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1. Pick of the Week for REFLECTION and This Week’s Topic


Happy Illustration Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Geraldine Sy, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of METROPOLIS. Thanks to everyone else for participating. We hope it was inspiring!

You can also see a gallery of all the other entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!


0 Comments on Pick of the Week for REFLECTION and This Week’s Topic as of 3/6/2015 9:29:00 AM
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2. Flogometer for Linzmarie—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Wanted... If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Linzmarie sends the first chapter of Command the Ocean. The remainder of the chapter is after the break.

The sun was blinding off the Patapsco River where Corey Esham Scarborough worked in the oyster beds. She tucked her shoulder-length coffee brown hair back into her cap. It was growing out from where she had cut it completely off to sell and now she felt it stuck out in weird places. With winter coming, she was glad it had now fallen past her shoulders.

“Girl!” the foreman called out. “Girl,” is what they always called her despite having stolen men’s clothing from a between buildings clothing line back in New York State during her first winter on the mainland.  Many more days out in the hot sun and they’d be calling her “woman” for all the wrinkles and spots the sun gave her. It’s what came from working in the wretched bays of the Chesapeake from lantern light to lantern light. “Girl, go in the Eleanor Nesbitt and help with the tonging.” Corey gave her bag over to another worker and left the shallow bed where she had been collecting oyster shells by hand. She hoped in the tonging boat without a hand up from anyone. The men treated her differently than they did ladies on the street but Corey was glad for it. She preferred it best when they left her alone to do her work.

The Eleanor Nesbitt was a log canoe rigged with handtongs for collecting the oysters. Corey would lower the basket into the water and rake it along the ground to pick up the oysters. Hand over hand, she’d pull up the heavy basket full of water and oysters until she could swing the basket aboard. It was unwieldy to do in the best of weather let alone a storm picking up as it (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Linzmarie's first page?

There’s some interesting stuff here, but the narrative isn’t, to me, ready for prime time yet. There’s a fair amount of backstory and exposition that slows the story. More than that, what’s happening here? A girl is working. There’s no jeopardy in sight, nor a notion of what the story is about. There’s a later mention of working in stormy weather, but it’s not stormy on the first page. I suggest you consider reading the chapter out loud. It may help you see where things become confusing and/or drags due to information being loaded in. Keep at it, though, it sounds like a gritty and tough world. A few notes:

The sun was blinding off the Patapsco River where Corey Esham Scarborough worked in the oyster beds. She tucked her shoulder-length coffee brown hair back into her cap. It was growing out from where she had cut it completely off to sell and now she felt it stuck out in weird places. With winter coming, she was glad it had now fallen past her shoulders. I wouldn’t clutter up the narrative with all of her names. Corey is fine. POV slip—she wouldn’t be thinking of her hair as “shoulder-length coffee brown”—she would just tuck her hair back in to her cap. Since the hair is now past her shoulders, the information dump about having cut it off isn’t helpful. Having sold it is interesting, but I’d find a later place to include that, if necessary.

“Girl!” the foreman called out. “Girl,” is what they always called her despite having stolen men’s clothing from a between buildings clothing line back in New York State during her first winter on the mainland. Many more days out in the hot sun and they’d be calling her “woman” for all the wrinkles and spots the sun gave her. It’s what came from working in the wretched bays of the Chesapeake from lantern light to lantern light. “Girl, go in the Eleanor Nesbitt and help with the tonging.” Corey gave her bag over to another worker and left the shallow bed where she had been collecting oyster shells by hand. She hoped hopped in the tonging boat without a hand up from anyone. The men treated her differently than they did ladies on the street but Corey was glad for it. She preferred it best when they left her alone to do her work. I don’t understand what having stolen men’s clothing some time ago has to do with her being called “girl.”

            The Eleanor Nesbitt was a log canoe rigged with handtongs for collecting the oysters. Corey would lower the basket into the water and rake it along the ground to pick up the oysters. Hand over hand, she’d pull up the heavy basket full of water and oysters until she could swing the basket aboard. It was unwieldy to do in the best of weather let alone a storm picking up as it (snip) Rather than tell us about the tongs, basket, etc., just show her using them, which is what she has just been told to do.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Linzmarie



was threatening to do. Working in the tonging boat during a storm was a surefire way to get seriously injured or even die. But Corey needed the money and tongers made more than she would in the shallow beds. Being a woman helped her keep her balance the boat but hindered her leverage to swing up the baskets. She worked with a partner using her skill set and their strength if they didn’t find working with a woman to be objectionable. There weren’t many of them willing to go out in a stormy weather. She knew most of the men who worked in oysters, including the foremen thought her expendable. If anything she made demonstration of their shortcomings and there were those who resented her for it.

It was fall now with autumn speckling the trees with an amber hue. There was a crispness in the air and a frigidness to the deeper parts of the water. She had worked the summer as she always had these past four years, in the cannery canning fruit. That type of work was all women, some of them wives of the men in the beds, others immigrants or just poor gals looking for an honest wage. Corey’s Elizabethan Outer Banks accent went largely unnoticed in the diaspora of Eastern Europeans who worked alongside her, most who could barely speak English.  It was only white women on Cove Street. The canneries of eastern Maryland, like all other places, were segregated. All the colored women worked down at Crisfield except for one Leocadia Jackson who worked as a man in secret alongside Corey in the oyster beds in the winter. Corey had caught her one day reliving herself and swore not to tell. A white woman is one thing, a Negro however light skinned another, but a Negro woman was held little higher than a dog in Baltimore.

