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Blog: (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: action & adventure, age 9 - 11, children's fiction, children's novel, Diamond in the Ruff, free book competition, home schooling, It's a Ruff Life, Ruff Christmas., Ruff Life series, secret agent, spy dogs, Add a tag
Blog: An Englishman in New Jersey (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: writing, wisdom on the web, fiction, useful links, Add a tag
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:
Making Conference Connections (Rachel Kent)
Case Study: When Your Concept Disappears (Larry Brooks)
Prewriting (Elizabeth Spann Craig)
Be Diligent and Let Your Agent Do the Talking (Mary Keeley)
The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues (Kristen Lamb)
The Challenges of Writing a Sequel (Sttina Lindenblatt)
The Evolving Role of the Literary Agent (Jane Friedman)
Multiple Offers (Wendy Lawton)
Plot Your Novel With Mini Arcs (Janice Hardy)
On Rejection and Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Novelists (Warren Adler)
Writers as Casualties of Commerce (James Scott Bell)
If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.
If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time). Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.
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Blog: The Open Book (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Activities and Events, author signings, book festival, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Book Festival, Add a tag
For those who are in the New York City Area, we’ve got lots of great things happening this weekend!
LEE & LOW BOOKS will also be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday, September 21! We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day with our authors, and if you’re in the New York City area we hope you’ll stop by! We’ll be at booth #604, right next to the Columbus Statue Garden.
The festival is located at Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL SIGNINGS
10-10:45am at booth #604; 3-3:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area
11-11:45am at booth #604
Christiane Krömer is the illustrator of King For a Day
12-12:30pm at the Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s Area; 1-1:45pm at booth #604
Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac are the author and illustrator of Drummer Boy of John John
Hope to see you there!
Filed under: Activities and Events Tagged: author signings, book festival, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Book Festival Add a Comment
Blog: Game On! Creating Character Conflict (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: craft, editing, fiction, language, parallelism, personification, phatics, proofreading, revision, rhetorical devices, word use, writing, Add a tag
This week, we continue to add to our collection of rhetorical devices.
Parallelism uses balance and three beats following a sentence or clause with a phrase that starts with a similar kind of word (adjective, adverb or noun).
- after a fashion
- after all
- after all is said and done
- almost inevitably
- amazingly enough
- and I agree that it is
- and whatnot
- as a matter of fact
- as everybody knows
- as I believe is the case
- as is widely known
- as it happens
- as it turns out
- as I’ve pointed out
- as unlikely as it may seem
- as we can see
- as you can see
- at any rate
- believe it or not
- curiously enough
- fittingly enough
- for God’s sake
- for some reason
- for that matter
- how are you
- I am reminded
- I can’t help but wonder
- I might add
- I suppose
- if conditions are favorable
- if I may call it that
- if time permits
- if truth be known
- if you get right down to it
- if you know what I mean
- if you must know
- in a way
- in a sense
- in my mind
- in point of fact
- in spite of everything
- in the final analysis
- it goes without saying
- it is important to note
- it is important to remember
- it occurs to me
- it seems to me
- it turns out
- just between us
- just between you and me
- let’s face it
- let me tell you
- make no mistake
- my Lord
- not to mention
- of course
- one might ask
- or as unlikely as it may seem
- shall we say
- strangely enough
- to a certain extent
- to be honest
- to my dismay
- to everyone’s surprise
- to no one’s surprise
- to my relief
- to my way of thinking
- to some extent
- what's up
- we should remember
- when all is said and done
- you know
- you know what
Blog: Tingle Alley (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Daphne du Maurier, gothic, Rebecca, Add a tag
Du Maurier called the house her “rat-filled ruin.” It wasn’t hyperbole. Rats, dozens of them, scuttled along the house’s floors at night. Bats flit in and out. It was freezing, too, even by the stoic standards of the time, and damp, with a hard, nipping cold rising off the sea. Scarves and hats were routinely worn indoors.
— I wrote about Daphne du Maurier and the Manderley estate she bought with her Rebecca $ at the new Gawker Review of Books! It was so much fun to write—I’ve loved du Maurier forever and wanted to write about her life since coming across this picture of her last year.
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Blog: Nathan Bransford (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: This Week in Books, Add a tag
|Photo by me. I'm on Instagram here.|
First up, friend of the blog Stephen Parrish is conducting a fundraiser to establish a fellowship in honor of Christine Eldin, a beloved member of the writing community who passed away a few years ago. Please check out the fellowship page, as well as the fundraising page on Indiegogo, where there are many quality items up for bid.
Now that Amazon has launched Amazon Unlimited, the Netflix-for-books-ish subscription service, should self-published authors opt their books in? David Gaughran investigates.
Speaking of Amazon, they recently launched a new program aimed at making it easier for children's book authors to self-publish, with such features as text pop-ups and easier illustration insertion. Very interesting.
Have independent bookstores improbably weathered the e-book transition better than chain stores and are they even on the rise? Zachary Karabell makes the case in Slate.
Do elite MFA programs have a race problem? NPR took an in-depth look.
Don't forget about the discussion forums, where you can have your query critiqued and talk writing with some great authors!
Why in the world does everyone in dystopian movies wear knitwear? Vulture takes a look at the great moments in Dystopian knitwear.
