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1. My Thoughts: Biggest Flirts & Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

4 soft snickerdoodles (for both books)

Cover Love:
Yes, I love the flirty style of both of these covers.

Why I Wanted to Read These:
I love Jennifer Echols and contemporary romances.  How could these be wrong?  Here are the synopsis for each book

Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laid back swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will’s new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated.

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents' bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can't see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they've found themselves drawn together--first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they're very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?
Romance?: Of Course!

My Thoughts:
First off, I don't like either of these summaries because it gives so much away.  These have all the same earmarks of contemporary romances--misunderstandings, listening to rumors over your own instincts and heart, flirting and experimenting.   But they have one more thing that helps so much, Jennifer Echols is great at writing chemistry.  You can't help but root for both of these couples to get together!

I took a longer time getting into Biggest Flirts because I didn't like Tia in the beginning at all.  It was hard for me to root for her to get with Will because she shirked from everything. I understand her reasoning for not wanting to get close to boys, but for someone who so desperately didn't want to follow in her sisters' footsteps, she was really irresponsible.  I would've expected her to be way more straight edged, kind of like Harper.

I really liked Will and did root for Tia to calm herself down enough to see the good in front of her.  And I adored Harper and Brody, all the way through.

Kind of off topic: When I was in high school we didn't do superlatives, however, I am not sure I would've won anything.  They do them now and next year my son will be a senior and I gotta say, I kind of want him and his girlfriend (if they are still a thing next fall) to win cutest couple.  They are so darling together!

Anyway, these are two sweet books, romantic but typical.  Getting close, misunderstandings, not listening enough to your own heart and listening too much to other people, but with good endings.  Not anything too out of the ordinary, except the chemistry.  And that is enough to keep me going!

To Sum Up:  Just a bit mature for my middle school library, however, I could see many 8th grade girls getting into them.  Love these kind of romances!

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2. Teaser Trailer Unveiled For ‘The Fantastic Four’ Reboot

A new trailer has been released for The Fantastic Four movie. The video embedded above offers glimpses of Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman, Jamie Bell as The Thing, and Michael B. Jordan as The Human Torch.

Yahoo! reports that Josh Trank served as the director and Simon Kinberg took on the dual-role of screenwriter-producer for this rebooted film adaptation. Follow this link to watch the teaser with commentary from both Trank and Kinberg—what do you think?

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3. OMG, I’m Flying!



I thought this was funny, so I’m sharing. The truth is that I am not at all an optimist. If I was that turtle, I’d be looking at the situation much differently. I appreciate that some people are glass half-full types, and that they are fueled by that positivity, but it’s just not in me. I’m more in the Dark Irish tradition.

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4. Happy Birthday Mozart!

I'm one of those people, like Einstein or Maurice Sendak who think of Mozart as being close to a deity.  It's because Mozart creates worlds undreamt of in this mortal's philosophy and his message of genius seems to be love and forgiveness.

So Happy Birthday Mozart!

One shudders to think what classical music would be if it was all Pachelbel or Boccherini!

I like doing up digital photoshop collages - some day I might get around to painting them on canvas when I have a spare month of leisure.  This one was especially fun.

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5. Coping with Reviews and a Reader Appreciation Giveaway Blitz

I just read a post by Jody Hedlund about coping with reviews, and I was struck by a couple of things that she said.

  1. Reviews are for readers, not for writers, and
  2. If, as an author, you choose to read your reviews, be prepared for open, honest feedback.
Having just gone through this with an author friend who is getting her first reviews, and having dealt with my share of stinging reviews as well--ALL authors get them--I've given this some thought.

My conclusions? (And yes, I'm going to share them, even though talking about reviews in public is scary as hell.)

Found on Thought In A Bubble

Reviews Can Force You to Examine Your Writing Choices

I wrote a guest post for one of my favorite writing sites yesterday (it will be out soon!) and I mentioned that one of the things that makes me grateful for editorial feedback is that it forces me to understand the choices that I make in my books.

There's a reason I choose to pace my stories the way I do; there's a reason the scenes are layered the way they are; there's a reason I choose the characters I chose. But not everyone will understand those choices. Not everyone will love any book or read it the same way.

I wrote about my main character, Barrie, because I want a dialogue about strength. About bravery. About women and our roles in society. (My theme song for Barrie--for all girls--is "Truly Brave," the collaboration between Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper, which is an incredible anthem for women and artists and victims and anyone who struggles. Barrie is so lost at the beginning of the trilogy. But it's a trilogy, and she's got a huge arc. Her "brave" is big. And although there are people who don't love Barrie, there are many more people who do love her and "get" her.