Corey worked on the Eleanor Nesbitt until the boat was completely full. The storm had come up quick and even she felt nearly sick with the swaying back and forth. One man had been pitched overboard. With Corey’s quick thinking they had managed to find him in the heaving waves by her continuing to point at him until they could throw a rope out. No one else could spot him until they followed her finger.  They seemed to be the only boat still out there. Usually Leocadia would brave the storms to work as well.  

When they finally pulled the boat into the pier, cold and sodden from the rain, they noticed a crowd had gathered. On the wooden planks lay the blue-lipped figure of Leocadia Jackson stripped down to her knees, pert, dark nipples standing at attention Her leg was turn up underneath her in an unnatural way. They said her foot had gotten caught in the tonging rope and drug her overboard in the storm. She had come up under the boat and hit her head. She drowned before they could get her up again. Her large black eyes stared off into some foreign distance, pupils large and rounded, never to focus again.

Corey felt the vomit come up into her throat. A pair of cruel stuck a stick up Leocadia and sodomized her dead body until the foreman saw them and made them stop. He sent word to a Negro preacher to collect her. He came glancing down at the stick protruding from her. Without a word, he covered her, laid her in the back of a cart and took her over to the Negro cemetery to be buried. Corey wanted to call after him, tell him Leocadia’s real name but she stayed still and mute knowing it best not to draw attention to herself. She left when it was time, glad to have the harbor at her back as she walked in the rain toward home.

Corey stayed home the day after that and the next, the revulsion and sadness rising to her throat anytime she thought of leaving.  Finally, she dropped off her daughter with a woman downstairs she had met canning fruit during the summer and ventured down to the docks to find work. She arrived on Cove Street passing the gusting smell of steamed oysters emanating from one of the hundred oyster packing houses in the city and saw the foreman on the dock where Leocadia’s body had lay. Corey stepped gingerly onto the planks subtly skirting the exact area she had seen her friend sodomized.

“There’s no need for you, girl,” said the foreman.

“What do you mean?” Corey asked.

“It’s not good to have women mixing with the men keeps their mind of their work.”

“I’ve been working for them for a year. You know I can pick a bed faster than anyone you’ve got working.”

“That may be so but I’ve got no place for you girl.”

“But...I’ll do anything. I’ll work in the shallow beds, tong or go out in the skipjacks for dredging.”

“I’ll tell you we don’t need you now get on. I’m trying to protect you.  It’s for your own good,” the man shoved Corey away. She tried all the other boats and beds in Baltimore harbor, day after day but they would all have none of her. Begrudgingly she went down to one of the packinghouses and asked to put on the line steaming oyster and slicing them free of their shells. She worked for 16 hours and only received a fourth of what she would have made in the beds. She and her daughter would starve at this rate. “Put her in the workhouse,” they said, the women at the cannery, all of whom had children in the various mills around Baltimore. “Make her earn her keep.” Whitney was four and tiny fingers were useful. Corey wouldn’t hear of it.

That night she listened to her daughter breathe, imagining her with the cotton cough that came from unventilated workrooms and tried to think what was best to do. She needled her fingers together. There was a thought, she had, that kept swimming around inside of her for the past year and a half that now pounded frightfully inside her the more dire their situation became. “Go home to Anson.” She was still in love with her husband she had left almost four years ago.  It hurt to think about it. The regret and longing she felt was a pain that made her knees go.

Whitney was her husband’s child. Corey was pregnant when she left Ocracoke Island, a tiny dot of sand off the coast of North Carolina frequented by fishermen and sailors along with their families.  She had thought mistakenly that it was the stress of travel that made her bleeding stop until she went into labor one morning when working in the frigid water of New York harbor. She had been brought into the cannery and gave birth in the foreman’s kitchen. The foreman’s wife, a midwife, had suggested the name “Whitney” meaning white island. That would have been the time to turn back, go back home, that time away she could have explained. Some hatching frock bit of madness drove her to do it. But Corey hadn’t gone back. She had stayed and fought for their livelihood, whether it was pride or stupidity that kept her going.  Her and her tiny baby had survived together. It was the coldest winter Corey had ever experienced but they had made it through on Corey’s savings and what she earned their first year on the mainland.

Now the money she had brought with her from Ocracoke was long gone. All she had was what she made working every day. There was no safety net only a sharp free fall. A glass bottle slammed outside against a brick wall. Corey peeked out the window hiding behind the threadbare curtains that failed to keep the cold out of the single-paned iced glass. Nothing though she knew the broken amber light from the streetlamps might be concealing something.

All of a sudden their doorknob started furiously rattling. Corey raced across the small room and threw her weight against the fragile door. She realized, kicking herself, that the oyster shucking knife she had taken home from the cannery was under the pillow. The drunks who lived in her building would check her doorknob from time to time to see if this was the night the woman had forgotten the lock.

Eventually whoever it was gave up the fight and shuffled off.  There was another person that came up later, lighter steps, almost as if they walked on their toes. He seemed to hesitate at her door. Corey braced herself against the cool, wooden door but they moved on, the footfalls disappearing into the din. She fell asleep beside the door, wondering if the light of foot fellow would come back and woke in the early morning light. Rubbing her eyes with one hand, she set the other hand beside her. When she did she felt crumpled paper. A note had been slid under the door. “Girl,” it started in curvy, slated writing. “Girl, the oysters are running out in the Chesapeake.” Corey knew that much was true. It was the quiet truth that was rippling the tides from New York to Norfolk. The beds were overharvested. There was talk that distributors were taking oysters from further south and selling them in the north to unsuspecting meat markets as Chesapeake Oysters.