And finally, today is iPhone 6 release day! My good friends at CNET have all the latest reviews. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an iPhone 6 to play with.
Have a great weekend! Add a Comment
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Audiobooks, Lists, Add a tag
Need a boyfriend this fall? You can forget Cragislist. If you can’t find the man of your dreams, he might just be out there somewhere—in the pages of a book. Or in this case, between your ear buds. Courtesy of Audible.com, we bring you five bachelors to choose from:
1. Will Blakelee in The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks
Will’s loyalty to Ronnie Miller remains strong in the end of this novel from classic chick lit author Nicholas Sparks. Connecting over family tragedy, Will is there for Ronnie in the end when she most needs him to be by sacrificing his own opportunities. (more…)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
Blog: Jennifer L. Meyer Sketches (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Robin Hood Greeting Travelers Book Club Doggie Bath Time FunAdd a Comment
Blog: Valerie Storey, Writing at Dava Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Marketing, Planning, Query Letters, Synopsis, Writing, Add a tag
Marketing has never been my favorite part of writing. Query letters, synopses, pitching--they've all been pretty scary to me. I know how small the window is for attracting the attention of an editor or agent, and I know how easily they can delete or ignore whatever they receive.
- That I feel relaxed about writing my query and synopses (in all their wonderful forms, e.g., 1-page, 2-page, 3-page--you know how it goes), and,
- That whatever I write be easy to read. After all, who has the time to pore over pages and pages of convoluted story telling when all anyone wants to know is: what is the story about?
- An ABOUT MY STORY list. This list will include whatever is relevant to sales, e.g., genre, word count, why I wrote the story, who are my potential readers.
- A 12-point EVENTS THAT HAPPEN IN THE STORY list, in other words, the top 12 plot points and why they matter.
- A 12-point CHARACTER ATTRIBUTE LIST for each of my major players.
I’ve always liked listing things in groups of twelve, (something I wrote about in my Take Twelve blog post) finding it a good way to focus and brainstorm at the same time. Aiming for twelve points on any subject seems to help me go beyond the obvious without going overboard and including too much information. My hope is that using the technique for my marketing will turn what has previously been a dreaded task into a good experience I'll look forward to. Wish me luck!
Yesterday we went out to visit John Finley's cattle ranch, a half hour drive down a remote dirt road on the east fork of the the Wind River here in Wyoming.
John is a working cowboy and a scrimshandler whose grandfather established the farm over a hundred years ago, not far from Butch Cassidy's spread.
I set up my watercolor rig next to an old log cabin which was festooned with rusty coyote traps.
I was attracted to the way the traps were reflected in the window against the bright sky behind us. Since the reflection of the clouds was the lightest value, my first step was to run a wash over all the other whites, including the window mullions, the mortar, and shelf of mildewy old magazines seen through the window.
(link to Soundcloud audio track)
The traps speak to the constant life and death struggle of ranch existence. John told us a story of having to shoot a mountain lion as it was devouring one of his bottle-fed calves.
A week ago, a surveyor was found mauled to death by grizzlies not far from here. None of us artists are allowed to venture off without a bottle of bear spray.
The authorities relocate the Yellowstone man-killers in this remote area, on the fringes of the Wind River Indian Reservation. As another cowboy, John Phelps told us, "Grizzlies are no joke."
Biography of John P Finley
Painted in a Pentalic sketchbook with Schmincke watercolors using a Richeson travel brush set
Download Watercolor in the Wild video
Blog: BOBBEE BEE THE HATER (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Well, if this statement is true, Eric Graham, the creative mind behind the cartoon character Bobbee Bee "The Hater," which is a clever acronym that stands for H.is A.nger T.eaches E.verybody R.eality, just gave the world a sneak peak into the subconscious mind of young Black males living in America, in general, with his latest controversial song entitled Mr. Officer, which was recorded at Payroll Studio in High Point, NC by the legendary Supreme DJ Nyborn.
Especially, after the shooting death of an unarmed 17 year old teenager named Michael Brown, whose body was left in the middle of the street for at least 5 hours after he was shot down in broad daylight by a storm of bullets from the gun of officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, St. Louis.
With the tragic event becoming headline news, which led to riot police wearing military-style uniforms, while displaying military-style weaponry along with armored tanks and tear gas, Graham, who is a "journalist by day and a rapper by night," tried to capture the raw emotion, anger, and rage building up in the minds of young Black males as well as the entire Black community with his latest release, Mister Officer, which reminds many Hip-Hoppers of the 1988 protest song "F#*@ da Police" by N.W.A, which appears on highly anticipated mix tape/slash album called Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems, that was dropped days before the independent film Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie, which was written and directed by him and his brother Terrence Graham, was shown at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC on Saturday.
With the song currently appearing on SoundCloud-and floating around on Internet, the "part-time" rhyme spitter plans to release the video to the song on Facebook this Sunday.
Yes, these are Revolutionary Ideas that you can feel...
So, get ready!!!
Because, this small-town MC with Big City Dreams, next single called Revolutionary Suicide, which was inspired by the writings of legendary Black Panther member, Huey P. Newton, is scheduled to drop in two more weeks.
