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1. How can I show my main character's inner struggles

Hello! I am currently writing a story about a character whose best friend commits suicide. The character begins to party and drink a lot to hide from her

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2. DreamWorks Animation Hits A ‘Home’ Run

For DreamWorks Animation, "Home" is where the money is.

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3. that amazingly bittersweet feeling you get....

"wishful companions"
acrylic on canvas 11x14
©the enchanted easel 2015
when you sell an ORIGINAL painting....and, it's one you weren't even intending on parting with. (sniff, sniff)

{looks like the fairest of them all will be going to a much loved new home....and i am completely humbled, as always.}

PRINTS of her royal highness can be found HERE!

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4. Illustration Friday: Outside

Dreary grey skies.
Longing for spring, then summer
among other things.
And yet I wait because experience has told me
they will arrive as planned.

acrylic on canvas, 12" x  24"  available $225

Please view other entries here

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5. First Bite

A child from the 'burbs on a Big Apple trip
Found it all more than slightly exciting -
The buses, the taxis, the swings and the slide
All seemed magically more than inviting.

A glorious day on his grandparents' turf
For a long-overdue city taste
Gave this nana a glow and a grin ear to ear
That I hope will be echoed posthaste.

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6. ABC Quiz

CatEyesWhat Are Your favorites from A-Z?

CatEyes484 created this ABC quiz for you. Go to the Message Board to leave your answers and see what everyone else wrote. Some of these questions are kind of hard! Favorite yo-yo brand??? My favorite yogurt is blueberry. Does that count?

  1. Favorite animal?
  2. Favorite brand?
  3. Favorite color?
  4. Favorite drink?
  5. Favorite emotion?
  6. Favorite food?
  7. Favorite gummy candy?
  8. Favorite horse?
  9. Favorite ice cream?
  10. Favorite joke?
  11. Favorite kin?
  12. Favorite lollipop?
  13. Favorite month?
  14. Favorite nighttime memory?
  15. Favorite origami?
  16. Favorite pizza?
  17. Favorite quality?
  18. Favorite record?
  19. Favorite Skittles flavor?
  20. Favorite treat?
  21. Favorite Under Armour item?
  22. Favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
  23. Favorite warrior?
  24. Favorite XOXO note?
  25. Favorite yo-yo brand?
  26. Favorite zoo?

Do you have your own ABC quiz questions? Leave them in the Comments!

Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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7. Harbinger of Spring

No, it’s not a robin, I’ve seen a few of those already.

I’ve been starting new flats of seeds every week since the end of February and they are all coming along nicely. The onion sprouts were the first and they are getting tall. The peppers came next. Those take a long time to even sprout and just this last week a few little pops of green gave me relief that something was actually happening. Last week was tomatoes and cabbage. Tomatoes take a bit of time but the cabbage has started coming up. Today was marigolds and parsley.

Was it last week I mentioned the cover to the mini greenhouse was no longer functional? One of the zippers was broken and the plastic has become brittle. It turns out you can order new covers without having to buy the whole set up. Thank goodness. I ordered a new cover Monday and, fingers crossed, it will be here in the next day or two. I now have four flats of sprouting pots that are getting difficult to manage and being able to use the greenhouse will solve all my problems.

The weather this weekend has been chilly. This morning we had rain and now it is sunny but so blustery the house is creaking. Of course the forecast for the coming week is gorgeous when I will have to be at work and indoors. Sigh. Tuesday night Bookman and I are signed up for a class at the bike shop to learn how to fix a flat tire. I can change a flat on a car but I have no idea how to fix a flat on my bike. Oh, and my new bike, she has a name now: Astrid. Bookman gives me odd looks when I talk about Astrid but I really don’t care!

I know real honest to goodness spring will be here soon because the Friends School Plant Sale catalog arrived in my mailbox Friday. I wasn’t expecting it until this week so it was a surprise. I was only going to look through the herbs in the first section of the catalog and save the rest for casual browsing throughout the weekend, but I was kidding myself. I couldn’t put it down and devoured the whole thing, gleefully marking off plants. I’ll take this and this and oh, doesn’t this sound nice? And yes, definitely one of those. And that, a must. And, hmm, where could I put one of these? Want to know what a happy Stef looks like? That was her reading and marking up the catalog.