“They won’t let you back into the beds in Maryland,” the note continued. That was true as well. “Come with me to the south. Meet me at the Sailor’s Arms at 10 o’clock this morning.” Corey stared at the loopy handwriting. The Sailor’s Arms was on the edge of the river in an area only frequented mainly by river laborers. There would be some oystermen there, not many but some enough that two more oystermen would not be curious sights enough to raise suspicion. She tried to think whom she had heard mention the Sailor’s Arms in the tonguing boat but couldn’t come up with anyone.

Corey pushed herself up, walking across the cold, creaking, hard floor to the even harder bed where her daughter lay sleeping.  The mattress felt cold to the touch. She tucked the blanket in tighter around her daughter and curled up around her. Was life about living or simply enduring, she wondered as she looked at her daughter’s innocent features. She had prayed for some answer to her plight perhaps this could be it, this mysterious note. She knew she couldn’t keep them here like this. One or both of them would die if she tried.

It was 10 o’clock on the dot that Corey arrived at Sailors Arms her stolen hat pulled low over her face as she heard a church bell chiming in the distance. She hung out near the bar for the better part of an hour with no approach from anyone save a drunken handsy man. She had just gotten up to leave when she heard someone call out, “Girl,” in a quiet, scratchy voice. Corey turned. It was the Frenchman. She had worked with him only once on the tonging log canoe but he usually went out with the dredgers in the skipjack for the larger hauls.

It seemed odd he had been in her tenement building, left her the note. As she sat at his table and listened to what he said and what he didn’t say, Corey began to understand him further. When he said to go south for the oysters he meant the ones they were selling northward as Chesapeake ones. When he said that she could make more than she had made working in Baltimore, he meant that they would steal them.

She didn’t know if he knew what she was ashamed to admit. She had robbed oyster beds before. Not like he was talking about still enough to get her hung or at least a hand chopped off. Whitney had fallen sick and it was the only way she would be able to pay a doctor. She had gone out into the beds further north where no one knew her and collected oysters in the dead of night with naught but a thief’s lantern with the sides smudged out to guide her. It had been easy, too easy. The beds were regularly watched.  But the guard was easily swayed by perfume. And the hookers knew it and took advantage. One of the hookers had helped babysit Whitney when she was only a baby and would have done anything to help. But oysters were more plentiful then and the demand lower. Now there were less oysters and the industry had risen to four million dollars a year in the Chesapeake alone. That was money worth killing for.

Since it had been so easy, she had robbed the bed again. And again another time still when she had difficulty making rent. She had only stopped when the harbor police caught an oyster pirate and hung him in the city square for all to see. Wretches had scrambled over his corpse when they finally brought him down to get a piece of his noose from around his neck. A piece of rope from a hanging was supposed to ward against their own hanging, the knot of the noose being the luckiest part. Corey tied the frayed rope around her wrist and promised herself that day she would never rob another bed. It felt rough and scratchy around her skin as the Frenchman talk as though it was reminding her where it had come from.

 “North Carolina,” he said.

Corey looked up at the name of her home state.

“They’ve been trying to get a cannon to fight the oyster pirates but no one will give it to them on account of their bad credit from the war. But Virginia’s going to agree to give them one.”

“How do you know?” Corey asked.

“Those oysters are claimed for Chesapeake now. They don’t want them going elsewhere. They won’t let you back into the beds with what happened to that Negro woman. They don’t want to work with women. You don’t make enough in the cannery having no husband. No one makes enough to live there. They just keep you going until you can’t take it anymore. Your child will end up in the workhouse. And what for her then, her little fingers cut off from the cotton machine or worse her apron or dress gets caught and then she’s pulled inside and chopped to bits. No one cares about poor children dying save their parents.”

“Did you know I was from North Carolina?”

“I might have asked Leocadia before she died. She was going to be my first choice, now that she’s gone; I thought you’d welcome someone paying for you to get home.” He subtly slid money enough for two train fares across the table.

“I haven’t agreed to do anything,” Corey said.

“Keep the money then. It’s likely the most money you’ll ever have again in your life.”

He left her there at the table.  Corey slid the money into her lap and subtly tucked it into her pocket, her eyes on the other patrons and who might have seen their transaction. It was no used getting robbed before she knew what she was going to do with the money. After finishing her drink, careful to slurp it down like a man.  She walked home to the sound of bells ringing again in the background.  This time they seemed to signal something else. This time they seemed to signal goodbye to the Chesapeake Bay. Is life about living or just enduring, she asked herself again.

Her feet turned against her own accord and she found herself at the train station. Before she could think about it further she bought two train tickets for Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Stepping away from the ticket desk she undid the frayed rope on her wrist and let it fall to the cobblestones. There was no trinket one could buy or steal to ward against death by cannon.

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3. Harper Lee Responds to a Letter From a Journalist

HarperLeeHarper Lee recently made headlines with the announcement of her To Kill a Mockingbird sequelGo Set a Watchman. Many questions have been raised about this forthcoming title especially in light of the fact that in the past, Lee had made it clear that she did not intend to ever publish another book.

As a result, several members of the press have been trying to get in touch with the author in an attempt to uncover some answers. In spite of Lee’s tendency to shy away from publicity, one person succeeded in making contact.

According to AL.com, Connor Sheets, an investigative reporter from the Birmingham News, persistently pursued Lee through her lawyer, her publisher, and a two-page letter sent by snail mail. Lee surprised him with her response to a letter; she mailed back the document and hand wrote the following four words: “Go away! Harper Lee.” What do you think? (via The Huffington Post)

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5. Upcoming Release of Mystery Romance Novel Loves' Conqueror on Net Galley

Loves' Conqueror is a long awaited book for my romance novel fans. For years I have been focusing on my children's books. which have been very successful. But my fans keep asking me when I am going to write another romance. Well, my dear fans, it has finally arrived. Loves' Conqueror will be released on May 1st, 2015. If you would like to read and review it in advance you can go onto Net Galley and request it at http://www.netgalley.com/catalog/show/id/62284
Please post reviews on Amazon. I'm excited to read what people think. about this new adventure with some amazing characters. I will also be posting some of those reviews on my website http://www.reneeahand.com  Thank you everyone for your support. It's greatly appreciated. Enjoy!


