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Billy is frustrated because everyone picks on him. One day he finds a magic pencil that lets him erase anything that annoys him. Over the course of the day, he erases them all, one by one. But suddenly he discovers he’s lonely and he misses them.
Luckily for Billy, pencils don’t just erase. He has to decide if he wants to draw these people back into his life again. After thinking things over, he makes the right choice and is finally happy.
A Giant Pencil was written when Connor Wilson was nine years old. This heart-warming story will remind kids how much friends and family really mean to them.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
by Victoria, Thurber House Intern
Hello again blog readers! This is a midweek update as to what I – Victoria the Intern – have been up to here at Thurber House.
Three days into my internship and I have learned a lot of things – the life and writings of James Thurber, the importance of organization, and the superiority of Nickles Donut Fair (absolutely true). I’ve also managed to start up my own collection of pens, become an Excel spreadsheet master (which is harder than it looks, let me tell you), test out every single marker/pen/glue stick within a five-mile radius, and do a lot of inventory.
But, mostly I’ve just been helping Thurber prepare for their Summer Camp, which looks like so much fun that I’m contemplating building a time machine and going back in time to when I was a 2nd - 8th grader just to join! Seriously – awesome games, interesting writing prompts, and stories galore – what better way to spend your summer?
For my summer, I plan on reading all the books I’ve been assigned to read for school next year. This should take about the entire summer since I decided to take four different English classes (I know, I’m crazy). Here are a few books not for school that I plan on reading:
On my Want to Read List: In Search of Lost Time (Marcel Proust), Nine Stories (J.D. Salinger), and The Fault in Our Stars (John Green).
On my Currently Reading List (AKA the books that are collecting dust in my room): Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut) and a truck full of my guilty pleasure – Sarah Dessen novels.
And that was your midweek update! Check in on Friday for the final entry!
Our intrepid leader, CEO, and co-founder of First Book, Kyle Zimmer, shared some of the wit and wisdom that motivates the First Book Team on a daily basis with a crowd of graduates of St Mary’s College in Notre Dame this Saturday.
Adults Are Not Really Certain of Anything.
“In my own life, it took me far too long to figure this out. When I was young, I got distracted by adults who would swagger or bluster. I assumed that anyone who was that forceful MUST know what they were talking about.”
You Are Going to Fail.
“The truth is that, although you can fail without ever succeeding, it is impossible to succeed without failing. Every famous person who has ever succeeded has failed –- and usually significantly -– before contributing their success to the world.”
Grit Trumps IQ.
“Researchers have been confounded by the fact that having a high IQ does not correlate to success. Finally one woman, Angela Lee Duckworth, started performing wide-ranging analysis and she has discovered that, while it is certainly handy to have a high IQ -– grit is by far the better indicator of potential. She defines grit as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’ You are all blessed elevated IQs –- which will give you a leg up -– but your task now is to find your passion – and get gritty – and no one will be able to stop you.”
Community Is Everything. Build It and Be A Part of It.
“The institutions you will encounter will likely not have communities that are as strong and supportive as St. Mary’s. They will need you to build them up: at work, at home, with people who are kind and smart and have a great sense of humor. Wait — let me reorder that -– build with people who have a great sense of humor and who also are smart and kind. For heaven’s sake, prioritize the sense of humor. It sustains everyone.”
The Most Powerful Force in the World is Empathy.
“Empathy is powerful because it demands action. This world is a needy place and we cannot afford the luxury of inaction. Pledge yourself to empathy. It will require you — when you can — to take on monumental action on behalf of others, but it also requires you to take smaller actions every single day. Hold the door for the person behind you, smile at somebody who never gets a smile. Just do it. Our world needs you desperately.”
The post 5 Secrets Adults Won’t Tell You – Kyle Zimmer’s Commencement Speech at Saint Mary’s College appeared first on First Book Blog.Add a Comment
Continuing our week of looking at some of the artists behind Blue Skey’s Epic, we focus on storyboard artist Tom LaBaff.
“Print illustration is one of Tom’s passions,” according to the bio on his website. Tom creates editorial and book illustration work in addition to working on animated features.
