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1. The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0


Guest Blogger: Chuck Sambuchino, editor and writer for Writer’s Digest, and host of the Guide To Literary Agents blog.

Here’s Chuck:

September 2015 sees the release of three of my new books, the 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, the 2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, and the anti-clown humor book When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.
To celebrate their release, we are bringing back a popular recurring contest: The “Worst Storyline Ever”—a competition that encourages terrible loglines. Winners get prizes.

The “Worst Storyline Ever” Contest 2.0

A logline is one sentence that explains what your story is about and shows the “hook” – the unique idea that makes people want to see more. You see loglines all the time on the back of DVD boxes. Here are some examples:

  • “Three middle-aged men defeat their midlife crises by starting a college fraternity.” (Old School)
  • “When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an evil emperor, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.” (Gladiator)
  • “In a future where criminals are arrested before the crime occurs, a cop struggles on the lam to prove his innocence for a murder he has not yet committed.” (Minority Report)

But that’s all the examples I’m going to give you, because I’m not looking for good examples of a logline; I’m looking for bad examples. Terrible, stupid, “oh-my-gosh-that-idea-REEKS” examples.
Examples of Bad Loglines (Previous Winners/Finalists):

  1. “After an unidentified cow swallows an armed nuclear device in a botched Homeland Security raid, Agent Tom Anderson is thrust into an unlikely partnership with buxom organic farmer Daisy Jones to sift through three hundred cows and 10 barns full of manure as the clock runs down in a desperate quest to save Kansas City from a moo-clear disaster.”
  2. “A young woman discovers she is half unicorn after farting a rainbow at her bat mitzvah, and must go on a hijinx-filled voyage of self discovery to find her real father and fit as ‘one of the herd.’”
  3. “Leonard the narcoleptic snail sets out on his lifelong dream of running the Boston Marathon while humming ‘Macarena,’ and invites you to join the excitement in real time.”

Stick to the format, but have fun with the idea. Your logline must be one sentence, 60 words or fewer, and explain what the movie/book is about. It’s what you put in that one sentence that will win you this competition. The trick is to make your logline a terribly creative idea that’s pitched in a minimal, professional manner.
The contest will go until the end of the day, 11:59 p.m., PDT, Tuesday, October 20th, two weeks from today. Submissions received after that will not be considered.
Chuck will judge the contest, with some possible input from other WD and WD Books staffers.
To participate, simply leave a comment at the end of this post with your submission and your full name. Make sure we are able to reach you through your website or email. Comment by clicking: HERE.

You can submit up to two (2) bad loglines. You can include both in the same comment if you wish.
The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W: A Content and eCommerce Company (formerly F+W Media).
If you have any questions about the contest, e-mail Chuck directly at literaryagent@fwmedia.com. Do not leave them in the comments and do not e-mail Rachelle.
You do not have to share news of this contest to enter, but if you want to share this fun contest with others, here is an easy tweet:

Create the worst storyline you can – and win writing prizes. http://bit.ly/1KClppO via @chucksambuchino and @rachellegardner.   Click to Tweet


There will be 3 winners.

Each winner receives:

  • A critique by Chuck Sambuchino of either your one-page query letter or one-page synopsis .
  • Your pick of a free book from any of his 3 recent releases:


guide to literary agents 2016


2016 Guide to Literary Agents







childrens writers market 2016


2016 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market







when clowns attack


When Clowns Attack: A Survival Guide.









Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and instructor for Writer’s Digest Books. Find him on Twitter.


The post The Worst Storyline Ever Contest 2.0 appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

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2. Planting and Harvesting



Autumn has finally truly arrived. High temperatures during the week hovered around 60F/15C. Nights got chilly and I had to wear a sweater or light jacket to catch the bus in the early mornings. Waldo and Dickens are both behaving as though it is freezing already and stubbornly curl up against me at night and refuse to budge even when I roll over or begin to flail around because I am too warm with them laying on me.

Some of the flax is still blooming but I wanted to plant garlic in that spot so I clipped off all the seed heads from the spent flax and pulled the plants out for the compost bin. In went garlic cloves. I bought a pound of porcelain garlic, a hardnecked variety that will produce delicious scapes. Last year I think I planted Spanish red and most of it got heaved up with all the freezing and thawing from a winter that was warmer than normal. With a super el niño in the Pacific this year, winter is expected to be mild and possibly snowier. When planting the garlic I kept telling Bookman, make sure the cloves are 2-3 inches deep! I said it so many times he got a little annoyed with me, but I don’t want another garlic disappointment next spring. The patch where the flax was didn’t turn out to be big enough so we also planted garlic in part of the strawberry bed and with the Egyptian walking onion we planted this spring. A pound of porcelain garlic was six heads with 4-6 cloves in each. If it all sprouts and bulbs up, garlic paradise next summer!