Reviews Tell Us Whether We've Done Our Job As Authors 

Just today, right after I started this post, a reader Tweeted a post about Compulsion, and I stopped over to see if I could use it as an example. It happened to talk about the fact that the blogger is a tutor and that she's "had some intense talks [with her students] about Barrie as a female protagonist."

As a writer, I can ask no more than that. And I wouldn't have known that I had made that connection unless I read that review or the many letters I get privately from girls and women who have made similar points.

Getting that affirmation isn't about vanity. It's about making sure I'm doing the job that I set out to do and finding out what else those readers need. Reader reviews are like a giant focus group. They're gold for writers--provided the writer is able to set aside the occasional "ouch" factor that's involved.

Reviews Are Not Always About the Book 

Obviously, not every book is going to be for every reader. I've been very fortunate with Compulsion, and I'll admit I've stopped stalking my reviews the way that I did when they first started coming. It took me a long time to get "zen" about reviews, or to be able to laugh about some of them. Some of them still make for very brittle laughter.

Even people who review because they love books and want to share great books with others won't love every book. A reader brings her own life and life experience into each book she reads. That's the magic of reading.

As a writer, finding out what a reader brought to my book is one of the greatest and most unexpected joys I've experienced since being published. Whether it's about my book or someone else's story, I appreciate knowing why a plot or character does or doesn't work for someone. Negative reviews can be good reading. I enjoy a well-phrased bit of sarcasm, a bit of political-correctness policing, a bit of humor--until it crosses the line and becomes bullying.

As with the Kathleen Hale scandal, reviewers can become extreme with bashing a book, and that can drive authors crazy and destroy books that took a lot of time and resources to bring to market. There are various reasons that happens. In some cases, there's truly a problem in the book. But all too frequently, it's because a book hits a trigger and the reviewer stops being rational or even considering whether the book is making a point about the very thing that the reviewer abhors. Character arcs exist for a reason--characters learn as they go, but sometimes they have to begin in places that some people don't like in order to get to a better place.

Reviews Are Not Always Fair

If someone abandons the book and then writes about it, as may have been the case with the Kathleen Hale scandal, they're not getting the whole picture. And that's okay, too--as long they make that clear in the review. I'm all about free speech. My family and I came to this country because it was a place where we could speak our minds, and I would defend that right to my dying breath.

But I'm also an advocate for justice. I would prefer that the world of reviewing was perfect, and that if a reviewer didn't finish a book, or only skimmed it and assumed that gave them the same interpretation as a full and careful reading, that they would mention that in their review. I would prefer that if someone reviews YA books from an adult perspective and dings the characters for making teen choices, they not write up a one-star review. I would prefer fairness from all reviewers, for every book, for every author, but I still defend every reviewer's, and every author's, right to write whatever they damn well want.

Reviews Need To Be Viewed in Context 

Jody Hedlund mentions that reviews are open, honest feedback. That's not always true, unfortunately. There are as many different reasons that reviewers write reviews as there are reasons why authors penned the books they have written.

If, as authors, we are going to read reviews, then I think that we need to learn to recognize the type of review, the type of reviewer, and take what we can from the feedback.

Bulling Shouldn't Be Dismissed As Free Speech 

I chaired an advisory council on school safety for the second largest school district in Virginia for many years. In that capacity, I focused on bringing anti-bullying programs into the schools and creating safer school environments. I recognize bullying when I see it. And I am seeing it online. Fortunately, I've not really been a victim myself, and I'm probably making myself a target by writing this. That's unfortunate, but here goes anyway.

It worries me to hear authors and bloggers -- even huge authors and huge bloggers -- say privately that they do not feel that they can speak freely in defense of the victims of online bullying. Let me clarify here. I am not speaking about defending stalking or bad behavior, as in the case of Kathleen Hale. I'm saying that over and over again, I see female authors treated differently than male authors, and I see female authors get bullied in a way that makes me feel like I am back in middle school. There's a cult of extreme behavior going around the internet that makes me want to cry.

Bullying begins with individuals. It grows because people let themselves become bystanders. But kindness begins with individuals, too, as does responsibility.

Take What You Can From Reviews and Move On 

As authors, I believe we have a responsibility to our readers. For that reason, I do think that reviews are helpful. The vast majority of reviewers are responsible, lovely, incredible people who review books because they love books and want to share that love with others.

Found on WoodleyWonderWorks

I Have WONDERFUL Readers 

I am so grateful that I have the readers I have. Compulsion has gotten such wonderful support--more than I ever dreamed--and I have met so many incredible readers along this journey that I am truly, truly overwhelmed. Not all of my reviews have been favorable. Duh. But my favorite reviews aren't always five star, or even four star reviews.

My favorite reviews are the ones that are honest. That make me think. That make me grow as a reader and as an author. There have been many of those.

And I thank everyone who has taken the time to read Compulsion and think about it. I thank you for your letters, and emails, and messages, and reviews, and tweets, and support.

