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1. NaNoWriMo - Do You Love It Or Hate It?

Those of you who follow my blog will know that this year has been a little patchy for me so I thought a good way of giving myself a kick up my creative backside was by taking part in NaNoWriMo - yes, I really thought that writing 50,000 words in one month would be a good idea... Emma from NaNoEssex asked me to write a post for her blog and I thought it would be nice to share with you.  So here we go - this is my NaNo blog, I hope you enjoy it!


NANOWRIMO – DO YOU LOVE IT OR HATE IT?

A couple of days ago an author friend of mine wrote this simple statement on Facebook: “I don’t understand NaNo”.  He just threw it out there and I read the comments first with interest and then with an open mouth because I couldn’t believe the ferocity of feeling it generated – it appears that you either love NaNo or you hate it, there’s no middle ground.  None at all.  Nada.  Nothing.  And there was me thinking authors were a balanced bunch who could see other people’s point of view.  Tsk.  Silly me.

The comment which surprised me the most was this from an indie author:  “I always think if you can write that much, just do it all the time.  Plus a lot of people turn out garbage to keep up the word count. Just my opinion, but I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous?!  At least with Marmite if people say they don’t like it then the chances are they’ve tried it.  How can anyone say it’s ridiculous without ever having tried it?  My hackles were raised I have to say, so I feel I have to stand up and explain to the doubters why NaNo is not ridiculous and, in the process, also explain why it’s not always possible to ‘just do it all the time’.  In a balanced way of course.

I happen to love Marmite and I love NaNo (although there are times when I’m struggling I could cheerfully smack the creator of NaNoWriMo with a large wooden spoon for having devised such a torturous event…).   My good friend Stuart Wakefield introduced me to NaNo in 2010.  From that one small initial NaNo meeting in Nero we met Brigit and Jane and the four of us started Writebulb, a writing group, in Chelmsford.  Our very first speaker was Penelope Fletcher, a young indie author, who spoke to us about self-publishing.  Heavens above, what a revelation that was!  As Penelope talked I just knew it was something I wanted to do and as soon as I left the meeting I started self-publishing – me, who barely knew what a Kindle was!  Here I am four years later – over 190,000 of my books have been downloaded and I’ve loved every step of the journey.  Yes, that meeting in Nero’s four years ago was a catalyst like no other!  Way to go Nano.

There is another reason why I like NaNo so much, but it’s more personal. This year has been very been busy and sometimes difficult.  I’ve moved house, leaving the home I’d lived in for 24 years, into a house that needs a lot of work done to it.  In addition, my father’s Alzheimers has deteriorated rapidly; he still lives in his own home but I am responsible for him and most evenings after work (I commute to London) I go and check on him and see how he is.  I’ve tried to write, to keep up on social media but have failed miserably throughout the year – by the time I get home, unpack yet another box or paint (or even knock down) another wall, go to help my dad find whatever he’s lost, and then have some supper I’m usually too tired to do anything other than go to bed!  When Emma contacted me to see if I would contribute to the blog it was like a ray of light shining through the dark (thank you Emma!) but then I thought hold on, I’d better sign up to NaNo if I’m going to write about it and immediately I did that panic set in.  How would I cope?  When would I find the time?  Would stress finally overwhelm me?  Nuhuh.  Not one bit.  The only feeling that’s overwhelming me is that I’m finally back doing something I love.  I’m not stressed by trying to write 50,000 words because if I don’t make it the target, I don’t make it.  That feeling of creating something has made me feel happy.  Simple.  

So – do you love NaNo or do you hate it?

If you still think you hate it then I’d ask you read this blog again because what I’m saying in a nutshell is that NaNo will give you the opportunity to go on a journey, to meet interesting people, to find support and encouragement, to learn new things, to spark that creative fire inside you and to give you a sense of achievement.  It’s pretty damn good stuff.

If you already love it then hold fast – you’re now just over half way through and we will all celebrate together when it’s over.  I’ll bring the toast and Marmite!  Good luck everyone J

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2. Photos from last weekend's events in NYC—Chris Van Allsburg & E.B. White

Last weekend was just a stellar one! I'm still wrapping my mind around it.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Van Allsburg at the 92nd St Y. When the invite came in, I was already scheduled to be in California on that Friday to speak at the California School Nutrition Association's Conference. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to moderate a conversation with one of my literary heroes—and at such an iconic location, too! I flew a red-eye and made it to NYC on time. After only five hours of sleep on the plane, I managed to lead and nagging conversation on Mr. Van Allsburg's life and work. Here is a photo taken by the very talented Mike Curato:



The conversation was recorded and it will be published on the 92nd St Y podcast. More info as soon as I have it! (Spoiler alert: it got a little emotional at the end for everyone.)


On Sunday, I was at another iconic NYC venue—Symphony Space on Broadway. I hosted a fundraiser for First Book—Manhattan. It's an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Celebrated actors read the works of E.B. White, and it was...terrific! Not only did I host, but I also read the part of Wilbur. Was it intimidating to read alongside such giant talents? Well, when I first met everyone, it was during rehearsal. Imagine the shell shock of seeing Jane Curtin, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Potts, Naomi Watts and Live Schrieber walk onto stage with you? But they quickly put me at ease. David Hyde Pierce hit me on the shoulder, chuckled and said, "That was great!" after I read my first line. By the time the performance came along, all in trepidation had vanished, and I had a blast. The audio was recorded, and hopefully you will get to hear the inspired performances!





Check out more photos on Symphony Space's Facebook page here!

Here are a few of my favorite moments form the show:


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3. Characters are Key

Your book might have the best hook in the world, but it won't be published without well-written characters.

http://taralazar.com/2014/11/06/piboidmo-day-6-sudipta-bardhan-quallen/

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4. Sublime Canova - Revival of the Famed Sculptor in Venice

George Washington by Antonio Canova
(Venice, Italy) I was astonished to learn that Antonio Canova, the renowned sculptor from the Veneto, had been commissioned to create a sculpture of George Washington by the North Carolina General Assembly back in 1816 for their State House when the Carolinians were feeling euphoric after the War of 1812. Thomas Jefferson himself urged that Canova, whom he considered the greatest sculptor in the world, create the neoclassical statue, which was brought to the United States on a war vessel, and arrived in Raleigh on December 24, 1821. Canova's depiction of Washington as an enlightened Roman general became "the pride and glory" of North Carolina, attracting visitors from near and far to their state capitol, including Washington's close friend, Lafayette.