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Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Authors, Videos, Mac Burnett, TED Talks, Add a tag
Author Mac Barnett gave a TED talk on “why a good book is a secret door.” Barnett revealed that his occupation is to “lie to children” otherwise known as writing children’s books. He claims that with his work, he tells “honest lies.”
Barnett shared stories about how he established his career and his insights on the power of fiction. We’ve embedded a video showcasing the entire presentation above. Share your opinion—can writing lies expose truth?
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
Blog: BOBBEE BEE THE HATER (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Despite Tsunami-type rains, the people still came out in full force in order to see Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC on Saturday September 13.
Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie, which was written and directed by Eric Graham, financed and filmed by Terrence Graham, and edited by Darius Carr, is a film, that has been described as a "psychological comedy," which takes a hilarious journey into the mind of a troubled teenager, who tries desperately to cope with his anger and self-hatred.
The thought-provoking film, to the many moviegoers in attendance, lived-up to all its hype, which surprisingly made them laugh, love, and learn as it took them on a roller coaster ride until the very end.
"This movie continues to grow in its importance.. every time it is shown, " said Eric Graham, who is a proud graduate of Winston-Salem State University.
"It, in fact, is a timeless piece, which I believe, will one day be considered a cult classic..."
Not surprisingly, keeping in character, however, the star of the film, William Isiah Shakur, who played Bobbee Bee "The Hater," failed to make an appearance to his own film due to the bad whether.
Despite Shakur's no show, everyone who viewed the film admitted that he did an excellent job in his portrayal of Bobbee Bee, which was based closely own his own life experiences as a teenager.
"I am very proud of my son..." confessed his father Terrence Graham, who currently works as an Academic Advisor at the prestigious Hampton University.
"This film couldn't have be made without his brilliant performance..."
Even though Bobbee Bee wasn't presence, another character named "Smoking Joe Black," who created a lot of buzz throughout the film, which was played by Andre Walker, tip-toed smoothly down the Red carpet with his signature well-groomed Afro and Afro-pick.
To his surprise, Walker's father, Andre Robert Lee, traveled all the way from Washington, DC in order to view his son's acting debut in the movie.
"Please support this movie...it was very entertaining and my son was outstanding as "Smoking" Joe Black." said the proud father.
" I would like to thank Terrence Graham for giving him the opportunity to shine."
With Walker's acting skills being displayed on camera along with a host of other budding young stars, Bobbee Bee "The Hater" The Movie has the potential to land up in somebody's film festival or the big screen as well as B.E.T. in the near future -the sky's the limit.
Honestly, it's simply amazing what a couple of "country boys" from Magnolia can accomplish, especially if they don't let their inflated egos get in their way.
With that said, many people will be shocked to find out that 95% of the cast and crew in the film are all from Duplin County, which is a testament of the GREATNESS that resides in this small tight-knit community.
After the film was over, the Graham brothers, asked the audience, who viewed it Saturday night at Johnston Community College to utilize social media, whether on Instagram, Twitter, or FaceBook in order to help them promote the movie.
"We utilize social media, especially Facebook, to post a lot of stupid stuff..." said Terrence, during the question-and-answer portion of the film.
"However, now, you have an opportunity to post something positive, which potentially could have a direct impact on the minds of our children."
If anyone still denies the importance of this small independent film, Scott and Tammy Pettiford Bonds, who were in attendance with their two sons, made it crystal clear that the film made an instant impact on their 16 year old son.
"Bobbee Bee The Hater is already a household name...we've already made connection to the movie last night when parenting our 16 year old. He got it!!
Because, it is coming to a town near you.
Blog: John Manders' Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: book promotion, self promotion, art, baroque, caricature, character design, costume, Hollywood, illustration, librarian, library, movies, pirates, Add a tag
Heave on your futtock-shrouds and don’t leave your swashes unbuckled! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Don’t forget: If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shape a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates this evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again tomorrow morning 10:00 – 11:00ish (we need to clear the decks before noon—when some poor lubber’s wedding takes place).
As promised, here are the answers to yesterday’s M is for Movie Pirates Quiz:
First row: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (2006). Second row: (left to right) Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); Robert Newton as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950); Sherman the parrot; Errol Flynn as Captain Blood (1935). Third row: Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd (1945); (Charlton Heston as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1990); Dustin Hoffman as Hook (1991); Walter Matthau as Captain Red in Pirates (1986). Fourth row: Maureen O’Hara as Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens in Against All Flags (1952); Laird Cregar as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942); Kevin Kline as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1983); Graham Chapman as Yellowbeard (1983).
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Blog: Illustration Friday Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: weekly topics, Add a tag
After a rough week or so where Illustration Friday was partially broken, we’re thrilled to announce that we’re back and fully operational. Thanks very much for all the positive feedback and support as we worked to keep Illustration Friday alive. You are all awesome.
We’re also excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Cannady Chapman, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of ‘MONEY’. You can also see a gallery of all the other inspiring entries here.
And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:
Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).
Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.
Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).
Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!