All year long I keep lists of plants as I learn about them that I think I might like to try in the garden. So Saturday I got out all my lists and scraps of paper and sat down with the catalog again and marked things from my lists. There were quite a few items on my lists that are not in the catalog but that’s okay, there are also plenty of plants that were.

Then, of course, I had to think about the chickens and the chicken garden area where their coop is going to be. A friend of mine recommended a very good book called Free-range Chicken Gardens. It has lots of helpful advice in it. I had been wanting to plant elderberries and serviceberries in the garden but couldn’t figure out where I could plant these large-sized shrubs. Well, they make good hedges and places for chickens to take cover it turns out so now I have a place and a reason for them. Yay! Also, I have an excuse for a wild rose bush and more gooseberries, more prairie grasses and all sorts of other plants. All these I have dutifully marked in the plant catalog.

Now I just need to win the lottery jackpot so I can afford them all!

And poor Bookman. He says he knows nothing about gardening and asks I just point to where I want him to dig and tell him what to put there. He’s going to be doing a lot of digging.

Filed under: gardening Tagged: chickens, Friends School Plant Sale

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8. Risks and rewards

2015 is my year for risks.  I have risked speaking up.  I have risked grappling in a tournament with people who were 20-40 years younger than me.  And last week I took an Urban Escape and Evasion class in Los Angeles.  It was amazing/scary/fun.

The first day, we learned how to get out of duct tape, zip ties, rope, and even handcuffs.

If you're duct-taped, hold your arms close together, then bring your hands high over head and and hit your elbows hard across your own ribs.  I learned the hard way that if your arms are too far apart, this doesn't work. This trick also works for zip ties, although it can hurt your wrists (which is why the instructor made "Wonder Woman" bracelets out of duct tape first).  If that fails, try rubbing your bound hands on a sharp edge like a door..  Above, author Hannah Jayne demonstrates the correct technique for breaking duct tape, as well as how you can use paracord (a lot of preppers replace their shoelaces with paracord, or wear it as a bracelet) to saw through paracord by bicycling madly in the air.  Later, we practiced shimming or picking our handcuffs using bobby pins or broken off barrettes with pillow cases over our heads.

Here's what happens if you get handcuffs/duct tape/zip ties etc. wrong:

We also learned how to pick locks and steal cars, although we didn't practice that last one.

We learned how to figure out if you are being followed and how to weaponize anything.  We learned that most people think they are in a survival situation if they miss lunch.

The last day, we were kidnapped, hooded, stun gunned (I still have marks!), and then your captors go for a “smoke break” and you have to use everything you just learned to make your way to a certain point, collecting information and photos along the way.

We learned that if you are full of adrenaline, you dont feel as much.  At the start of the exercise, we got caught in a parking lot surrounded by 10 or 11 foot high chain link fences.  And we were being chased by a real-life security guard.  Hannah started climbing the fence, which meant I had to, too.  At the top, the chain links had been cut off, forming a pointy barrier.  I have some crazy bruises, one for each point, on one leg.

But we made it. We had been to GoodWill the night before and cached some outfits. (It is very hard to cache anything in Los Angeles and then go back and find it the next day. You always have eyes on you, and cacheing arouses curiosity).  First I was a nurse (I even looked like a nurse even though it was just a plain pink Tshirt layered over a white Tshirt, and Hannah was a goth girl.  Then Hannah was pregnant with some of her previous clothes, and I was her churchy-looking mom.  Finally, we were both tourists.

Even though we were hunted by 10 people who had our picture, and we had to stay with proscribed boundaries, we were not caught!

I'm so glad I took this risk.  I turn 56 in two weeks and I'm pretty pround of myself.

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9. Women's History Month - Spare Post

Some weeks ago, my friend Gillian Polack, historian extraordinaire and novelist, kindly invited me to do a post for Women's History Month on her Livejournal blog (and, as I discovered, her offical web site). The brief was to write about something that happened to yourself or a woman you know, and I wrote a post about my sister, who went from a secretary with a manual typewriter to a writer of articles published all over, and a delight in the Internet. After reading some other posts I concluded that I must have got it wrong; they all seemed to be about the author of the post. So I wrote another post and offered that. As it happened, Gillian ended up publishing my original post, so I have a spare I thought I might publish here before Women's History Month is quite over!

