Working on paintings for a show this summer. Add a Comment
The DreamWorks feature "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," directed by Rob Minkoff, opened in the United States this weekend with an estimated $32.5 million. The film settled for second place behind "300: Rise of An Empire."Add a Comment
After reading Ann Patchett’s This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage I had to go back and read this book. Firstly because I learnt Ann writes non fiction just as beautifully as she does her fiction and secondly she talks in the book about a controversy surrounding Truth & Beauty.
In 2006, Clemson University assigned Truth & Beauty to the freshman class and Ann was invited to give the Convocation Address. However one parent deemed the book inappropriate, the media got involved and mass ignorance ensued. Ann details the events in ‘“The Love Between the Two Women Is Not Normal”’ in her frank and forthright style, her humour keeping you from boiling with outrage. After reading the book the whole incident seems even more ridiculous and also I sense more hurtful that Ann let on in her piece.
Truth & Beauty is the story of Ann’s friendship with Lucy Grealy. Lucy had a highly aggressive form of cancer when she was a child which left her with a badly disfigured jaw. Lucy had numerous operations throughout her life to try and correct and/or alleviate her disfigurement.
Lucy’s whole life was (rightly and wrongly) dominated by her face. It defined how people treated her and it defined how she saw herself. It was a part of who she was and shaped her as a person, good and bad. It was also a burden that became impossible for her to bear but her friends were always there to help pull her through.
Ann met Lucy at college but they became friends when they both attended the Iowa Writers Workshop together. Their lives and careers became entwined from that day forward. Ann writes about her friendship with Lucy warts and all. The good times and the bad. The times when Lucy was on top of the world and vice versa. How they supported each other through thick and thin and all the difficulties any friendship faces along the way.
Ann tells the story of her friendship with Lucy with clarity and emotion, with honesty and understanding. Heart breaking and gut wrenching. Truth and beauty. Ann Patchett at her best.Add a Comment
News of my hardcover book release is being picked up across the nation, thanks to a well written press release and the help of my publisher, Mira Publishing, who worked swiftly to get our news out. Press is an important facet of getting books into the hands of your target demographic, and to extend a book’s newsworthiness and reach beyond an author’s own network.
Please contact me if you are an author struggling with garnering effective press. I may be able to offer insight. It takes a community to raise an author! I lean on others too, wherever I can, for help and mentorship.
Keep writing! Keep Pressing!
Tonia Allen Gould
I've been crying off and on for two days, hosting a lavish pity party for myself, as I contemplate all the changes this broken foot is bringing to my life.
I review five children's books a month for the online review service Children's Literature (I also find a lot of my reviews for them posted on the Barnes & Noble website). The book I read and reviewed yesterday is a sports novel by Mike Lupica called Game Changers: Heavy Hitters. Toward the end of the book, the main character says, "My dad [is] always telling me to appreciate these seasons [of sports] because nobody ever knows how many they're going to have." Well, that sent me balling for half an hour, mourning the end (at least for now) of my walking season. Walking is one of what I call my "four pillars of happiness," the four things that bring happiness to every day: writing, reading, walking, being with friends. How can I lose one of these beloved pillars for six whole weeks and maybe even longer?
Then this morning I went to church. Our family made quite the entrance with me in the wheelchair I borrowed from church (I can't do the crutches, I just can't) and Christopher and Ashley proudly carrying in baby Kataleya for her first appearance. I'm in love with the wheelchair already. So much easier to navigate than the rolling desk chair I've been using at home. Everyone had broken foot stories to share with me; apparently I really was long overdue for mine, as everyone else on the planet has had one or two already. And everyone had smiles and hugs and prayers.
I taught my tiny middle school Sunday School class. By some sweet coincidence, the topic prescribed in the curriculum for this week was "encouragement." My three students and I shared some problems for which we need encouragement: a broken foot, an upcoming move, a stressful test at school, and having to get up an hour early for the time change! We took turns giving each other encouragement. The best piece of encouragement I received was from Tyler. He told me this would all work out for me, because "You're good at things. And this is a thing."
Yes! That will be my new mantra. I'm good at things. And this is a thing.
During worship I presented the children's message. I talked about this being the first Sunday of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, followed by the joy of Easter Sunday. I told the children that even though we know that Easter is coming, that light and love will return to the world, there are still seasons of sadness and sorrow in our lives; no human life escapes them. Lent is the time in the church year where we create a space to make our peace with sorrow.
If the doctor's estimate is accurate, Easter sunrise should happen just as I'm allowed to be weight bearing again. Lent this year is going to be my own season of sadness, my own time to make peace with sorrow. It's okay for me to be sad right now. While Tyler is correct that "I'm good at things, and this is a thing," it's also a hard thing. It's permissible for me to whimper a little bit. Maybe it's even okay to wail. Forty days of this, and then the Alleluia of Easter.