Canova had never met George Washington, so he was sent a bust and a full-length portrait; the portrait never arrived, so Washington's body was left to Canova's imagination. Canova's instructions were that the style should be Roman, the size somewhat larger than life, and the attitude to be left to the artist. According to North Carolina Digital History, Countess Albrizzi described the statue in "The Works of Antonio Canova:"

If to this great man a worthy cause was not wanting, or the means of acquiring the truest and most lasting glory, neither has he been less fortunate after death, when, by the genius of so sublime an artist, he appears again among his admiring countrymen in this dear and venerated form; not as a soldier, though not inferior to the greatest generals, but in his loftier and more benevolent character of the virtuous citizen and enlightened lawgiver.

Unfortunately, the original statue was destroyed in a fire in the State House on June 21, 1831. North Carolina tried to replace it, to no avail. Then, in 1908, it was discovered that the original plaster model that Canova used to create the Cararra marble statue was in excellent condition in the Museum and Gipsoteca Antonio Canova in Canova's hometown of Possagno, a village in the former Republic of Venice, not far from Asolo in the foothills of the Venetian Alps. Diplomatic inquiries were made to see if a copy could be made from the original cast. On March 5, 1908, the Mayor of Possagno replied:

As a special favor, and making an exception to the rule 
that forbids the reproduction, the Administration of this
town has decided to permit the copy of the statue of
George Washington by Canova, of which a very fine
original model exists in this museum. Such concession has
been made with a view to paying a tribute of homage to
the great man who was the first President of the United
States, and to increase the admiration for the genius of
the celebrated artist who is a glory to our country. 

The Italian government itself then got involved, and decided that the King of Italy would present the replica to the North Carolina Historical Commission as a gift.  The replica of the original cast arrived in Raleigh in January, 1910, almost 100 years after the General Assembly decided to commission a statue of the Father of our Country. But it was not until 1970 that a marble replica by the Italian artist Romano Vio was completed, which is what stands in the rotunda of the capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina today.

Replica of Canova's George Washington statue by Romano Vio
An interesting historical note: when the statue was first commissioned back in 1821, the Veneto was part of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, a separate part of the Austrian Empire. However, Canova was then based in Rome, which was part of the Kingdom of Italy. Napoleon had conquered the Veneto in 1805-1806 and made it part of the Kingdom of Italy. But the Veneto refused to live under French-Italian rule, and revolted. The Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 gave the Veneto to the Austrian Empire. Venice then revolted against Austria in 1848, briefly establishing the Republic of San Marco until it surrendered to the Austrian Empire after 17 months. Finally, after the battle of Vittorio Veneto in 1918 during World War I, the Veneto became part of the Kingdom of Italy. So, there was a lot of diplomacy required to get the statue in the first place, and then again to acquire the plaster cast almost a century later.

I called the Museum and Gipsoteca Antonio Canova to see if the original model is still there. I spoke to Giancarlo Cunial of the Fondazione Canova, and he assured me that not only was the original model there, they also had three smaller plaster molds that Canova had created, one of which was George Washington in the nude! Mr. Cunial informed me that although Canova had created the Washington statue while in Rome, the original models were now in Possagno, and since the marble statues were created from the original models, what they had in their museum was most precious of all.


Which brings us to SUBLIME CANOVA, a work in progress. On November 18, 2014, there was a press conference at the Museo Correr to announce the collaboration between the Civic Museums of Venice Foundation, the Venice Foundation, the American Friends of Venice Foundation and the French Committee to Safeguard Venice to shine the spotlight on Antonio Canova, considered to be the greatest neoclassical European artist who ever lived. SUBLIME CANOVA is part of an overall project to transform the Correr Museum in Piazza San Marco into the Great Correr. The works of Canova will be restored, and the rooms of the museum arranged to highlight the celebrated sculptor from the Veneto, who died in Venice in 1822, just shy of his 65th birthday.

Daedulus and Icarus by Canova (1779)
The Comité Français pour la Savegarde de Venise has been around for years; they are responsible for restoring the Salla da Ballo inside the Correr, and the fine restoration of the apartments of my favorite empress, the feisty Elisbeth "Sissi"of Austria, who lived here in Venice when it was under Austrian rule -- as well as many other projects. And the prestigious Venice International Foundation was founded way back in 1966, after Venice's great flood, and is responsible for the restoration and preservation of a long list of works. It is headed by the universally-respected Franca Coin, who was here on behalf of the organization. But I was not aware of the American Friends of Venice, which is new, founded in 2012, and is the New York base of the Venice International Foundation. According to their website, their mission is:

Friends of Venice Italy is a non-profit organization that operates to raise funds for Venice. Founded in 2012, it selects and supports some of the charitable activities proposed by The Venice International Foundation, with particular reference to the Civic Museums Foundation of Venice in its work to preserve and enhance the art of Venice and its cultural heritage. As stated in a declaration signed by the president of the Civic Museums Foundation of Venice, Friends of Venice Italy is in charge of representing and promoting its cultural activities in the United States of America.
Friends of Venice Italy aims to preserve and enhance Venice’s identity, respecting the social and environmental sustainability of the city in order to guarantee the link between past present and future, to promote cultural exchanges, to communicate and share ideas and knowledge, to offer new opportunities for research and cultural production, and to attract new talent and resources.


After learning about Canova's statue of George Washington, it is fitting that the American Friends of Venice focus their efforts on SUBLIME CANOVA. They've got some distinguished people on the Advisory Committee, including Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Bobby Kennedy's oldest daughter and JFK's niece, which makes the project an interesting circle between the Veneto, France and the US. 

Psyché Revived by Cupid's Kiss by Canova
Antonio Canova's work is in nearly every important museum on the planet, from the Louvre to the Hermitage, the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Kunsthistorisches. Even though he was based in Rome, Canova's heart remained in the Veneto; he returned every year to his beloved village of Possagno. He died in Venice in 1822. He is buried in the Temple of Canova in Possagno, but his heart, literally, is here in Venice, in the monument based on the design Canova created for the great Venetian artist, Titian, inside the Frari.