I'd only sold one story, a short, humorous fantasy tale, to Family Circle, via its annual competition, when I sold my first book.

I was at Richmond Girls Secondary College when this began. My previous school, Flemington Secondary College, had been closed down by the new Tory government, so that they could sell it to the Victoria Racing Club, which had lusted after the site for a long time, to turn it into a jockey school. I'd been there for eight years and was working with two wonderful people in the library. We had a delightful relationship. And then a new government, led by a man not unlike the current Australian PM, was in power, and was selling anything not nailed down.

Suddenly, my library was stripped bare and I was without a workplace. You can imagine how I felt.

Towards the end of January I was relieved to receive an offer from Richmond Girls'. My new library turned out to be old and shabby and had been a sewing room in the old days. But it was mine. I did have an offsider, a Vietnamese gentleman who taught maths and was hardly ever in the library. There was a technician who, for some reason, didn't like being in the library and was off socialising most of the time.

So it was up to me to do something to make the library worth visiting and looking at. My colleagues on staff were pretty helpful, one of them bringing in her Year 8 class to move the shelves around to let in some light. Then I started the displays. I wrote things to put up on the wall to go with them. History, science, SF, whatever the occasion called for.

And then I had a phone call from my friend Natalie Prior, who had started to sell quite a lot and is, to this day, one of the few writers I know in this country who can make a living out of it(and, unlike many of the others I know, managed to get going without being married at the time and having a partner to pay the bills so she could write full time). Natalie had been writing for Allen and Unwin and had rung to tell me that they had a new series beginning, True Stories, which was non fiction for children.

"I've told them about you, here's the name and number," she finished. I asked myself if I could even do non fiction, then looked at the library walls and thought, yes, I've done this. I can.

I phoned and made an appointment to see Beth Dolan, who was doing the series. Deciding to give myself the best chance I could, I researched a few things that interested me to make sure they were possible and prepared a list of potential book themes. When I met Beth, I invited her to choose a topic for me to write up as a proposal. She chose monsters.

That was my first book sale. It was in the very early days of the Internet; any Internet research I did had to be done at one of the few Internet cafes that had begun to turn up in the suburbs. It was at the end of a long tram ride, and cost $12 an hour. I limited it to once a week. The rest of my research was done in the State Library, two nights a week.

I didn't eat well, of course, buying my dinner as takeaway and eating quickly before my research session. It told on my body after a while, so when I eventually did another book I was more careful.

It was the first of several books and quite a few articles I wrote and I had quite a lot of work in those days, before publishers decided that children's non fiction didn't sell and stopped publishing it. These days there's only education publishing to do non fiction books and some published by museums to go with exhibitions. I did manage to sell to the education industry before my publisher suddenly left and was replaced by a gentleman who indicated he simply wasn't interested, despite the fact that my books for his company are still selling in the thousands, after twelve years. He told me in his last email that he has a stable of writers and doesn't want any more.

So, in recent years, I've gone back to fiction, mostly short stories, but I'll never forget that it was non fiction that made me a professional writer and taught me a lot. 

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10. Matchbox Theatre review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Thirty Short Entertainments by Michael Frayn, Matchbox Theatre.

       While Faber & Faber brought out the UK edition last year, the US edition just came out from slightly less well-known Valancourt Books. They apparently specialize in: "the rediscovery of rare, neglected, and out-of-print fiction" -- and with five early Frayn novels coming up, along with this, are certainly doing something right.

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11. Join some mock award discussions

Hello, Calling Caldecott readers.

I want to alert you to a post that just went up in Lolly’s Classroom. My students will be holding mock award sessions during our last class on April 9. Come help them discuss these books here.

Since there are nearly 30 students, we have four groups: two Caldecott committees, one Geisel, and one Sibert (concentrating on younger books).

Follow the link above for more information and commenting. Here’s what the four slates look like:

Caldecott 1:


Caldecott 2:







The post Join some mock award discussions appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. Translating from ... Kannada

       Via I'm pointed to the interesting Six lessons on translating the untranslatable at Scroll.in by Susheela Punitha, the translator of U.R.Ananthamurthy's Bharathipura -- her first translation.