Miranda Mayne, the daughter of a notorious pirate, spent most of her life in the hustle and bustle of London society, though her true love was always the sea. Promising her father she will stay away from the life that killed her mother, Miranda accepts the marriage proposal of a man she thinks she can trust--only to discover that his true intentions are to secretly capture her father. Trapped between loyalty and deceit, Miranda's heart falls prey for her true match only to find that he is out of her reach. Will she lose everything she holds dear or can she save her father, find true love, and most of all...find herself before reality prevails?

0 Comments on Upcoming Release of Mystery Romance Novel Loves' Conqueror on Net Galley as of 1/1/1900
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6. Terrie Moran's Cozy Reading Corner

This is my reading spot in the corner of a patio in North Fort Myers, Florida. Since my Read 'Em and Eat series is set right down the road in Fort Myers Beach, I like to pour myself a glass of sweet tea and relax in the sunshine with my pal "Fishy" and an entertaining cozy mystery. Speaking of cozies, I am busting my buttons becauseWell Read, Then Dead has been nominated this year for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. At the same time, the excitement is building because the next book in the series is Caught Read-Handeddue out July 7, 2015.

--Terrie Farley Moran
Well Read, Then Dead
Berkley Prime Crime

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7. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Laura Ruby on the release of Bone Gap (Balzer + Bray, 2015). From the promotional copy:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren't surprised. After all, it wasn't the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O'Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That's just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that's not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

See also a Q&A Interview with Laura Ruby About Bone Gap from Epic Reads.

More News & Giveaways 

I Was That Boy from Andrew Harwell. Peek: "...when I read a story like Shannon Hale's, it reminds me how lucky I was to find the books I needed in my life. It reminds me of how panicked I truly felt to hand something like a Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew crossover to my mom to buy, knowing that if she started reading it, she would instantly know it was a romance book, not for boys."

Interlude Press Launches YA Imprint by Sally Lodge from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Interlude Press, founded in 2014 as a boutique publisher of LGBTQ romantic fiction, is launching Duet, a young adult fiction imprint representing LGBTQ characters."

Call for Submissions WNDB Walter Dean Myers Award for YA 2015 from We Need Diverse Books Peek: "Publishers are invited to submit eligible titles for consideration to the Walter Award Judging committee. One physical book must be provided to each of the thirteen members of the judging committee."

Real Talk: Six-Figure Book Deals by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents. Peek: "Many new authors will probably be offered $4-8,000 on a debut picture book text-only to a normal mid-sized traditional publisher. $5-12,000 on a chapter book. $8-20,000 on a middle grade novel. $12-30,000 on a YA. I'm talking average - yes, some will be higher, some lower, and no I haven't done an official poll, but I bet I'm right."

The Dangers of Storytelling by Jael McHenry from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Don’t fall into storytelling about yourself and think that working outside of the establishment paints you an automatic hero; nor does it make you an automatic failure if your query gets not a single nibble."

Character Talents & Skills: Regeneration by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "...the ability to restore one’s physical condition to an optimal state, healing wounds and bodily damage at a cellular level."

Diverse ALA YMA Book
The 2015 Youth Media Awards: A Crossover Year for Diversity by Nina Lindsay from School Library Journal. Peek: "The idea that 'diverse books' limit potential readership assumes that the Newbery and Caldecott awards should, by default, reflect a white experience. Perhaps that assumption exists because, for much of their history, they have."

Interview: Marietta Zacker (Nancy Gallt Literary Agency): Agent Looking For Diversity by Lee Wind from I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? Peek: "We really do come in all shapes and sizes with a range of strengths and abilities and with various beliefs and traditions. Let your stories and illustrations reflect that."

How Does Your Novel Grow? The Writing/Gardening Connection by Katrina Kittle from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "I don’t have room for every single plant I’d like to grow, so I have to be picky. And just like with an idea for a novel, once I choose, I have to commit."

Mind the Gaps: Books for All Young Readers by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson from the Horn Book. Peek: "What is our mission? In addition to offering trendy titles, aren’t we supposed to do our best to house and preserve wonderful books that aren’t currently popular?" See also Selection Is Privilege by Amy Koester from Lee & Low.

Vulnerability: The Key to Compelling Romantic Relationships by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "Because it is our business to create characters who are broken, jaded or struggling in some way. Yet somehow we must show them it’s okay to trust."

The Diversity Gap in Children's Publishing 2015 from Lee & Low. Peek: "Why are Asian/Pacific American creators so much more free to create books without significant cultural content? Perhaps it is because they don’t have the same pressure to create books that will be eligible for certain awards."

Thematic Book List: Biographies of Early Scientists (Through Newton) by Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect. Peek: "...a list of books on scientists before and including Newton. I've also thrown in a couple of important mathematicians. Titles are roughly arranged in chronological order."

Noir and Horror for Picture Book Readers: Two Works by Jon Klassen from Maggie Tokuda-Hall at boingboing. Peek: "I Want My Hat Back, she explained to me, was noir. This Is Not My Hat, horror."