Canova Monument - Frari 
The original plaster model for the Washington statue which is preserved in the Gipsoteca Canova in Possagno bears this inscription:

"Giorgio Washington al Popolo degli Stati Uniti 1796: Amici e concittadini…" which translates to "George Washington to the People of the United States 1796: Friends and fellow citizens…"

Apparently that inscription was not on the marble statue that arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina on Christmas Eve December 24, 1821. I wonder what George Washington would say to the People of the  United States of America today.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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5. The Sound of Steam

It’s cold outside, but from a dream
I wake up to the sound of steam.
The room is toasty, opportune
For staying in my snug cocoon.

The gentle hiss as background noise
My half-asleep self quite enjoys,
A remnant of when I was small,
My brothers sleeping down the hall.

To make the coming day seem rosy,
There is nothing near as cozy
As that warming welcome hiss,
Deceiving us that naught’s amiss.

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6. Book Review: "Graphic LA" by Robh Ruppel

At CTN Animation Expo I bought a copy of Robh Ruppel's new art book Graphic L.A., and want to share it with you.

Robh is one of those rare artists whose work spans imaginative and observational painting. He has worked as a designer for video games and films, and has taught at Art Center. He has also been a leader in digital plein-air painting.

While the book contains some landscapes, the bulk of the images are urban scenes. What I like most about his work is his ability to find beauty in commonplace scenes.

The book includes a mix of finished paintings, thumbnail sketches and step-by-step sequences. The sketches are in tone, most often in marker, while the colored finished paintings appear to be all digital.  

The sense of color and light in many of the painting is extremely evocative. 

Accompanying the images are helpful chunks of advice, such as "Reduce, refine, interpret." 
Before he commences a painting, he always explores the possibilities of the subject in two or three tones. "Good value design," he says, "is the clear simple arrangement of a few tones."

He says, "Searching out the composition should take as long as rendering the image. Ultimately, the staging is what tells the story."

The book is 144 pages, about 8x8 inches.
Book: Graphic L.A. by Robh Ruppel

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7. A Few Sketches From CTN


I'm at CTNx right now in Burbank and what a weekend! Aside from total retina melt down from seeing so many of my hero's artwork and hanging out with legends in the business I got to co-teach a class with Jake Parker for SVS - How to get a traditional look in your digital work.  It's so important to hide some or all of your process. Your "paint alchemy" fosters curiosity and intrigue...being multi faceted keeps your audience tuned in and guessing.

I watched a bunch of panel discussions and talks by animation pros - the Reel FX team that produced THE BOOK OF LIFE was the highlight for me - what a charismatic group! Great movie too! Here are some of my doodles...can't wait for next year!



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8. 2015 Challenges: Newbery Reading Challenge

Host: Smiling Shelves
Name: Newbery Reading Challenge 2015 (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books Points:   30 to 44 points (Spinelli) 3 points for each Newbery winner, 2 points for each Newbery Honor Book (So 30 points could be reached by 10 Newbery books, for example, or 15 Newbery Honor books)

Newbery Winners Read in 2015:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

Newbery Honor Books Read in 2015:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. BilBOlbul Newsletter


 
NEWSLETTER 23/11/2014
  
 
 
BILBOLBUL 2014
 
Perchè non passare la domenica mattina visitando le mostre dei nuovi artisti presenti a BilBOlbul? Anche quest’anno il festival ha deciso di sostenere il loro lavoro: vincitrice del premio Coop for Words 2014, Serena Schinaia allestisce a Ram Hotel Deriva. All’Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna è aperta invece la mostra Prime Visioni dedicata a quattro giovani autori e ai suoi lavori tratti dalle tesi di laurea: Vincenzo Bizzarri, Lorenzo De Luca, Elena Guidolin e Mattia Moro.

 
 
BILBOLZINE
 
Domenica 23 novembre dalle 14,30 alle 19, la piazza coperta di SalaBorsa si trasforma in BilBOlZine.

Un mercatino dove si potranno acquistare alcune autoproduzioni selezionate e legate agli artisti, italiani e internazionali, invitati al festival: L’Employé du Moi, Icinori, Oily Comics, Yellow Zine, Papier Gaché, Josephin Ritschel, Teiera.
 
 
ANNA E FROGA
 
Domenica 23 novembre alle 17 inaugura con una merenda alla Cineteca di Bologna la mostra Anna e Froga di Anouk Ricard.

L'autrice mette in scena le piccole cose del mondo dei bambini, calandosi perfettamente nelle loro passioni, nella noia da cui nascono le più incredibili scoperte, nei problemi giganteschi di cui la vita di chi è piccolo è costellata, attraverso le avventure di una bambina e una rana e dei loro amici,

Clicca qui per saperne di più.
 
 
DEFLORIAN DELUXE
 
Domenica 23 novembre alle 19.30 Anna Deflorian inaugura la mostra Deflorian Deluxe, progetto ad hoc di stanza a tema per l'hotel Al Cappello Rosso..

Clicca qui per maggiori informazioni.



 
 
BILBOLBUL CLOSING PARTY
 
Domenica 23 novembre, siete tutti invitati ad AtelierSi, per la festa finale di BBB14!
Alle 22, si aprirà l'asta degli originali donati a BilBOlbul dagli artisti ospiti, tra i quali le opere realizzate da Manuele Fior e Stefano Ricci durante la performance Il Battello Brillo che si è tenuta venerdì 21 presso AtelierSi.
Il ricavato andrà a sostegno del festival.

A partire dalle 23, musica a cura di Bologna Calibro 7 Pollici,100% original black music da vinile
 
 
MONARCH: REPLICA ANNULLATA
 
Ci spiace dover comunicare che la replica di Monarch di AkaB, prevista per il 28 e 29 novembre presso Maison22, è annullata.






 
 
BilBOlbul Festival internazionale di fumetto fa parte della
Rete dei Festival del Contemporaneo di Bologna

Future Film Festival: 1 > 6 aprile 2014 - futurefilmfestival.org :: Live Arts Week: 8 > 13 aprile 2014 - liveartsweek.it :: Angelica- Festival Internazionale di musica: 2 > 31 maggio 2014 - aaa-angelica.com :: Biografilm: 6 > 16 giugno 2014 - biografilm.it :: Gender Bender: 25 ottobre > 1 novembre 2014 www.genderbender.it :: BilBOlBul: 20 > 23 novembre 2014 - bilbolbulnet

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10. I Could Have Been At Home Watching The Rugby!

