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<<November 2014>>
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1. PAPERCHASE - cards

And finally we end the week with a selection of cards spotted in Paperchase. Publishers featured include Cinnamon Aitch, Caroline Gardner, Ecojot, Soosichacha and Paperchase own label.

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2. PAPERCHASE - 20% discount

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3. Give Back on Black Friday: Here’s How

Looking for a way to get your holiday shopping done AND give back to a worthy cause at the same time?  There are several ways to make it happen this holiday season.

1. TOM’S for Target has put out a line of chic home goods, apparel, and shoes in stores and online at http://www.target.com.  For every purchase, Tom’s donate one week of meals to Feeding America.

The following companies offer a “Buy one – Give one” guarantee:

2. http://www.handinhandsoap.com  For every 2-bar pack purchased ($18.00), the company donates a bar and one month of clean water to a child in the developing world.

3. http://www.yoobi.com  Buy a school item and one will be sent to a US classroom in need thanks to the Kids In Need Foundation.

4. Buy an 8 piece COASTER SET ($20.00) from http://www.outofprintcloting.com  and a book will be sent to an underprivileged community through Books For Africa.

5. Buy a clothing item from http://www.twiceaswarm.com  and a new clothing item will be sent to a homeless services organization in the US.

6.  Purchase a Give A Hoot Owl Pillow ($25.00) from  http://www.willowcreekstudio.net   and another will be sent to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, or The Highmark Caring Place.


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4. La Bloga: Ten Years And Still Going Strong

November 28, 2004 -- La Bloga's birthday

That first post appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Ten years later and La Bloga is stronger than ever. Born in conversations between Rudy Ch. Garcia and Manuel Ramos in the Aztec Sol, a Denver bar that no longer exists, La Bloga was meant from the beginning to be a place, a home, where all things Chicana/o Latina/o could be discussed, reviewed, analyzed, praised, recommended, criticized, and simply enjoyed. We had a focus on literature, and that focus continues today, but anyone who reads our daily changing posts knows that we are so much more.  From health advice to cooking tips to interviews to cutting edge art to musical videos to folkloric exhibits to poetry that celebrates and energizes the struggles for justice, peace, saving the earth, and equality, to ... whatever we come up with next. To commemorate our tenth anniversary of providing content we hope our readers find informative, provocative, or at least entertaining, here are a few thoughts from the current family of eleven devoted writers.

The lead post for this edition is a powerful new poem from Xánath Caraza that in less than five hundred passionate words wraps up the hopes, fears, and anxieties of today's world, and the place La Bloga has in helping to make sense of it all. Muchísimas gracias to all the bloggers - for all you do.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!


Aterrizando en St. Louis, Missouri
Por Xánath Caraza

La misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
se subastó el traje de león
de la película el Mago de Oz
esa misma noche al tocar tierra
la mujer junto a mí me preguntó
si St. Louis era mi último destino
ella no estaba segura de poder
llegar a su casa porque la calles
estaban tomadas
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis
mi vuelo llegó retrasado
la misma noche que aterricé en St. Louis
el aeropuerto estaba lleno de policías
con perros que olfatearon mi maleta
llena de libros, mis armas secretas,
la misma noche que aterricé
pensaba en el río Hudson
en los colores que absorbí
en ese otoño amarillo de hojas en la acera
de árboles de ginkgo en Brooklyn
pensaba en la noche de tormenta
en el cuarto piso donde el viento
aullaba frente al Hudson
y yo en pijamas escuchaba
hipnotizada sus ritmos
la misma noche que aterricé
en St. Louis me urgía llegar a casa
y escribir un poema
esa misma noche, en el aeropuerto
me pregunté si no estaba en Latinoamérica
donde ver pasar policías armados
en las calles es el pan nuestro de cada día
esa misma noche cerca de las 8 y media
Ferguson se llenó de llamaradas
esa misma noche algo dentro
de mí se rompió de golpe
esa misma noche sentí que eran
43 + 1
esa misma noche sentí
la noche que aterricé
en St. Louis, Missouri
me recordó que la vida
no la tenemo comprada
que es frágil, que no es nuestra
que aquí estamos de paso
me recordó que soy afortunada
de escribir estas palabras
de tener el espacio donde
me recordó que tengo una voz
que quiero usar apropiadamente
que tener un espacio como La Bloga
es un santuario en esta selva
esa misma noche pensé que diez
años eran 3,650 días y que en cada uno
de esos días Manuel, Lydia, Daniel,
Em, Melinda, René, Amelia, Rudy,
Ernesto, Olga y Xánath hacen posible
La Bloga, luego pensé, al atterizar en
St. Louis que esos 43 + 1 no estaban
que no estaban, que nunca leerían
mis palabras, que esa noche
que aterricé en St. Louis
hacía frío y que las imágenes
en el televisor de uno de los bares
frente a la sala E22 era de fuego puro
que era lunes 24 de noviembre
también pensé en una noche en
la playa, en una fogata tan grande
que alcanzara la luna
la noche que aterricé en St. Louis, Missouri
pensé en ti, Michael Brown, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, niño perdido, pensé en ti
pensé en ti,  43 + 1, pensé en ti
pensé en ti, en ti, en ti, pensé
en ti, en ti, en ti, ti, pensé
esa noche, al aterrizar

-- Xánath Caraza (alternate Mondays)

Today I spent the afternoon putting the final touches on my Monday blog post which will consist of a short interview with Frederick Luis Aldama concerning his new book on the director, Robert Rodriguez. It got me to thinking about the remarkable opportunities I've had writing for La Bloga these last ten years. I've been able to give coverage to books, authors, artists and others without any fear of censorship. True, we have, at times upset a few...that is to be expected. But we've become one, big, messy familia talking (shouting) across the virtual dinner table about things we hold dear. I am delighted that our numbers have grown so that many more voices are now showcased on La Bloga. And I'm pleased that we have an audience that is engaged and growing. I started with La Bloga when I was 45 years old...I am now 55 and holding. Here's to another decade, at least! -- Daniel Olivas (alternate Mondays)