Editor Stacy Whitman of Tu Books on Diversity in YA Lit, What She's Searching For & Her Favorite Books from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "I am looking in particular for books with a strong adventurous streak, whatever the genre, and possibly a strong romance storyline. We’re open to science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction—and I love genre mash-ups."

Self-Publishing Picture Books: Agents Erin Murphy and Susan Hawk Weigh In by Sangeeta Mehta from Jane Friedman. Peek: "It’s less about page count and more about making a story as tight and illustration-driven as it can be. In fact, a lot of traditionally published picture books right now are 40 pages or even 48 pages—that’s been sneaking under the radar, right?—but they generally don’t feel any more text-heavy despite that."

Writing Nonfiction Using Fiction Techniques by Carla Killough McClafferty from Teaching Austhors. Peek: "In my books, the dialogue comes from direct quotes from documented primary sources. Teachers, students and readers can go to source notes in the back matter to see exactly where the quote was found."

SCBWI Golden Kite & Sid Fleischman Awards
See honor books and more information from SCBWI.

LGBT Lambda Literary Award Finalists

Children's-YA Literature Category:

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award 

From the Pennsylvania Center for the Book:

See also SCBWI Announces Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Poetry.

Texas Blast for the Past

Two funny middle grades (and their goofy authors) are taking a Texas road trip!

Jo Whittemore (author of Colonial Madness (Simon & Schuster)) and Cory Putman Oakes (author of Dinosaur Boy (Sourcebooks)) will be visiting four cities on their Blast From The Past Book Tour from March 9 to March 13.

Join them for treats, crafts, and fun!

See full tour schedule and details:

Cynsational Giveaways

See also giveaways of Debbie Michiko's Florence's children's nonfiction books China and Japan from her newly redesigned author website.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Congratulations to Nikki Loftin (Wish Girl) & Jo Whittemore (Colonial Madness) on last week's launch at BookPeople!
See also Nikki on A Wish Come True: Wish Girl Reviews, Launch Party Pics & More.

My most heartfelt congratulations to Laney Nielson, the 2014 Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award recipient, for signing with literary agent Bethany Buck of Greenburger Associates, and my most heartfelt congrats to Bethany on signing Laney! See more information.

Seed Beads, Indian Camps and Black Indians in Cynthia Leitich Smith's Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek:

"Rereading it now--14 years after I first read it--I want to shout from the rooftops to everyone about Rain Is Not My Indian Name. If you don't already have it on your shelves, get a copy and read it. And share it. It is exquisite and has something in it for every reader." 

Note: Debbie is researching depictions of Black Indians in youth literature. She highlights a sampling of related resources.

This week Rain Is Not My Indian Name also is featured among 15 YAs That Get It Right by Dahlia Adler from Barnes & Noble.

Of late, the Austin children's-YA author and illustrator community welcomes YA author Amy Tintera and illustrator Jessica Olien!

My Link of the Week is Your One Wild and Precious Life by Anna Elliott from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Silence your inner critic, take chances, make mistakes, write whole swaths of material that you wind up having to rip out and write again."

Personal Links

One of THREE books by Patrice Barton releasing in April

Cynsational Events

Now Available
The SCBWI Austin 2015 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference will take place March 7 and March 8 at Marriott Austin South. Note: Cynthia will be moderating a panel and offering both critiques and consultations.

San Antonio Readers! Cynthia will sign the Feral series at 1 p.m. at Costo on March 14 in Selma, Texas.

Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

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8. Giveaway: City Love by Susane Colasanti (US Only)

Book’s Title: City Love

Author’s Name: Susane Colasanti

Release Date: April 21, 2015


About the Book

Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?

Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?

Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

Told from alternating points of view, the City Love trilogy captures the moments in each girl's life when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once . . . in a way it will never be again.


b2ap3_thumbnail_susanelove.jpgAbout the Author

Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting
for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, Keep Holding On, All I Need, and Now
and Forever. Susane has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a
master’s degree from New York University. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007,
Susane was a high school science teacher for ten years. She lives in New York City.

You can connect with Susane at her website, susanecolasanti.com.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube

Add the book on Goodreads


Giveaway Details

One winner will get an ARC of City Love. US 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 you'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: Which character from City Love must have a pouch that says “New York
Is My Boyfriend”? Find the answer on citylovetrilogy’s Instagram.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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9. Teaser Trailer Unveiled For Mr. Holmes

A trailer has been unleashed for the Mr. Holmes movie. The video embedded above offers glimpses of Sir Ian McKellen playing an elderly Sherlock Holmes.

The actor announced on his Facebook page that this story shows “Sherlock Holmes as you’ve never seen him.” This film is set to hit U.K. theaters in Summer 2015; no U.S. release date has been announced yet.

Here’s more from E! Online: “Before the elderly detective digs into an unsolved case involving a mysterious young woman, McKellen begins to spend a lot of his time with a curious young boy played by Milo Parker. While the inquisitive youngster is deeply intrigued by the detective’s life, McKellen is a bit more focused on trying to remember a few clues that could crack the final mystery.” (via Entertainment Weekly)

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10. Navigating a Debut Year: Writing Life

                  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers The Name of the Rose The Crimson Petal and the White Crossing to Safety Sophie's World

I first ran this series five months after May B. hit the shelves. With Blue Birds releasing next week (!), it feels like the right time for me to revisit my Writer’s Manifesto — a list of things I’d like to focus on in my public, private, and writing life. 

This is not in any way meant to be preachy or condemning (please notice I’m directing all of this to myself). I have yet to figure everything out and am in many ways a pro at doing the exact opposite of what I know is best. Yet these are ideas I’ve circled back to again and again, things I know will ultimately benefit my career, my friendships, my writing and my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

In my writing life I will…
  • Write the stories that speak to me: I will continue to write what nourishes and interests me first and worry about the market second.
  • Seek guidance, support, and direction when needed: I will ask questions of my agent and editor when I’m unsure or need help. I will go to other writers in the same life phase or those older and wiser when I need assistance.