 
 So, I got up, tidy myself and packed up all the books ready to get the bus to the event.  Miserable and depressed.  But the bus was running on time and the rain stopped.

YAY! It might just turn out to be a good day after all.

I turned up at just after 0900 hours and walking from the bus stop approached the hotel.  Immediately obvious was that there was absolutely no indication that there was an event on let alone an "International Book Fair and Comic Expo" -and no "meet-and-greeters" as you usually get at these events -in the past there have been people standing in the foyer waiting to point you in the right direction with a cheery "hello".

I looked around.  Nothing.  I approached the very polite and smiling receptionists who were more than happy to give me directions to the event.

So I got into the lift and headed for the fifth floor.  I kept thinking "Chandeliers! Chandeliers!"

Why was I thinking that?  Well, regular CBOers will remember that for one of the last good (well signed) Expos held in the Mercure, the Small Press Expo got a big room with chandelier style lights.  Never thought I'd see the SP in a fancy room.  So I was hoping that it was the same room.  It was.


And there was no one I recognised. Would this be a repeat of my disasterous Comics and Small Press event in October?  No. I said "Hello" to the two young guys from Bath on the table next to me.  Hands were shaken a few jokes spouted and that was it. So I set up the table -more books than space and walked around and there were a few more "hellos" -later from Simon Wyatt, Jason Cardy, Steve Tanner -and a lot of Welsh attendees.

With no exhibitor badges -just a coloured plastic sticker- it would have been hard to know who a good few of the people were....had I not done what I usually do: check all the exhibitors/guests blogs and websites during the week so I knew who was where and did what.

Wow. I thought "This should be good" but wanted to check the place out.

Had a nice chat with one of the hotel staff in the foyer and asked about signs for the event?  I was told "I think that is up to the organisers."  Fair enough.  Went for a quick look outside to return to the event and prepare for the thronging masses.

I found a rather worrying brown envelope on my table and the only words written on it were "Terry Hooper".  Breaking into a cold sweat I got a "How do you fancy a trip to East Germany?" flash-back. I could have swooned when I found that it was two books from Time Bomb Comics' Steve Tanner!



 THAT banner was just too scarily predicting what was to unfold.
 
Decided to double-check the table (as my old teacher drummed into us:"Never enter a room without knowing that you CAN exit it alive!") and then off to relieve Bladderking.  On my return I found a rather up-tight former hipster wannanbe who really should have pulled to the curb and taken a polaroid.  Yes, Darron Ralph Maffaking Hildegarde Northall had arrived.


Northall: "Just how come you got a red sticker and I got a yellow one, hey?  What's that supposed to mean -I'm inferior to you, hey? Hey??!!"    Once I explained that it was either a yellow sticker or walk around in his underpants all day he calmed down.

Oh! Funny story....well, more like embarassing really.  The young lady who came up to me and put the sticker on my shirt to show I was an exhibitor (the organisers knew me and I was standing there with a name tag and Black Tower logo behind an exhibitor table....meh).  I said -you'll have hysterics here- "Does that mean if I'm seen without the sticker I get tackled and thrown out by security?"  Young lady: "That would be me"   Now, she was wearing a red sweater.  She was security (!) so I reposted: "Red security sweater. Wow. Hopw brave!" (I was making a Star Trek reference there, right?)  I got THE blankest look in return.  "It's a Star Trek reference -security man in red sweater always gets killed?"  There was not the slightest breeze but the tumble weeds that rolled by.  A "Oh right." and that was it.


 Morning at the expo....don't be fooled -all these people are exhibitors!

Anyhow, the rakish Northall asked where the various events were and talks.  Nothing was well sign-posted and let me tell you even reviews from businessmen refer to how confusing the corridors are in the hotel -at one expo I ended up with three frightened expoers in a lift in the basement. I think my maniacal laugh when the lift doors opened revealing the basement might have unnerved them.

 Note to self: Do not wear a side cash pouch and camera pouch under you top because you like like a pregnant ferschlugginer!  And, yes, that little red square above the t-shirt log IS my event 'ID'!

Below: Ahh, the view.  Windows are sealed to prevent expo exhibitors jumping...well, me in particular!
Well, this was an "International Book Fair and Comic Expo" but there was one guest from the US(?) who I had never heard of before and he and his friend were sat behind a table away from everyone else looking very bored and not getting much attention.  I really felt sorry for him.   That was it.

 Afternoon: Hello! It's kicking off -two kids and their dad!  No, those other people are still the exhibitors.


 From the Black Tower table.  Yes, quite a few empty tables.  And those folk in the background are, again, exhibitors -we could all get up, walk around and talk and be confident that no one would be at our tables. This really was very, very depressing.

Below: Northall -"Okay take a photo and I'll smile just this once 'for the team'!"
 A quick re-arranging of the table just to keep us busy. Oddly, people would stop for a second or so and not even engage in conversation but walk off.  But I'll put that in perspective by saying I counted ten or twelve people who came into the room and most seemed to know people there.

From what I could see Paul Grist was not doing a great deal....

Damn that banner again -just wiping my face in it!


 Damn my camera for malfunctioning again.  I only got this one of Steve Tanner at the Time Bomb Comics table.  Okay, he at least sold something but he had driven all the way from Birmingham and been stung by the hotel parking fee of £12.50!  "What?!" you may be shouting.  I did.  An exhibitor at an event at the hotel had to pay £12.50 to PARK a car there.

That was just plain disgusting. I wonder how many people attending conferences at the hotel pay full whack to park their car?  That alone would make me never ever recommend the Mercure Holland to anyone as a conference or event venue.



 Steve is a very nice man who works hard to promote and sell his books.  Okay, so do I BUT he had travelled all the way to Bristol and had to drive all that way back.  He explains that he never has high expectations so if it isn't a good day well you can't be disappointed.

Still, as I explained to someone yesterday evening, being stung to park at an event and then really just sit about or chinwag was really bad.