Which brings me to this week's giveaway!


You'll find this giveaway on a lot of sites this week, and if you'd like to share it on your site, please email me at ayaplit (at) gmail dot com. I'd love to spread the word. The cover reveal for Persuasion will be next week. Next week! Yikes. And for anyone who would like a good deal on Compulsion, this is the final week it is available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks for $1.99!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on Coping with Reviews and a Reader Appreciation Giveaway Blitz as of 1/27/2015 11:49:00 AM
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6. Dear Editor; the Tao of Manuscript Submission 2015

Somewhere around mid-December a word will pop into my head that symbolizes the year ahead for me. December 2013 brought me the word "Completion." It was a good word for 2014, encouraging me to finish, polish, and prepare my novel The Abyssal Plain for 2015 submission. The year before that, the word was "Focus," another good direction that brought me to where I am today. 

This year, for some mysterious reason, my word is "Tao" as in Taoism. At first I thought it had something to do with my upcoming trip to Taiwan, but then I thought it might be connected to my current art project of sketching and painting doors, i.e., Tao being related to "the way," or "the door." Whatever the reason for it coming into my life, I like it. 

To me, the Tao means "go with the flow," a much-needed quality as I begin submitting my manuscript. It's a scary process and I need all the help I can get, from chanting "nerves of steel" as I seal up my envelopes, to occupying my waiting time with revising and polishing yet another WIP.

This morning as part of my daily morning pages routine I brainstormed some of the ways using a Taoist approach could help me get through my submission angst. My biggest fear is getting to the post office and then tearing open the envelopes because I'm certain I've "done it wrong" and have to check everything one more time. After all, submission holds so much baggage: fear of rejection, bending one's will to another, even the idea of "breaking your spirit" altogether. Except, according to my brainstorming, it doesn't have to be any of those things. Rather than believing that submission is about being meek, mild, and a total  doormat, it's about saying "Yes!" with total confidence. It's about believing that:
  1. Yes, my work is finished to the best of my current ability.
  2. Yes, my work is sale-worthy. If I were a publisher, I would pay to have it published.
  3. And, yes, I can let this piece go because I have many, many more books and stories to write and prepare for publication. So, let it go!
It's a whole new publishing world out there, with new editors, agents, and publishing houses. As modern writers and authors, we really do have a myriad of fresh opportunities at our fingertips, e.g., e-books, serialized novels, on-demand printing, audio-books. The idea of allowing the Tao to support and maintain our submission efforts is an attractive one, helping me to remain (relatively) calm and centered, the very best way, I would think to approach any task, starting with writing those manuscripts in the first place!

    Tip of the Day: Okay, so what if a manuscript submission really does "go wrong"? It happens: a typo in the cover letter, addressing an editor who left the house long ago, sending the manuscript to the wrong department, a confusing pitch. Believe me, I've been there, and more than once. But none of these things are worth agonizing over. A mistake is a chance to learn and get it right next time. Do your best to move on and . . .  let it go . . .

    P.S. Over the next few months I'll be examining and reporting on my experiences of working with the Tao as a writer and artist. Stay tuned--and be sure to drop me a line if you have any questions or thoughts to share on the subject. Thanks!

    0 Comments on Dear Editor; the Tao of Manuscript Submission 2015 as of 1/27/2015 1:45:00 PM
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    7. “Ray Rhamey's book stands head and shoulders above”

    Mastering front 100WshadowA new review from Amazon for my new Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling:

    5 stars A Must Read

    As a fiction writer, I'm always searching for craft-related books, always trying to glean something useful for my next story. I would say Ray Rhamey's book stands head and shoulders above many such books I've read.

    Among many topics presented here, the author discusses POV shifts, elements of story, description techniques, and, of course, language. The beauty of it is that the reader is not expected to grasp such concepts based on definitions alone, as we have a multitude of examples resulting in ease of flow and many aha moments.

    For anyone who wants to improve and make his/her writing compelling, there is no better guide than Rhamey's Mastering the Craft.

    This is not a dry, pedantic `how to' book on writing. It is an entertainingly easy to follow guide on not only what to do, but just as importantly, what not to do.

    Signed paperbacks are available on my website (discounted price, free shipping), both Kindle and the paperback are available on Amazon.com.

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    8. Adrian Tomine Inks Deal With Drawn + Quarterly

    Killing & DyingComics creator Adrian Tomine has signed a deal with Drawn + Quarterly. A release date for Killing and Dying: Stories has been scheduled for October 2015.

    Editor Chris Oliveros negotiated the deal with Samantha Haywood of the Transatlantic Literary Agency. Farrar, Straus & Giroux has signed on as the U.S. distributor and Raincoast Books will serve as the Canadian distributor.