In my writing life I will not…
  • Lose my love for story, kids, or words: Once you’re published, art becomes commodity. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. I want my motivation and passion to remain firmly in the place it always has been. While there are no guarantees of success in writing this way, their is much joy, and this, in the end, is more important to me.
  • Compare one book against another: I choose not to be paralyzed by comparing my titles to previous books I’ve written. Each deserves to stand alone and has its own merit. The rest of the publishing world has the freedom to compare if they choose. For me to do so is unfair to new stories beginning to form.
  • Despair: If you know me well, you know panic is a part of my writing when I’m drafting something new. I fret that I don’t know how to write or have nothing new to say. But I can’t let that panic lead to despair. Reminding myself that things always start this way keeps things in perspective. Allowing myself to play with language and ideas is much more doable than telling myself I’m writing an entire book. Choosing to nurture rather than berate gives me permission to try.

It’s my hope that holding to what I’ve processed these last few months will keep me grounded, help me grasp the deep satisfaction writing brings, and hold at bay the things that only lead to disappointment.

What about you? What things do you want to uphold in your public, private, and writing lives?

The post Navigating a Debut Year: Writing Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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11. Three Questions with Kate Parkinson: advice for young illustrators, 1950's kitsch and debut picture book GRACE


Today, I'm delighted to fire Three Questions at my friend Kate Parkinson. Kate's an illustrator, designer and author and a member of SCBWI and Canscaip. She is a graduate of OCAD University, the University of Guelph and is currently working towards an MFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford.

Kate's first children’s book, GRACE, was published by Holiday House Books For Young People in January 2015 (it was originally developed for her grad school thesis!) and she is currently hard at work on new book ideas. You can find Kate at KateParkinson.com, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Synopsis of GRACE:

Grace's name may be a bit of a misnomer, for graceful she is not. She wants to be a ballerina, but dancing is not her forte. "Give it up, Grace," the other girls tell her. Saddened, Grace turns to drawing—and when she does, she starts to feel better. Grace is good at drawing and the other girls love her artwork. Grace finds a way to be part of the ballet using her true talent—she paints the sets! But the indefatigable Grace also keeps dancing in this easy reader that encourages youngsters to celebrate their own special gifts.

1. Pick a random object in your studio and tell me about it.

Over the years I have collected 1950’s kitsch (my place has a retro décor) and some cookie jars have migrated into my studio and are filled with brushes and pens.

Most of my 50’s stuff has faces, whether ceramic anthropomorphic vegetables or the seriously tacky chalk art hanging on my wall. I like to surround myself with whimsical things that make me smile.

2. What advice do you have for aspiring children's book illustrators?

Draw, draw, draw! Carry a sketchbook with you wherever you go. Learn from other artists, connect with them and support them, they are your tribe, and the friendships you develop with others in the field are very special. Explore various media and pursue your own unique voice and path. Get your work out there, don’t worry about rejection, just keep working and moving forward.

And when you finally get that first children’s book to illustrate, remember to have fun!

3. What are you excited about these days?

Grace came out just last month and since then I had my first book signing (OLA conference) and I just attended my first SCBWI conference in New York City.

I want to read all the fabulous kid’s books I heard about at the SCBWI conference (there are many including Kwame Alexander’s “The Crossover”). I came back very inspired to get working on my next two book ideas and starting on some character studies (I have lots of ideas so now I need to get them into paper!).

I also work fulltime and I am in grad school (MFA, University of Hartford) and I graduate in July. I’m busy putting together a body of work for my thesis show that includes “Grace,” (the book was originally developed to be part of my thesis) and the other book ideas that I am currently developing. I'm excited about bringing the ideas I have to life.

Life is hectic but wonderful also!!!


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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12. Character studies

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13. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week,Featuring Eva Erikkson and Sydney Smith

– From JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers,
illustrated by Sydney Smith

“Dad lifted me up so I’d be closer to the stars that were far, far away. ‘Some of them don’t even exist,’ he said. ‘They’ve gone out already.’ ‘But we can still see them,’ I said. ‘Yes, we can see their light,’ said Dad. ‘It may take several hundred years to arrive here.’ I looked at the stars that weren’t there. And Dad went on telling me their names and carrying me. ‘The Swan,’ he said. ‘The Harp. Big Dog.'”
– From Ulf Stark’s
When Dad Showed Me the Universe,
illustrated by Eva Erikkson

(Click to enlarge spread)


This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Michael Morpurgo’s Half a Man, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan, and J. Patrick Lewis’s The Wren and the Sparrow, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg. That link will be here soon.

* * *

Today I’ve got some art from JonArno Lawson’s Sidewalk Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Groundwood, March 2015), as well as Ulf Stark’s When Dad Showed Me the Universe, illustrated by the great Eva Eriksson (originally released in Sweden in 1998 but coming to American shelves later this year). I wrote about both books here at Kirkus last week and want to share some art today.

Don’t miss Philip Nel’s post on Sidewalk Flowers, and here Roger Sutton talks to Lawson.



Art from Sidewalk Flowers:


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


(Click to see cover in more detail)


Art from
When Dad Showed Me the Universe:



* * * * * * *

SIDEWALK FLOWERS. Copyright © 2015 by JonArno Lawson. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Sydney Smith. Published by Groundwood Books, Toronto. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

WHEN DAD SHOWED ME THE UNIVERSE. English language edition © Gecko Press Ltd 2015. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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14. Revising Characters

This revision layer does not require you to cut all descriptions of clothes, hair, and accoutrements. Rather, it asks you to take a fresh look at your descriptions and decide if they are meaningful and powerful rather than bland and boring.