Plenty of stand-up signage outside the hotel.  Usually you see signs placed out by the pavement for events.

Now, you might ask why this event was not attended by any international publishers?  I purchased a lot of books because I planned professionally for a big event.  Northall's constant "You've got too much stuff! Too many books!" was annoying but he would be right if I was the sort of person who was a dilettante.  Small Press event or a big event I treat it professionally.  I take stock so that people do not just see horror comics or super hero or whatever.

I am just glad that lulu.com somehow fouled up my order for the four prose books which would have cost me over £150.00.  I was mad that I never had the books for the event but had I then I would have been Hulking out!

WHY was there no exterior signs pointing out that an "international book fair and comic expo" was being held?  According to the organisers the hotel said there could be but then told them they could not.  If this is true then I suggest the organisers contact the company running the hotel and demand a partial refund. 


Read this from the Hotel website:


"Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel & Spa is a luxury hotel situated in Bristol's city centre. This stylish hotel blends sophisticated meeting and conference facilities with 275 spacious bedrooms, the chic Phoenix restaurant and bar, 14 beauty treatment rooms and fitness suite with a 14m pool.

A focal point for events and business meetings in the city, Mercure Holland House provides state-of-the-art conference and banqueting facilities. The 12 luxurious suites have the flexibility to comfortably cater for intimate meetings of eight or conferences of up to 220 delegates with the added bonus of a dedicated lounge and break-out area.

Through the hotel’s Meet with Mercure offer, all delegate packages include free Wi-Fi and LCD projector plus inclusive refreshments from mid-morning breaks to afternoon tea.

The hotel’s conference and events team is enthusiastic and professional, tailoring conference arrangements to the individual customer's needs, resulting in a superlative service in luxurious surroundings. Conference organisers can be assured that whatever the event, a conference or meeting suite is available to suit their needs. Enhanced by its central location and sheer style, the hotel is the obvious choice for high profile events."

Now, I pass this hotel almost every day and I have seen stand-up signs and pointer arrow signs for events outside it.  It is quite a common sight there and you find out a lot about what is going on in the City from these.  It makes no sense that the hotel which had signage for comic expos in the past should suddenly disallow any.

The bonus event publiciser has always been the cosplayers -Abe The Alien, Star Wars troopers and so on as well as people giving out flyers.  Nothing here.

A couple quick emails and I found out that none of the Bristol comic shops had been asked to put up a flyer -they have done with the old Comic Expo.  None were invited to take part in the event.  To which I can only respond ?!?!!

So the main publicity for the event -2-3 times a week for the last couple months has been CBO.  Nothing on other comic blogs (unless you can point me in the direction of one that did mention it?)

About three times everyone went quiet as a raffle or something else was shouted out by the organisers.  Please bear that in mind for a paragraph or so.

By 1430 hours (2.30pm to you lot) Northall was talking me out of committing suicide using the sharp edge of a Black Tower book ....I looked around and people were packing up!!   People were saying they were going by 1500 hrs.  The event started at 10:00 hours which was a mistake -Mid-day would have been better -still six hours to trade.

But there was no trade.

I think Steve Tanner packed up just after 15:00 hours but by 16:00 hours, with two hours still to go others were packing up.  If it had not been for the pally atmosphere it would have been more depressing. At just after 16:00 hrs I noticed the organisers had packed up and gone.  No announcement.  Nothing.  I tried to find them and asked one of the hotel staff "They've just gone" was the reply I received.

WHAT???????

As everyone else packed up and left I made sure that my table was still fully set up.  I'm not a comic dilettante and I paid for a table until 18:00 hours (6pm) and that was it.  But someone had turned the air-conditioning units from warm to cold.  Cold air was flowing quite happily.  A very old and cynical trick to clear a venue.

 I think it was after  17:00 hours (5pm) that I packed up and Northall and I left a deserted event room.

I was told "Oh, the organisers mum felt a bit unwell so they left".

Unfortunate but I have been involved in setting up events since the 1970s, from early computer events, business marts and even comic events. I have never ever heard of an organiser just leaving their exhibitors like idiots at an event.  An announcement that someone was ill? No problem -just tell exhibitors how to contact you in an emergency and you certainly HAVE to be there to see the event draws to a close and thank exhibitors for coming.

This was probably the worst organised event I have ever been to. No real publicity outside of a Face Book page and blog and CBO, of course.  NO "international book fair" -everyone I spoke to there were Small Pressers either using one Print On Demand company or another. And all the guests announced for the cancelled "Booked!" event that were supposed to be at this re-scheduled event?  None.

But then the most galling email ever from the organisers:

"Firstly may I say a big thank you to you all for the support you have given to this venture.  The room looked great and I thought the atmosphere was very friendly and pleasant. 
 
I can only apologise for the lack of support from the general public although the few that did attend really enjoyed their time there. However, I don’t know what more I could have done in advertising the event and felt that the hotel could have given a more prominent pointer to the fair.  That said I expect that as this event coincided with the big comic expo at Birmingham NEC that many of our likely customers were there instead of in Bristol" 
 
Let me just say that comic fans and people in Bristol have always -ALWAYS- been very supportive of comic events in the City.  It is why the Bristol Comic Expo used to be the "must go to event" of the year (see my announcement in the next posting).  To seriously write  "lack of support from the general public" and give that as an excuse and not expect a Bristolian to get very very angry..... 
 
THE PEOPLE AND COMIC FANS OF BRISTOL NEEDED TO KNOW THERE WAS AN EVENT IN ORDER FOR THEM TO SUPPORT IT!

This was basically a very poorly organised comic mart and not a big international book fair or comic expo.  Arts and craft, Small Pressers and a couple fellas selling comics.  

Back Cover Promotions failed to deliver the event promised.  Okay, first time events CAN be quite messy but this is the first one where I've heard exhibitors politely -and not so politely- state that they would never attend the event again.

There were months in which to contact bloggers, comic shops, arrange flyers to distribute -music shops in Bristol and gaming stores have been more than happy to do this in the past.

If you are an underdog then Bristol is the place to get support but if you blame your failure on Bristolians the hackles WILL rise.
 