I can do this. I can.
A glorious sunny day today that made it above freezing. Yes we have snow and ice melt and 43F (6C) degrees. Hooray! It will all freeze again tonight but tomorrow is supposed to be above freezing again and the trend is forecast to continue through the rest of the week. We have a lot of snow and ice to melt, it will be a couple weeks of above freezing temperatures before bare ground begins to appear and no doubt there will be days that don’t make it above freezing and we will surely have more snow. But at long last it finally feels like winter is coming to an end.
I spent about 45 minutes today outdoors in the sun chipping ice off the sidewalk. I got so warm I had to take off my mittens and scarf and unzip my coat. I would have taken my coat off too if I had anyplace to put it but on top of a snowbank. It felt good to be outdoors and not shivering.
I am reading a really good book at the moment called Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy. He is a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. The book is about the importance of plant and wildlife diversity and emphasizes using native plants in the garden. Really it is about the importance of insects and plants. Insects are the largest class of herbivores on the planet and while many of them are generalists, they will eat just about anything, a large chunk of insect species are specialists, meaning they depend on certain plants for food and reproduction. When cities sprawl and suburbia creeps ever further out, native plants are most often replaced by non-native plants — fescue lawns and ornamental shrubs, trees, and flowers from other countries. The insects that rely on certain kinds of plants will disappear and the birds and other animals that relied on those insects for survival will also disappear. The book is amounting to some fascinating information about insects in the ecosystem and why a healthy insect population is so very important to a general diversity of life.
Bookman and I have a forsythia in our front yard. We love it’s yellow blooms in spring and it was one of the first things we planted when we bought our house 13 years ago. Based on what I have been learning from this book and other reading, Bookman and I have decided this spring will be the last for our forsythia. It is a nonnative plant, it provides no food or habitat for anything. In fact, I can’t even recall seeing any small birds even land on it. It takes up a nice sunny spot in the yard that we will instead fill in with prairie plants. I haven’t decided what yet, but that will be some future fun planning. I will wait and see what the plant sale catalog has on offer this year. And that plant sale catalog? Three more weeks until it becomes available. I can hardly wait!
On March 6, I had the immense pleasure of attending the opening night of Buster Keaton's Bluffton: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan, a new exhibit at the Muskegon Museum of Art.
Some people believe that we incarnate in the world to heal a specific wound that, at birth, we forget. Most of us spend our lives unconscious of this deeper destiny.
The opposite is true when writing a story. What happens throughout the story makes it impossible for the protagonist to remain unconscious. The Crisis in the Middle forces the protagonist to consciousness. This gives her the ability to face the greatest challenge of the entire story -- the Climax at the End and not only survive but to triumph.
The Climax at the End usually hits a scene or chapter from the last page of the project. By then, the protagonist has learned everything she needs to know, scene-by-scene throughout the entire story, to do what she came here to do.
The End feels inevitable because every scene that comes before the Climax has led the reader scene-by-scene to that very moment.
Answer the following:
1) What is your protagonist's true journey? Purpose?
2) What is it that only your protagonist can do? Deliver? Conquer? Overcome?
3) What is the gift only your character has (granted they have to go through all the trial and challenges throughout the story to get there, but...)?
4) Why your character?
(Excerpts from the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
Today I write.
PLOT WORKSHOPS and RETREATS
A PATH to PUBLISHING using the Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
Choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK for 4, 10 and 16-week workshops to ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers. Live online video chat technology. I recommend writers of all genres and all ages take at least one picture book plot workshop. Narrows all plot concepts down to 28 pages and 500 words for clarity.
WRITER PATH PLOT and SCENE RETREATS in the heart of the Santa Cruz MountainsYour story deserves to be told. Your writer’s soul needs to be nourished. Over a weekend you’ll learn how to identify and write the key lynch-pin scenes that build a page-turning story, master crucial scene types and go deeper into your plot by applying the three key layers that run through all great fiction: action, emotion and theme. Reserve your spot now for the 1st Annual Writer Path Retreat.
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
Scientific illiteracy will kill us all. It's not a nuclear blast we have to fear but the blast of ignorance that characterizes the Republican Tea Party and the religious right. Scientific ignorance is the greatest threat to national security, global security and personal security. Yet, we have members of Congress celebrating such ignorance and trying to pass it off as public policy. Some of the statements coming out of politicians' mouths are so stupid, a fiction writer could hardly make them up. In recent months, Congresspersons, ex-Congresspersons and political candidates have made statements that are downright scary. Here's a sampling:
On Rape and Women's Bodies"From what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," proclaimed Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri), the 2012 Republican Senate nominee from Missouri. Thankfully, the voters in Missouri shut down Akin's bid and reelected Senator Claire McCaskill.
