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1. Win a copy of Giants Beware on Goodreads

just in time for the sequel ‪#‎DRAGONSBEWARE‬, you can win a copy of our first book ‪#‎GIANTSBEWARE‬ over at Goodreads! Go HERE.


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2. Dirty Reader App Adds Profanity to Books: April Fool’s

The Clean Reader app, may let parents censor the bad words out of their children’s books, but now Payhip has invented the Dirty Reader app: an app that lets you add even more swear words to a book.

“Dirty Reader surfaces swear words in books,” explains the site. “You decide how dirty your books should appear and Dirty Reader does the rest.”

It could actually be a funny app to play around with, but alas, it is only an April Fool’s Day joke. “Sorry about that, we thought we would have a bit of fun,” reads the landing page you arrive at when clicking to download the app, followed by some links to critical pieces on the Clean Reader app.

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3. Melissa Abramovitz Talks About Her New Book

book bites for kidsMelissa Abramovitz will be the guest on Book Bites for Kids on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at 2:30 Central time.

She will talk about her new book, Helping Herbie Hedgehog.

To listen to the live show, on Tuesday April 7th at 2:30 central time, just go online to www.bookbitesforkids.com.

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4. Watercolor Ban Announced in California

California has just announced sweeping new restrictions on water use that will affect working artists. The ban applies not only to watercolor, but also to acrylic, casein, gouache, and other water media. Pencils and pastels and other dry media are not affected.

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5. Review of Please Excuse This Poem

lauer_please excuse this poemPlease Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
High School   Viking   289 pp.
3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g

“Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning poets who likely do just that — an audience that won’t be disappointed with the volume’s one hundred poems, which meander through topics and styles and, for the most part, unabashedly ignore conventions of form. The best of these poets pack punches with raw handling of timely issues, such as Terrance Hayes with “Talk” (“…like a nigger is what my white friend, M, / asked me, the two of us alone and shirtless / in the locker room…M, where ever you are, / I’d just like to say I heard it, but let it go / because I was afraid to lose our friendship / or afraid we’d lose the game — which we did anyway”) and Patricia Lockwood with her uncomfortably humorous “Rape Joke,” one of the most powerful of the bunch (“Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke”). What will appeal to teens (and new adults) the most about this anthology, and what holds it all together, however loosely, is its gritty, unapologetic sensibility, and the feeling that many of these poems were perhaps, at one point, secrets. A lengthy “about the poets” section provides biographical details and answers to such prompts as “your idea of misery.”

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Review of Please Excuse This Poem appeared first on The Horn Book.

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6. Have paintbrush, will travel

via Emergent Ideas Have paintbrush, will travel

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7. Spreadmania

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8. HarperCollins Could Leave Amazon: Report

Amazon’s contract with book publisher HarperCollins is almost up and according to a report in Business Insider, the big five publisher is not going to sign the contract as is.

Check it out:

The contract presented to HarperCollins was the same contract recently signed by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan, Amazon confirmed.

If HarperCollins and Amazon don’t come to an agreement, no print or digital HarperCollins books will be available on Amazon once its existing contract runs out “very soon,” our source says.

Last year Hachette fought for months with Amazon over contract terms. During that time, Amazon didn’t carry popular Hachette books and Hachette author Stephen Colbert urged readers to boycott Amazon.

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9. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part One

It's the first day of April, people. April means...Earth Day! I will celebrate it all month with excerpts from Saving the Planet & Stuff and other STP&S-related material. The excerpts will include additional information, links, and sometimes pictures. Think of it as being like those DVD commentaries.

Don't like DVD commentaries? Original Content will be carrying other material this month, too.

We're getting started today with a piece from Chapter One. Our hero, Michael Peter Racine III, has just arrived in Vermont with two much older environmentalists he's known for less than twenty-four hours. They're not people he met on the street but friends from his grandmother and grandfather's (Poppy) youth. One of Michael's first acts upon arriving in Walt and Nora's 1970s-era solar house is to call home and voice his second thoughts to his mother.