From now on, when I book a ticket with events -who ALWAYS have tones of things you have to agree to- I am going to stipulate that if an event is badly organised or publicised resulting in something like this debacle, I at least get my table money back.

Next year I am seriously thinking and costing going to Steve Tanner's new Birmingham convention.  Today I am just tired and very annoyed.  The only thing that saved the day (and no sells so I'm down £400 this year) were the exhibitors who actually made me laugh and smile.

It was a VERY long day.

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11. Many Years Ago.....


....I wrote this in response to criticism about how I treated a publisher who was a crooked con man.  I actually did not realise that years later gangster Ronnie Kray used the same line.  It is very important that if you have dealings with me you understand this:

" I am a nice man with nice people.  But I am a bastard with bastards."

Comic creator, publisher, event organiser or otherwise: word.

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12. Evil Editor Classics



Guess the Plot

Soul Birds

1. Dulled by midlife failures, Homer and Bernice Byrd change their name and become a singing duo. They achieve unexpected fame and fortune, but in the end realize that they were happier when they were nobodies.

2. Each of us is accompanied, from birth to death, by a soul bird that sits on our shoulder, makes sarcastic cracks about us to all the other soul birds, and occasionally takes a crap on our Sunday best. That's about it, really.

3. Often seen as a bad racist joke, the crows from Dumbo have decided to make a comeback, and this time they're out for revenge. Known as the dreaded Soul Birds, this band of buddies will live up to their name as a murder of crows to regain their honor.

4. Okay, they aren't really birds, they're more like butterflies. People use them to send prayers to the gods. It's a pretty cool idea, but lately the system isn't working like it's supposed to, so as usual it's up to one unqualified female to step in and prevent an apocalyptic war.

5. When the dismembered body of former Laker Jeremiah Smitts is discovered in the speakers of his jazz club Soul Birds, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, cutting up a body that big had to leave a mess somewhere, and two, he'd better wear his Dwight Howard jersey if he wants them to beat the Trailblazers tomorrow night.

6. When people die, their souls enter the bodies of birds, where they can soar to the heavens. Except for people who've been bad; their souls enter flightless birds, like ostriches and penguins. That's the belief system that has evolved on Earth by the twenty-fourth century. The plot is basically the war between flightless birds and the humans who want to eradicate them.



Original Version

Dear EE,

When Adwen attempts to permeate the home of a waiting girl she is forced away and lands on the sidewalk, momentarily powerless. [For starters, it's not clear whether "she" is Adwen or the waiting girl. By which I mean it's clear you mean Adwen, but "she" should refer to the most recently mentioned female singular entity.] [Also, "waiting girl"? Is that a waitress? Or a lady-in-waiting? Or just a girl who's waiting for something? If the latter, is she waiting for Adwen? If not, what is she waiting for, and if that's irrelevant, why call her a waiting girl?]

Adwen is the Corpreal of physical love and fertility. [The what? I, like Google, assume you misspelled "corporeal." If you made up the word, I recommend not using it in the query. Even if it's inaccurate, use "embodiment" or "goddess" or capitalize a known word like Minister, Custodian, Big Enchilada.] It is her duty to enter the rooms and fantasies of Thea's youth to awaken their sexual desires. [Ah, to have lived in a land where, as a teenage boy, I could look forward to the night Adwen permeated my house and awakened my sexual desires. One question: is she more like Betty or Veronica?] The God of All Things made it so when first man looked at first woman with lust in his eyes and first woman responded with a blush and a smile [and a can of mace].

Confused and scared she rushes to the home of her keeper, Brula, a woman whose magical knowledge is centuries old. [Her keeper? Wait, is this place a zoo?]

Brula discovered a force that can compete with the God of All Things and someone is selling it to the humans. Brula thinks this new power is coming from The Fringe and Adwen should investigate. [Since when do Corpreals investigate anything? That's like if a powerful force were disrupting life as we know it on Earth, and we assigned the investigation to Kim Kardashian. Why doesn't the God of All Things send in a diplomat or a SEAL team or just make The Fringe evaporate? ]

The Fringe is a desolate place, devoid of magic. [Think Manitoba.] The people live there to escape the rule of the God of All Things and they don't welcome intruders, especially divine ones. Adwen's magic won't work and she won't be able to protect herself from their wrath. [So she has magical powers besides that of awakening sexual desires in youth?]

If Adwen chooses to go, she will be stripped of her powers but if she chooses not to, a war between humans and gods could erupt. [Are you declaring that if she chooses to go, the war won't erupt? Why is war any less likely to erupt if a powerless, unwelcome Corpreal enters The Fringe?] The God of All Things won't turn a blind eye to other forms of magic for long.

SOUL BIRDS is 80,000 words and is my first novel to see more then just the hard drive on my old laptop. [This one has seen the hard drive on my new laptop.] Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,


[Note from author to EE: The title comes from butterfly like creatures the gods and goddesses of Thea use to send messages to one another. When they land on someone the person is filled with a vision of the messenger. The soul birds are also used by humans to send prayers to the gods.]


Notes

Is this Fringe the same place as on the TV show, The Fringe?

Why would anyone suspect that the power great enough to compete with the God of All Things is coming from Manitoba?

What is Thea? A planet? Heaven? A place on Earth? These humans buying the powerful force: are they from Earth?

You spend so much time explaining what stuff like Corpreals and The Fringe are, there's not enough room to tell the story.

Your setup seems to be: When humans acquire power that can compete with the God of All Things, war seems inevitable. It's up to Adwen, the goddess of fertility, to find out how the humans are getting their power, and to prevent the war. But to do so, she'll have to enter the bleakest place on the planet, Manitoba, where no fertility goddess has ever been welcome. That leaves plenty of room to tell us what she discovers in Manitoba and what she plans to do about it, and who wants to stop her.


Selected Comments

BuffySquirrel said...So both girls and boys have their sexual desires awoken by a female embodiment of desire? And that seems reasonable to you?


Evil Editor said... It seems both reasonable and preferable to me.


TwiggyBUMPkins said...It almost seems to me like you are trying to write an excerpt (or several) from your book and cram as much information about the world as you can into it in the process. A query is not an excerpt, it is a description of the basics of the plot. The world itself is not necessarily important, though it does need to be clear whether this takes place in a fantasy land, on earth, or in the past/future. What a query needs to have is the plot laid out simply and in a way that makes the reader want to read more.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...In the penultimate sentence you want "than", not "then", but really you don't want that detail at all. Leave out anything not to your advantage.