Tom extends the energetic, rough line often used during the animation process to his illustration work. He works with ink and watercolor washes and sometimes with a digital/analog hybrid technique demonstrated in this time-lapse video:
Tom also has a blog here where you can see large versions of his illustrations.
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On Thursday, May 30, the Filmpodium Zurich in Switzerland will present a screening of nine Warner Bros. shorts directed by the legendary Bob Clampett. The show is being presented in honor of his centennial, which was earlier this month. Clampett’s work isn’t well known in Switzerland and the film lineup is a solid primer to his work:
Better yet, each film will be introduced by Swiss animator and historian Oswald Iten, who will discuss different facets of Clampett’s visual style. Iten runs one of my favorite animation blogs Colorful Animation Expressions, where he has recently been writing some fantastically informative posts about Clampett’s art. Ticket and screening details are available on the Filmpodium Zurich website.
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We could go with characters who LOVE Sherlock Holmes, like Ingrid from Peter Abrahams' Echo Falls books, or Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time or Colin Fischer from er, Colin Fischer.
Or we could go with books in which Doyle appears/is mentioned, like Jenny Davidson's The Explosionist* or the one where he teams up with Oscar Wilde to solve a mystery (I haven't read it, but have been meaning to for ages), or the series where he works with Charles Dodgson to solve mysteries. (<--I have no idea if those are any good, but I totally just ordered the first one, because HELLO, HOW COULD I BE EXPECTED TO RESIST THAT TEAM?)
Or one of the versions of Young Sherlock Holmes, like the one with the Bieber hair or the Shane Peacock series (which I haven't tried yet... should I?). Or Old Sherlock Holmes, as in the fabulous Mary Russell books.
Or books his brother, Mycroft, appears in, like the Thursday Next books (LOVE the new cover on The Eyre Affair), or the Quinn Fawcett ones that I haven't tried. Or Nancy Springer's series about their pretend sister, Enola.
BUT. As is probably evident by the image to the right, I'm going with Neil Gaiman's story 'A Study in Emerald', which appears in Fragile Things:
A Sherlock Holmes story set in the world of H. P. Lovecraft. Loved it so much I've been babbling about it to everyone who will listen regardless of whether they A) are interested or B) know who H. P. Lovecraft is. Loved it so much I immediately ILLed Shadows over Baker Street, the collection it originally appeared in. I'm waiting with bated breath. (Or I would be, if I wasn't busy obsessively playing Okami.)
So, I'm sure I missed your favorite: tell me all about it in the comments!
*OH MY GOD I LOVE THAT BOOK SO MUCH HAVE YOU READ IT WHY NOT GO READ IT I'LL WAIT RIGHT HERE OH MY GOD DIDN'T YOU JUST LOVE IT SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!Add a Comment
Submissions invited: 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.
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.
Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. 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.
Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.
Rebecca sends the first chapter for These Two Seas, a YA romance. Please vote—the feedback helps the writer.
“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen,” Amelia muttered, as she climbed the last steps to the top floor of St. Paul Central High School. She shifted the load of textbooks in her arms and started down the corridor. “Hail Mary, full of --”
The washroom door opened. Two young women came out: shop girls, judging by their matching sailor blouses, in night school to pick up some office skills. They stared at Amelia as they walked by. She smiled and nodded. They giggled. Fine. They could make themselves popular by crowing about the teacher who talked to herself.
Praying looked eccentric; she’d admit that. Back in her student teaching days, nothing short of divine assistance could have gotten her to stand before a room full of strangers and pretend to know what she was doing. Two years on, she no longer fought the urge to run every time she approached a classroom, but the ritual had stuck.
… now and at the hour of our death, Amen. Outside Room 305, she paused again. A middle-aged man in a gray suit stopped and made a short, stiff bow.
“May I help you?” he said.
“Would you mind getting the door?”
He grabbed the knob and stepped back. As she went in, he pulled a slip of paper from his jacket pocket and glanced at it.Would you turn Rebecca's first page?