     "Somehow I got the impression that Walt was going to be a fun guy," he complained. "But believe me, it was not fun having to listen to him drone on and on about this solid-waste crisis that I'd never even heard of and the number of pollutants emitted by gas-powered lawn mowers. It was like being with Poppy, if Poppy cared about solid waste, which he doesn't. What is it with old men? Walt did flip off a bunch of truck drivers who were working for companies he doesn't approve of, though. That
would have been fun if I hadn't had to concentrate so hard on staying on the road. And then Nora got going on fluoride for some reason. She says the Chinese believe it lowers IQ, and then there's been some kind of study with rats' brains …"
     "Your grandmother says they live their values," Ms. Racine said. "Some people like to talk about saving the planet. This Walt and Nora supposedly live their lives in such a way as to actually do it. You did bring your own toothpaste, didn't you? You know your father believes fluoride was one of God's greatest gifts to mankind, and if they don't use it—"
Nora Blake and Walt Marcello, the two environmentalists Michael takes off with because they offer him a summer job, come out of 1970's Vermont counterculture. The Vermont Historical Society is presently doing a series of forums on the decade and its impact on Vermont. According to an article in a recent Seven Days (my favorite newspaper when visiting northern Vermont), VHS curator Jackie Calder "says the changes initiated in the '60s received institutional expression in the following decade." Meaning that the changes of the '60s actually were changes because they became part of the norm during the '70s. From things I've read elsewhere, that is probably generally true, not just in bobo Vermont. The '70s aren't remembered for great fashion or music, but they had an impact historically.

Saving the Planet & Stuff was written as YA. But the very nonYA characters, Walt and Nora, were crucial to the book. For many years all I had was an idea for a situation--a young person thrown in with much older strangers. As I am sure I have said before, it wasn't until Walt and Nora came into the picture that an actual story began to evolve.

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10. Smashwords Founder Pokes Fun at Amazon For April Fool’s

Mark Coker, the CEO of self-publishing site Smashwords, has invented a pretty funny scenario for April Fool’s Day: Kindle Author, “Amazon’s new service that  generates high-quality fiction using complex software algorithms.”

In a blog post on the site, he calls the service a “Build-A-Bear for ebooks” that lets readers write their own fiction with an Amazon algorithm. Check it out:

It won’t be long before we hear talk of Kindle Author millionaires – those readers who configure and create the new bestsellers of tomorrow.  Or today.  It’s already happening.  At this very moment, ninety-eight of the top 100 bestselling books at Amazon are Kindle Author books, and the books are earning five star reviews on average.

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11. 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos

GantosSuttonPlease join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.


The post 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. University of Georgia Press to Launch the Crux Series

University of Georgia Press LogoThe University of Georgia Press plans to launch a new literary nonfiction series called CruxJohn Griswold will serve as the editor for this project.

The editorial team plans to publish two to four titles for this series every year. The list kicks off with the release of Debra Monroe’s memoir My Unsentimental Education. The publication date has been scheduled for October 2015.

Here’s more from the press release: “Named for intersections, and for the heart of the matter, this series will publish literary nonfiction by diverse writers working in a variety of modes, including personal and lyric essay, memoir, cultural meditation, and literary journalism. Books are intended for general readers, including writers, teachers of writing, and students, and will be both intelligent and accessible. Engagement with the world, dedication to craft, precision, and playfulness with form and language are valued. As the series develops, it will include non-American writers and experiences.”

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13. Happy April 1st! April 2015 Desktop calendar

With the last bits of snow gradually melting away on the odd warm-ish day of these crazy Canadian (fluctuating) temps, our backyard rink has been appropriately  renamed "the pool". In the garden the first daffodil sprouts  have started popping up. Spring is here- yay! 
I thought a Spring-y desktop calendar was just right for this month. This spot illo comes from a spread in Skink on the Brink where Stewie travels through the changing seasons from his home pond to a far away pond.  Along the way he also changes in colour from a juvenile black skink (with an amazing blue tail) to a grey adult skink. 
To download this desktop calendar, please click on the screen resolutions above then right-click on " save to desktop" to download.

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14. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.

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15. Meet Children’s Author Melissa Abramovitz

melissaMelissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer for nearly 30 years and specializes in writing nonfiction magazine articles and books for all age groups. She is the author of hundreds of magazine articles, more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers, numerous poems and short stories, several children’s picture books, and a book for writers titled, A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines.

Melissa also does freelance manuscript editing. She is a graduate of the University of California San Diego and the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of SCBWI, Children’s Book Insider, and The Working Writer’s Club.