Currently the garden is a pumpkin paradise. We picked the first one today. Pumpkins have to cure for about a week before they get cut up and cooked but that doesn’t stop me from imagining all the pumpkin-y goodness that will be in store!

Some of the amaranth was obviously ready for harvesting too. I cut off two big flower heads and put them in a plastic bag to dry. Normally something like that would go into a paper bag, but amaranth seeds are so tiny that any seeds that drop out while the flower is drying would be lost in the crevices of a paper sack. The biggest flower is still going strong though and is it ever gorgeous. Bookman has decided he likes amaranth flowers to much that even if the grain harvest turns out to be negligible, he wants to keep planting them every year just because they are cool looking. And I must agree, they are pretty cool looking. At the moment some of the flowers are developing longer strands in the middle that stand up above the rest of the flower so it appears they are giving us the finger. Maybe they are.

We have a squirrel Bookman has named “Jimbo” who has decided it thinks screens are really awesome things to climb. Jimbo keeps climbing the big screen on the sliding glass door to the deck. This freaks out the cats who have thus far not tried to climb up the screen from inside the house in order to have it out with Jimbo. I don’t think they realize they could do this and I hope they remain ignorant for my sake and for the screen door’s. But it isn’t just the screen door that Jimbo likes. The other day I hear a big thunk! at the kitchen window and move the curtain aside to look out only to see a big fat squirrel belly! I pounded on the window and Jimbo didn’t seem to care. So I pounded and yelled and he reluctantly jumped off. It would be funny if it weren’t so annoying and if we weren’t convinced that Jimbo was trying to find a way to get into the house for a cozy winter hangout.

We didn’t make any actual building progress on the chicken coop this week. Time was spent priming/painting boards while the weather was dry and not too cold. Next weekend we will be able to start building the frame. In anticipation, today we got a square at the hardware store to make sure our corners are aligned so the coop doesn’t end up crooked. To test it out we put together the base frame of the coop which amounts two 4×10 foot boards and 2 4×5 foot boards screwed together in a rectangle. The corners are square but one of the boards is sightly warped so the edges aren’t coming together perfectly flush like they need too. Since this rectangle base is what the upright support boards get screwed into, I am not sure how critical perfectly joined boards are. No doubt it is one of those matters where we will find out just how important it is when we start framing the roof and everything begins to come out crooked or something. Before we begin building up next week we will make a valiant attempt to get these bottom boards as perfect as possible.


Sailboats on Lake Minnetonka

Sailboats on Lake Minnetonka

I still felt under the weather due to my reaction to the flu shot earlier in the week but my outdoor cycling days are numbered and I wasn’t going to let it keep me from what could be my last really long ride of the year. Hoping the cool weather had brought more color to the trees, I rode out to Carver Park Reserve, the same place I went to last week. The morning was cold so I wore a long sleeve bike jersey underneath a windbreaker jacket. Should I manage to get hot, both the sleeves of the jacket and my jersey are removable but I never did get hot mostly because the wind picked up and I rode directly into it nearly all the way home. At least when I am riding up a hill I might not like it but I can see the top and know there will be an end to it. When riding into the wind it feels like riding up a hill that goes on forever, I never get to reach the top and I certainly don’t get the pleasure of zooming down the other side of it after all that hard work. I did stop at Lake Minnetonka and watch the sailboats that were out taking advantage of the wind. They were really flying across the water too!

Hardly anyone was around at the reserve, at least not when I first arrived. As I pedaled along I saw something out of the corner of my eye come swooping down out of the woods. When its swoop took it right across the path in front of me I saw it was a hawk and it had just caught something. As it flew up into a nearby tree I was so busy watching it and trying to see what it had caught I almost rode off the path into some bushes!

A little while later while coming around a curve in the path, I saw what I first thought was a big orange tabby cat heading into the undergrowth. Then I saw the white tip of its tail and realized it was a fox! I have never seen a fox before and thought they were bigger than that. It moved pretty fast so I didn’t get a very good look at it but I was thrilled nonetheless.