The first sentence seems detached from the rest of the story and just adds to the confusion. And I'm feeling quite a bit of confusion. It wasn't till the third read-through that I realized Thea was a place, not a person. And is the God of All Things just plain God?

You're spending most of your time in this query trying to explain the rules of your world to us. I'd give that a sentence at most --if it can't be explained in a sentence leave it out-- and focus instead on your protagonist, what she wants to accomplish, and what obstacle prevents her from accomplishing it.


Kelsey said...As someone from Manitoba, touche! Just remember, we claim Neil Young.


khazar-khum said...Your author's note to EE sounds fascinating, a story I'd like to read. The confusing series of actions presented as a query are nowhere near as intriguing as that little blurb.


Jo Antareau said...The embodiment of desire sounds like she would have a pretty full diary, and possibly grateful for stumbling across one person whom she could not permeate. And I'm not quite sure what permeate means..

Start over. Read the query aloud. A few times.

BTW, all the GTPs featuring Zack Martinez make me smile. Does anybody have plans to give this guy his own book or series?


Evil Editor said...Some of the better Zack Martinez GTPs were collected in a post here: http://evileditor.blogspot.com/2009/08/zack-martinez-chronicles.html.

For longer Zack Martinez material, find your way in the archives to August 23, 2009 for 11 ZM stories, the result of a writing exercise.


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13. The Tattered Prayer Book by Ellen Bari, illustrated by Avi Katz

When young Ruthie finds a tattered prayer book in a box of old photographs marked Germany in her grandmother's house, she gets quite a surprise.  The prayer book in written in Hebrew and German and had apparently been burned.  Even more surprising - her grandmother tells Ruthie that the book came from Germany and it belongs to her father.

When Ruthie asks her dad about it, he tells her that he was born and lived a happy life in Hamburg with his family, and with lots of cousins and friends.  But, when the Nazis took over the government in 1933, all that changed.  Soon, Jews weren't allowed in restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, schools.  Old friends became instant bullies.

Then, in November 1938, Nazis began a night of destruction, Kristallnacht, destroying Jewish business and synagogues, setting them on fire.  When Ruthie's dad saw what was left of his synagogue, he also saw burnt prayer books all over.  He reached for one and hid it in his coat - a reminder of the place where he had once been so happy.

One day, while he and his father were in a shop, Nazis came down the road probably to arrest the men.  Ruthie's Grandpa slipped out the back door, while her dad ran home to tell his mother what happened.  Days later, Grandpa came back home and told his family he had to leave, sailing for America with his son Fred.

Every night, her dad opened his burnt, tattered prayer book and prayed.  Finally, in June 1939, visas arrived for Ruthie's dad, mother and brother Sid.  Other friends and family members were leaving Germany, too, for Argentina and Israel.  Others, sadly, had to remain in Germany.

On board the ship, after the Sabbath candles were lit, Ruthie's dad showed the prayer book to his mother, expecting her to be angry, but she wanted it to be a reminder of the good life they had had in Germany and a source of strength for the future.

Recalling what happened so long ago in his life in Germany, after making such an effort to forget it all, Ruthie's father realizes how important that burnt, tattered prayer book had been to him and how much what it symbolized is an important part of himself.

The burnt prayer book is a symbol of both the happy, good life Ruthie's dad and his family shared before the Nazis came to power, and at the same time, the terrible years that followed.

Often, when we talk about the Holocaust, it is about the mass roundups of Jews, the death camps they were sent to, and the attempt to systematically destroy an entire race of people.  But nothing happens in a vacuum and neither did the Holocaust.  Between the years 1933 and 1938, Jews were subject to all kinds of degrading treatment by Hitler's henchman in the SA and the SS, and by ordinary citizens who turned their backs on friends overnight.

In The Tattered Prayer Book, Ellen Bari has written an informative, but gentle picture book for older readers (age 7+) about those deplorable years in a way that kids will definitely understand.  It is an ideal book for parents who wish to introduce their children about the Holocaust themselves before they learn about it in school.  Teachers, however, will also find it to be an excellent book for teaching the Holocaust, as well.

The illustrations by Avi Katz are done in sepia-tones that are reminiscent of old photographs and burnt paper, again reflecting that balance of good and bad times that the prayer book represents.

This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was sent to me by the publisher

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14. Creative ways to think outside the box

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It’s easy to presume that your doodles, illustrations, paintings and creative thoughts should make their way straight to paper or canvas although just for a minute why not think outside the box.  Break the rules and do something creatively different that sets your doodles apart , not to abandon your sketchbook for to long but challenge yourself to something different. To help get you started heres just a few creative ways you can do that and truly think outside the box to show others just how creative you can be.

  • Remember that rather dull phone or tablet case you bought thats lacking a certain creative omph, well grab yourself some paint or a paint based marker and create your own custom case design.  Add your own style and choose your own theme to make a stylish creative case you’d want to show off and not hide.
  • Mugs are great because they often get filled with heart warming teas or beverages although a plain little old mug is some what sad and gloomy. However with some ceramic paint or markers you  could give it an unique handdrawn design of its own that is sure to make your tea breaks even better.
  • For fellow lovers of fabric the dream is no doubt to create your own and you can even without a huge fabric printer. With some acrylic paints and fabric medium you can paint your own designs onto calico, making reams of your own one of a kind design to embellish any type of project from home furnishings to wallart and more.
  • That little pair of converse you happen to have sitting in the hallway could use a splash of ink wouldn’t you say? Grab yourself some pens and markers ( ones that work well on canvas fabric and will not run) and create yourself a fashion piece that will set you apart from everyone else.

Image by artist  Jaco Haasbroek  you can find out more about their work here.

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15. Books for Teachers - Winners


I had such a great response to the drawing for books for teachers and school librarians, that I decided to draw TWO names.


(I don't know how to center this dang video....)





Winner #1: Janet Cimmino (I don't have your email address but will mail the books)

Winner #2: Betsy Murphy

I'll email y'all.

AND, I'm saving the other entries for a future drawing.