    Oliveros had this statement in the press release: “D+Q first published Adrian Tomine’s comics in 1995 and in the ensuing two decades it’s been a real privilege to see how he has continued to evolve as an artist, a writer, and overall as a cartoonist. Killing and Dying just might be my favorite book by Adrian. We’ve come to expect from him an eloquent visual sensibility and insightful, complex storytelling, but there’s something else going on here: these stories are darkly funny, and they’re tinged with a very particular acerbic wit that we haven’t seen all too often before this.”

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    9. Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Alternative Comics has announced a seven book spring 2015 season, with collections by some intriguing talents. Stephen Cerio hasn’t been seen in a while, and a round-up of Malachi Ward’s quirky comics is long overdue.  Plus Rich Tommaso, Sam Henderson and a process guide from Tom Hart’s Sequential Arts Workshop—some good stuff here.

    Alternative publisher Marc Arsenualt has also announced that Erik Aucoin will join Alternative as Associate Publisher. Aucoin’s background includes HR, law, being a record label co-owner and of course liking comics.  a massive fan of comics familiar to many of today’s top creators. In the past Aucoin has worked for the US Congress, a lobbying firm and as a radio DJ so comics should be a snap for him. His duties will includes editing the anthology title Alternative Comics.

    This will be the first alternative season distributed by Consortium to the book trade, a move that has been very helpful for other small presses.

    And here’s the spring line-up and catalog copy:

    892c30ed a00f 4732 84e6 aee12f47597f Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Clover Honey by Rich Tommaso

    Abigail is an aspiring hitwoman out to prove her value to the family. She braves the wilds of Newark, overpriced parking, traffic jams, and bad hair days to track down Trevor, her former mentor, who is on the lam with a big briefcase of mob dough. A heavily revised, redrawn, and expanded twentieth anniversary edition of Rich Tommaso’s debut graphic novel.

    Rich Tommaso has been writing and illustrating original comics and graphic novels since 1994. His graphic novel with writer James Sturm, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, won an Eisner award for Best Reality-Based Work in 2008. 136-page paperback

    Diamond Code: FEB150911
    ISBN: 978-1-934460-86-3

    Price: $14.95

    66e43be9 e3b1 4b46 9e38 e42bb8e9d872 Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Sunbeam on the Astronaut by Steven Cerio
    A long-awaited collection of comics, art, and stories by artist Steven Cerio that explores silly, psychedelic, and strange worlds. Smiling cartoon critters carouse with threatening cutout whales against a shifting comic landscape in these unique illustrated stories. The psychedelic meetsSaturday morning cartoons in stories with such intriguing titles as “A Private History of Sunbeams and Head Colds,” “The Add Witch in The Berry Patch,” and “Ninny Noonday Ninny.”Steven Cerio is a prominent rock poster and magazine illustrator. His work is best known from his ongoing collaboration with San Francisco-based performance art and music group The Residents.48 pages/black and white guts/full color cover
    ISBN: 978-1-934460-23-8
    Price: $9.95

    880bddc7 98a5 4ca8 86ff e849574c1144 Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    From Now On by Malachi Ward
    Short Comic Tales of The FantasticA collection of hauntingly beautiful Science Fiction and Horror short stories by Prophet (Image Comics) and Ritual artist Malachi Ward. Collects stories from Mome, Study Group Magazine, Sundays, Best American Comics 2013, and more. 144 page paperback.
    ISBN: 978-1-934460-91-7
    June 9, 2015

    f3ab007c 4402 4aaa 963d 582466cbaef4 Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Smilin’ Ed Comics
    by Raoul Vezina & Tom Skulan
    Crisply and energetically drawn, snappily written, filled with pop culture references, and always funny; Raoul Vezina’s Smilin’ Ed Smiley comics were a breath of fresh air when they first appeared thirty-five years ago. All the original comics are collected here for the first time. Includes sixteen pages in color.
    Raoul Vezina (1948-1983) was a brilliant cartoonist who came out of the underground tradition and put his own mark on the indie comics of the early 1980s in a handful of titles. He is best remembered for the four issue of Smilin’ Ed Comics published by Albany, New York’s FantaCo.
    160 page 8″ x 10″ black and white paperback with 16 pages in color and color covers
    Alternative Comics, June, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-934460-85-6
Price: 19.95

    88b09e0e 5b83 4ccb 91ba 1e3b297f65fc Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    The SAW Guide to Making Professional Comic Strips by Tom Hart
    The SAW Guide to Making Professional Comic Strips is a complete how-to manual for making the best comic strips you can, from conception to idea generation to layout, lettering, finishing, coloring and even selling. From an experienced professional comic strip artist (Hutch Owen, Ali’s House), the book is loaded with examples and instruction as well as personal stories within the industry.
    96 page 8 1/2″ x 11″ color paperback.
June, 2015
ISBN: 9781934460894
Price: $12.95