Good, crisp writing, a clear voice, an immediate scene—but, for me, not much in the way of tension. There really aren’t any story questions of any significance on the first page. The man who opens the door for her doesn’t figure into the story in the first chapter. I read through it, but found mostly backstory and a portrayal of her life. Toward the end was backstory on a love affair, but that didn’t lead to anything happening to Amelia in this chapter that made her do anything other than go to bed that evening. I think this is well-written throat-clearing, and you need to start later, at the point where the story begins. This isn’t it. On the other hand, there wasn’t really anything to pick in the writing, that’s fine.
For what it’s worth.
Free sample chapters—click here for a PDF
As an independent editor of book manuscripts, I feel compelled to say I think Ray Rhamey's "Flogging the Quill" is the best how-to book I've read about writing since I was assigned Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" in freshman journalism class 50 years ago. Especially useful for writers of fiction and memoir. I'm urging all my authors to get it.” Frank Zoretich
Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):
© 2013 Ray RhameyAdd a Comment
Over at BookRiot today, there's a post about personal reading rules:
When I started thinking about this piece, I thought about it as just a list of my (many!) seemingly arbitrary rules for reading. Once I got started, though, I discovered that those rules actually tell you so much about me that they double as personality traits. In fact, they say so much about me that I’m actually a little uncomfortable sharing them now, but I’m going to anyway because I’m done with the piece; this paragraph is actually, chronologically, the last one I’ve written, and who wants to waste all that effort?
Which (obviously) made me think about my own set of personal reading rules.
1. I'm a note taker. If I don't have pencil and paper at hand—or am too lazy to get up and go find pencil and paper—I will dog ear pages. Yes, that's right, I AM AN UNREPENTANT DOGEAR-ER.
1a. Since I realize that this confession will probably result in you all shunning me forevermore—you're totally going to cross the street to avoid me at BookExpo next week, aren't you?—I'm going to go ahead and ADMIT ALL: Yes, I even dogear library books. (I always un-dogear before I return them, though.)
1b. If it makes you feel any better, I dogear the BOTTOM of the page, not the top.
1c. I don't write in books. Ever. I do use the Note feature on my Kindle a hella lot, though.
2. When Josh gets ready to read a new paperback, he preemptively breaks its spine, and I flinch every single time.
3. Halfway through any given hardback, the book jacket starts driving me bananas and I take it off and throw it behind the couch. I retrieve and replace when I'm done reading.
4. The only genre I seem to be capable of reading without going into Literary Analysis mode? Vaguely smutty historical romances.
5. I've said this before, but it should be included: I'm a really, REALLY visual reader. When I'm wrapped up in a book, it's like I stop seeing the words and have an actual movie playing in my head: therefore, I had to stop listening to audiobooks in the car because I kept running stop signs.
6. I'm a vocal supporter of Putting The Book Down If It Isn't Working For You, but I find that I rarely actively do that myself. More often, I realize months later that I set something down and never returned to it.
7. I'm a one-book-at-a-time girl. And I always have at least two back-ups in my bag, JUST IN CASE.
So. YOUR TURN.Add a Comment
OH MY GOD, I LOVE THIS BOOK.
And I have no idea how to write about it.
Ten pages in, I was all, "HEY, COOL! THIS IS SO WICKER MAN-Y! I LIKE."
Then, I came to the end of the first part. And my eyes got all big and round and I was all (much more subdued, but no less blown away), "Oh, hey, this is VERY Wicker Man-y."
And then, partway through the second segment, I thought, "Wow. Hello, Cloud Atlas."
After that, I stopped thinking about anything except the story—stories—in front of me, and I read and read and read until there were no more pages to read. And I was crying.
I still feel dazed.
It's not going to be for everyone. I GUARANTEE that some readers are going to want to throw it at the wall. (Perhaps you have already done so?) But something about it resonated with me. It's not just that I'm impressed by the structure—I am—or that I love Sedgwick's writing and skillful atmosphere creation—I do—or that I was blown away by how each segment was so different, but how (even discounting the physical details: the names, the flowers, the hare) each one was also so clearly part of a larger whole.
All of those things are a part of why I loved it, but there was something... BIGGER, yet less tangible beyond that. I think it was that even though the premise doesn't jive with my own personal, in real life worldview—I'm one of those who can't wrap my mind around anything beyond conceived/born/live/die/dead*—that the idea of these two people finding each other over and over again was genuinely, heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Even though [SPOILER] it was a tragedy almost every time.
