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<<August 2015>>
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1. Pixar's Free Online Tutorials

Pixar has released a free online course to explain the science and technology behind its approach to making computer-generated animated films. The interactive course covers most of the math-based aspects of the production pipeline, such as character modeling, environment modeling, combinatorics, animation physics, and surface rendering.

Here's the intro video (link to YouTube), which amusingly shows a lot of handmade skills (such as sculpting clay and drawing with markers—and relatively primitive technology, such as an Ektagraphic slide projector.

This video, for example, takes a look at the lighting factors and surface qualities that contribute to the color of an object. (Link to YouTube) The presentation seems intended for school-age learners rather than fellow professionals or mega-geeks. Each segment is presented by someone from the department in question.

Missing from the presentation is the softer science of Pixar's process, such as how they approach story development, character design, and acting for animation. I hope they include those topics in future teaching modules.

Via Design Taxi

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2. Henry Dancing

Dancing with abandon
Is what children tend to do.
They bust their moves with untamed joy,
Their pride just beaming through.

Yet when self-consciousness begins,
They hold their true selves back
And spontaneity may never
Clamber back on track.

I love when Henry dances,
(He insists I join right in)
For no one watching can control
An ear to earlobe grin.

I dread the day embarrassment
With rein in his delight,
‘Cause Henry’s dancing makes me feel
Like everything’s all right.

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3. How well do you know Lao Tzu? [quiz]

This August we are featuring Lao Tzu, the legendary Chinese thinker and founder of Taoism, as Philosopher of the Month. He is best known as the author of the classic ‘Tao Te Ching’ (‘The Book of the Way and its Power’). Take our quiz to see how much you know about the life and studies of Lao Tzu!

The post How well do you know Lao Tzu? [quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. House of the Moon

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5. The New Flat

We're finally in to our home for the foreseeable future! We're exhausted from days and days of walking marathons all over the city, so we're tucking in and enjoying our new pad. Stan made us our first meal (lentil and spinach soup - to die for) and we sat and sat while enjoying it. Neither one of us wanted to get up, we were so happy right there.

And the light was amazing. Watching it climb up the sides of the buildings was a spectacular show. And the windows are so tall, we see so much sky! One of the views we're most excited about is our long view towards Broughton Street.
We slept like coma patients on our first night. Here is the morning view (taken later in the day).
Any my new office. (Don't expect it to look this neat for long.)
And Stan's new office with the 'welcome to your new home' bouquet we purchased at the most picturesque florist in the world - which happens to be at the end of our street, Narcissus.
But back to the views and the light... Because truly, watching the light do it's tricks in Edinburgh is absolutely stunning. Here's some eye-candy from the other evening, walking home from the Book Festival where we had drinks with David Almond and his family. This is Calton Hill, which is near our new flat, but which we have yet to explore.
What I love about this city is nobody takes it for granted, even the locals. This will be one of the main bridges I cross everyday to get to class.
When we got to the other side after taking this picture, a group of people had stopped, tourists and locals alike, all with their cameras raised. Why? This is why.
The sun had turned the city and the sky to gold. My photo doesn't do it justice. And no, we haven't tried the Ferris Wheel yet, but we will!
     Back to the flat... We're going through those little things you do when you're settling into a new home. Buying essentials, finding homes for things, writing lists of what we need, and trying to figure stuff out. Like this, for instance.
I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was for, I just knew it had something to do with the clothes drying rack. After much debate on Facebook, it has been determined to be a stockings dryer - tuck the toes/legs through the holes and let the panty side hang down to dry. (Thanks, Lisa Jacobi!) So there!
     More soon!

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6. Alan Gratz, author of CODE OF HONOR, on dangling your main characters into the fire

CODE OF HONOR is the latest novel by Alan Gratz, and we're excited to have him here to share more about it.

Alan, what was your inspiration for writing CODE OF HONOR?

The idea for CODE OF HONOR was originally, "How do I write a YA version of the TV show Homeland?" The book is very different than the show Homeland, of course, but that's where it began. How could I write a thriller about Middle Eastern terrorists in America that kept you guessing all the way to the end?