    2472e3d1 4f81 4e5c 8362 49af0cddc642 Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Quit Your Job and Other Stories by James Kochalka

    On his way to work, Magic Boy discovers an enchanted ring and starts an expedition to the North Pole.
    Eisner Award winner James Kochalka has been called “one of the brightest lights of independent comics” and Quit Your Job is a shining example of his genius. On his way to work at the Chinese restaurant, Magic Boy discovers an enchanted ring and determines to make an expedition to the North Pole. He only gets as far as the coffee shop on the next block, but his world is forever changed in the short journey. The predecessor to the author’s popular American Elf diary comics. Includes the entirety of Kochalka’s 1997 book Paradise Sucksand an additional story featuring characters from that world. Double the size of the first edition. Introduction by Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL).
    192 page 6.75″ x 675″ black and white paperback with color covers
Alternative Comics, 2015
    ISBN: 9781934460931
Price: $15.95

    b18d1a28 0750 47d6 9caa 3ee999ae2c20 Alternative Comics announces 2015 slate with Tommaso, Cerio, Ward, and more

    Oh, That Monroe by Sam Henderson
    Monroe Simmons, cartoon everyman, faces twenty-something life and is squashed like a bug at every turn in this series of harrowing and humorous tales from Magic Whistle and Scene But Not Heard creator Sam Henderson. This new edition features nearly 30 pages of never before collected comics and a new introduction by the author.
    128 page black and white paperback with color covers
    ISBN: 978-1-934460-87-0
    Price: $11.99


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    10. CJ Omololu - my friend, Top Cancer Ass Kicker, and author of the new The Third Twin - Spread the Word!

    I met Cynthia Jaynes-Omololu about 5 or 6 years ago in LA. We'd known each other for years online and built a great friendship. (I think it was in FriendMatch.com that connected us or Blogger :)

    When we met, we s sat down to have a drink and I ordered my usual filthy martini. She laughed and said she was surprised. She went on to tell me this story she made up in her head - that she thought I was an Ann Taylor marketing business gal who only wore pink suits with matching shoes and purse who drank pink cosmos.Those who know me know I am far from pretty in pink. I am jeans and boots who drinks filthy martinis and coffee.

    A few things stuck out to me that day that made me adore CJ -
    1) I had to like her b/c she obviously spent many nights thinking about me ;) so I didn't want to hurt her feelings.
    2) She is OBVIOUSLY creative as hell and makes up great stories - she did with me.
    3) She's a little wackadoo too. Which sells me even more b/c I am far from normal on the bell curve.
    4) She immediately made me feel comfortable and listened to my publishing woes, laughed at my bad jokes, and insisted on being my friend. (She's pushy that way ;)

    Since then, we have:
     - Roomed at conferences where she has generously shared her portable Kuerig, flavored cream and strong coffee with me (and yes...she drags that dang thing with her everywhere. Where most people would have loves to snuggle, CJ sleeps with her mini-kuerig. In fact - Kuerig should call her for a commercial and pay all her med bills for the free PR she has given them!)
    - Shared stories - funny ones and the ones we write. She has been a great CP in the past, always offering great suggestions (and twists) in my own work.
    - Stayed with me at the Writers Police Academy where we fingerprinted each other and tested blood stains ( - so we also share a sick humored mind! only writers will appreciate this part!)
    - Shared her lovely home and family with me. Her husband made me coffee too. I swear they probably grow their own coffee beans.
    - Made delicious salmon and sauteed green been dinner for me.
    - Introduced me to her lovely dog…ok I can't make this all rosy just b/c she's battling cancer! That "sweet" (he would never hurt anyone even if you came in the house with a key) kind of dog chased my butt upstairs and cornered me in my bedroom until Tae had to rescue me! (Thx Tae :)
    - She has made me laugh, seen me cry over this strange industry, given me words of encouragement, and stayed up late with me talking b/c I could not go to sleep!

    So the fact that some asshole named Cancer barges in and wants to take her away from me - pisses me off to no end.

    Interrupted by bad movie clip from Independence day! -
    "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"

    So - a bunch of us are throwing a launch party for her and spreading the word about her new book across the country. It is important that everyone in this world knows about CJ Omololu, The Third Twin, her total wacky awesomeness, and her deep resonating words.

    Because as a writing community, that's what we do for friends, authors and books - we support them always no matter what!

    So please share this flyer with your community. Join our Facebook page, preorder her new book, and come to the launch party to help CJ celebrate her new baby - The Third Twin.

    And while you are at it - a couple prayers couldn't hurt either.

    (Take that Mr. Cancer! jerk hat...)

