding an agent who knows the craft and market, and being traditionally published. I guess if I want to dream big, I’d love to win a Newberry or Caldecott.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story called Lydia Light Takes Flight. The character I created for the 2014 NJSCBWI Conference Art Competition inspired the story. The text is finished and I’m currently working on the dummy. It’s a lyrical story with a fairytale’ish feel. I also have a couple PB biographies ready to go, and two other lyrical PB texts. Editors are reading my older MG novel and I’m hoping one of them will make an offer soon.

colleen06_2ps_fire_all_the_layers4

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I don’t know if I can really speak to being successful, but I can say that you have to be a fighter. Don’t wallow in rejection and keep moving forward. Be open to critique and learn from it. Lastly, be involved in the kidlit scene. It’s a wonderful, supportive community.

colleencozette and the black umbrella7

 

Thank you Colleen for taking the time to share your process and journey with us. We look forward to hearing about your future successes.

To see more of Colleen’s illustrations you can visit her at: www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com Twitter: @writergirlrowan 
Facebook: Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Please take a minute to leave a comment for Colleen, I know she would love to heard from you and I always appreciate it. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, demystify, How to, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, Interview, Process Tagged: Colleen Kosinski, Illustrator Saturday, Moore College of Art, Rutgers University

3 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Colleen Kosinski, last added: 7/26/2014
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20. More 5 mins animals!


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21. Ghostly Gaze Illusion

Here's an optical illusion. This woman seems to be looking to our left when we see her up close, but she switches to looking to our right when we back up and look at the same face from across the room.

Here are two women with light gray eyes. They're looking more or less forward, right?

If you look at the same image files at a much smaller scale, the eyes of the two women seem to be looking at each other instead of looking forward. 

To create the faces, scientists rendered the eyes so that the sideways-looking eyes were rendered in the form of coarse, blurry detail, and the forward-looking eyes were rendered with fine detail. 

Back up enough and these ladies will all smile at you.

Our brains process fine and coarse detail in different ways, as was first made famous with the Albert Einstein / Marilyn Monroe hybrid image illusion. That's also why we need to back up from our portrait paintings while we're working on them. Otherwise we can unknowingly set up contradictory information streams at the level of fine and coarse detail. Every portrait painter has experienced eyes that seem to move or a smile that seems to change when the piece is viewed from farther back.

These gaze illusions have an eerie effect because it's so important to us humans to know which way another person is looking, and misreading gaze direction is a major issue for social interaction. That's also why it creeps us out to talk to someone up close who is wearing mirror shades.
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The twin gaze illusion was created by Rob Jenkins of the University of Glasgow.
Hybrid images are a technique first published by Philippe Schyns & Aude Oliva in 1994.

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22. Paul-Celan-Preis

       They've announced that Gerhard Meier will receive (on 9 October) this year's Paul-Celan-Preis, a leading -- and €15,000 -- literary prize for translation-into-German.
       He translates from the French and Turkish, notably the work of Orhan Pamuk, as well as authors including Amin Maalouf, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, and Yaşar Kema.

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23. Small yellow skeleton


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24. Etisalat Prize judges

       They've announced the panel of judges for the next Etisalat Prize for Literature -- awarded to a first work of fiction, first published in (and hence presumably written in ...) English (sigh) by an African author (with African citizenship). (The official site has it as the 2014 prize; press reports suggest 2015, presumably since that's when they'll be handing out the prize .....)
       Worth a mention, because it's a pretty impressive panel that includes: Jamal Mahjoub, Alain Mabanckou, and Tsitsi Dangarembga.

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25. Urban Sketchers Get Wet (again) in Manchester


Yes, despite all this glorious, sunny weather of late, it poured down all day this time last week, for our SketchCrawl. At least it was still warm. I wore strappy sandals and waded my way through the streets of Manchester.


I seem to have an uncanny knack of picking the only REALLY rainy day of the month for our SketchCrawls, surrounded by beautiful, sunny days. June's squelchy day in Buxton was exactly the same, and so was our May outing, the last time we were in Manchester. The forecast was so awful, I nearly cancelled this time. 

I'm so pleased I didn't. About a dozen of us had a fantastic time and, in dodging the torrents, discovered some rather special, hidden spaces. First stop was the library, chosen mainly because it was actually open at 9.20am. Mostly it was a bit BIG and so quite hard to draw at that tender hour. So we just did a 30 minute warm-up, then sploshed our way round the corner, to the cafe at the Town Hall.


I discovered the The Sculpture Hall Cafe by chance, while researching whether we were allowed inside the Town Hall to sketch. It totally lives up to its name. Under an amazing, vaulted ceiling are leather sofas and tables draped in white linen, and its all watched over by the statues. A beautiful, very unusual place. 

I decided I wanted to fill my mini concertina sketchbook, so did this series of sketches across a couple of pages:  


Next stop was the Royal Exchange Theatre. I'd never been. What a surreal building! The traditional, and very lovely, Royal Exchange building, with its marble columns and gigantic circular windows above, is huge, like a cathedral, so big it actually encloses the ultra-modern theatre. It looks a little bit like an alien spaceship has teleported in! Apparently, the floor wasn't strong enough to take the weight of the new theatre, so they created this mad set-up to transfer weight through the columns.


I managed two drawings before we stopped for lunch. I really loved the three giant roof windows, so tackled a part of the central one:


I didn't think there was time to sketch the modern theatre, as it was visually pretty complicated, but I was struck by the contrast between old and new, so took a section of the view from where I was sitting, which incorporated both elements:


I didn't sketch them separately like this though. I carried on in my concertina book, so the end result was the long thin sketch at the top of this post. 

We lunched in Waterstones - cheap and cheerful (and big enough for us all to sit together). Stephan was showing us his Pentel brush-pen and let me have a try-out. It was lovely and fluid to use. I did this quick sketch of Mike:


The afternoon was spent at the John Ryland's Library. I had really fancied drawing the outside (it's a wonderfully Gothic building - dark stone and very twiddly) but no chance: still pouring. Luckily the inside was good too.

I had never been before but Lucie knew where to go - she took us straight to the Reading Room:


It was designed by Basil Champneys and is a mass of decorative detail. The space feels very like a church, with stained glass windows and another extraordinary vaulted ceiling. Like in a church, everyone was whispering and it was very peaceful, until someones mobile phone went off and played a silly tune VERY loud:


By lucky chance, there was an exhibition of Urban Sketching on in the Reading Room: a collection of really evocative drawings of the city, by the Manchester artist Anthony McCarthy.

We did the sharing session in the Ryland's Cafe - part of a modern wing, added during the recent restoration of the building. There were several new members again and it was so lovely chatting about what we all do and looking through the sketches. Here's me being very proud of my concertina sketchbook:


Oh, and guess what? The sun came out and the rain stopped, just as we finished our drawing time and started the sharing. Typical!

At least I got to walk back to the station with Stephan in lovely weather. I travelled back to Sheffield alone, so did my usual on the train:


Another great day out with smashing company. Thanks to everyone who came, especially given the weather conditions. If you'd like to join Urban Sketchers Yorkshire and come out to play with us sometime, just drop me an email or join our Facebook group.






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