Teresa Marquez and the CHICLE listserve brought us together ya hace a decade plus. We were three names on a listerv. Then one day we found ourselves three vatos blogging. And soon we were four, five, six, now we are eleven friends, women and men blogging. La Bloga has seen a few changes, qepd Tatiana de la Tierra. ¡Viva la literatura, viva la cultura! Ten years is not a long time. A decade ago a single person could claim to have read everything ever published as Chicano Literature. Today, that’s impossible, and never again can it be true. A decade from now, hijole! Thank you for reading La Bloga, and to my blogueras blogueros colegas, thank you for writing La Bloga. Happy anniversary.-- Michael Em Sedano (Tuesday)

Ten years ago, my first book was published Waiting for Papá/ Esperando a Papá. I began to receive good feedback from readers. I read a wonderful comment in a new blog called La Bloga. I immediately loved the blog because the bloggers were commenting about latino and chicano literature. My love for La Bloga was so great that I volunteered to be a guest writer. Then I became the Wednesday blogger. It has been 9 great years blogging about children literature in this wonderful blog. La Bloga continue reviewing and commenting about Latino and Chicano Literature in English and Español. Happy 10th years for La Bloga!

Gracias La Bloga por abrirnos una ventana en internet para que descubramos más sobre nuestra literatura. -- René Colato Laínez (Wednesday)

I first joined La Bloga as a guest columnist in 2009, after meeting René Colato Laínez and Michael Sedano at the National Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque. La Bloga, as they described it, promised to carry on the spirit of camaraderie that we, writers and lovers of literature, had lived so intensely throughout the days of the conference. Over the past few years, I have seen La Bloga blossom into an international community of readers and writers, a real family with its chismes and peleas, and also a profound cariño for one another… a home where many languages are spoken and celebrated, un verdadero refugio. ¡Gracias, mi gente! 
Lydia Gil (alternate Thursdays)

La Bloga has made a big difference for Latino lit. It has also made a big difference in my career. Ten years ago I was wondering if I'd ever be published again, now I'm appearing regularly in anthologies, my books are being reprinted, and I'm going to doing a master class on Latino speculative fiction at a university. Thank you, La Bloga! Keep going! --  Ernest Hogan (alternate Thursdays)

Thank you, Manuel, for asking me to join La Bloga six years ago. It's been a wonderful ride. Before joining La Bloga, I had the pleasure of offering many guests posts. I even won a writing contest on La Bloga. I was a regular follower of La Bloga, the main source of news for Chicano Literature. I especially enjoyed reading Daniel's column. He talked about his writing life with such enthusiasm that when he put out a call for contributors to an anthology titled Latinos in Lotusland, I was determined to be part of it. Thanks to Daniel Olivas and La Bloga, I built a career out of that one accepted short story so many years ago. La Bloga is where we build a community of people who care about our culture, politics, arts, and literature. Thanks fellow Blogueros and Blogueras, who live in different cities and states, I learn new things every day and I gain glimpses at lives that represent the diversity of our culture. It's no wonder scholars and academics also consume our writings. I'm proud to blog for La Bloga.  Ten years! And many more! La Bloga continues to be the source for relevant events in our global familia. Melinda Palacio (alternate Fridays)

It's been pure joy watching La Bloga grow and prosper for ten years. We owe it all to our loyal readers and, of course, to the wonderful bloggers who have graced our pages. The Magnificent Eleven are great -- elegantly represented here in these few paragraphs in today's edition. There also have been several other contributors over the years that have made this space a success and, in my opinion, a genuine source of pride for the Latina/o cultural community.  I won't attempt to list all the various people who have been a part of La Bloga -- I know I will overlook someone -- but I think you all know how much you are appreciated and that you are a vital part of La Bloga history and, we hope, its future. Long Live La Bloga! -- Manuel Ramos (alternate Fridays)

La Bloga's just un puño on the Internet. But it's been our puño. Through ten years, posting daily about la literatura, la cultura de la mexicanidad y latinidad, for over 36,000 days! It's a treasure of history I've been proud to assist with. Today I wonder how we might enrich and enliven it into the next decade, to even better promote la raza cósmica. We could benefit from more puertoriqueño-, domicano- and cubano-American contributors. Some jovenes would be good, like even a teenager or a twenty-something. How about a Chican@ of apache or Hopi descent? Whatever happens, this puño feels like it will sigue por un tiempo más. Gracias a todos que han leído nuestras palabras e ideas pobres. -- Rudy Ch. Garcia (Saturday)

Felicidades to La Bloga’s 10th year. How very fortunate I am to be a member of this writing familia. I’ve been writing for La Bloga since 2011 (a little over 3 years), thanks to tatiana de la tierra who called me one morning asking if I’d share writing duties with her on Sundays. Little did I know that morning when I said, “yes—anything for you, Querida tatiana,” that I would be receiving so much more than what I give every other week. And she remains with us. To the spirit of tatiana and all the La Bloga familia: You inspire me to bring my best to the “La Bloga” posting table. I absolutely love that we represent various geographic areas of the United States—many great perspectives. I love that we celebrate the vast diversity within the term: Latinidad. The poetry, fiction, book reviews, non-fiction musings, musical reviews, cultural topics, cooking expertise, y mas, reveal our vast heritage. Orale. Felicidades, La Bloga! Que Viva La Bloga por muchos años mas!!
Amelia M.L. Montes (alternate Sundays)


Olga García Echeverría (alternate Sundays)

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5. My Interview with Kirkus about STAR STUFF

I had the privelege of being interviewed by the wonderful Jules Danielson from Kirkus and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (I am a huge fan of hers btw). Here is the interview

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6. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Family Day

Happy Day After Thanksgiving, Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful day, yesterday!