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    11. Avon & Powell’s Curate Romantic Reading List

    Powell’s Books has teamed up with Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, to create a book recommendation platform curated by romance authors.

    The program is called \"Mutual Attractions,\" and includes four romance novel selections which will be promoted in Powell’s Books stores as well as on social media for two month periods. Each collection will be chosen by a bestselling romance author.

    The first collection was put together by author Julia Quinn and goes live today. Her choices include: Something New by Tessa DareRecommended Read from Julie Anne LongNew Discovery by Loretta Chase; and Desert Island Keeper by Eva Ibbotson.

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    12. Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars spin-off gets a new writer

    chris weitz a p Gareth Edwards Star Wars spin off gets a new writer

    The amount of pressure on JJ Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens is starting to reach a fever pitch. One of the factors that Disney is counting upon is its ability to launch a number of spin-off films that will fill the year-long gaps between this newest installment, the upcoming Rian Johnson helmed Episode VIII, and the eventual Episode IX.

    Gareth Edwards‘ film – the first of these stand-alones and reported to center on the heist-like premise of an attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star before the events of “A New Hope” – suffered its first set-back when writer Gary Whitta left the project.

    THR is now reporting that Disney has found his replacement in writer Chris Weitz (A Better Life, The Golden Compass). Weitz is also the writer for the upcoming Cinderella film, and the writer/co-director for the Oscar-nominated About a Boy.

    The Edwards directed Star Wars entry is set for release on December 16, 2016. It’s likely we’ll start to hear the first whispers of a cast fairly soon, provided the script can be whipped into shape in time.

    0 Comments on Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars spin-off gets a new writer as of 1/27/2015 1:19:00 PM
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    13. Current Scratch: Join Us, Opportunities, Book Buzz, Craft Tip, & Agent Opportunity

    Hello, SCBWI Brazos Valley & Friends! Maybe it's because it's a New Year. Maybe it's because the sun has shined its light on us for three days straight. But I feel fabulous things heading our way! Completed works. Requests. Contracts. Publishing deals. They're just around the corner.

    Are you inspired yet? If not, maybe you should join us for our Schmooze tomorrow!


    SCBWI BV Schmooze--Where do you look for inspiration to keep creating? Do you have a favorite quote, practice, or place that gets you going again when your creative well starts to run dry? Join us on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the College Station Barnes & Noble to talk about filling the well. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring copies of 5 double-spaced pages of your work in progress. Those who have time stay for lunch at a local restaurant. Members and friends welcome!

    Webinar Opportunity--Author and teacher Leslea Newman will teach The ABC’s of Poetry: Writing in Poetic Form for Children and Young Adults on Feb. 17, 7-8:30 p.m. Click the title link for details and registration. Member discounted registration is $10.


    Preparations for the 2015 Texas Word Wrangler in Giddings is already in full swing. If you're a Texas author and/or illustrator and have published a book and would like to participate, contact Deidre Harry through the link provided.

    Pockets Magazine seeks stories on role models for October issue.

    We Need Diverse Books hosts a new Short Story Contest. Deadline May 8th.


    Read about how a little press on the prairie races to keep up with sales. An amazing story! An annotated edition of the 1930's biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder PIONEER GIRL

     2015 Edgar Award Nominations for Children's and YA. *scroll down to see children's and YA on the list*

    SCBWI Announces 2014 On the Verge Emerging Voices Award


    Do you write YA? Check out the latest post over at SCBWI: The Blog about how understanding the adolescent psychology may help us write better YA fiction. Interesting information, folks.


    Polish up those queries! Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books, etc. Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties is back from maternity leave and is accepting queries.

    The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.

    0 Comments on Current Scratch: Join Us, Opportunities, Book Buzz, Craft Tip, & Agent Opportunity as of 1/27/2015 10:25:00 AM
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    14. The Daily Sketch

    Yesterday I started a new semester at The Des Moines Art Center, teaching teens fantasy art. I've taught there for over a decade now ( O_O ) and I tried something I've never done before! It was super fun too, at least it got more interaction and conversation from the teens than usual.

    I made three categories: symbol/animal/fantasy figure

    There were ten in each category, folded up and placed in three cups. The kids divided a large sheet of drawing paper into eight sections and then drew whatever I pulled from the cups. Finally they picked one they liked and elaborated for the final.

    I didn't draw with them during the eight, but I did sit and draw with them during the final. My personal favorite was

    leaf + rabbit + elf

    • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

    Although I didn't get to draw this weekend, here are a few highlights from around our home.

    Little bird added to our bathroom, next to his new buddy the Goldfinch.

    New amazing rug found on craigslist for the living room. In LOVE!

    • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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    15. Dragon Child

    Dragon Child

    This piece was commissioned for a training session for psychologists and counselors entitled “Wake the Sleeping Dragon - Nurturing the Divinity Within Each Child”.

    The creative brief contained the following information:

    The popular children's song "Puff the Magic Dragon" told the haunting but bittersweet tale of a child who befriends a wonderful and mystical creature, only to discover that the magic fades as childhood is left behind. More recently, the best selling Eragon book series by author Christopher Paolini depicted a trilogy of epic and enchanting dragon tales. Throughout time mankind has associated the dragon with an alluring power and mystique. The Vietnamese believed the dragon represented universal forces of life, while the Chinese believed that dragons possessed mystical powers of fertility and immortality. Recent advances in science have revealed some of the hidden powers within the DNA and neuroplastic potential of humans. Perhaps the long, winding serpent image of the dragon is nothing more than a representation of what can potentially emerge from the DNA template that gave rise to each and every human child. Our job as a society is to nurture and tame the magnificent creature within, so the greatness of each child can fully emerge and integrate within the social constructs of relationship, family, society, and humanity. Within each child lies a sleeping dragon that embodies the full potential of greatness that is the human soul.

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    16. Write: For Those Writers Out There That Need to Know About the Decomp Process

    I looked this information up when I wrote this short piece the other day. Then I thought, “why not share this information with other writers?” Because at some point, you need to know about dead bodies, right?

    Or is it just me? :-D

    By the way, word to the wise, DON’T Google images for decomp. You’re welcome.

    Believe it or not, decomposition begins as soon as you die; it starts deep into the digestive system, where the intestinal flora [bacteria that live in our intestines and that are crucial for the proper functioning of the gut] begin to multiply exponentially and to feed on your internal organs, the same organs they helped protect when you were alive. This process is called autolysis and it begins as the dead body begins to cool off, a few minutes after death. The external signs of putrefaction [bloating, marbling of the skin tissue, swollen and protruding tongue, seepage of fluids from every imaginable orifice, odor of rotting meat] may start to show as soon as a few hours after death, depending greatly on the environmental factors surrounding the corpse. In general, a corpse lying out in the open and exposed to high temperatures and humidity can become completely skeletonized in as few as 10 days to a month, at the most. Areas of the body which have sustained injury or trauma decompose much more rapidly than those which are not injured. However, a corpse that’s been carefully embalmed, put into a sealed casket and interred in a place where there’s little moisture can be exhumed and still be nearly intact several months or even years after the demise.

    The following is a copy/paste of an article called “The 26 Stages of Death”, the original of which is located at here.

    Moment of Death:
    1} The heart stops
    2} The skin gets tight and grey in color
    3} All the muscles relax
    4} The bladder and bowels empty
    5} The body’s temperature will typically drop 1.5 degrees F. per hour unless outside environment is a factor. The liver is the organ that stays warmest the longest, and this temperature is used to establish time of death if the body is found within that time frame.

    After 30 minutes:
    6} The skin gets purple and waxy
    7} The lips, finger- and toe nails fade to a pale color or turn white as the blood leaves.
    8} Blood pools at the lowest parts of the body leaving a dark purple-black stain called lividity
    9} The hands and feet turn blue {because of lack of oxygenation to the tissues}
    10} The eyes start to sink into the skull

    After 4 hours:
    11} Rigor mortis starts to set in
    12} The purpling of the skin and pooling of blood continue
    13} Rigor Mortis begins to tighten the muscles for about another 24 hours, then will reverse and the body will return to a limp state.
    After 12 hours:
    14} The body is in full rigor mortis.

    After 24 hours:
    15} The body is now the temperature of the surrounding environment
    16} In males, the spermatozoa die.
    17} The head and neck are now a greenish-blue color
    18} The greenish-blue color continues to spread to the rest of the body
    19} There is the strong smell of rotting meat {unless the corpse is in an extremelly frigid environment}
    20} The face of the person is essentially no longer recognizable

    After 3 days:
    21} The gases in the body tissues form large blisters on the skin
    22} The whole body begins to bloat and swell grotesquely. This process is speeded up if victim is in a hot environment, or in water
    23} Fluids leak from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears and rectum and urinary opening

    After 3 weeks:
    24} The skin, hair, and nails are so loose they can be easily pulled off the corpse
    25} The skin cracks and bursts open in many places because of the pressure of Internal gases and the breakdown of the skin itself
    26} Decomposition will continue until body is nothing but skeletal remains, which can take as little as a month in hot climates and two months in cold climates. The teeth are often the only thing left, years and centuries later, because tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body. The jawbone is the densest, so that usually will also remain.