I stopped at a different lookout than last time I was in the park. It was in bright

Me at the park lookout

Me at the park lookout

sunshine and Strava said I had ridden 33 miles/53 kms so I thought it was a good time to stop for a bite to eat. I had gotten really hungry while out riding the week before in spite of my date bar snacks so I had Bookman make me a banana-rito (peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla wrapped around a banana). I sat in the sun eating my banana-rito, listening to birds sing and watching the breeze move across a lake and through the reeds and grasses. It was absolutely marvelous and I could have sat there all day.

Sumac just past peak color

Sumac just past peak color

Back on Astrid we continued our tour through the park. The trees were stubbornly not changing color. The sumac did, which was nice, and was just past its prime but still beautiful. A good many trees had dropped their leaves but the leaves were brown so I don’t know what that was about. It was still beautiful. I got through most of the park without seeing another person, but as I got closer to the park entrance more and more people were coming in on bikes and skates and I was glad I was leaving, having had the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet.

When I got to my street I checked my mileage and it said 69/111kms. Since this was probably the last really long ride of the year — next weekend is NerdCon and who knows what the weather will be like the following weekend this being Minnesota it might be snowing — I decided I wanted to do 70 miles/112.6 kms. So I took a tour of the neighborhood until my mileage clicked over.

Astrid and I are both quite happy with our adventures this year. Hopefully there will be another short ride or two around the city before the weather gets too cold, but the big outdoor adventuring is done for the year.

Filed under: biking, gardening Tagged: Carver Park Reserve, Lake Minnetonka

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3. Meet at the Ark at Eight! An edgy and hilarious flood retelling

9781782690870-321x500Engaging in critical thinking about one’s own belief system does not often include laughing so much you end up breathless and hiccuping but that’s just what happened one evening last week when our bedtime read was Meet at the Ark at Eight! by Ulrich Hub, illustrated by Jörg Mühle, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby.

This witty, keenly observed and questioning novella retells the biblical flood story with wave after wave of philosophical observations and deadpan humour. Two (male) penguins smuggle a third aboard the ark when an overworked and stressed-out dove chivvies them along to avoid extinction.

Deep in the hold of the boat the friends continue what they started on land: trying to tease out in their own minds whether God exists, and if so, what he is like. Conundrums (“We’re birds, but we smell like fish; we have wings, but we can’t fly.“), chance (“Life is so strange. If two other penguins had been standing here, they’d have been given these tickets and we’d have ended up drowning miserably,“), honesty, guilt and the complexities of friendships are explored with a stark innocence that makes the penguins’ questioning all the more powerful.

And these questions are ones that I think come naturally to children when thinking about religion – about punishment, about proof, about the essence of faith. The answers, such as they are in this book, leave a lot of space for making up your own mind; this isn’t a black and white pot-shot at religious fundamentalism, but something much more nuanced, even if some may find the laser-sharp humour hard to marry with their own beliefs.

Whether or not you or your kids pick this book up because of its rich philosophical strand, two further aspects of this moral tale are worth pointing out.

Meet at the Ark at Eight! is extremely funny. One scene in particular had my girls and I barely able to breathe for all the laughter as I read the book out loud to them; when the dove comes to check up on the penguins, one of them hides in a suitcase and pretends to be the voice of God. This scene is just so theatrical (it comes as no surprise to later find out that the author, Ulrich Hub, has written many plays) with perfect timing and exquisite dialogue. “God”‘s game is up when he pushes the boundary just a little too far and asks the dove for some cheesecake; I am putting money on this becoming a family catchphrase that will stay with us all our book=reading lives.

Secondly, the illustrations by Jörg Mühle are wonderful. Nearly every double page spread has at least one illustration and the characterization, especially of the dove, is sublime. I’ve seen very few cases in all the illustrated books I’ve ever read where an apparently simple, nonchalant line can pack such a punch.

I can only heartily encourage you to read this multi-award-winning retelling to find out how three goes into two for the final disembarkation in front of Noah. This novella hides real delight and serious philosophizing in between its slim, sensational pages.

The day after we read Meet at the Ark at Eight! “God” came visiting in his suitcase. We supplied cheesecake, and I’m glad to report that penguins, kids and all the celestial beings we know were all very happy with such a delicious after school treat.



Whilst taste-testing cheesecake we listened to:

  • Cheesecake by none other than the brilliant Louis Armstrong
  • Penguinese by Recess Monkey
  • Who Built the Ark sung by Raffi

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Meet at the Ark at Eight! include:

  • Building boats – Red Ted Art has a great round up of craft ideas
  • Reading another variant on the flood story. Here’s a helpful collection of titles (picture books, novels) from Allen County Public Library. My personal favourite is a Dutch re-telling by Tonke Dragt – Wat Niemand Weet, with amazing illustrations by Annemarie van Haeringen. Or for a non-book retelling, you can’t go wrong with Eddie Izzard’s sketch….
  • Reading What is Humanism? by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young – the only children’s book I know about this particular philosophical and ethical stance.