HAPPY ILLUSTRATING!Add a Comment
Blog: March House Books Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Books, The Lovesome Book For Little Folk, Add a tag
Nid-Nod said the daisies,
Nid-Nod the whispering breeze, Nid-Nod crooned the birdies - Nid-Nod the rustling trees. Nid - Nod winked the little stars in the soft evening light.The whole big world's a Nodding - Nid-Nod Nid-Nod goodnight.
there is lots to see.
Songs and prayers
Excellent colouring in
A bedtime story...
The Lovesome Book For Little Folk
Blog: Galley Cat (Mediabistro) (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Book Trailer, Celebrities, Neil Patrick Harris, Add a tag
Tony Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris stars in a trailer for his forthcoming imaginative nonfiction book, Choose Your Own Autobiography.
In the video embedded above, Harris sings his Hedwig & The Angry Inch show warm-up routine, sinks into quicksand, and performs several other outlandish acts—what do you think?
Crown Archetype, an imprint at Penguin Random House, will release this unconventional memoir on October 14, 2014.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.Add a Comment
Blog: Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: crisis and the universal story, The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginn, writing story one prompt at a time, Add a tag
Beware: Do not succumb to a personal crisis as protagonist reaches darkest moment. Evoke the emotion in your writing
Way back in January 2013, in honor of the release of my most recent PW book: The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End), I began writing a new novel using one or more prompts everyday. I invited you to join me in writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Weekly, I shared insights into the creation and significance of the prompts.
On a personal level, writing gave me an escape from what was more and more becoming a disastrous living arrangement. Without going into detail, my life was falling apart.
As I approached the 3/4 mark writing my novel, the prompts daily drew me page-by-page nearer to the moment of disaster, crisis, dark night of what was developing into quite a dark story. My emotional state, refusing to accept any more drama, pain, hurt, betrayal, shame, disappointment, resisted. I stopped writing the story.
I couldn't, however, stop the personal crisis that had been growing incident by incident into a full-blown mess, stripping me of all the truths I'd lived my entire life and leaving me alone to sort through tattered illusions, every one of them.
After more than a year and lots of work and thanks in large part to my belief and understanding of the Universal Story, I've found peace. Finally, I'm ready to finish following the prompts to the end of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End) and not only write the crisis of my novel, write her triumph while fully embracing my own.
I invite you to join me. Dig out that story you never moved beyond the middle. That story you gave up when the middle muddled, the crisis loomed, the end mocked you, find it and dust it off. I'm taking this weekend to drag out my notes, organize the Plot Planner and my writing cave. I'm not going to read what I've already written. I know what's waiting and am finally ready to face and write the inevitable. Join me.
***Laura, this is just one example of what I mean by not letting a personal crisis strike. I write in depth about how your writing life often parallels your story development in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.
Today I write!
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers
Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
- PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises
- How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot ~~ Picture books are without subplots allowing the primary plot lines to shine through. 7 videos + 28 exercises
Comic Event Organisers Please Take Note!
Do I get invited as a guest to these events? NO!
Do I ever get offered a table at these events for the promotional work I put in for them? NO!
Do I ever succeed in getting a table at these events? NO!
What do I get out of all the work I put in for these UK events? Absolutely nothing. Organisers seem to think they are doing me a favour by deeming to grace me with their press releases.
No. It stops. Time for me to be 'selfish' -I'm a person who publishes -biggest publisher of Independent comics in the UK. Yes, but I don't know so-and-so. I get invited to vote in the Harvey Awards and others -and I get invitations from outside the UK.
All my years promoting UK comics, the Small Press, my work, my publishing means nothing to a convention organiser which, let's put it mildly, is a bloody outright insult. So why should their events mean anything to me?
From now on there are no more freebies -and please don't say you never saw this posting as its going out to you by mail also. £20.00 a posting of a Press Release from an event organiser or you can pay £50.00 each year to have all your PRs on site rather than individual charges.
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Featured, Out of the Box, Reviews, movie adaptations, YA, Add a tag
So, I saw that movie based on a YA novel about teens in love who are faced with questions of life and death. No, not that one, at least not most recently. I’m talking about the New Line Cinema/MGM adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2009 novel If I Stay, directed by R. J. Cutler and released August 22, 2014. (Warning: If you stay with this post, you’ll find some major spoilers.)
When I went looking for a viewing companion, the premise produced shudders from more than one friend. For the uninitiated, the title refers to seventeen-year-old Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz)’s wrenching decision to go on living — or not — as she observes her comatose body after a car accident that left her critically injured and the rest of her family even worse.
In case you haven’t noticed, YA movies are hot these days, and studios seem to get that the books are hot, too. Like The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, and other recent movies based on YA novels, this one keeps its story very close to the original text. Mia’s cello playing is important in the book, and so it’s important in the movie, too, even though it’s not as “Hollywood” as her boyfriend Adam’s (Jamie Blackley) rock band.
If I Stay is a cinematically paced book, which helps. Forman alternates between scenes of Mia’s pre-accident life and the post-accident drama. This structure saves both the book and the movie from long strings of hospital scenes and breaks up the emotional intensity with happier moments that increase our emotional investment in these characters. Mia’s rocker parents, affably performed by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard, and little brother Teddy, played by a sincere Jakob Davies, are simply fun and lovable characters; we want to spend time with them and understand why Mia does, too.