    Filed under: Just Write, Writing Stuff

    0 Comments on Write: For Those Writers Out There That Need to Know About the Decomp Process as of 1/27/2015 12:53:00 PM
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    17. ‘Of Marriageable Age’ Poetry Video Goes Viral

    How do you respond to difficult questions? Writer Priyam Redican recited a poem called “Of Marriageable Age” for the second installment of the APM Basement series.

    The Airplane Poetry Movement YouTube channel posted a video (embedded above) featuring Redican’s performance and it has since drawn over 108,000 views. Follow this link to hear her perform another piece entitled “Marigolds.”

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    18. Wrong!

    The storm was called historic
    Before it even hit,
    The weathermen euphoric,
    As reports they did submit.

    They closed the subways and the schools;
    Prevented cars from driving.
    The pols used all their lofty tools
    For snow not yet arriving.

    The Broadway theaters shut their doors;
    Museums followed suit.
    The gyms were shuttered and the stores,
    Decisions resolute.

    And after all was said and done,
    The blizzard never came.
    Though all were wrong, there wasn’t one
    Who’d shoulder any blame.

    Defensively the bigwigs boast,
    “We made the right decision;”
    But I am one of quite a host
    Who view them with derision.

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    19. Un peu de pratique ...

    a little practice...

    (désolée pour la qualité des photos)

    0 Comments on Un peu de pratique ... as of 1/27/2015 11:53:00 AM
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    20. Emma Watson to Star in a Live-Action Beauty & The Beast Film

    Emma WatsonOn the heels of completing live-action versions for Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney has announced that it will create a live-action adaptation of Beauty & The Beast. Like the 1991 animated movie and the hit Broadway musical, the story for this project will be based on Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s beloved fairy tale “La Belle et la Bête.”

    Actress Emma Watson announced on her Facebook page that she will play Belle; the post has drawn more than 1.1 million “likes.” Watson feels that her “six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting” and plans to prepare for this part with singing lessons.

    BuzzFeed reports that no actor has been cast as The Beast. Who would you nominate for this role?

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    21. Paper Toy


    I love folding paper and making 3-D graphics. Designer paper toys seemed like a perfect combination of building in 3-D and applying imagery to the surface.

    Basically a designer paper toy is like a glorified package design, in that you have to make sure the foundational structure works first, then you get to add the illustrative elements onto the structure. Always making sure that the illustrations and graphics can be read from any angle and point-of-view.

    When designing the structure I used the trial and error method. It was so much fun watching this toy take shape.

    If you want to build your own copy of this exact paper toy dog, download the template here:  Download Small Dog Paper Toy

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    22. Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry

    Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for Sweet Surprise.  I have also cleverly hidden a secret letter in my post for Candis Terry’s Word Hunt.  I bet you will never find my letter! (Just kidding!)
    Join the Hunt
    (See Details Below)
    Playing naughty or nice . . .

    Fiona Wilder knows all about falling in lust. Love? That’s another story. Determined not to repeat past mistakes, the single mom and cupcake shop owner is focused on walking the straight and narrow. But trouble has a way of finding her. And this time it comes in the form of a smoking hot firefighter who knows all the delicious ways to ignite her bad-girl fuse. Can lead to heartbreak . . .

    Firefighter Mike Halsey learned long ago that playing with fire just gets you burned. He’s put his demons behind him, and if there’s one line he won’t cross, it’s getting involved with his best friend’s ex. But when fate throws him in the path of the beautiful, strong, and off-limits Fiona, will he be able to fight their attraction? Or will he willingly go down in flames? Or a sweet surprise!

    Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo | BAM


    Each host will have a different letter placed within their post during the SWEET SURPRISE Release Blast!

    Readers, you will have to visit EACH tour stop to find the letters, and then enter the “Secret Word” into the Rafflecopter for more chances to win!  

    You can enter ONE WORD per day, five words to find!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.
    Find Candis Here

    SOMETHING SWEETER by Candis Terry is the
    Harlequin Junkie Book Club Read for January!

    Mark your calendars for Jan 29th!
    (6pm PST/9pm EST)

    The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    23. Winter Birch Scene

    Winter Birch Scene-01

    These birds in winter were created for a DVD cover. The client chose the color palette, but I also adore the subtle muted colors punched up by the red berries and the birds.  As I look on it in sunny Florida, I actually feel a chill.

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    24. It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up&#8230; and instead of a lovely...

    It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up… and instead of a lovely email newsletter filled with amusing gossip and compliments there’s just bucketloads of spam.

    0 Comments on It seems unfair whenever Freedom shuts off and your inbox fills up&#8230; and instead of a lovely... as of 1/27/2015 12:51:00 PM
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    25. A very special dog house

    1st dog house-01

    This might not look like your ordinary doghouse, but it is for an extraordinary dog.

    Patterned after gingerbread infused Victorian architecture, this is one special house.

    I suppose it works equally as well as a dollhouse or play house too.

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