I had a lovely day, and as I continue to have a house full of family, I am playing hooky from PPBF today.

But I will post the list for any of you who have your PPBF post ready to share! :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)

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7. Get It Done!

It’s the last few days of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Many of you have already gotten to 50,000 words already (or blown right past it). But I haven’t. I’m still chipping away word by word. Yesterday I filled my belly with turkey and in my current state of post-food bliss I’m thinking about throwing in the towel. Who was the crazy person who decided NaNoWriMo should be in November?

But I shouldn’t give up. The fact that Thanksgiving is part of NaNoWriMo month is a lesson. I should write every day, even with a turkey coma, even when it’s a holiday.

I’m almost there. If you’re in the same boat as me and pushing these last few days to get your word count — let’s do it together! Let’s keep writing.

Here are some words of encouragement for you (and me!).










You’re almost there! Let’s do it together. I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line!

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8. Slavery, rooted in America’s early history

No one can discuss American history without talking about the prevalence of slavery. When the Europeans attempted to colonize America in its early days, Indians and Africans were enslaved because they were “different from them”. The excerpt below from American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction follows the dark past of colonial America and how slavery proceeded to root itself deeply into history:

America held promises of wealth and freedom for Europeans; in time, slavery became the key to the fulfillment of both. Those who ventured to the lands that became the United States of America arrived determined to extract wealth from the soil, and they soon began to rely on systems of unpaid labor to accomplish these goals. Some also came with dreams of acquiring freedoms denied them in Europe, and paradoxically slavery helped to make those freedoms possible as well. As European immigrants to the colonies initiated a system of slavery, they chose to enslave only those who were different from them—Indians and Africans. A developing racist ideology marked both Indians and Africans as heathens or savages, inferior to white Europeans and therefore suited for enslavement. When continued enslavement of Indians proved difficult or against colonists’ self-interest, Africans and their descendants alone constituted the category of slave, and their ancestry and color came to be virtually synonymous with slave.

Although Europeans primarily enslaved Africans and their descendants, in the early 1600s in both northern and southern colonies, Africans were not locked into the same sort of lifetime slavery that they later occupied. Their status in some of the early colonies was sometimes ambiguous, but by the time of the American Revolution, every English colony in America—from Virginia, where the English began their colonization project, to Massachusetts, where Puritans made claims for religious freedom—had people who were considered lifetime slaves. To understand how the enslavement of Africans came about, it is necessary to know something of the broader context of European settlement in America.

In the winter of 1606, the Virginia Company, owned by a group of merchants and wealthy gentry, sent 144 English men and boys on three ships to the East Coast of the North American continent. English explorers had established the colony of Roanoke in Carolina in 1585, but when a ship arrived to replenish supplies two years later, the colony was nowhere to be found. The would-be colonists had either died or become incorporated into Indian groups. The English failed in their first attempt to establish a permanent colony in North America. Now they were trying again, searching for a place that would sustain and enrich them.

By the time the English ships got to the site of the new colony in April 1607, only 105 men and boys were left. Despite the presence of thousands of Algonquian-speaking Indians in the area, the leader of the English group planted a cross and named the territory on behalf of James, the new king of England. They established the Jamestown Settlement as a profit-making venture of the Virginia Company, but the colony got off to a bad start. The settlers were poorly suited to the rigors of colonization. To add to their troubles, the colony was located in an unhealthy site on the edge of a swamp. The new arrivals were often ill, plagued by typhoid and dysentery from lack of proper hygiene. Human waste spilled into the water supply, the water was too salty for consumption at times, and mosquitoes and bugs were rampant. No one planted foodstuffs. The colonists entered winter unprepared and only gifts of food from the Powhatan Indians saved them.

In the winter of 1609/10, a period that colonist John Smith called the “starving time,” several of the colonists resorted to cannibalism. According to Smith, some of the colonists dug up the body of an Indian man they had killed, boiled him with roots and herbs, and ate him. One man chopped up his wife and ate her. John Smith feared that the colony would disappear much as Roanoke had, so he established a militarized regime, divided the men into work gangs with threats of severe discipline, and told them that they would either work or starve. Smith’s dramatic strategy worked. The original settlers did not all die, and more colonists, including women and children, arrived from England to help build the struggling colony.

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lg_ph1444tobaccowharves.jpg)
Tobacco Wharf in Colonial America. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The first dozen years of the Jamestown Colony saw hunger, disease, and violent conflicts with the Native People, but it also saw the beginnings of a cash crop that could generate wealth for the investors in the Virginia Company back in England, as well as for planters within the colony. In 1617, the colonist John Rolfe brought a new variety of tobacco from the West Indies to Jamestown. In tobacco the colonists found the saleable commodity for which they had been searching, and they shipped their first cargo to England later that year. The crop, however, made huge demands on the soil. Cultivation required large amounts of land because it quickly drained soil of its nutrients. This meant that colonists kept spreading out generating immense friction with the Powhatan Indians who had long occupied and used the land. Tobacco was also a labor-intensive crop, and clearing land for new fields every few years required a great deal of labor. The colony needed people who would do the work.

Into this unsettled situation came twenty Africans in 1619. According to one census there were already some Africans in the Jamestown colony, but August 1619, when a Dutch warship moored at Point Comfort on the James River, marks the first documented arrival of Africans in the colony. John Rolfe wrote, “About the last of August came in a dutch man of warre that sold us twenty Negars.” According to Rolfe, “the Governor and Cape Marchant bought [them] for victuals at the easiest rates they could.” Colonists who did not have much excess food thought it worthwhile to trade food for laborers.