Though the movie mostly adopts the book’s pacing, it does make a few significant tweaks. In the book, Mia and the reader find out very quickly (and slightly more graphically) that both parents have died. The movie ratchets up tension by revealing her mother’s death later and having her father live long enough to arrive at the hospital. The change creates more reasons to keep watching the hospital scenes: Mia has hope for her family early on, and viewers who haven’t read the book (or, well, seen the trailer) might be on the edge of their seats. Teddy’s death comes later in both the book and the movie — but as movie-Mia stays in the same hospital instead of being helicoptered out, she finds out much more directly and it’s more of a defining moment.
If you thought Mia and Adam’s undying-unless-she-goes-to-Julliard love was a little cheesy in the book, you’ll find the same goops of cheddar in the movie. But neither book nor movie pretends their relationship is perfect, and the movie makes their conflict harsher but bases it on the same issues. Although the ending is essentially the same, Adam’s promises leading up to it manage to make the love story more sentimental. (These changes in Mia and Adam’s relationship also make it seem less likely that the studio plans to film the 2011 book sequel, Where She Went.)
Just like that other tear-jerking YA movie about love and mortality, this one emphasizes the choices its characters get to make. Even before Mia must decide whether to live, she’s deciding what to do with her life. Maybe that’s what so many teens like about these kinds of stories. Teens are at a time in their lives when even ordinary decisions start to have higher stakes. There’s something validating about stories that acknowledge that, in some cases, a teenage life is an entire life, and maybe something reassuring about seeing teens confronted with questions so big that choices about school and relationships seem lighter.
Yes, these tragic tales show that some things are beyond teens’ control, but they also make it clear that some things aren’t.Add a Comment
Blog: Theodesign.com (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
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Don't believe everything you're told about writing dialogue.
Submissions Needed. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.
The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.
Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.
What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.
A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.
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.
- Story questions
- Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
Joanne sends the prologue and first chapter of Re-homing Pigeon. The full chapter follows the break.
If it weren’t for the Voo-Doo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman drew spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading right toward the mouth of the Mississippi. Mayor Nagin advised people to evacuate, while the die-hards of New Orleans planned their hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and 'taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) At 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies. They named her Katrina.
Cecile told herself that she'd be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish on the east side of the Mississippi River and New Orleans proper. Her husband, Armand, had made preparations ahead of time, boarding the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane she'd witnessed in her thirty years, and it wouldn't be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn't leave without Armand. He had responsibilities as drilling manager for Murphy Oil Refinery and hadn't been home in three days.
She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business (snip)
Were you compelled to turn Joanne's first page?
Right away the subject matter of Katrina creates interest, and the first paragraph does a good job of setting that scene. But the tension falls off considerably in the second paragraph as we do a little info-dumping and set-up. I ended up not turning the page.
I recommend eliminating much of that second paragraph and starting with ominous things happening, and include the fact that she’s pregnant. I think the stakes need to be raised right away. Here’s a rough draft of material from later that I’d replace that paragraph with. With the edits to the first paragraph, this would take you through 17 lines on the first page:
She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. Grey sky that turned black pelted rain in straight arrows, and then suddenly whipped sideways, almost knocking her over, sending loose shingles and garden tools rolling across yards and down the center of streets. She staggered inside and locked the door.
The baby kicked hard against her rib cage. “Agh. Whoa there Junior.” Straightening, she rubbed her swollen belly, soothing her son that wouldn't arrive for another ten weeks. Through the boarded windows, she heard large objects slam against the house. She prayed they wouldn’t (snip)
What do you think? For me, I get much more involved with the character and the trouble that’s coming, and I would have turned the page with this as an opening. Here are notes on the pages as it is:
If it weren’t for the Voo-Doo voodoo curse, she would have been a terrific mother. Cecile Lafayette Boudreaux stroked the Gris-Gris amulet around her neck. Born in the Louisiana bayou, she wasn’t supposed to scare easily. The weatherman drew had drawn spaghetti lines that snaked through the Gulf of Mexico, all heading right toward the mouth of the Mississippi. They named her Katrina. Mayor Nagin advised people to evacuate, while the The die-hards of New Orleans planned their hurricane parties. Fire up the outdoor cooker; them mud bugs were waiting for cayenne pepper, hot sauce and 'taters. Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the good times roll.) At 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation. Governor Blanco told anyone refusing to leave to write their names and social security number on their arms in magic marker so they could identify the bodies. They named her Katrina. I realize that the spelling of voodoo might be charactercentric, so keep it if that’s the case. Otherwise, my dictionary says it’s “voodoo.” The rest of that sentence, though, didn’t work for me because there’s no clue as to her being a bad mother—no sign of children, anything. In other words, the reader has no idea what this refers to with no expansion and so it is, in essence, meaningless. Either give it meaning or delete it. I eliminated the first mayor reference because there’s another that’s stronger, and one seems like enough. The magic marker is a terrific detail. I moved the naming of the hurricane up to seat the information and end the paragraph with the deadly bit about magic markers and bodies.