Visit her website at www.melissaabramovitz.com

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16. Nicole Krauss Lands $4 Million Book Deal

Nicole KraussWriter Nicole Krauss has inked a two-book deal with Harper.

Executive editor Terry Karten handled the acquisition of these two manuscripts. Gawker.com reports Krauss signed a $4 million contract.

According to Bookforum Magazine, Krauss plans to write “a searching and metaphysical novel about transformation” entitled Late Wonder and “a book of stories” called How to Be a Man. This new projects mark Krauss’ departure from her longtime publisher, W. W. Norton & Company. (Photo Credit: Patric Shaw)

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17. April Fools' Day

April has arrived! It’s time to tell jokes and play tricks on your friends and family. Here are some books to tickle your funny bone. 

Picture Books

Joke Books

Posted by Miss Meghan 

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18. Have paintbrush, will travel

Prepping for a watercolor of Burt Wayne “Bat Dog!”

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1GgHJnq

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19. country boy

inspired by this and of course this.

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20. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule

Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

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21. Helping Herbie Hedgehog

hhh1Melissa Abramovitz has a charming new picture book from Guardian Angel Publishing. It’s called Helping Herbie Hedgehog.

About the Book
Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ’cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong He’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things.
 Suggested age range for readers: 2-7

Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (February 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1616336129
ISBN-13: 978-1616336127

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22. stories tucked in shadows


Filed under: journeys, poetry

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23. Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone (US & CAN)

Book’s Title:  Compulsion        

Author’s Name: Martina Boone
Release Date: 10/28/14


About the Book

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Martina-Final--6-sm.jpgAbout the Author

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She’s the author of SIBA Book Award nominated Compulsion, book one in the romantic Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall ’14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published in October 2015.

She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to the discovery and celebration of young adult literature and encouraging literacy through YA series.

From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, a lopsided cat, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

Learn More: Website | YA Series Insiders | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest



Writers seem to fall into two categories when it comes to music and writing. Some can listen to songs that inspire them as they write, but for me, hearing someone else's words interferes with getting my own words on the page. I do listen to music before I write to help set a mood or help me process an idea.

I've put all the 24 songs that remind me of different aspects of  COMPULSION into a YouTube playlist, which is embedded at the bottom of this post, but you can also listen to a few of the important ones below.

The first song, “Truly Brave,” is the mashup between Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Sara Bareilles' “Brave” was released to raise awareness (and donations) for pediatric cancer long after I finished COMPULSION, but for me, it has become an anthem for Barrie and for every girl or person who needs to find her voice, her confidence, her strength--her brave. Even today, girls are too often dismissed or marginalized.

Having been sheltered all her life, Barrie starts off the book both determined to have a voice and scared that if she follows her heart and instincts, other people will love her less. It takes courage to believe your opinion and your voice counts. You’re not always going to be right, but you always deserve to be heard.

Sam Smith’s cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” is perfect for Barrie’s relationship with Eight Beaufort (Charles Beaufort, VIII). Since her mother’s death, Barrie’s gift is starting to expand a bit beyond her usual compulsion to find lost things. The gift draws Barrie to Eight, but she doesn’t understand why. At the same time, Eight’s gift for knowing what people want makes it easy for him to connect with her. She can't help wondering how much of that is a true connection and how much is a manipulation?

There are references to Carolina “beach music” throughout COMPULSION. It’s music that Barrie knows because her mother ran off with the bad boy across the river and spent her whole life regretting that choice and listening to the songs that reminded her of what she'd left behind.

Since at the turn of the 18th century, thirty to fifty percent of the slaves forced to work the lowcountry rice plantations of the Carolinas were Native American, the folk magic, healing knowledge, and mystical traditional practiced by the descendants of the plantation slaves is a blend of African, West Indian, Native American, and European beliefs. This is touched on lightly in COMPULSION and explored more deeply in the next two books, and I've been lucky to have an archeologist and professor of anthropology work with me on the research involved.

One of the songs I listened to most often as I was writing COMPULSION was the rastafarian version of “By the Rivers of Babylon,” sung by The Melodians, which is a beautiful song about exile and despair based on Psalm 137.

The Fire Carrier and the yunwi, the little people, are both from Cherokee mythology, so one of the songs I listened to as I tried to construct Barrie’s mystical connection to the land and to Watson’s Landing was the beautiful Cherokee “Morning Song.”