The Africans occupied a status of “unfreeness”; officials of the colony had purchased them, yet they were not perpetual slaves in the way that Africans would later be in the colony. For the most part, they worked alongside the Europeans who had been brought into the colony as indentured servants, and who were expected to work usually for a period of seven years to pay off the cost of their passage from England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, or elsewhere in Europe. For the first several decades of its existence, European indentured servants constituted the majority of workers in the Jamestown Colony. Living conditions were as harsh for them as it was for the Africans as noted in the desperate pleas of a young English indentured servant who begged his parents to get him back to England.

In March 1623, Richard Frethorne wrote from near Jamestown to his mother and father in England begging them to find a way to get him back to England. He was hungry, feared coming down with scurvy or the bloody flux, and described graphically the poor conditions under which he and others in the colony lived. He was worse off, he said, than the beggars who came to his family’s door in England. Frethorne’s letter is a rare document from either white or black servants in seventeenth-century Virginia, but it certainly reflects the conditions under which most of them lived. The Africans, captured inland, taken to the coast, put on ships, taken to the Caribbean, and captured again by another nation’s ships, were even farther removed from any hope of redemption than Frethorne. Even if they could have written, they would have had no way of sending an appeal for help. As it happens, Frethorne was not successful either. His letter made it to London but remained in the offices of the Virginia Company. His parents probably never heard his appeal.

Featured headline image: Cotton gin harpers. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Slavery, rooted in America’s early history appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Free Fall Friday – Results

Alexander SlaterI want to thank Alexander Slater from the Trident Media Group for agreeing to be November’s First Page Critiquer. All the agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers are doing this for free because they want to help writers improve their writing. So please realize what a big deal this is to have an industry professional take their valuable time and share their expertise with all of us.

I also want to thank everyone who submits their work for the chance of review. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is the fearless who end up making it to the published book goal line.

This is the last First Page Critique session for 2014. I will announce January’s guest in December.

Here are November’s winners and Alex’s thoughts:


TILENIKA, LEGEND OF DEO by Richard Bisbee – YA

Darkness surrounds me as I float, lost, on the wild sea…

“Ghemmi, you must take rest and come to bed this day,” Kiyami said. “Our Tilenika is away now three days. She is young; she cannot swim forever. Even you, stronger than most, would find difficulty swimming in these wild and powerful seas we now have. You also know,” she swallowed hard, “that the giant bullwah fish rise from their depths seeking prey in waters so restless.”

“I know Kiyami, but I will not leave this spot until she returns. I smell Tilenika on the wind and taste her on the sea spray. The waves whisper that she yet swims. Her heart throbs with life as surely as mine. I feel she has not parted from our world.”

Kiyami lowered her head as the wind whipped through her long black hair and blew the tears from her eyes. “I too wish to believe as you, my husband, but…I will pass by later.” She turned and slowly walked away.

Ghemmi’s deep blue eyes continued scanning the water as his floating samong community moved with the waves and currents of the sea. He thought, ‘Tilenika, your spirit is strong, but I feel you are weakening. Take care not to distance yourself from life. I sense you are close, so please come to the signal float I tend. Death only offers change of life…with understanding and wisdom too late to use.’ He closed his eyes as he rocked upon one of the bulbous seaweed kiila floats of the samong. His mind reached out to hers, rippling, spreading, reaching out, like circular rings expanding when a shell is dropped in still water…rippling…reaching out…reaching out.

Suddenly, he felt a strong tug on the line. He sprang to his feet and began pulling length after length of dripping line. “Kiyami!” he yelled, “Sound the alarm! We have a fight ahead!”

Here’s Alex:


The dialogue here has the old-fashioned feel of a 1930’s Hollywood film, with its grandiosity, detail, and heightened exposition. I see this style utilized in many high fantasy projects, as the ornate and otherworldly setting tends to mirror itself in the language. My problem is that I often have a tough time connecting to this lofty speak, as it might simply feel unnatural and overexposed, as in this sample with descriptions like, “stronger than most,” and, “rise from their depths seeking prey.” These are examples of dialogue that tell, rather than show, and in so doing, the voice feels forced, rather than organic. I would say be careful with such a high style, as it leads to easy traps where characters blend into the narrative, rather than stand out. Also, I think it would be for the readers benefit if Tilenika is given just a bit more description – I cannot tell from this first page if this name is that of a character, or a pet, or what, and therefore, it is difficult to get hooked immediately without that knowledge.


Fool’s Mate by Chris Friden – YA

Constance Yearly lashed out across the chessboard and stabbed an ice pick into the table beside her opponent’s king. She let it thrum. This pre-match ritual intimidated most foes, but Alastair “The Bellman” Brown didn’t flinch. He kept his focus on the black and white universe at their fingertips.

Constance sat back, concealing her pleasure in his brave resistance. Like so many boys, he was sure of his impending victory. Sure that everything in reach was his to take. Sure of his invulnerability, and that left him entirely vulnerable.

Constance watched him scan the playing pieces again while he tried to ignore the damnable space she’d left empty in the back row. She let that missing matriarch vex him and simmer his impatience as she waited for a sign of weakness.

And as reliably as a Caro-Kann defense, it came. Alastair’s left eye twitched.

Constance lowered her red-gloved hand into a Styrofoam cooler at her feet. She searched for her prize and an apropos expression. Revenge is best served cold? That expression didn’t do this justice.

“I’ll have the match before my Ice Queen melts,” she promised in a tone as chilled as the frozen figurine she dangled from the pinch of her fingers. She clinked her lady––clear except for the small drop of suspended red where a tiny heart might have been––onto the place beside her widower king. “Let’s begin.”

Here’s Alex: 


This opening sentence contains great action and violence. It’s captivating, original, and memorable. However, by introducing a universally known game like chess, prepare yourself for the reader’s intuitions. Sentences like, “missing matriarch,” confused me until I realized they were still setting up the game. Let that be clearer. Also, I am still left perplexed that Constance is able to stab the ice pick, “beside her opponent’s king,” leaving me wondering where Alastair’s queen is? The great reveal of her piece makes sense, but I’m still unsure of Alastair’s pieces. Overall, an interesting opening, with clear characters and mini-plot set to reveal itself. I like openings that feel they can stand on their own, as this does.