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • A review of Penguin by Polly Dunbar
  • Making penguins from balloons
  • Making penguins from aubergines (eggplants). Yes. Really!
  • penguins

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    1 Comments on Meet at the Ark at Eight! An edgy and hilarious flood retelling, last added: 10/4/2015
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    4. ‘The Obvious Child’ by Stephen Irwin

    Somebody broke the girl's parents. The rabbit was there when it happened. It was an awful mess.

    0 Comments on ‘The Obvious Child’ by Stephen Irwin as of 10/4/2015 6:28:00 PM
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    5. Somehow neither of them ended up biting the other.

    Somehow neither of them ended up biting the other.

    0 Comments on Somehow neither of them ended up biting the other. as of 10/4/2015 7:08:00 PM
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    6. Cozy (The Long Version)

    When the air has a chill
    We up north know the drill
    And can remedy that in a snap;
    For when chattering cold,
    What’s more precious than gold
    Is a blanket or quilt on your lap.

    An alternative call
    Is a sweater or shawl
    Which can also accomplish the same.
    Ditto flannel or fleece,
    Though the fashion po-lice
    May not care that mere warmth is your aim.

    It’s exceedingly clear
    When those chills disappear
    You’ll feel cozy and sheltered and snug;
    And it’s hard to improve
    On that coziness groove –
    It’s like giving your insides a hug.

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    7. Satisfying Endings

    Your ending should wrap up the story in a way that resonates with your readers.


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    8. Glimpse ( Senryu + Rhyme + Free Verse + Enclosed rhyme + Acrostic)

    Unity of the souls,
    Traditional, technical,
    The city of hearts
    Green grass and gushing wind, Murmuring lives, None is late, The moon is out and shining stars, A place of bliss, India Gate, Where silence screams aloud, Where people walk silently, Lotus Temple is the name, Where visitors sit gallantly, And that museum alive, Which showcases the science, Children visit are so often, Science museum checks the mind, Experiments and fun games, Students learn and play, Meditate with love & care, Fed up of the jibe? Then do visit Bangla Sahib, The soothing atmosphere And all the enthusiastic prayers,
    you will not miss the styling, You may find the children smiling, When all the mist clears, Glimpse this is, Love is all around, In the midst of busy life, My word, you will find a big stadium, Pause! Feroz Shah Kotla is the name, Sure, you must have got the game, Energetic and enchanting is Delhi, Come on, decorate your frame.

    0 Comments on Glimpse ( Senryu + Rhyme + Free Verse + Enclosed rhyme + Acrostic) as of 1/1/1900
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    9. Weekend Links: Great books for Banned Books Week

    It may have started in late September, but Banned Books Week is already providing this busy readers with all sorts of new children’s book ideas!

    Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2015 celebration will be held September 27-October 3.

    Banned Books Week

    Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. Read more about Banned Books Week HERE.

    We should have the right to think for ourselves #BannedBooksWeek:

    I shared my own “banned book” experience on Thursday when I talked about the one and only time I “banned ” a book from my family’s bookshelf, and how I used the opportunity as a learning experience for everyone as well. I also whipped up my own Banned Books Week Booklist for everyone to enjoy as well.

    Banned Books Week

    In my weekly travels, I have also discovered even more book ideas, resources and booklists. Enjoy!

    13 Banned and Challenged Books For Kids from No Time for Flashcards

    banned books week

    Even Children’s Books are Banned- Banned Book Week from Alohamora

    banned books week

    Free printable Banned Books Bookmarks from Classroom Freebies!

    banned books bookmarks

    What book is your favorite banned book?


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    The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook is a simple step-by-step guide to creating and understanding a Waldorf inspired homeschool plan. Within the pages of this comprehensive homeschooling guide, parents will find information, lesson plans, curriculum, helpful hints, behind the scenes reasons why, rhythm, rituals, helping you fit homeschooling into your life. Discover The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook: The Simple Step-by-Step guide to creating a Waldorf-inspired homeschool.
    Waldorf Homeschool Handbook
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    The post Weekend Links: Great books for Banned Books Week appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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    10. Zombie Boy

    People often ask me, "What do you do to pass the time up there in New Hampshire?"