Cecile told herself that she'd be safe in their sturdy home in Saint Bernard Parish on the east side of the Mississippi River and New Orleans proper. Her husband, Armand, had made preparations ahead of time, boarding boarded the house so not a sliver of daylight peeked through the plywood sheets. This wasn’t the first hurricane she'd witnessed in her thirty years, and it wouldn't be the last. No matter the warnings, she couldn't leave without her husband Armand. He Armi had responsibilities as drilling manager for Murphy Oil Refinery and hadn't been home in three days. I felt the overly detailed location wouldn’t mean much to a lot of people, and it clogs up the story. It’s a little awkward when you’re in close third person to use something like “her husband, Armand,” so I made little changes that will let the reader know who he is without having to state it directly.
She opened the door and stared at ominous dark clouds and things that had no business (snip)
For what it’s worth.
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Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Joanne
being airborne. Thousands of mosquito hawks (dragonflies) flew in a frenzy, forming a gossamer purple and green funnel. It's coming . . . please let it pass over like all the others. Those news people always blew things out of proportion, right? Grey sky that turned black pelted rain in straight arrows, and then suddenly whipped sideways, almost knocking her over, sending loose shingles and small garden tools rolling across yards and down the center of streets. She staggered back inside and locked the door.
She phoned her father to ease his mind. Maybe it would ease hers as well. It was times like this she really missed her mother’s soothing voice.
“Come home, CeCe. There's still time,” her father said. Butte La Rose was one hundred and nineteen miles northwest, along the Atchafalaya River, safely out of the eye of the storm.
“I'm fine Daddy, really.” She forced her voice to sound steady. “Armi will be here soon.” She could hear grandmother, Mamère Le Bieu, chanting in the background. “What's Mamère doing?”
Her father snorted. “You know Mamère. She's beckoning spirits to keep you safe. You should'a seen her chasing dat gecko 'round the house to use in her potion. It was hysterical.”
Cecile's laugh came out jagged and raw. “Well, tell her I 'preciate her Voo-Doo and I'll sleep safer know'in the spirit of Evangeline is protecting me. Talk atcha later. Kiss Kiss.” She tugged on the small leather amulet tied around her neck.
They were prepared. The bathtub was filled with water, they had fresh batteries and flashlights, the cupboard had enough canned goods to last three days. The news warned those that had not evacuated to stay inside. Interstate 10, Highway 39 and Route 61 were deadlocked. Automobiles and gas stations were running out of gas. Babies were crying, cars engines were running hot. She glanced at the packed suitcases by the front door. They couldn't leave now if they wanted to.
By 11:00 a.m., winds reached 175 miles per hour. The sound of a train barreling down tracks rattled the rafters. The power went out. Oh God. She felt her way through the darkness for the edge of the kitchen table and slid into a chair. This is all normal, she placated herself. We're okay. She stooped to pick up a flashlight that rolled to the floor.
“Agh. Whoa there Junior.” The baby kicked hard against her rib cage. Straightening, she rubbed her swollen belly, soothing her son that wouldn't arrive for another ten weeks. Through the boarded windows, she heard large objects slam against the house. She prayed they wouldn’t break through.
She padded barefoot down the hall and stepped in water. She aimed the flashlight at the floor. “Shit.” A small stream weaved through grout lines in the tile foyer toward the thick padding under the front room carpet. Water pooled on concave window sills and seeped down the wall.
She dialed Armi's cell. Pick up, pick up, she pleaded to herself. Stay calm. The stilted voice of the machine kicked on, and she groaned as a second pain doubled her over. “Babe, are you coming home soon? Things are getting kinda scary here. Water's coming in under the doors and windows. There's no power. Oh . . . and your son's kicking up a fuss too. He mustn’t like the storm either.” Beep. The line went dead.
She rolled bath towels and shoved them under crevices. The flashlights standing upright on the table cast eerie round circles on the ceiling.
Okay Cecile, stay calm. He'll be here soon. There was nothing else she could do. She propped her legs up on the sofa, practicing her Lamaze breathing techniques. Deep cleansing breaths. In and out, in and out. She concentrated on her breathing as the howling of the wind faded into humming. A familiar cloud settled in around heras she started to nod off, No, no, please go away.
Armand listened to the voice mail from his wife. He made the decision to leave and send everyonehome. The CEO and operations managers had been in a dead-end debate on what to do with the oil tanks for three hours. One wanted to empty the tanks into huge storage containers and let them float in place tethered to docks. Another wanted to fill them with water so they were too heavy to float away. Armand made a decision to fill the empty tanks. What to do with tanks containing crude oil? Either decision would turn him against the opposing side. “Tie them down,” he ordered. “Then everyone get the hell out of here. I've got to get to my wife.”
Armand patted the dashboard of the high SUV, glad that it maneuvered through the rising water as he made his way home. Rain water had nowhere to go in below-sea-level New Orleans and most of the streets were already flooded. The levees would hold back the overflow of Lake Ponchatrain and the MRGO, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, as long as water didn't breach their tops.
Wind and rain beat against the windshield and rocked the heavy vehicle, sometimes tipping it onto two wheels. By the time he reached their home on Ventura Drive in Chalmette, the garage had four inches of water. The front lawn was strewn with debris.
“CeCe, where are you?” He bellowed as he pushed hard on the door blocked with rolled towels.
“In here,” Cecile said.