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I learned that I love writing thrillers! This won't be the last one I write, for sure. I also began to understand how thrillers work--whether they're novels, TV shows, or movies. It's all about dangling your main characters into the fire and then yanking them out again at the last second. (While always turning up the heat each time, of course!)

Read more »

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7. Perhaps More Later But For Now Google+

I just went on Google+ for the first time in a week.  Views stand at just under 2 million.  What surprised me was the fact that the only comic related posts on there were from....me.

Normally, the site was chocked full of comic book or comic book related movie news and I'd wade through them all. As I pointed out a week or two ago, things had gotten quiet.  But this!

People on comic forums are talking about the lack of activity, too.

Meanwhile, Star Wars and even Jurassic Park are big topics.  Interesting to see how figures go for the next super hero movie.

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8. dartmoor pegasus in print!

Dartmoor Pegasus started as a little 'artifact' created by Philip Reeve at least a decade ago, before I knew him.

And today it's printed in story form in the Telegraph! (Thanks, illustrator Cathy Brett, for alerting us!)

Photo by Cathy Brett

We originally created the story for my blog, day by day. Philip adapted the story slightly when the newspaper asked us if they could print it, so it would work with less images, and you can read the whole fully illustrated version here on my blog.

I love drawing the Dartmoor Pegasus so much! And he so came to symbolise fun, supportive co-authorship to me that we ended up making him the logo for our #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to get illustrators credited properly for their work. Making stories with a friend is the best thing EVER.


PS Funnily enough, our story's across from an article about Doctor Who, and Philip wrote a Doctor Who story! You can see my fan art for it here.

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9. Melinda Braun, author of STRANDED, on continuing to try and improve

We're delighted to have Melinda Braun join us to chat about her debut novel STRANDED.

Melinda, what was your inspiration for writing STRANDED?

My inspiration for Stranded came from a few different things:
I grew up in Wisconsin but now have lived in Minnesota for more than half my life, and one thing Minnesotans really love to do in the summer is "go up north" and "go to the cabin". I've been up in the north woods area several times, but had never done serious camping. I had heard about a Boy Scout troop who got lost out on a lake in the BWCA, but they were rescued very quickly. I also heard a few other stories (short news articles) about other campers having to be rescued for various reasons. The BWCA has also had several large forest fires over the years, and I decided to take all that information and roll it up into a camping trip that goes horribly wrong for a small group of teenagers.

Read more »

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10. Breakfast

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11. Hey everybody! Meet Elizabeth!

Please welcome another newbie to the Social Media team at Oxford University Press, Elizabeth Furey, who joined the gang in August 2015, just two weeks ago, as an OUPblog Deputy Editor and Social Media Manager! You can learn more about Elizabeth below.

The post Hey everybody! Meet Elizabeth! appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Moods review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Yoel Hoffmann's Moods, recently published in translation by New Directions.

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13. Leo Hunt, author of THIRTEEN DAYS OF MIDNIGHT, on pretending to adapt a draft into a film script

We're thrilled to have Leo Hunt stop by to tell us more about his debut novel THIRTEEN DAYS OF MIDNIGHT.

Leo, what was your inspiration for writing THIRTEEN DAYS OF MIDNIGHT?

Various sources. When I was a teenager I was very taken with 20th Century horror like Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, that sort of thing. I adore horror as a genre, especially occult horror, so I wanted to write a story that would have some of that atmosphere and imagery: moonlit rituals, stone circles, forbidden books that contain knowledge man was not meant to have, etc. I was also interested in YA at the time as a way of exploring the way family relationships change as you grow older, how you deal with the realisation that your parents are fallible human beings (or maybe even evil), so the idea of a father who had made a Faustian deal which ended up having an impact on his son was immediately interesting to me. I was working on this thing at the time about a failed stage magician who had a ghost butler, and that sad washed-up magician character ended up becoming Luke’s father Horatio in the final novel. The story was the focal point of a few different things I’d been thinking about for a while.
Read more »

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14. moving day

Hi guys, you've probably noticed that I haven't been around much. I post pictures of my daily illustrator life on Instagram, and I will keep you posted of bigger projects and exciting developments over on my new tumblr sketchblog. Come and visit!