Songs like “You Raise Me Up,” and Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are” remind me of the way Barrie and Eight make each other “more,” which explains the friendship and growing potential between them.

And the gorgeous Cherokee version of “Amazing Grace” is for Mark. Because.

Finally, Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" reminds me of the Fire Carrier, who has his own journey in the series, but the song that speaks to me most for the Fire Carrier is an old Irish one, "Mo Ghile Mear," sung by Sting and the Chieftains. That's a bit of a spoiler for the series, but I couldn't resist including it.

You can listen to all 24 songs in the playlist here:


Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a $25 iTunes Gift Card and a “I have a compulsion for reading” tote bag. US & Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30-60 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question tyou'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What is the Watson gift? (Find the answer here)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read More

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24. 30 Days, 30 Stories - Writers Beware

The first of our annual 30 Days, 30 Stories comes from Marion Steiger. It is a humorous account of a different kind of writer’s block.

Get your head in the right place before you have surgery on your hand. Prepare for your dermatologist to tell you not to use your computer after he removes a Squamous cell carcinoma planted on top of your right hand. Yes. Right hand. Of course I’m right handed. Four to seven days minimum without writing is killing me. It hurts worse than the incision site.
Another warning. Don’t wear jeans with a zipper and metal button. I unbuttoned and unzipped after a short struggle and made it to the toilet in time. (You get to figure out the bathroom stuff on your own.) What I couldn’t do was re-zip and button up. Sloppy pull-on sweat pants worked after I balanced on the edge of the tub and inched them up one leg at a time. Warm socks came after the pants, big toe first, then more pulling and pushing, all wrong handed. 
 Don’t wear a tight pull-over T-shirt for surgery. You’ll be begging for help when your head gets stuck in the neck hole and you’re tired and a touch weak in the knees. My only suggestion for bras—wear one and have someone waiting to unhook it. Same for putting it back on. Either forget it or plan to be hooked and unhooked. 
TV, even previously recorded shows, and reading and free time are huge disappointments when they’re all you’re allowed to do. Left-handed writing is unreadable. Texting worked a touch better after I remembered my stylus, but still slower than a snail. I gave up. 
Ever opened a can of Diet Coke or bottle of water with one hand? Even with the right hand? Forget it. About eating—forget that, too, after the numbing goes away. It hurts to lift a fork or spoon. Knife? Ha. No glass of wine before and after surgery. It makes for more blood. 
If I have a third surgery, I may show up totally sleep deprived. Oh, arrange your pillows before bedtime to keep your hand elevated. And avoid rolling over if you want to keep the covers from capturing your arms and legs. Untangling wakes you and anyone sleeping beside you. Maybe sleep alone and keep the peace.
Expect to wear out your left index finger when you sneak out the laptop, which writers must do, and type with your wrong hand. Also, don’t expect your computer to read your needs. It’s smart, but refuses to text. Plan to put in your own apostrophes and capital letters and clicking the space-bar twice won’t automatically add a period. 
Here are my serious suggestions. Well, mostly serious. Don’t grow up in Florida. Don’t move to Utah to ski in the snow and on the water. Don’t hike the mountains; the altitude puts you closer to the sun. Never forget the sunblock, which we never had when I sunbathed on Jacksonville Beach.
And if you ignore these warnings, never forget to visit your favorite dermatologist regularly. Thank you Dr. Hinckley for taking great care freezing, cutting, and stitching my skin problems without scolding me once for ruining my skin.
Also, thank you to my understanding husband for never fussing about my whining and complaints and helping me with all but one problem. You figure that out.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the thin, flat squamous cells that make up the outer layer of the skin.

We still have plenty of days open. Email me at bruceluck@ymail.com if you would like to contribute a story.

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25. Lifetime Unveils Trailer For If There Be Thorns

Lifetime has unveiled a trailer for the If There Be Thorns adaptation. This movie, based on the third installment of V.C. Andrews’ Dollanganger series, will air on April 5th.

The video embedded above offers glimpses of Jason Lewis as Christopher, Rachael Carpani as Cathy, and Heather Graham as Corrine. To learn more about this film series, check out this Flowers in the Attic video playlist. (via Entertainment Weekly)

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