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13. An Interview with Marta Altés

thekingcatBarcelona-born Marta Altés is a graduate of one of the most fertile courses in the UK when it comes to producing fabulous illustrators – the MA Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. She originally trained and worked in Spain as a graphic designer before taking the plunge to follow her childhood dreams, move country and retrain as an illustrator. “I think it was the BEST decision I have ever made,” says Marta, and with nine books already to her name and more following later this year (noting Marta graduated only four years ago) her success speaks for itself. Her latest book in English is The King Cat, a lovely story about friendship, negotiations and adjusting to change, especially in families welcoming a new arrival.

I recently caught up with Marta and asked her about The King Cat, her love of dogs, chocolate and more. Here’s how our conversation went:

Playing by the book: I know you sometimes include secret details in your illustrations – images of friends and family for example. Can you share a secret about your new book, ‘The King Cat’ – something we should look out for in the illustrations?

Marta Altés: Yes I do that! But I don’t always do it on purpose… It just happens. I start drawing a character and it ends up looking like somebody I know. In this case, I think, somehow I ended up illustrating the house that I would like to live in. Walls full of different sized frames (not with cat photos!), old and nice furniture, a sofa full of cushions with different patterns…

Also… Even though the story was VERY different when I started it, now it is the story of any person who has a young sibling (including me). My brother is 4 years younger than me, so I guess I was “king cat”. Although I don’t think I had his strong personality (a part from the times he broke my toys… of course)


Another thing that you can look out for in the illustrations is the little joke on the endpapers. On the first one we see a little basket full of wool balls and knitting needles on a table. Check out what’s on the last endpaper :) Both cat and dog don’t know yet, but they are about to deal with the arrival of a new member to this family.



Playing by the book: I’m guessing you’re quite a dog person given your very funny book No! and your new book – what dog books (for kids) have made you laugh or nod in recognition of your life with dogs?

Marta Altés: You got me! Yes I am! I dogs make me laugh… My mum is taking care of my dog in Barcelona, and I miss him very much. Dog books that have made me laugh recently are:

  • Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
  • Time for Bed, Fred by Yasmeen Ismail
  • dogs

    Also, not a book, but a blog: Mike Smith’s diary is great. He draws lovely everyday life sequences about him and his family, including very funny situations with his dog. Here are a few examples:

  • http://blogshank.com/2013/02/280113/
  • http://blogshank.com/2011/06/160511/
  • http://blogshank.com/2011/06/130611/
  • Playing by the book: What aspects of being a graphic designer (in an earlier life) have helped in your career as an illustrator?

    Marta Altés: I think having been a graphic designer has definitely influenced the way I work as an illustrator. Mostly in the way I use colour (always a very limited palette), the use of white space, the compositions of the illustrations on the page and knowing how to use some software like Photoshop.

    I also enjoy hand-lettering quite a lot, and the importance I give to the fonts is probably because of my graphic design background.

    I suffered a lot when it came the time to write our final dissertation in the MA, my English wasn’t the best, and it was a big effort. But I learned a lot. I wrote about Graphic Design in Picture Books, and since then, I try to take all the elements that you have in a book to communicate the main idea (Cover, endpapers, title page, font, colour, where the text is placed…).

    Playing by the book: What was hard to “unlearn” when moving from graphic design to illustration?

    Marta Altés: It was difficult but at the same time one of the most exciting things was to try not to use the computer too much. And another thing was to not be afraid of trying new things, like – for example – watercolours! I hadn’t used them before joining the MA, and I’m so glad our tutors were always encouraging us to try new techniques.

    Playing by the book: Do you see differences in illustration styles favoured in the UK as compared to in Spain? If so, what are they?

    Marta Altés: I don’t like to generalize and I think each illustrator has a different way of seeing life and working, no matter where they live. There are English illustrators working for Spanish publishers and vice versa.

    A couple of years ago at the Bologna Book Fair, I started talking to a Spanish art director that was there seeking talent at the MA Children’s Book illustration stand. And she pointed out how the main characters of many English picture books were animals, and that it is something that usually doesn’t happen there. I thought that it was a very interesting thing!