Armand sloshed through the kitchen to the front room. Two inches of water covered the thick beige carpet. “CeCe, look!”
She pulled herself into a sitting position, swung her legs onto the floor, and then jerked her bare feet out of the cold water.
“Are you all right? And Junior?” Armand stroked her stomach.
She managed a smile. “Better . . . now that you're home. He's not liking this storm. I can tell you that. The curse, Armi . . . I saw the cloud.”
“Nonsense, there’s no curse. We had better stack as much as we can.” Armand started piling things; dining chairs atop the table, ottoman and magazine racks on the kitchen counter.
Cecile followed behind him, lifting smaller items out of harm’s way as a sense of dread folded around her. Why won’t he believe? He blasted the battery-operated radio and she cringed. It offered nothing but pending doom. “Please, turn that off.”
He flipped it off. “If you're sure you are okay.” He kissed her cheek. “I guess we already know what to expect. The storm will pass, it'll get quiet when we're in the eye, then we'll get hit again as it comes around the other side.” He rubbed her back. “Want to curl up on the bed until it's over? . . . Unless you want to do something else to take your mind off the storm,” he said with a twinkle in his chocolate eyes.
“Oh, no you don't.” She laughed nervously. “Snuggle only Mr. Boudreaux. Junior is so active you're liable to give him a black eye.”
Their nap was short lived. The water kept rising.
The water reached knee-high, almost even with the mattress. “CeCe,” Armand said with alarm. “We've got to go higher.”
“Where?” She asked, staring at the rising water. “It's not like we have a second story? Should we leave?”
Armand forced open the door and peeked through the crack as water gushed in. The entire street was a river and the storm had not let up. “Up,” he said. “Into the attic. You go, and I'll gather flashlights and batteries.”
“Omigod! Don't forget bottled water.” said Cecile. “And whatever food you can. And pillows and blankets from the bed.”
Armand steadied the ladder as she crawled through the trap door of the attic, her wide girth squeezing through the hole.
He pushed water bottles, the battery-operated radio and as many other supplies that he could think of through the hole before he pulled himself to safety.
Cecile tried to adjust her eyes to the filtered light in the small attic. The air was stifling. The temperature had to be one hundred degrees. She tried to get comfortable on the thin blankets and pillows, amidst boxes of Christmas decorations and old college memorabilia.
“Armi, my back is killing me.” she moaned.
“You've done too much. And it's hotter than hell in here. Try to be still. Practice your breathing.” He pushed boxes farther into the eaves, giving at least the illusion of more space. He patted an old electric fan with large black blades in a round metal cage. “Why didn’t I buy that generator I’ve looked at a dozen times in the hardware store?”
“It’s okay. The storm won’t last long.” Cecile wanted to sound optimistic as she laid her head on the pillow, twisting and turning, trying to get comfortable. The back pain circled around to the front. “I think I'm going into labor.”
A loud crash pummeled the roof. Armand threw his body over hers to protect her from whatever came through. When the roof held, he responded. “No, no. it's too early. It's the stress causing Braxton Hicks contractions. They'll stop.”
A wet spot spread across the blanket. Cecile saw it, even if Armand didn’t. An ethereal cloud settled around her in a grey shroud. Her water broke and she let out a primal scream. Omigod! I can't have the baby here, in this attic.”
Cecile noticed Armand's ruddy complexion pale.
“I'll get help,” He said as he punched numbers into his cell phone. No service. Frantically, he dug through boxes. He found a small ball-peen hammer. He pounded on a metal vent as she watched. Without too much effort, the aluminum vent gave way as the wind grabbed and tossed it away. The opening was about twelve inches wide. He reached his arm through but it was too small to fit his head and shoulders. Rain poured through the opening and he choked as he pressed his face as close as possible.
“Help! Somebody,” he sputtered. “Can you hear me? Help! We're in here.”
Only the screaming sound of Katrina answered back.
His arm waved frantically through the small opening.
Cecile knew there would be no one to witness his plea for help. “Armi, Armi.” Sweat poured down her face as the cloud circled around her. “It’s taking our baby again. Why is this happening to us again?”
He shook his head, spraying water over her. He gave up the futile call for help and looked around for something to plug the hole. Not finding anything, he tore off his shirt, exposing the dark furry chest she loved to run her fingers over. But not now. She moaned, watching him roll the shirt into a ball and stuff it into the opening. Too small, it dropped onto the plywood floor. Worry lines crossed his brow. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his arm. “I'm here for you Baby. What can I do?”
Cecile sobbed. “I don't know. He's coming. I can't stop him.”
Pains continued every three minutes through the night. Barely conscious from exhaustion and pain, Cecile sipped from the water bottle Armand held to her lips. The lack of air, screaming wind and constant bombardment of flying projectiles hitting the roof drove them into a near state of delirium. Transformers exploded not far away and a strange creaking sound strained against the storm.
Barely conscious, Cecile heard Armand’s prayer for God to spare their child. He knelt between her legs as she pushed their child through into the world. It was 10:56 a.m., Monday, August 29, 2005. They were in the eye of the storm.
So relieved to have the pain stop, at first she didn't notice the sudden eerie silence. She closed her eyes and let the pain ease from her body. The cloud around her dissipated. After her breathing returned to normal, she asked for her son.