    Well, when we're not cavorting with moose, celebrating the glories of our granite, and generally living free before we die, some of us make silly movies.

    One that I was involved with is called Zombie Boy, which was written and directed by my friend Jamie Sharps. Against all odds, it now has distribution via MVD Media. It should be coming to various streaming platforms soon, and you can order the DVD from most of the places online where you'd order DVDs. (Here's the Amazon link, for instance.) There are even rumors of it showing up in some brick-and-mortar stores.

    It's a spaghetti-western-style comic adventure involving people who've been zombified by a green serum. It's not a B movie, it's (intentionally) a Z movie. ("Z for zombie, yeah!" I hear somebody say...) We didn't have much money, and it took a couple years to get it all filmed and then another year to do post-production.

    And yes, I am Zombie Boy. 

    I've done lots of theatre acting (not so much in the last decade, for various reasons), but had mostly avoided film acting until Jamie called me up and asked me to play the role. I don't like watching myself, don't even like pictures of myself, so I never ached to be a movie actor. One of the prime attractions of theatre for me is that I don't have to see my performance. I said yes to Jamie because it sounded like fun, and he promised it would only be a few weeks of work. It was often fun (and sometimes not; those contact lenses are awful), but it definitely took longer than a few weeks. We spent most of one summer working on it, had a few days of filming that fall, then filmed for a few more days the next summer.

    Despite my dislike of looking at myself, I don't mind watching this performance. Partly, that's because it's so over the top. I shamble, mug, and grunt for an hour and fifteen minutes. I watch the movie and I don't see me, so it's not discomforting. It's just some weird guy.

    But also, for what it is, I think Zombie Boy is a pretty good movie. The genius of it is that it embodies its concept completely — from start to finish, it's a super-low-budget romp made by people who wanted to do nothing more than make a super-low-budget romp. There's a guy wearing a tattered bear-skin coat and not much else. There are incompetent ninjas. There's a doctor who speaks like a Werner Herzog version of the Swedish Chef. Why? Why not?

    I can't tell you how many times I've watched the movie, from looking through the footage when we shot it to helping Jamie with a little bit of the editing to watching it at the local premiere (in the theatre where as a kid I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and the first three Star Wars movies, among others, so it was quite a thrill) to showing it to various friends and family members. When I got the finished official DVD the other night, I sat down and watched it again from start to finish, for the first time just on my own. I had intended to watch only five or ten minutes to see how it looked in the MVD version. But I watched the whole thing. Partly because it was fun to see everybody again, fun to remember some of the amusing and/or arduous moments on set, but mostly just because it's great, stupid fun. Sure, there are awkward moments and clumsy moments, but that's part of what this movie is, part of the joy of it. There are also moments that are just ridiculously funny, and there's an energy to the whole that is infectious.

    Well, I'm not going to review a movie I starred in (much as I'd like to, because after all, the political ontology the film limns is— okay, I'll stop). There's plenty that could be said about Zombie Boy. But perhaps nothing needs to be said. It is what it is, and, for me, what it is is something I'm thrilled and proud to have been part of.

    After the premiere, a friend of mine slapped me on the back and said, "No matter what else you do, they're going to put Zombie Boy on your gravestone." I'm okay with that.

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    11. Happy Birthday Professor McGonagall

    Today we celebrate Professor Minerva McGonagall’s 62nd birthday. Professor McGonagall now serves as the Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She succeeded the position from her good friend, Albus Dumbledore, after the position was held briefly by fellow colleague, Severus Snape. Previous to obtaining this elite position, Professor McGonagall taught Transfigurations and was the head of Gryffindor House.

    After tragic incidents in her early life, and the loss of her dear husband, like many other characters (Harry included), Minerva found her home at Hogwarts. She deeply cared for her students and their well being. Ever loyal to her Quidditch team, she was known–on the rare occasion–to buy Gryffindor Quidditch players broomsticks.

    She greatly assisted Harry Potter in the battle of Hogwarts, and fought for her school and her home. Minerva has shown great strength, great courage, fabulous teaching skills, and hidden under sharp wit, motherly love for her students.

    Please join us in wishing Minerva McGonagall a very happy birthday!