    Playing by the book: What Catalan children’s books do you wish were translated into English so a wider audience could enjoy them?

    Marta Altés: Probably all the ones I use to read when I was a kid (although I’ve just checked and many of them have already been translated!). One of my favourite ones is “El Patufet” a very surreal story about a little boy that was veeeeery tiny (and I won’t spoil the ending because is one of the most surreal endings ever!)

    There are also many small Spanish publishers doing very interesting things.

    Playing by the book: Could you share some of the illustrations you made for the Catalan/Spanish/Galician chapter books/poetry you’ve illustrated?

    Marta Altés: I really enjoy working on different projects at the same time as working on picture books. It gives me the opportunity to experiment with new techniques. Illustrating a text that is not yours is lots of fun because you can give your vision of the story through your drawings. But is a completely different approach to when you illustrate your own text. In the latter case, you keep editing text and image to make them work together, almost until the day you send the files to print!

    A very challenging project I’ve just illustrated is this Catalan Poetry book for kids (‘Tan Petita i ja saps‘ written by Maria Mercè Marçal). I hadn’t illustrated poetry before, and it was quite difficult. Also, I was told there had to be something that graphically linked together all the pages of the book. That made me go and do some research on the symbology of the author and I ended up using the night, stars and sea as the main elements of the book. The idea of the darkness of the night sky made me try to use brush and black ink. And I coloured things digitally.


    The chapter book I’ve just illustrated for a Spanish publisher talks about the story of a little mouse meeting a girl who has just moved into a new house. I thought it would be fun to play with shadows and lights. Something that I’m not very good at but I wanted to give it a try. So I did try, and it was lots of fun. Again it was a mix between digital colouring, pencil and millions of layers of photoshop.


    Playing by the book: I believe you work as a part time lecturer in the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. What’s your role on the course?

    Marta Altés: Studying in the MA was one of the best experiences ever! I met so many nice people and it was very sad when it was over. So I felt over the moon when Martin Salisbury offered me the opportunity to go back and work there.

    What I enjoy the most is working with the students on the sequences, storyboards and story lines of their projects. Each project is very different from the other so going there is very challenging but also very exciting!

    I’m so happy to still be involved with the MA. I get to meet lots of lovely people and I’m super lucky to be working there along with amazing illustrators like James Mayhew, David Hughes, Pam Smy, Alexis Deacon, Paula Metcalf and Hannah Webb!

    Playing by the book: If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you like to be?

    Marta Altés: I’ve been a full time illustrator just for the past 4 years, so this is a difficult question to answer… 5 years ago I was a graphic designer that wanted to be an illustrator (my dream came true). Now… If I weren’t an illustrator, I guess I would like to be a dancer (I know it’s WAY too late). I’ve danced since I was little and it’s something that I love doing.

    Playing by the book: I hear you like chocolate. What sort of chocolate is your favourite?

    Marta Altés: I loooove chocolate. All sorts of chocolate… But if I had to pick one it would be dark chocolate. Or triple chocolate covered with a layer of double chocolate with chocolate sprinkles to top.


    Playing by the book: Many thanks Marta – it’s been great fun interviewing you. I hope you enjoy the virtual chocolate I’ve found for you :-)

    marta_altes_author picMarta Altés’s website: http://www.martaltes.com/
    Marta Altés on Facebook
    Marta Altés on Twitter
    Marta Altés on Instagram

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    14. A new Scholastic Picture Book

    Little Hoihoi by Stephanie Thatcher, Scholastic NZ

    Stephanie’s first picture book The Great Galloping Galoot was published by Scholastic NZ in 2012. It’s a jolly, bouncing story – fans will find this second book is quite different in tone but just as satisfying. On her first foray out of the nest, a little penguin finds that not all birds are the same. Kotuku struts on beautiful long legs, Toroa flies on big wings, Tui can sing. Little Hoihoi can’t do any of these things. Of course, as soon as she falls into the water she finds there is something she can do much better than the other birds… The pencil illustrations are a delight with their gentle watercolours, uncluttered scenes and good use of white space. Little Hoihoi’s expressive face takes centre-stage and delicately conveys her emotions. The book includes a small amount of information about yellow-eyed penguins, but its true value will be as a group read-aloud to children of around 3 to 7.