“Don't CeCe. You don't want to see.”
“Please,” she whispered. “Let me hold him.” She saw the tears that streamed down his face. He was trying to stay strong for her, but she knew his heart was ripping in two. All those dreams he talked about —of tossing a ball with his son, teaching him to fish, sharing “guy” stuff, dissolved in his tears. “No, no, no.” Cecile clutched their third stillborn child to her chest. “Did you see it? It took our baby again. It’s my fault. I’m so sorry. It’s the curse.” The Gris-Gris made by her grandmother did nothing to protect her. Cecile knew they wouldn’t. The curse was too strong.
Defeated, he stroked her damp forehead. “No CeCe. There is no curse. It’s not your fault.”
When the back side of the storm hit, she expected the house to collapse. They lay on the thin blankets on plywood floors, their child swaddled between them in a beach towel. If the curse took her too, she was resigned to it. She prayed Armand would be spared.
By morning, the house was still standing and the storm had passed, but the danger had not. With bare hands and the small hammer, Armand ripped at roof shingles and studs until he had a large enough opening to fit his entire body.
For as far as he could see, there was nothing but rooftops and devastation. Along with trees and street signs, bodies of small animals floated by along with bits and pieces of people's lives; a wooden cane, a curly haired doll, a soccer ball.
Armand shouted until his voice gave out. Silence loomed as deafening as the roaring Katrina. He flipped on the radio. It told of total devastation. Levees had given way and over ninety percent of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish were under ten to twenty feet of snake infested water. He made a flag out of his shirt, tied by its arms to the end of a broom handle and affixed it to the chimney with bungee cords found in college boxes. Cecile moved in and out of consciousness, calling for Armand and her Mama and mumbling about the curse.
Armand sat on the roof in a hundred degree heat, his back blistered by the sun, waiting for someone to find them. Where was everybody? Why were there no rescue boats? Once, he spotted a helicopter fly over. It flew off into the distance as he stood, waving his hands and shouting for help.
Cockroaches came next, in swarms, swooping in through every hole and crevice, landing on any surface, arms, faces, into their hair. He watched Cecile fight to keep them off the bundle she hugged close to her chest.
By Wednesday, Armand forced the last swallow of water down Cecile's throat. All of the food was gone as well. He gagged on the overpowering stench emitting from the rigid bundle Cecile rocked in her arms.
Finally, two men appeared in a small flat-bottomed fishing trawler. On the roof, Armand waved them toward him. “Help, please. My wife is inside.”
The men threw him a rope and tied up. Armand gently took the bundle from Cecile’s arms and helped her through the hole and into the boat, promising that he would hand the infant back the second she was settled.
Bloated animal carcasses floated by. The men didn't even ask what the atrocious smell was coming from the beach towel. The boat owner agreed to take them to St. Bernard Parish Hospital. It was also under water, but rescue helicopters were expected soon. That turned out to be an inaccurate time line.
They weaved through flotsam and around snakes knotted together hanging from low-hanging tree branches. Cecile spotted a little dog paddling furiously, his eyes bulging with fear. Twice he slipped under the water, unable to find a foot hold.
“Help him.” Cecile cried. “You can't let him drown.”
“There's no room for him in the boat, and no place at the hospital,” said the boatman. He looked numb.
Cecile screamed with all her strength. “No, NO, HELP HIM! Armi, please, you can't let him die too.”
At that, Armand jumped into the black, rancid water and swam toward the little dog. At least he could save someone. He grabbed the pup by the scruff of the neck and hauled him back to the boat. Tossing the canine over the side of the boat, Armand clung to the hull. “He can have my space.”
“Oh for Christ sake. Get in the boat before you get bit by a copperhead and we have to save your ass . . . again!” The man pulled on Armand's belt and heaved him over the side, nearly capsizing the small vessel.
The trembling little dog curled up beside Cecile. “It's okay Neptune, your safe now.” Cecile purred.
“Neptune?” Armand lifted an eyebrow.
“Because you pulled him from the sea.”
They arrived at the hospital and Armand was surprised to find Cecile's OBGYN tending to patients on the roof of Saint Bernard Hospital. The doctor briefly examined Cecile, shaking his head. He sedated her before prying the child from her arms. He spoke quietly to Armand, who strained to hear over the white noise rushing around in his head.
“Armand, that's three stillbirths,” the doctor said. “The drastic drop in barometric pressure caused women all over the area into premature labor. He was too young. If he would have had a few more weeks . . . and Cecile's body is weak. Next time you'll lose her too. There can't be any more babies.”
Armand reached inside the bundle and stroked the tiny cheek of his son one last time before handing him to the staff. The body would stay with the other corpses at the flooded hospital to be retrieved later. He knew the doctor was right. This had to be their last child.
Cecile mumbled incoherently, “The potion, drink the potion.”
“What’s she babbling about?” Armand asked the doctor.
“You need to talk to Cecile about that when she’s stronger.” said Dr. Teekell.
“If you know something . . .”
Dr. Teekeel shook his head. “HEPA laws. It’s past history and irrelevant to what’s happening today. It can wait until she can speak for herself.”Add a Comment
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