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    12. अंधविश्वास और हम

    अंधविश्वास और हम superstition photo

    अंधविश्वास और हम

     एक आंटी फेसबुक पर सारा दिन लगी रहती हैं. कल बहुत उदास सी मिली. पता लगा कि उनकी बेटी को डेंगू हो गया  है वो उदास इसलिए थी कि कल फेसबुक पर उनकी जानकार ने एक देवता की तस्वीर शेयर करने को कहा था कि शेयर करो कृपा बरसेगी पर उन्होने नही की शायद इसलिए बेटी को … !! अरे!! ऐसा नही होता मैने कहा इसी बीच उनके बेटे ने दूसरी लैब से टेस्ट करवाया तो टेस्ट नैगेटिव आया. तब जाकर उनकी जान मे जान आई.

    वैसे हम भी कमाल के अंधविश्वासी होते हैं. दादरी के अखलाक की खबर( टाईम्स आफ इंडिया) के मुताबिक कि अखिलेश यादव उनके गांव न जाकर उस परिवार को लखनऊ इसलिए बुलाया कि अंधविश्वास है कि जो सीएम नोएडा का दौरा करता है उसे चुनाव में जीत नही मिलती. अरे !! हार या जीत अपने किए कर्मों से मिलती है ना कि दौरा न करके !!

    अंधविश्वास और हम




    The post अंधविश्वास और हम appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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    13. Listen to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s ‘Locke & Key’ audio (comic) book for free right now

      Don’t have time to read the award winning horror best seller, Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez?  The same company that brought you Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger audio book, AudioComics, adapted the New York Times best seller for Audible. I don’t feel comfortable calling this 13 1/2 hour full production an audio book […]

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    October 4, 2015

    Dear Bonnie Bader, Grosset & Dunlap, and Penguin Young Readers Group,

    Your book, Who Was Christopher Columbus, published in 2013, has major errors in it (p. 4, Kindle edition):

    The error is in that last line that reads "Christopher Columbus had discovered a new world." Maybe you think that the sentence before it makes it ok because it tells readers that no one in Europe knew about this land. It doesn't make it ok. Later, you tell readers he discovered an island he named Dominica. And that he also "discovered the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico" (p. 72-73 in Kindle version). Simply put, you can't discover something that someone else already had. With this book, you're misleading children. You're mis-educating them.

    Your Who Was Christopher Columbus is loaded with other problems, too. My suggestion? Withdraw it from publication.

    My suggestion to all the people who already bought Bader's Who Was Christopher Columbus? Do not use it with young children. Instead, write to Penguin and ask for your money back, or, use it with older children and adults in a text analysis activity. Read what Bader wrote, and compare it to other sources. A great set of resources for this activity is at the Zinn Education Project website. Another excellent resource is Rethinking Columbus.

    You, Ms. Bader, and your editors at Grosset & Dunlap (it is an imprint of Penguin), can do better. I hope you do. Recall the book. Refund the money parents, teachers, and librarians spent on it, too.

    And do better.

    Debbie Reese
    American Indians in Children's Literature

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    15. Printable: Flourish & Bloom



    This month I've invited good friend and talented designer Lisa Zainuddin from oxoloco.com to kindly contribute one of her lovely calligraphic pieces for the free printable that's available to subscribers of the monthly newsletter. What do you think of "Flourish & Bloom"? Absolutely delightful, right? Here's a shot of her work in progress ...




    Lisa is also collaborating on the children's books with myself and brilliant author Jennifer Poulter, so you'll be hearing more of her as time goes by.

    Meanwhile I'm back at college and the workload is pretty intense at the moment. I'll be posting pages from the sketchbooks here as I go along, as well as at the new site for my persona as children's book illustrator Mariana Black! It's all a bit confusing right now but I'm sure I'll get everything sorted out eventually, though some lines may remain blurred forever - I don't quite have a problem with that though.

    As always, the monthly illustrated quotes are available as free printables exclusively to the subscribers of the Floating Lemons monthly newsletter. Click HERE to sign up for it.Have a lovely week! Cheers.


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    16. 31 Days of Halloween: Inktober

    Inktober isn’t part of Halloween, per se, but it is part of the season. The purpose of Inktober is to get artists drawing, with the goal one inked drawing a day. Jake Parker has a primer, with tools and suggestions here. And his own wonderful drawings. Here’s some Halloween appropriate drawings from Days 1-4 — […]

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    17. Contemplating the change in season, in today's Inquirer

    In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, I'm remembering a recent day spent alongside my father, at Longwood Gardens. We made our way to the meadow. We stood on the cusp of a season. We thought about the summer we had shared packing up his beautiful home, and about all that might come next.

    That story can be found in full here, along with an invitation to join me and Marciarose Shestack at the Free Library of Philadelphia this coming Wednesday evening, at 7:30, as we talk about our love for this city.