    ISBN 978 1 77543 249 4 RRP $19 Pb

    Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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    15. Remembering John Renbourn

    John Renbourn, the eclectic guitarist who co-founded Pentangle, died at his home in Scotland on Thursday. I sketched him during a concert that he gave with Robin Williamson in 1995 in a little country church at Copake Falls, New York.

    Remembrance on National Public Radio

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    16. Amanda Bynes is in the freezer aisle

    I wake up at 7:30pm. I stumble to the kitchen and open the freezer and pull out the ice cream. I stand, leaning against the counter, eating it. My whole mouth burns it's so cold, and my tongue goes numb.

    I dreamed a childhood acquaintance emailed, asking me out on a date. Immediately after, he got engaged to someone else. He emailed again saying we could no longer see each other. Last night, which seems at least three nights ago (was it my mother's birthday yesterday? Was I at Heidi's apartment yesterday? Was I petting Zula, and in the kitchen with leftover enchiladas talking about spirituality, and letting myself out to meet him at the gate yesterday? Was I in that dark, loud place listening to dark, loud music yesterday? Have I really worked an entire shift since then? Is it really the same day, still?) I dreamed a coworker and I started going out, and in the dream she was emotionally vulnerable, which I've never seen her be. I wanted to hold her, like a little bird.

    I am noticing the negative thoughts I have. I want to be so clear that if my thoughts were loudspeakered out I'd have no problem. I care less about people knowing certain feelings I have and more about the unbidden diatribe where I thoughtlessly think things, mostly to do with strangers, like this person is an idiot and way to fuck that up. What's up with that?

    I hear my roommate walking around, I hear her say "oww." In the kitchen there is a plate with uneaten eggs and traces of mashed potatoes. I know that feeling, when even scrambled eggs hurt to eat. I replace the ice cream in the freezer, where there are about eight other containers also containing ice cream. Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark, two of them read, and I think, yum.

    I close the door to the freezer and walk back to my room. I close the door to my room and I start to write. It's 8:30pm now. I might just go back to sleep.

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    17. The Sculptor Book Review

    Title: The Sculptor Author: Scott McCloud Publisher: First Second Publication Date: February 3, 2015 ISBN-13: 978-1596435735 496 pp. ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley Comic book authority Scott McCloud wrote and illustrated the graphic novel The Sculptor, his first work of fiction in over 20 years. The fact that it's already in development for a film should give you a clue that it's a

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    18. Monday Poetry Stretch - Tripadi

    I've embarked these last few weeks on exploring poetic forms that I've never written before, and in many cases, never even knew existed. This week I've chosen to explore tripadi.

    Tripadi is a form of Bengali Poetry. It originated in Eastern India sometime in the 10th century. The tripadi is a written in stanzas with any number of tercets. Here are the requirements of a tripadi.
    • Each tercet is generally a sentence of 20 or 26 syllables
    • A tercet is broken into lines of 6-6-8 or 8-8-10 syllables. 
    • The rhyme scheme is: aax / bbx / ccx, etc.

    You can read more about this form and see an example at Poetry Magnum Opus.

    I hope you'll join me this week in writing a tripadi. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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    19. at home with stuart

    I love it when Stuart irons his work shirts, it makes the flat smell all cosy.

    Part of me thought this weekend that I needed to spend every moment working toward my book deadline. But I am turning into a creaky old lady, and I've been overdosing on biscuits in the studio, so exercise is very much in order. Stuart took me on a good hard cycle ride along the Thames and we stopped for coffee at one of our favourite cafes, Teapod. (It's also where my Jampires co-author David O'Connell and I used to meet up, when he lived around the corner.)

    We also popped out today for a drink with artists John Aggs and Nana Li. (Look out for John's graphic novel adaptation of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses.) Star Cat creator James Turner brought along his triplet brothers, ALL IN MATCHING JUMPERS.

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    20. Social Media Etiquette

    What not to do when using social media.

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    21. AICL's Recommended/Not Recommended reads in 2014

    I received a request from a person asking if I could write up a comprehensive list of books I read during 2014, with links to the page on which I wrote about the book. This isn't a list of books published in 2014. It is books I read in that year. Some are old, some are new. I'm bleary eyed from working on the list. I think it is complete but I may have missed some thing!