Mad Cow Science Club by Jennifer Swanson – Middle Grade

Nick Newton stepped on his shovel and pushed it deep into the dirt. Today was the day. He could feel it. He was going to find something amazing.

“Hey over, here!” Nick’s best friend Rudi Patel shouted excitedly. “Look at this.”

Nick’ heart beat fast as he raced to Rudi’s side. A treaure!

“Omph!” Nick tipped sideways as their other friend and fellow treasure hunter, Rebecca Raintree, elbowed him out of the way. “Take it easy, Beccs, this isn’t the lacrosse field.”

She snorted. “As if you could handle that.” Her dancing eyes and swift grin took the edge off the words. Nick flushed. Rebecca was right. He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse. Holding the stick while running, throwing, and catching a ball, required way more skill than his

awkward arms and legs could manage. Now science he could do. Nick was awesome at science.

“A skull!” Nick shouted. Yes, today was a good day.

“I thought we were supposed to be looking for dinosaur bones,” said Rebecca. “That doesn’t look like a dinosaur to me. It looks like a cow skull. What’s so special about finding that? This place used to be a farm.”

Nick thrust out his chin. “I think it’s great.” He wasn’t about to let Rebecca take the wind out of his sails. This was the first big discovery for their new science club. And it was going to have a place of honor in their garage clubhouse

“ This would make a great drawing.” Rudi pushed his glasses up on his nose, his brown eyes gleaming, and studied the rock intently.

“Who cares about a dumb ol’ skull, let’s go down to the river and see if we can clean up the shore. That’s what a real science club would do,” said Rebecca.

Nick sighed. Maybe Rebecca was right. This field was a bust. Nick was about to toss the skull aside when he stopped suddenly. His hand froze. Had the sightless skull just winked at him?

Here’s Alex: 


This first page sets up a fun premise that will seem to blend some fantasy and adventure elements, told with a light touch. I like Rebecca’s strong will, and especially Rudi’s contribution that the skull would make a “great drawing.” This subtle detail speaks volumes about Rudi’s character, and it works to allow the reader to discover Rudi on their own. I feel like more subtlety could be employed for Nick, rather than stopping the action with sentences like, “He wasn’t good at sports. Especially lacrosse.” I know these are essential lines to painting Nick’s character early on, but they stall the action for me in these important first paragraphs. I don’t care that Nick is more inclined towards science class right now – I already kind of understand that with the tension between he and Becca. What I care about is discovering, along with the characters, what they’ve dug up, so avoid characterization when your narrative is in the middle of plot-building.


Winter Hare By Laurie J. Edwards – MG

The wolves bared their teeth and slunk closer. Achen scrabbled for a foothold on a huge oak. Splinters bit into her hands and bare feet. Blood pounded in her head and made her ears throb.

A wolf lunged.

Achen yanked her foot upward, scraping it raw. The wolf’s teeth snapped shut, just shy of her foot. The damp breath from its nostrils heated her toes and sent tremors through her body.

Terror propelled her higher. Inch by inch, she dragged her shaking limbs above slavering tongues. Below her, the beasts fanned in a semicircle. Fangs glinted. Yellow eyes glowed, feral in the gloom of winter dusk.

Achen trembled. They waited only for her to tire and lose her grip.

A snarl pierced the air, followed by a high-pitched scream. Then a slab of meat, splattering blood as it flew, arced over the wolves’ heads. The beasts turned, growling, to fight over this chunk of flesh.

While they were occupied, a black-cloaked figure stepped from the trees, drew a bow, and with deadly accuracy sent arrows quivering into the wolves, one by one. When the last carcass lay twitching, the shrouded figure threw back its hood, revealing a mass of coppery curls.

“Mama!” Achen slid down the trunk, not caring that splinters embedded themselves in her palms. She flung herself into her mother’s outstretched arms. Drawing in a shuddery breath, she begged, “Please don’t leave me again, Mama.”

Her mother’s eyes shimmered with tears. “I must, dear heart. You know that.”

Here’s Alex: 


This is an action-filled opening that grabs the reader by the throat. I can see the scene, thanks to details like, “heated her toes,” “winter dusk,” and, “quivering into.” The use of fresh language, and spare details allows the reader to fill in the missing details, and that’s a rewarding experience. Trusting the reader always pays off. After re-reading, the only think I am concerned about is Achen’s age, or size. The feral request of not being left along feels rather young, while the ability to climb such a tree is difficult. I think providing the age in this opening would be a detail best kept for later, but again, a word about her size or ability might paint her clearer in my mind. Overall, compelling.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, revisions, writing Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, First Page Critiques, Improve Writing Skills, Trident Media Group

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10. PAPERCHASE WEEK - round up

It is the last day of looking at Paperchase's current range of designs and I have pieced together a final round-up of cards, wrap, and stationery. I really loved this Ponies design on wrapping paper, floral tulip style pattern and the geometric and wood eco pads.

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11. Black Friday ’14: For the Ladies

By Hannah Lodge

Though Cyber Monday deals are a few days away and not officially revealed everywhere, we’ve spotted a number of Black Friday top picks from the scattered corners of the internet. Here’s a run-down on some of the best deals in fandom-inspired clothing, cosmetics and decor.

Geek Chic Cosmetics

What it is: Fandom-inspired makeup line, including loose eye shadows, lip glosses and lip sticks (dubbed ‘joysticks’ and ‘geek gloss’)

The sale: 25% off site-wide, beginning at midnight Friday (or is that midnight Thursday, depending on how you look at it…?)