The best way to do that is to look at each character individually and each instance in which you have described them.

1. Save a copy of your draft as “Character Description (insert character Name)” and delete everything but the sections that deal with that character (keeping chapter references). It is critical that you revise at this level for your protagonist, antagonist, love interest. If you want to be thorough, do it for your secondary characters as well. Walk-ons deserve a brief look, but not necessarily a file.

If you prefer, you can peruse a printed version of your manuscript and highlight or circle the descriptions of each character separately. You could mark them with different colored ink or stick-on tabs. 

The important part is that you start at the becinning of the story and read through that character looking for continuity mistakes, character definition, and consistency.

2. Have you described the character as he enters the story?

3. Have other characters described this character?

4. Are your descriptions meaningful and original or full of clichés and weak adjectives? Have you repeated the same descriptive information over and over?

5. Are there instances of dissonance or change?

6. Do words and actions illustrate the character? Do they play against type? Are you promoting stereotypes?

7. Is your point of view character’s description of someone accurate or inaccurate due to his personality, past history, or  current situation? Does his opinion change?

8. Have you used clichés or purple prose?

9. Have you made changes in one area and forgotten to change them in the rest (hair and eye color, history, clothing choices).

10. Have you changed their name? Make certain it is changed everywhere! Make certain it is spelled the same everywhere.

11. Have you given them so many nicknames, terms of endearment, or shortened names that it becomes confusing?

It helps to have a character profile nearby when revising for each character listing their visual appearance, quirks, speech style, personal style etc.

You can create your own profiles or utilize the ones provided in Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook (which also include personality traits).

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15. Agent Carter Actors Star in Speed Reading Video

Two actors from the Agent Carter TV series, Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, took on First Book’s speed reading challenge. In the video embedded above, Atwell and D’Arcy read aloud from Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad All Year. Altogether, they managed to read 73 words in only 10 seconds. Click here to find out how Mo Willems fared when he took on this task.

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16. {Blog Tour} Giveaway & Review of SERAPHINA & SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman

Now Available in Paperback The New York Times bestseller and the hotly anticipated sequel  SERAPHINASeraphina #1by Rachel Hartman Age Range: 12 and up Hardcover: 512 pagesPublisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (July 10, 2012) Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding

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17. Free First Five Pages Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

The First Five Pages March Workshop will open for entries at noon, EST,  tomorrow! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Patricia Dunn as our guest author mentor, and Kimberly Brower as our guest agent mentor.  So get those pages ready – click here to get the rules!

March Guest Mentor - Patricia Dunn

Patricia Dunn has appeared in Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, the Village Voice, the Nation, LA Weekly, and others. With an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also teaches, this Bronx-raised rebel and former resident of Cairo settled in Connecticut, with her husband, teenage son, and toddler dog.  Patricia loves visiting class rooms – for more information about virtual visits, click here 

A fresh and authentic coming-of-age story set during the early days of the Arab Spring.
All Mariam wanted was a vacation. What she got was a revolution...
It’s tough fitting in, especially when you have super-traditional Muslim parents and are the only Egyptian at your high school. So when Mariam and her best friend and fellow outcast, Deanna, get arrested after an ill-fated night of partying, she knows that she is in big trouble.
Convinced they need more discipline, their parents pack Mariam and Deanna off to Cairo to stay with Mariam’s grandmother, her sittu. But Mariam’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam used to believe.

 When a girl named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest against their president, Mariam and Deanna find themselves in the middle of a revolution, running from teargas, dodging danger in the streets of Cairo, and falling in love for the first time. As Mariam struggles to reconcile her rich Egyptian heritage with her American identity, she finds that revolution is everywhere, including within herself.  

You can order here: 

We are thrilled to announce that Kimberly Brower, of the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency, will be our guest agent for March! Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. Reading has always been her passion, even while pursuing her business degree at California State University, Northridge and law degree at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. By joining the Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency in 2014, she has been able to merge her legal background with her love of books. Although she loves all things romance, she is also searching for books that are different and will surprise her, with empathetic characters and compelling stories. Kimberly is interested in both commercial and literary fiction, with an emphasis in women’s fiction, contemporary romance, mysteries/thrillers, new adult and young adult, as well as certain areas of non-fiction, including business, diet and fitness.

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18. Luna's Red Hat - a bookwrap


Authored and illustrated by Emmi Smid

Great for ages 6+

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19. How to organize my book

Question: I just started writing an idea that popped into my head. It's about a girl that finds her fiance cheating on her and gets her heart broken, now

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20. Rob Dunlavey talks about play and drawing

Rob Dunlavey from Scott Bakal on Vimeo.

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21. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katrina Cope, Author of The Sanctum Series


When you have a group of street kids rescued from the streets, how do you fill their starving stomachs — with a bowl of slop and a slice of bread? Maybe if you were a soup kitchen on a very limited budget, but Avando, a rich grandfather figure, rescued these kids and bad food is not an option.

These kids are not in for a free ride. In between spying, building high-tech equipment and operating surrogate robots, they are expected to learn basic survival and chores. He has them taught to grow their own food at his eco-friendly boarding school camouflaged in the mountains. This produce is then cooked up by the students under the watchful eyes of Ms. Helen, the cook for this mysterious place. They are taught to make many different dishes, from basic hamburgers to home-styled meals that border on restaurant quality. Regularly they have a choice from dishes like lasagne and salad, bacon and cheese quiche, chicken a la king and wok-tossed vegetables, just to mention a few.