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15. A Place for Quiet

How do you structure your workshop to work for all personalities?

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16. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop opens in 1 week!

Our September workshop will open for entries on Saturday September 5, 2015, at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author JJ Howard and agent Danielle Burby!

And we have a new format! The workshop runs three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Danielle will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript! So get those pages ready!

September Guest Mentor – JJ Howard

If you’re looking for J. J. Howard, you’ll probably find her in Central Florida, but she wishes you’d find her in New York City. NYC, along with books, TV, music, coffee, and her mini-dachshund Willow are on top of her list of favorite things. By day she teaches English and Humanities at a small private high school, and by night she writes, edits, or Netflixes.

Howard’s debut YA, That Time I Joined the Circus, tells the story of Lexi, who accidentally joins the circus (and falls in love) while searching for her missing mother. Her second YA, Tracers, follows Cam, a NYC bike messenger who meets a beautiful stranger named Nikki who pulls him into the world of parkour. Her debut Middle grade, Sit, Stay, Love is coming from Scholastic this January.


Cam is a New York City bike messenger with no family and some dangerous debts. While on his route one day, he runs into a beautiful stranger named Nikki—but she quickly disappears. When he sees her again around town, he realizes that she lives within the intense world of parkour: an underground group of teens who have turned New York City into their own personal playground—running, jumping, seemingly flying through the city like an urban obstacle course.

Cam becomes fascinated with Nikki and falls in with the group, who offer him the chance to make some extra money. But Nikki is dating their brazen leader, and when the stakes become life-or-death, Cam is torn between following his heart and sacrificing everything to pay off his debts.

In the vein of great box-office blockbusters, the high-stakes romance here sizzles within this page-turning thriller that will leave readers feeling like they are flying through the streets of New York.

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

September Guest Agent – Danielle Burby

Danielle graduated from Hamilton College with honors and a double major in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. Before finding her home at HSG, she interned at Writers House, Clarion Books, Faye Bender Literary Agency, Dunow Carlson and Lerner, John Wiley and Sons, and SquareOne Publishers (along with stints as a waitress and a farmers’ market vendor).

Her passion lies in YA, Women’s Fiction, and mysteries. She gravitates toward stories with a strong voice and particularly enjoys complex female characters, narratives that explore social issues, and coming-of-age stories. Genres that appeal to her include contemporary YA, medieval fantasy, historical fiction, cozy mysteries, and upmarket Women’s Fiction. She finds it hard to resist gorgeous writing and is a sucker for romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative, but don’t dominate it. You can follow her on twitter at @danielleburby.

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17. research: choosing scrapbook anchor songs, book three sixties trilogy

Each scrapbook in COUNTDOWN and REVOLUTION is anchored by a song from that period that helps the reader "hear" that particular time-and-place, and sink deeper into the story. Book 3 will be the same.

I don't have scrapbooks done yet, but I'm keeping a hold file of possible photos on Pinterest, as well as a board with song possibilities (well.. two... maybe three.. I need to consolidate, now that I better understand what I'm doing).

Many of the songs I'm gathering will be mentioned in the narrative, but seven (or so) will be anchors for the scrapbooks of photos, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera that will help tell the story of 1969, and indeed the late sixties, as we're going to have to skip from 1964's REVOLUTION to 1969.

We'll need to secure permission and pay for the right to use these songs in their entirety if we so choose. I've only used one or two entirely -- "Dancing in the Street" and "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" (public domain) in REVOLUTION, but we want to use as much as we want of these anchor songs, as we design scrapbooks, and not worry about permissions.

I'll cover much of the five-year gap between REVOLUTION and BOOK THREE in scrapbooks. So the songs are important -- they have to carry us through. Often I use a song that denotes the opposite of what you see in the scrapbooks so I can give you that Unity of Opposites, so you can think about what you're seeing, and about that particular piece of the story. I juxtapose Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" over the early days of the Vietnam War (before there was much protest) in the final scrapbook in REVOLUTION, for instance.