But, compared to the love that began—and ultimately ended—their story, the tragedy that followed them felt inconsequential. [/SPOILER]
As the footnote below explains, I have a hard time with the metaphysical.
It's just a gorgeous, gorgeous book.
So good that it has apparently made my brain implode.
*Which reminds me of a conversation I had years ago:
Family Friend Who Is Way Into Astrology: And so since you have so much Libra in your chart, that means that etc., etc....
Me: I dunno. I just have a hard time buying the idea that I am who I am because of where the planets were when I was born.
FFWIWIA: Oh, that's just because you're a Gemini. You're all about the intellectually concrete.
Me: So I don't believe in astrology because... I'm a Gemini?
Book source: ILLed through my library.Add a Comment
Waiting on the drive through pharmacy line today I saw these microscopic red bugs on this pink and brick background. Unfortunately they didn't show up in the photo as they were too small, but I loved these colors.
I'm excited to share this interview with Ben Kane, the author of the Spartacus series. I'd previously read and reviewed the first three books in the series. The latest book, Spartacus Rebellion, has just come out.
From the Irish Times:
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The Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt complained at Stormont that the teaching guide for Bog Child was evidence of bias and the worst kind of “politicisation of the classroom” under Sinn Féin’s direction.
Mr Nesbitt called for the book by the late London-Irish author Siobhan Dowd and the teaching notes supplied by the North’s Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) to be removed.
In response, the CCEA did not directly criticise Mr Nesbitt but said the book was not on the curriculum. It said it was one of a list of suggested books that teachers could use in the classroom for 14-year-old students.
“Let me be clear, this is not an attack on the book,” said Mr Nesbitt. “I have not read Bog Child, so have no opinion on its value as a piece of literature. But I have read the teaching notes, as endorsed by the Department of Education and I am stunned by what I read,” he added.
Here are ten ways to move your story from one scene to another.
I’ve been working with Keith Bollman and his fifth grade class on a research project. The end result is a tour of the solar system, completely planned, designed, researched, and created by the… Read MoreAdd a Comment
This class covers all the topics necessary to give a beginning student the tools needed to understand and apply biblical truth in everyday life. The class is a family collaboration of John Schoenheit and his sister, Sue Carlson. The blend of their two voices, manners, and teaching styles is an extremely logical and winning presentation that you can give to your friends and acquaintances who want to know why you are so jazzed about life and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This class is available online for free or for purchase on cassette tape or CD through the Truth or Tradition online store.
To view the PDF syllabus that comes with this audio class, click here.
If what you have just listened to has been a blessing to you, please consider sowing into our continued outreach of the Gospel, all over the globe.
We trust you have enjoyed this free online class. God bless you!
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More from Write From Karen
As of November 20, 2012 (that is, Midnight Eastern Time tonight) I am closed to queries. I will reopen to queries January 7, 2013.
If I already have your work, you should hear from me by January 7. (That's the point of taking the break, I have to catch up!)
Summer is on its way!
As I always get a giggle out of Travis Jonker's One Star Review Guess Who posts, I figured I'd swipe the idea and post the occasional one-star Amazon review of a much-lauded YA title.
So, can you guess what book this disappointed reader is reviewing?:
Click on through for the answer! Add a Comment
Even though this book is written for a young adult audience, I would not recommend it to all teenagers. First of all, the book is quite wordy. The language is pretty sophisticated and the dialogue sounds more intellectual than an average teenager would use. Second, the students at the prep school use marijuana, drink beer, and smoke cigarettes, although [HEROINE], the main character does not. Third, the book's "humor" may not appeal to everyone. While some people may find [HEROINE]'s pranks "good clean fun," this would not be universally true. Personally, I didn't think it was funny when [HEROINE] spied on people, stole keys, snuck into places she wasn't allowed to go and pulled pranks against the school authorities. She may have been showing her rebellious side, which is a common teenage trait, but I think [HEROINE] went a little too far. The consequences for her actions, in my opinion, were not equal to the severity of the crime.