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    18. Small is Beautiful

    The last few weeks have given me a chance to celebrate and network with librarians working in small libraries at two special events that reminded me again of my abiding respect and enthusiasm for those working in libraries serving small communities.

    In September, I was one of the teaching facilitators for an intensive three day Wisconsin Youth Services Leadership Institute. Twenty-five library staffers involved with youth work, almost all from small libraries, were selected from over sixty applicants.

    At the beginning, many felt that they didn't deserve to be called librarians because they lacked a master's degree. Over the course of the three days, through workshops on history, advocacy, leadership and more; through many individual and group conversations and expressions of mutual support for each other; and through some eye-opening goal setting, all the participants claimed their title as librarians and leaders doing great things for their communities in libraries.

    Then I attended the recent Association of Rural and Small Libraries conference. I had long heard that this was one of the best library conferences out there and I can't disagree. Fifty-nine break-out session presentations; five major speakers at meals throughout the 2.5 day conference; and plenty of support for everyone to network and talk together during breaks, dine-arounds and receptions. The organizers made sure everyone felt welcomed.

    I heard over and over people talking about colleagues they met from all over the country with similar situations (both triumphs and tears) and how great it was to touch base and connect. The focus on issues and concerns specific to the those working in small libraries had alot of meat for people from larger libraries and I found myself tugged between many great sessions scheduled opposite each other (eight programs per time slot!!).

    Perhaps my favorite part was how many presenters were from small libraries sharing their expertise. It was great to hear new voices and ideas and perspectives and worth the price of admission. When I go to conferences, I love to hear from people working in many different library situations and my favorite panels are those that are made up of voices from multiple libraries of various sizes and regions.

    As a longtime freelance storyteller in my state, I had the opportunity to go to many, very small libraries over the years. Each time I learned some new cool idea, some tip or trick, an arrangement of collections or services that was, well, completely brilliant. The creative librarians at many of these libraries became my role models, my go-to inspiration and pals.

    Their work was echoed again in these two conferences and reinforces one of my deep and abiding beliefs. We are all librarians - regardless of education, all community advocates, all dedicated altruists who believe in the power of reading to change lives and that librarians from medium and large libraries have a TON to learn from our colleagues in small libraries.

    Small is beautiful!

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    19. Celebrating World Teachers’ Day on Two Writing Teachers #WorldTeachersDay

    October 5 is World Teachers' Day. Thank you, teachers, for all you do!

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    20. Sketchbook Exhibition at The Point

    I've got a mini-exhibition of my sketchbooks this month at The Point gallery in Doncaster. On Tuesday, I travelled there for a meeting, to finalise which sketchbooks I am going to have on display and to install them. 

    For now, it's only a small display: just 6 open books in neat glass cases, set into the wall of the gallery. I chose various contenders to show to the curator at the gallery. I also needed to test out which would fit best in the spaces, which are only 12 inches square, which meant neither small ones nor long ones would work. 

    Luckily they were perfect for A5 books, of which I have quite a few. We chose a selection of different subjects, for visual impact, but also to get across the idea that you can sketch anything. I was keen to show work in various media too, because for me, sketchbooks are about experimentation and having fun, rather than creating predicable results.

    It was lovely seeing the gallery. It's not somewhere I was aware of before they got in touch, which is shameful, given how close it is. The Georgian front belies a very modern interior. It's more than a gallery too: it's an arts centre, with music and dance studios, as well as a lovely cafe (which was very good value - lovely coffee for £1!)

    If you are thinking of going to take a look, you have until October 21st.

    There is also currently an Urban Sketching exhibition on, with drawings by artist Terry Chipp. There's free parking for 2 hours on the street outside the gallery too. What more could anyone want?

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    21. Grave News

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    22. Strategies for Evoking Moonlight

    "Khasra by Moonlight" is one of the original paintings in the exhibition "The Art of James Gurney"  in Philadelphia. 
    Khasra by Moonlight by James Gurney, 12 x 18 inches, oil on board
    To evoke the feeling of moonlight, I used the following six strategies, which I based on my own personal memories of observing moonlight, and my study of other artists whose nocturnes I really admire (especially Frederic Remington, Atkinson GrimshawJohn Stobart, and Frank Tenney Johnson):

    1. Set up an overall temperature contrast between the orange torchlight and the cool blue-green moonlight.
    2. Keep the chroma in the moonlight low--not too intense of a blue-green. Hint of blue in far distance.
    3. Put a slight warm halo around the moon and edge-light the adjacent clouds.
    4. Keep the key of the painting relatively high.
    5. Suppress all detail in the shadows and put some texture and variety in the lights.
    6. Introduce a gradual stepping back of value, lightening as it goes back to the far minaret.