The scrapbooks are a visual storytelling device and serve as a look at what's going on in the "outside" world while the story I write gives us the "inside" story, or the narrative arc of the book, of these characters and their hopes and dreams and very human failings.

Since I don't know them very well yet, I'm working on the scrapbooks. This usually goes back and forth as the book takes shape -- some scrapbook, some narrative. But right now, I'm just empty on the narrative, so the scrapbooks are getting heavy attention.

Here are some possibilities for starting Book 3. Let's see if one of these actually makes the cut. It will have to work against photos and ephemera that span 1965-1968, which includes death (Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Vietnam), the birth of the counter-culture, war protests, and the rise of some amazing rock-and-roll.

1.  Richie Havens at Woodstock singing "Freedom/Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"..."a long way from home." I can see this as a way to begin Book 3. But it may be too close to REVOLUTION'S beginning. Just gathering right now.

2. Jefferson Airplane, "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" from Woodstock. "When the truth is found/ To be lies/ And all the joy/ Within you dies/ Don't you want somebody to love?/ Don't you need somebody to love?/ Wouldn't you love somebody to love?/ You better find somebody to love."

I love this. I really wanted to use "White Rabbit" as a possibility, but the lyrics are too tightly focused on that hookah smoking caterpillar, and might be confusing instead of enhancing.

3. Randy Newman, 1968: "Broken windows and empty hallways/ A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray/ Human kindness is overflowing/ And I think it's going to rain today.... / Lonely, lonely/ Tin can at my feet/ Think I'll kick it down the street/ That's the way to treat a friend."
This is hands-down my favorite. It holds so much possibility. The song meant a lot to me in the mid-'70s when I was alone with two kids and hoping for some human kindness. Joe Cocker's version is the one I heard in the '70s. I sat in a parking lot and cried. So I worry that I'm attached to it for reasons that won't serve the story.

Those are my top picks to begin Book 3. I loved and discarded for various reasons (although they could show up as anchors for different scrapbooks) Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild," The Rascals' "Get Together," The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing," The Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," and Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth."

I'm open to suggestions.... ?

I want funk and R&B and rock-and-roll and more, but I'll stop here today. Not bad for a day's work. Along with the epiphany I had while listening to Mark Rylance read a page of the new novel THE WAKE -- which as I wrote earlier, has given me energy to begin the narrative again with a different character -- I think I can go find some supper (Jim is gigging) and welcome the weekend.

Hope you are still awake!

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18. My tweets

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19. Resources for Youth Services

Summer Reading is over! Many schools have already cranked up, and more will be getting going in the next couple of weeks. Fall, to me, means planning. I love doing long-term planning and reading materials that inspire me.  I’ve compiled a list here of a few more non-traditional resources that we could all benefit from. I hope one or all of these sparks your creative ideas for the fall!

Think Outside the Stacks – This is a TinyLetter newsletter written by Beth Saxon, also known as BethReads. Beth uses this newsletter to compile information that is relevant is YS librarians from outside the usual library sources–family blogs, news sources, museums, craft sites, educators. The title is apt. We have a lot to learn from people who aren’t librarians that also have interest in serving children and family, and Beth beautifully curates current, pertinent information.

Fairy Dust Teaching Blog – Fairy Dust Teaching is a resource site for teachers that actually offers online courses. But the blog is free to browse and is chock-full of classroom fun that can easily be adapted to library programming. She also highlights what educators all over the country are doing.

Planet Esmé – You might know Esmé Raji Codell from her book, Educating Esme, and her site is a wonderful resource for books, teaching, and other fun. You could get lost in those archives.

Podcasts are having their moment in the sun and I, for one, love them! Here are some great resources for podcasts that can help you be a better librarian:

Podcasts to Help Build Your Teen Collection: a post by Anna Dalin over at the Hub about great podcasts for collection development!

Secret Stacks – a podcast about comics in libraries by Kristin Lalonde and Thomas Maluck.

I hope this gets you started. Happy planning!


Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

The post Resources for Youth Services appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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20. प्रतीत हो

चमकती सी है कभी,
कभी तन्हाई सी प्रतीत हो,
दहकती सी है कभी,
कभी पराई सी प्रतीत हो,   
ललचाती सी है कभी,
कभी इनाम सी प्रतीत हो,
रूलाती सी है कभी,
कभी ईमान सी प्रतीत हो,
निगल जाती है कभी,
कभी हैवान सी प्रतीत हो,
सुझाए सौ रास्ते कभी,
कभी भगवान सी प्रतीत हो,
गिराए ये मुझको कभी,
कभी दुश्मन सी प्रतीत हो,
उठाए जब भी कभी,
कभी उपवन सी प्रतीत हो,            
जलाए ये मुझको कभी,
कभी सौतन सी प्रतीत हो,
लगाए आग मुझमे कभी,
कभी यौवन सी प्रतीत हो,  
अनेक रंगो से भरी है ये,
बेरंग मगर प्रतीत हो,
है ज़िंदगी की ये साथी,
परंतु रात सी प्रतीत हो |

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21. Pirate libraries

       At Eurozine they reprint Bodó Balázs' piece (originally in Visegrad Insight), offering 'A central and eastern European perspective' on Pirate libraries.
       He reports that:

Today's pirate libraries were born to address political, economic and social issues specific to Soviet and post-Soviet times, but they quickly became vital beyond their original context.
       Of course, the legal morass remains ... a morass.

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22. Taiwan is full of lines

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23. {Indie Spotlight Review} A GIFT OF POISON by Kate Avery Ellison

Review by Elisa A GIFT OF POISON by Kate Avery Ellison Paperback: 286 pagesPublisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (October 24, 2014)Language: English FREE WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED Goodreads | Amazon As the orphaned niece of a cruel lord, Briand is the scapegoat of the castle. She has few friends and even fewer options, and every day is a struggle to stay ahead of

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24. Pigtastic! - a bookwrap

Quotes about being yourself...


Unwrapping some adorable illustrations to peek at...

About the book...

I loved the message of this book.  Piggy let's his emotions get him down when he hears things about himself, tries to change himself and then suddenly comes to realization that he is great...just the way he is!  

He discovers that life is not about what other people say about him or how he looks on the outside but it's the inside that counts...

"inside I have a heart of gold,
and that's all that matters!"

He surrounds himself with friends that he can have super times with, like travelling abroad, having fun with his image, and trying new adventures like skateboarding and drama play.  

He discovers it's not about what others say or how they perceive you but true friends who love you give you wings to fly and permission to accept yourself for who you truly are....unique and amazing YOU!

About the author...

Scott Gordon is the author of over 100 children's books, including My Little Pet Dragon, My Crazy Pet Frog, Pigtastic, A Little Book About You, A Pocketful of Dinosaurs, Ninja Robot Repairmen and If I Were A Robot. Currently he is hard at work on multiple projects: Secret Agent Disco Dancer, Braedyn Bunny and the Missing Eggs, Baby Bee, Aveline & the Great Pumpkin Patch and more!


Books are available in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Portuguese and Indonesian. Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Polish, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Madarin Chinese versions will appear in the future.

Scott Gordon also writes science fiction, fantasy and horror novels under the name S.E. Gordon. His latest release is Netherstream Episode 1: Jane Doe.

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me at storywrapsblog@gmail.com

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25. Fiction from ... Central Europe

       Checking out Visegrad Insight (re. above), I find this useful Translators' guide to new fiction from the Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland) -- a nice overview of notable recent fiction from Central Europe.
       None of these titles are available in English yet, as best I can tell (and I can tell pretty well -- and it's hardly surprising: fiction from these nations usually does not get translated with ... alacrity), but a lot of these names are familiar -- indeed, almost all of them have had works published in English.
       Among the less well-known (but already translated) is Martin Reiner -- though I have to say I'm not so sure about his (600-page) "biographical novel in the form of literary collage", about Ivan Blatný; see the Torst publicity page.
       Among the better-known: books by Esterházy Péter, Kertész Imre, and Olga Tokarczuk. And Rivers of Babylon-author Peter Pišťánek's last work.

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