Top pick: The “awesome mix” tin, inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy, comes with six eye shadows, including “12% of a plan” and “The destroyer.”

Where:  http://www.geekchiccosmetics.com/

awesome mix limited edition tin 19 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies


Black Milk Clothing

What it is: Original and licensed nylon (including Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, DC, and Bioware)

The sale: 20% off select items on the U.S. site and 30% off select items on the world wide site, in limited quantities, through Monday

Top pick: The Riddler leggings were sold out almost immediately, but the iconic R2-D2 swimsuit is still available


artoo 2 0 swimsuit 1369789623 1024x1024 200x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies


Shiro Cosmetics

What it is: Another indie, fandom-inspired make up site, Shiro Cosmetics offered loose & pressed eye shadows, colored glosses, and more

The sale: TBA on Friday, but last year’s sale featured 15% off all items

Top pick: We can’t possibly choose between the “Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist” shadow or the “Cages through the Ages,” Nic Cage-inspired lip gloss set. (Ah, who are we kidding: Cage takes this one)

Where:  http://shirocosmetics.com/

geniusbillionaireplayboyphilanthropist3 Black Friday 14: For the Ladiescagesthroughtheages 400x400 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies


Her Universe

What it is: Sci-fi and comics inspired clothing and accessories, including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel brands

The sale: Up to 60% off select items, starting Wednesday

Top pick: We’re partial to the Black Widow zip-up jacket

Where: http://www.heruniverse.com/

heruniverse 300x300 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies


Fandom Cosmetics

What it is: Though they feature a variety of make-up and cosmetics, Fandom Cosmetics seems to have one of the larger and better fandom-inspired nail polish collections, including Sherlock, Doctor Who, Hannibal, Walking Dead, Justice League, and more

The sale: 40% off select items, starting Friday

Top pick: The Justice League inspired nail polish set, including signature colors of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and The Flash

Where:  http://www.fandomcosmetics.com/

justice league 300x267 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies

The Geekerie

What it is: Posters and prints, featuring movie, television, and science-fiction inspired images.

The sale: 20% off of bundled items, starting Friday

Top pick: The “Table of Thrones” Game of Thrones-style periodic table – warning, spoilers!

Where: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGeekerie

table of thrones 300x255 Black Friday 14: For the Ladies


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12. What we’re thankful for

Since we’re still recovering from eating way too much yesterday, Managing Editor Troy Reeves and I would like to sit back and just share a few of the things we’re thankful for.

Troy Reeves:

Wow! So many things I’m thankful for, such as family, friends, pie, turkey, cranberries (basically just about every food associated with Thanksgiving). Except the marshmallows on top the yams – don’t get it, don’t like it.

Oh, right, this post should focus on the oral history-related thankful things. Well, it still comes back to friendship. I have been blessed over my now 15 years in the Oral History Association in building a cadre (cabal?) of colleagues who double as friends. And I leaned on these people early on to help us build our presence on OUPblog.

From our first post (thanks Sarah) through our longest podcast (thanks Doug) and several in-between (looking at you Steinhauer – for both postsWettemann, Morse and Corrigan, and Cramer), I feel like Joe Cocker (or Ringo Starr): I “get by with a little help from my friends.” (And I did not mention the law firm of Larson, Moye, and Sloan who helped us tease the 2013 OHA Conference.)

Last but not least, I’m thankful and grateful for the social media work of Caitlin Tyler-Richards. Even though I have full faith in Andrew, your presence will be missed. But I can always return to your last post, when I need my Caitlin fix.

So, there you go. And in case you are wondering: Yes, I turned my part of this into a homage to the Simpson’s cheesy-clip show.

Andrew Shaffer:

As a recent addition to the Oral History Review team, and a recent transplant to Wisconsin, there are a ton of things I’m thankful for.

First, I have to echo Troy in being thankful for Caitlin. She’s been immensely helpful in teaching me the social media ropes. #StillNotSureHowToHashtagProperlyThough

I’d like to name my favorite OHR blog posts, but there are just too many to list. I’m especially thankful, though, for people who are finding innovative ways to fund, record, and think deeply about oral history. It’s a privilege to be part of such an exciting field.

Thanksgiving feast, by StarMama. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

I met some amazing oral historians at the recent Oral History Association Annual Meeting, and I’m very grateful to all the people who helped to put on such a great conference.

I’m thankful to Troy for giving me a second interview, even after I showed up two hours late to the first one. Protip: When moving from the West Coast to the Midwest, make sure you update your calendar to the correct time zone.

And lastly, I should mention that I’m very thankful for my friends and family, even though most haven’t heard from me in a while!


Finally, after the recent polar vortex hitting us in Wisconsin, Troy and I are both very happy that next year’s OHA Annual Meeting will be in sunny Florida. Check out the Call For Papers here – we look forward to seeing you there!

We’ll be back with another blog post soon, but in the mean time, visit us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to tell us what you’re thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The post What we’re thankful for appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Bárður Oskarsson

“…’She is totally flat,’ said the rat.
For a while they just stood there looking at her.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about the anniversary editions of Robie H. Harris’ It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health and It’s So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. These informative and thorough books for children (must-haves for parents and children’s libraries) on sexual health and puberty have been updated for their birthdays this year. Both books are illustrated by Michael Emberley.

That link will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Bárður Oskarsson’s The Flat Rabbit, and I’m following up with some art today.


“They went to the park to think. At least the dog was thinking –
so hard that his brain was creaking. Where could they move her?
And what if somebody found her and ate her? …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“‘Watch the ears!’ said the dog, while carefully peeling her flat legs off the road.
The rabbit was so thin, he was afraid she might tear. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“…The dog was quite proud of their excellent work,
but the rat wasn’t convinced the tape would hold. …”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


* * * * * * *

THE FLAT RABBIT. Copyright © 2011 Bárður Oskarsson. Translation © 2014 Marita Thomsen. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Owlkids, Toronto.