    Here's the quick (45 minute) maquette that I built for lighting reference. It didn't need to be beautiful at all, just any old blobs of modeling clay were all I needed.

    I quickly discovered that I had to move the actual lighting position quite far to the left, much farther to the left than the position of the moon in the painting.

    After taking a digital photo of the maquette, in Photoshop I shifted the key toward blue-green, and I desaturated it slightly. The photo shows a lot of reflected light in the shadows, which I largely ignored. I would have played up that reflected light had I wanted to evoke daylight effects, where I might want to amplify the relatively weak reflected light.
    "The Art of James Gurney" at the Richard Hess Museum at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia will be on view through November 16, and I will do a public presentation on October 29.
    "Khasra by Moonlight" was first published in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara
    There's a discussion of architectural maquettes in my print book Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist and an exploration of moonlight in Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter

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    23. Where next? New politics, kinder politics and the myth of anti-politics

    For many commentators the 2015 General Election was the first genuinely ‘anti-political’ election but at the same time it was one in which the existence of a major debate about the nature of British democracy served to politicize huge sections of society.

    The post Where next? New politics, kinder politics and the myth of anti-politics appeared first on OUPblog.

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    24. Tell Us Something True/Dana Reinhardt (you're. going. to. love. it.)

    We returned from a rain-soaked Shenandoah Valley to a northeaster being chased by a possible Category 4. But I had places to be. Third and Spruce, for a conversation. Up near the Art Museum, to visit with a friend.

    I had places to be, and I was saturated. I was a walking puddle, a character from a Peanuts cartoon.

    I had two things in my bag, in my long walk from damp to embarrassing. One of them was Dana Reinhardt's oh-so-perfect forthcoming novel (I apologize in advance that you will have to wait for it until next spring), Tell Us Something True (Wendy Lamb Books, Random House Children's Books).

    May I preface this by saying that I have enormous respect for Dana Reinhardt—as a writer, as a person. Despite her impressive breadth as an author, her astonishing talent with character, story, and sentences, and her cache of awards, you will not find her out there on the circuit showboating. You will not hear her raising toasts to herself.

    So 1)  I'm predisposed to love Dana Reinhardt, and 2) I felt hugely blessed to receive an early copy of her book. But 3) Even I could not imagine how utterly un-put-downable this new novel is. About a teenage boy who is dumped by a girl and finds himself (on his long walk home) standing before a fading sign—black words on white: A SECOND CHANCE.

    This dumped kid, River: He feels he needs a second chance.

    And so he enters into this community of teens who are struggling to break free of one kind of addiction or another. He feels at peace. It's his turn to talk and he fables up something. He confesses that he is addicted to weed. It's not true. It's not even close to true. But if River holds onto (then embellishes) this ready myth, he'll always have a chair in this circle.

    He wants a chair in that circle.

    This is the premise of Dana's book. But Dana never barters with mere premise. She is a storyteller with a heart, a writer (and a mom) who understands that characters make for story, not theses. That the honorable thing to do with a novelistic set-up is to find out who lives inside the chosen frame. Who really lives there. What they think. How they hope. How they screw up. How they take first steps toward forgiveness. How they continually readjust the way they see the world and themselves.

    There's not a single throw-away character in Tell Us Something True. No cardboard constructions representing An Idea. There are best friends, an adorable half sister, good parents, white neighborhoods, Mexican ones, missed buses, the romance of imagination. There's humor and infinite humanity. There's line after line of prose so good I kept pumping my fist, and let me tell you something: I didn't want this book to end.

    I despair, sometimes, at the YA category. At trends that suffocate original impulses. At books that sell on the basis of a hook and authorial ambition (and little else). At copy cat voices. At plot-point checklists. At self-serving declarations. At marketing machines.

    But then along comes Dana Reinhardt, who writes character and considered plots, who quietly, then boldly escalates her ideas, who gets you all caught up inside the family of action, who leaves you running from place to place in a storm, desperate to return to her story.

    Tell Us Something True is hope; it is humanity; it offers a master class in ultimately accepting our own impossible imperfections. Original, funny, wrenching, real, and intelligently surprising, it's bound to endure. It might even heal the many cracks between us.

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    25. My tweets

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