On Wind Energy and Climate Change"Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is. Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can't transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It's just something to think about." This came out of the mouth of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)
This same Congressman told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee: "I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don't deny that climate is changing. "I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what's causing that change without automatically being either all in that's all because of mankind or it's all just natural. I think there's a divergence of evidence. . . I would point out that if you're a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn't because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy."
Jim Sensenbrenner (R=WI) called research on climate change "an international conspiracy." Sensenbrenner is on House Science Committee.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” In the same speech, Broun claimed “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.” This shining light of knowledge is also on the House Science Committee.
Just so I don't leave you in this muddle of negativity, here's a smart comment from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Natural History, New York City.
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”Add a Comment
Rilla on why she didn’t put away her playdough: “Well, I expected myself to go back and do it, but I didn’t.”Add a Comment
|Is Your Teen Stressing Out?|
|Teens Need Parents Refreshing Their Minds and Hearts|
Thanks so much everyone for all the fabulous suggestions in response to my previous post. Lots of great ideas there. We really appreciate it.
Your suggestions clarified two things for us:
1) We realised that we want to stick to the twentieth century. So we’ve decided to only read books from after WW1 up to 1994 (ie twenty years ago.) After WW1 because that’s when women across classes1 were joining the workforce in larger numbers; because I’ve done a lot of research on the 1930s; and because there’s an argument that that is when you see the beginnings of what is now called women’s fiction.
2) As much as possible we’d like to do books that are available as ebooks because that makes it much easier for everyone to take part. We will, however, make exceptions for books we’re very keen to read. Such as Han Suyin’s A Many Splendoured Thing.
We’re also making a decision about historicals. On the one hand I think they say a tonne about contemporary women’s lives and feminism and like that. But on the other hand I really do think they’re their own genre. Plenty of historicals by women never get talked about as women’s fiction. Hilary Mantel, Dorothy Dunnett etc. So I’m leaning against. Especially as women’s fiction today basically means fiction about women’s working lives that don’t fit the romance category. Also we’ve already got too many books to choose from! But like I said we’re still thinking about it.
Looking forward to talking Valley of the Dolls with you this Wednesday night (US time) and Thursday afternoon (Australia time).
Second in line ordered it today from here 44$ (with worldwide shipping) : http://mattiasa.blogspot.se/2013/10/pre-order-second-in-line.htmlAdd a Comment
I hadn’t checked the spam box on my e-mail account in years (I deleted spam mail, unseen, by pressing the trash icon), but the other day, I peeked into my spam box. I had two e-mails: one from an agent and one from an editor.
Eleven years ago, I had submitted a two-novel proposal to the agent. Now, she was cleaning her office and came across my submission. She must have looked into the current status of the novels (A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down) because she congratulated me on their publication. She asked if my address on the return envelope was still current and if I wanted my proposal back. I had moved but I gave her my current address. My submission from years ago came back with handwritten comments in the margins. Overall, these comments were positive. One or two suggested further plot developments. This is helpful information to me, even though it came too late for these novels.
The second piece of mail in my spam box, from a magazine editor, requested me to resubmit a short story to her magazine even though someone on the staff had rejected it more than a year ago. I knew the magazine editor’s name and e-mail address was legitimate, so I resent the short story. A few days later, I received a paying contract.
Both incidents strike me as strange. I can’t believe many agents are contacting writers years later to return submissions or that editors are tracking them down to request manuscripts they’ve already rejected. Because I’m a believer in God and I haven’t been writing or submitting much in the past few years while working full-time, I see both incidents as encouragement from him that he believes in my writing.
I’m also left wondering how many other legitimate pieces of mail I may have deleted from my spam box, resulting in the loss of a sale or valuable contact. I’ve started skimming over my spam messages.
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In a world of dumb animation execs, Stu Snyder made a sincere effort to be the dumbest. He was the genius who led a campaign to remove cartoons from Cartoon Network. Now, he's leaving Cartoon Network.Add a Comment
Today is March 9th. Which means that there are:
4, 416 hours
...until FALLING INTO PLACE comes out and my head explodes. Wow. Like, I see the numbers and I have a vague concept that months/days/hours/seconds are divisions of time or something, but I can't actually wrap my head around the idea that this thing I made in my head is going to be...bound? On shelves? Available for purchase? In SIX MONTHS?!
I am terrified and excited and happy beyond words, and to celebrate, I'm going to do a love list, which is a non-exhaustive list of the things you love about a manuscript (inspired by my wonderful CP Mark O'Brien, who was inspired KK Hendin, who was inspired by Rachel, who was inspired by Stephanie Perkins).