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14. P.D.James (1920-2014)

       P.D.James has passed away -- so, lots of coverage; see, for example, obituaries in The Guardian (Richard Lea) and The New York Times (Marilyn Stasio)
       She was very good, and I've read almost all her books; four are under review at the complete review:

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15. Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun - 11/28/14

Feeling Beachie

Love this meme....I hope you can join in the fun.  

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs.  

The statements:
  1. Can you really____if you don't_____
  2. What are your thoughts about______
  3. Would you_____ if you could?
  4. Do you listen to____ or _____?

My Answers:

1.  Can you really be wealthy if you don't have a lot of money?  

2.  What are your thoughts about books that have a lot of characters to keep track of?

3.  Would you change how old you are if you could?

4.  Do you listen to books on tape or only read books? 

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16. Expo 58 review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jonathan Coe's Expo 58, now also out in the US.
       I'm a Coe-enthusiast -- all his fiction is under review at the complete review -- but this one was a bit of a let-down. Still, Penguin seem to have re-issued his backlist over the summer, so you can (and should) dig into that.

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17. Illustrator Saturday – Gregory Manchess
















Manchess_Pursuit To Arctic copy













Filed under: illustrating, Illustrator Sites, Illustrator's Saturday Tagged: Gregory Manchess

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18. Book Beginnings - 11/28/2014

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

This week's book beginnings comes from THE SILENT SISTER.

"I never expected to lose nearly everyone I loved by the time I was twenty-five.  I felt the grief rise again as I parked in front of the small, nondescript post office in Pollocksville."

THE SILENT SISTER is another excellent read by Diane Chamberlain.

I just finished it but left it as my book beginning.

This review is from a book I finished last week and wanted to share.
THE BRACELET by Dorothy Love.

"At the sound of male voices in the entry hall below, Celia Browning left her window overlooking the garden and the redbrick carriage house.  She set aside her book and opened her bedroom door just wide enough to afford a view of the door the  her father's study down below."

THE BRACELET is set in Savannah during the 1800's and is a mystery.  You also get to share in the Southern charm of that time and see how the wealthy lived.

I finished THE BRACELET last night.  I always write my reviews as I read so my review was ready to go, and the link to my review is in the book's title above and at the top of the post.

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19. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Greg Carrico, Author of Apocalypstick


Thanks for inviting me to guest post at BWATE. Like most of us, this is super-busy time of year for me. I’m launching a new business this month, preparing for next month’s release of the 2nd book in my super-hero/horror series, Sand, and I’m writing an entirely new six-book series with my awesome new writing partner Jennifer L Oliver. But even with all of this AND the holidays, I simply had to do this post. Food Fiction? Two of my favorite things in one place? Brilliant!

If you are reading this and have never read any of my stories, which is a pretty safe assumption, I write dark science fiction and horror. My first title was a book called Apocalypstick, which contains two short stories about men who wreak havoc upon the world because of the unrealistic ways that they view women.

The first story is a post-apocalyptic tale about a man with extraordinary powers who tries to rescue a handful of humans from a monster-infested Manhattan. As you can probably guess, food is sort of a big deal in any post-apocalyptic setting, and that is equally true with this one. I’m going to leave it there for this story, because I wrote a novel based on "Killing Tiffany Hudson", and what the characters eat -or don’t eat- hints at the Big Secret behind the main character and her twin brother.

The second story in Apocalypstick, "Finding Home", is part paranormal horror and part psychological thriller, and food plays an important thematic role. The story is told in first person from the perspective of a very troubled man who wants nothing more than a happy, normal life in a place he can call home. Chaos and bloodshed ensue.

But along the way he eats! Each mention of food in "Finding Home" is symbolic of the character’s progress in his journey. This made sense to me because nothing says Home like food. At first, he is drinking cheap cola from a can and stale ham sandwiches from a cooler in a minivan he stole from his previous “home.” Later, after he identifies his next dream-home, he enjoys slightly better fare in a hotel. A BLT and fries from room service. Feeling optimistic with his goal in sight, he goes to a movie and has popcorn. Things are looking up!

Like many of us, he has little time for breakfast and grabs a couple of baked goodies from the hotel buffet. But the moment in the story when he truly feels like this new home and family are for him is when he observes a woman cooking dinner for herself and her husband.

It is a simple meal. Baked chicken. Some veggies. Rice. The non-descript food takes a back seat to the fact that this couple’s meal represents the kind life that our main character so desperately craves, but knows he will never deserve. He wants the intimacy of sharing a meal cooked for him by someone who loves him. Eating on trays in front of the television; tossing little bits to the cute dog at his feet: these things belong to someone else. These experiences can never be his.

Ever the optimist, he decides that he has to try and make it work. And if a few more people have to die in the process, well, that’s just how life goes. 

If you decide to see for yourself how this story plays out, you can get Apocalypstick for free from Amazon and most distributors, but be warned. "Finding Home" is creepy. It’s not graphic or gratuitous, but it will probably make your skin crawl. "Killing Tiffany Hudson" is more of an adventure story, and I expand the setting and lives of the characters in my novel Children of the Plague. My super-hero horror series, Sand, is set in the same world as a prequel, and so far includes Book 1: Shadow of the World, and Book 2: Phantom Drift, which will be released after Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Greg!

You can find Greg and his books here:

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20. Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux, 49 pp, RL: 3

Theseus and the Minotaur is a new book by beloved French author Yvan Pommaux, known for his detailed research and illustration style, who has won many prestigious awards and had three schools named after him! Theseus and the Minotaur is also a new title from TOON Graphics, a new line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above created by the amazing François Mouly and

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21. Thanksgiving Bride

I got married on Thanksgiving
And what I remember least
Is the food out on the table,
Though it likely was a feast.