These delicious meals are surrounded by snacks at morning and afternoon tea consisting of a variety of home cooked muffins, biscuits/cookies and fluffy cakes of all different flavours and types and definitely do not forget the tea and coffee.

The borders at The Sanctum boarding school do a lot better than their spy counterparts at the government-run genius school, Ernest State College. Spare a thought for Liam’s injured friends. How about chowing on a nice set of cutlery? Yes, that’s right, cutlery. I’m serious. Liam was going to serve his sick friends a nice platter of shiny silver cutlery. I know this is hard to believe, but the genius was so distracted he didn’t realize that he hadn’t served up any food. It was a good thing his sister Gemma was on the ball and took over to make sure his friends were well cared for. He is not completely useless, though. At least when they were well, he managed to select for them a variety of muffins, cookies and apple juice.

Which school would I recommend you visit for a meal? Well, it would definitely be The Sanctum. However, don’t turn your back on your food if Robert is around. It’s never safe, even if he has already eaten or if it has been dropped on the floor. In fact, in book three of The Sanctum Series, Taylor’s Plight, not even the grubs and trees were safe when he was in the bush hiding for a few hours away from real meals!

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

You can find Katrina here:

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22. ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH’ To Be Turned Into Live-Action/CGI Franchise by ‘Ice Age”s Michael Berg

MGM is developing a live-action/CGI hybrid of the children's novel "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH."

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23. A Gouache by Jean Giraud

Christie's in Paris will be hosting an auction of comics and illustration on March 14.

One of the lots is a Jean Giraud cover for a 1970 Blueberry comic called the "Iron Horse," 36 X 49.2 cm (14.17 x 19.37 in.). Giraud's image of the American West evokes the work of Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell.

Giraud (1938-2012) is better known by the pseudonym Moebius, which he used for his science fiction work. He painted with equal virtuosity in almost every medium, including pen-and-ink, watercolor, colored inks, acrylic, and oil. 

This one is in gouache. The detail shows the variety of strokes and colors he uses to describe the complex forms of the train. He probably executed a careful underdrawing first, but he didn't hesitate to cover it up with opaque paint.

Gouache allows for a variety of handling, from fine delicate strokes, such as those of the grasses in the foreground, juicy blobs, such as on the horse, or brilliant opaque color, such as in the sky.

The upcoming Christie's auction will include a fine selection of bandes dessinées and illustration, including Uderzo, Bilal, Manara, Pratt, Schuiten, Juillard, and Guarnido. The selection was made by Galerie Daniel Maghen of Paris.

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24. Peter H. Reynolds Lands 3-Book Deal With Scholastic

scholasticlogo082310Peter H. Reynolds has signed a three-book deal with Scholastic.

Liza Baker, the executive editorial director at Cartwheel and Orchard Books, negotiated the terms of the agreement with Holly McGhee, the founder of Pippin Properties. The first book, entitled Happy Dreamer, will be published in 2016.

Reynolds had this statement in the press release: “Happy Dreamer is inspired by my own creative journey. I want readers to say ‘Hey, that’s me!’ and realize that their daydreaming, their wild energy—and even their challenges—are all good. I want to encourage kids—and grownup kids—to be happy with who they are, and to be confident about what lies ahead.”

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25. Life Out Here, on a Speck

Mauritius is really out there. There are times when I feel that reality more than other. When I'm flying the leg of the trip from Dubai and the map on the screen in front of my seat that shows the route to Mauritius basically shows the Indian Ocean and the flight is 7 hour long- and then you can see by the on board cameras that there is a bit of land appearing (after the 7 hours)- and you think, "Wow- they found it in all of that vast ocean- the speck". Another time the remoteness of our current location hits me is when I'm driving. The width of the island on the northern end is around 5 miles- the size of the entire island is 788 square miles- drive takes about 20 minutes. 

Still, it's good thing to change the scenery and everything else and live here for a bit (no idea how many years we will be here, but we're calling it home for now). It's good to have to find a new way to do everything- to make a brain that has gotten used to doing things in a certain way and going certain places and experiencing different things. One thing that I love here is talking to people- like this young woman I met named Jessica. Jessica has this total island attitude and out look and is so happy and light- there is a wonderful uncomplicatedness here. In the west we have so many more complications- and really, why? Well- maybe the transitional nature of where the west is right now- a lot of in-between-ness a lot of undefined things...but maybe it was never really any different ?

Okay- the picture portion of this post. Above is a gecko walking around outside at night on the illuminated surface of a frosted bathroom window. Forget TV, Fred and I spent an evening watching this little creature fill its belly with wiggling, moving bugs- they moved in its belly too! It had a feast with the light attracting the bugs. 

Here is my Fred. He's carefully placing the shells that our kid arranged on a restaurant table. I marvel that the guy- he is the one that got us all to come out here. A couple of year ago I had only heard of Mauritius as where the dodo bird met its fate when people showed up and messed up what millions of years of evolution took to create. Fred is one of these people who has these visions of what is possible and then he goes out and creates. I suppose that I do that too, but I do it on paper- or digitally these days- in the art/literature realm. The expression of out ideas and the distribution is different. My distribution is bigger, and my travel is usually within- his travel is farther (but I suppose I'm here too, huh...) but few people experience that direct idea (for now).

This is looking north on the northern end of the island- not far from where we live. The clouds always fascinate me- they move so quickly and it's always a show. Last night I was in the pool looking up at a moon lit composition of billowy clouds moving overhead. I'm so grateful to be having these experiences- and sharing them with my Pookie. 

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