    Some of you may look at the books on the Not Recommended list and say to yourself "Really?! You set a high bar!" or something like that. Keep in mind that I read within a larger context than just one book. John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, for example, has one passage about Native people. We could argue about its merit (as took place in the comments!) but I read such passages within a societal context that continues to publish books and media that misrepresent Native peoples. It isn't just one book. It is lots of little bits in lots of books. It adds up to a whole lot of misrepresentation.


    Not Recommended

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    22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip

    There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

    Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

    Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 

    An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

    I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

    Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance

    Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

    Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

    Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

    Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
    Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

    There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

    Some popular authors of the NA category include:
    • Jamie McGuire
    • Jessica Park
    • Tammara Webber
    • Steph Campbell
    • Liz Reinhardt
    • Abbi Glines
    • Colleen Hoover 
    • Sherry Soule

    Would you buy New Adult books? 
    Does the genre appeal to you? 

    Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
    Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

    Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 

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    23. Newsletter-NEW!

    Debbie Dadey is the author, with co-author Marcia Thornton Jones, of such best-selling reluctant readers children's series as The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, The Swamp Monster in Third Grade, Slime Wars, Ghostville Elementary, The Bailey School Kids Junior Chapter Books, the Keyholders series and the Mermaid Tales series from Simon and Schuster.

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    24. Unlocking Achievements in Summer Reading

    Photo by Jeremy Kunz

    Photo by Jeremy Kunz

    We are constantly analyzing and tweaking our Summer Reading Club to make it easier and more fun for both patrons and staff. Last year, I talked about how we went “prizeless” and this year we’re taking it a step farther and giving out a free book to every child who finishes the Summer Reading Club (instead of plastic prizes or raffles). Having just one prize to hand out simplifies things immensely for my staff and a book is a great prize to encourage further reading.

    But then the question remains: what about those kids who want to do more? Certainly we will have some children who complete the Summer Reading requirements in June and look to us for more to do. Without handing out prizes all summer, what can we offer them to keep them occupied (and keep them reading!)?

    This summer, we’re going to try a card with additional “achievements to unlock” once they complete the Summer Reading Club and collect their coupons and free book. This won’t be for additional prizes (although some of our “achievements” will be connected to prize drawings), but just for the pride in unlocking achievements and the fun of having something else to do.

    We’re going to include five achievements on our card and kids can try to unlock all of them or just do the ones that interest them. They are:

    1. Dollars and Sense – one of our local banks has sponsored this program with us for the past several years. They donate a couple of Visa gift cards and every child who reads a book about money or finances over the summer can enter to win. The idea is to increase financial literacy in our children.

    2. Bedtime Math – we provided this program last summer along with our Summer Reading Club, but we did not really succeed in promoting it, so participation was really low. I’m hoping that by making it one of our achievements, we can drum up more interest.

    3. Super Reader – read an additional amount and then come in and decorate your own superhero that we’ll hang from the ceiling. I’m excited to have a visual for how much kids are reading this summer!

    4. Read Around the World – we are bringing back the map bulletin board to encourage kids to read a book set in another country and write a short review for us to post.

    5. Add to our Kids’ Choice display – we’re dedicating one of our displays to feature kids’ favorite books. To unlock this challenge, kids will choose a book and write a short recommendation on a bookmark that’ll go in the book.

    You can download a non-spiffy, very basic draft of our achievement card here. (We will size them down when we run off copies.)

    We’ll include the achievement cards at the front of our coupon packets that go out to every child who completed the Summer Reading Club. The card will direct families to ask for additional instructions at the Children’s Desk since some of the activities are not self-explanatory or they may have to pick up a form or log from us. As achievements are completed, we’ll stamp their card.

    I’m not sure how this will go this year, but I’m hopeful that it will give kids something fun to do while still being fairly easy on staff to maintain.

    What do you do to encourage your kids to keep reading and/or engaging with the library all summer long?

    — Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
    New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
    New Albany, IN

    The post Unlocking Achievements in Summer Reading appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    25. Artist of the Day: Louis Fratino

    Discover the work of Louis Fratino, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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