We were young and we were foolish –
Getting hitched on such a day,
But it’s thirty-nine years later
So it all worked out okay.

Still, tonight when I was eating
All that turkey and the sides,
I thought back to being one of those
Unique Thanksgiving brides.

Though in hindsight it was crazy
And we both kind of regret it,
When it comes to anniversaries,
We never can forget it!

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22. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold Poems written by Newbery Honor Award Winner, Joyce Sidman; Illustrations by Rick Allen Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014 ISBN: 9780547906508 All ages; birth to infinity. To write this review, I borrowed a copy from my local public library. I am writing this review on the morning after a nasty snowstorm that caused massive power outages here in the

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23. A Tale of Two Activities - Clémentine Beauvais

If you're reading this post in the morning of the day it's come out, send me a positive brain wave and cross your fingers for me: I'm currently shaking fretting panicking calmly getting ready for a job interview in a university somewhere in the UK...

So I'm taking this blog post as an opportunity to reflect on the difficulties and joys of having another job in addition to writing, one that you really don't want to give up on. Most people tend to assume that I'm secretly dreaming of being a full-time writer. I often hear, 'Are you keeping up the academic side just for the money?'

That's easily answered in MS Paint:

To most people, if you have an 'artistic' side, anything else you do must surely be 'paying' for your artistic activity. If you're not giving up the 'day job', it probably means the artistic one doesn't earn you anything, or not enough. 

Even my academic colleagues have somehow internalised the notion that I would 'prefer' to write children's books as a full-time job; that it's what I really want to do. We were talking at lunch about what we'd do if we won the lottery (yes, students: that's the kind of thing your lecturers and tutors talk about at lunch), and several colleagues said that they'd quit their job immediately. I said I certainly wouldn't stop working - I like my research and teaching, and I'd get bored. The immediate response was, 'But you could spend all the time you want on writing your children's books!'

Frankly, if I really wanted to spend all my time writing children's books... well, I would take the jump and do it. And if I needed a job to subsidise this activity, I probably wouldn't opt for one that requires hours of teaching, reading, essay-marking, meeting-going, networking, jargon-deciphering, revise-and-resubmitting, email-sending at two in the morning, in a crazy incertain job market, with no weekends to speak of, holidays that are in fact conferences, and the absolute impossibility to stick to regular hours.

Well then, are you keeping up the academic job as a safety net, 'just in case the writing doesn't work out?'

(The notion of academia as a 'safety net' is just... I mean, I wish, but...)

If the writing didn't 'work out', it would probably be in part because of the other job. Writing success isn't some esoteric thing that does or doesn't work out according to the unpredictable movements of the stars - the more you work on it, the more likely it is to 'work out'. You might never be J.K. Rowling, but you can get very respectable sales by being strategic, working hard, meeting children and promoting your books. This is more difficult when you've got another job.

So of course, having another job isn't ideal for your publishers, agents and publicists. There is definitely faint pressure to 'quit the day job' and be a full-time author. School visits and festivals often happen during the week. Even if you can make some of it, you can't be one of these writers who do school visits all the time. Therefore your books might not sell as well, and you might not get as high an advance next time, or even asked for another book.

Gone are the days when it was acceptable to write your books in your 'free time', and to decide that this year, you'll only publish one, or none. It doesn't work like that in the UK (to a degree, it still does in France). The publish or perish rule applies here like it does in academia; being a part-time writer will always put you at a disadvantage.

Implicitly, there is pressure also from other authors and illustrators who are full time. There's a very legitimate worry that writers like me contribute to making our activity appear unprofessional, amateurish, dilettantish, something you do 'when you've got the time', or if a partner is subsidising your indulgent bohemian bourgeois lifestyle. I entirely understand this concern, and it does bother me that I contribute to this vision. Authors and illustrators should absolutely be in a position to live - and to live well - thanks to their work. Saying that your writing brings you 'pocket money' or is 'a fun thing on the side' is quite insulting to the rest of the community.

But choosing not to choose is perhaps the only authentic option when you have the luxury of having two activities that bring you different rewards, different challenges and different joys. And many people, I'm sure, secretly want to do not just one thing, but several. Recently a student asked me for career advice (I know, terrifying). She said she was split, because she wanted to be a film maker, but 'not just': she was also considering being a researcher in psychology, or perhaps a teacher, or even a consultant. Why can't we do several things at the same time, when we have so many interests?

I agreed of course, but said the reasonable thing: doing several jobs, especially an artistic one and another 'official' one, is difficult. She said 'Well, you manage it!' I told her 'managing' was a strong word - she doesn't see the moments when I'm marking essays all evening before updating my PowerPoint for a school visit the next day, or playing Google-Calendar-Tetris with deadlines on fiction-writing and article submissions and conference abstracts and book edits.

Since I was making it sound like my life was only slightly less sinister than that of the Baudelaire orphans, she blurted out: 'But you're happy, aren't you?'. I had to admit that I am...


Clementine Beauvais writes children's books in French and English. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.

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24. To The Insane Magic is Bestowed

nicole richie candidly nicole
Magic doesn’t come out of thin air, the moments that ARE magical are born from will, work, determination, and often times a bit of absurd belief that you’re capable of goals far greater than anyone sane would believe. Magic exists, it’s just only the insane are lucky enough to find it.

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25. Book Blogger Hop - 11/28 - 12/4

 Question of the Week:

Do you visit the same blogs each week or do you branch out and try to find new blogs?

My Answer:

I basically visit the same blogs each week especially the ones on the memes.  I visit the same blogs because they enjoy reading the same genres I do, but I do make a point of finding other blogs and meeting new folks.

I actually think "birds of a feather flock together."  :) 

I try to find at least one new blog each week.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  I enjoy seeing how others set up posts, and I also love to look at different blog designs.

Do you visit new blogs or the same ones all the time?


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