Thanks to everyone.

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16. Bristol Comic Expo No More

For those who attended Mike Allwood organised Bristol International Comic Expos you will know they were the events of the year.  Comic stars and personalities and fans flocked to them.

Fallen Agel Media took over the event and in the first year it nose-dived. Second year....very bad.  Well, I have been asked about 2015s event.

After the way I was treated I withdrew my support for the event clearly and publicly.  That writ, I have to announced that three traders who normally attended the event have been told there is no longer a Bristol Comic Expo.  I can seriously write that "For the first time since last century (!) there will be no Comic Expo in Bristol in May or any other month of 2015".

That is just sad.

But I never attended 2014s and had no plans for 2015 anyway.

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17. Where There's A Will (1940)

Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]

I always begin Nero Wolfe mysteries wanting to love them. I do love, love, love Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. And I have certainly loved plenty of them in the past. Some more than others, of course. But at the very least, the mysteries generally serve as entertainment or distraction. Where There's A Will is not one of my favorites.

Wolfe and Goodwin are in need of clients, wealthy clients preferably. That isn't exactly unexpected. They almost always are in need of clients according to Goodwin. The book opens with the two meeting a family--dysfunctional family, don't you know?! This high-status family is in mourning. Three sisters (and their lawyers) come to Wolfe upset about their brother's will. Each had been under the assumption that they'd be left a million dollars each. They'd been left nothing, or almost nothing. They were disappointed, perhaps a bit ashamed at how angry they were. But the very fact that their brother's mistress received so very, very much is infuriating. Especially since he was married. The widow is outraged. Will Nero Wolfe go about trying to persuade this mistress woman to share the inheritance? Before that case gets a proper chance to be taken up, there comes a great shock. The brother's death was no accident. Someone murdered him. Now someone else in the family comes to Wolfe and begs him to take the case and solve the murder.

Can Wolfe solve the murder? Will Goodwin reach the same conclusion as Wolfe--in the same amount of time?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Audiobook Review

Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Author: Robin Sloan Narrated by: Ari Fliakos Publisher: Macmillan Audio Publication Date: February 26, 2013 Listening copy via local library I know I'm not the first to call this a mash-up of Umberto Eco and Doug Coupland because that's exactly what Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is. It's a mystery about manuscripts and codes, it's a

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19. Challenge Completed: Vintage Mystery Bingo

Host: My Reader's Block (Sign-Up Post; Review Links)
Dates: January - December 2014
Requirements: Golden Card (mysteries published before 1960) Silver Card (mysteries published before 1989) I will be signing up for the GOLDEN CARD level.
Required Books: At least six (one bingo); two bingos encouraged (12 books)

First Bingo (Diagonal)

  1. Read One Book With a Color in the Title:  Red Mystery by A.A. Milne. 1922.  [August]
  2. Read One Book With A Number in the Title: Second Confession by Rex Stout. 1949. 
  3. Read One Book With An Amateur Detective: The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875
  4. Read One Book With A Professional Detective: In the Best Families by Rex Stout. 1950
  5. Read One Book Set in England: Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. 1948
  6. Read One Book Set in the U.S. And Be A Villain by Rex Stout. 1948.
Second Bingo (Bottom Row)
  1. Read One book Set in the Entertainment World: Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937 [October]
  2. Read One book With A Woman in the Title: Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey. 1946.
  3. Read One Book That Involves a Mode of Transportation: The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1953. [September]
  4. Read One Book Outside Your Comfort Zone: Brat Farrar. Josephine Tey. 1949 (because there are horses)
  5. Read One Book That You Have To Borrow Free Space: READ A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU'VE READ BEFORE : The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951 [August]
  6. Read One Another Book Set in the U.S.: Where There's A Will by Rex Stout (November)


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Breaking: ‘Lego Movie’ Wins Feature Film At BAFTA Children’s Awards

"The LEGO Movie," directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, picked up the feature film prize at the BAFTA Children's Awards.

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21. 2015 Challenges: 42 Challenge

Host: 42 Challenge
Name: 42 Challenge (sign up)
Dates: Officially January 1- December 31, 2015
# of "items": 42+

About the challenge: Review 42 sci-fi related items: short stories, novellas, novels, radio show episodes, television show episodes, movies, graphic novels, comic books, audio books, essays about science fiction, biographies about sci-fi authors, etc.

What I Read:

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What I Watch:

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© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. A CGI Makeover for Aardman’s Morph

Illustrator Stephen Collins in "The Guardian" imagines a CGI makeover for Aardman's clay character Morph.

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23. 5 Ways to Differentiate Assignments & Tasks: Part 2

Differentiated, or tiered, assignments provide students opportunities for individual understanding and growth in learning. differentiation part 2 copyActivities, projects, and tasks that educators create for their students can be used with flexible groups to address common learning needs.

Based on students’ diverse needs, educators differentiate by manipulating one or more of the following: content (what students learn), process (how students learn it), and product (what students create to demonstrate their learning).

Within those three domains, educators can differentiate based on challenge, complexity, resources, process, and product. We will tackle 5 ways to differentiate assignments using the Adventures Around the World series by Ted and Betsy Lewin.

Differentiate by Challenge Level:

We use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide to develop instructional tasks with differing degrees of challenging demands. Based on the rigor and complexity of what is being taught, we can design and categorize assignments using the following classifications from Bloom’s levels of higher thinking: recall, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Example: Top to Bottom: Down Undermain_toptobottom_cover

Recall: List the different types of wildlife that live in northern and southern Australia, and classify them as mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, or fish.

Understand: Identify and explain the adaptations of the platypus or echidna in their habitats.

Create: Design a new Australian animal incorporating the characteristics of two animal classifications (mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird, fish) and a written explanation supporting your reasons.

Differentiate by Complexity:

Increasing the complexity of an assigned task involves differentiating the content, or an introductory vs a more advanced activity focus. This involves strategically developing learning objectives and understanding what students should be able to do. Again, Bloom’s Taxonomy can help guide the development of least, more, and most complex tasks for your students.

In the following example, all of the students are required to write an informational essay, but the lens of their research differs in complexity.

Example: Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongoliamain_horsesong_pb_cover

Least complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia.

More complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and evaluate the pros and cons.

Most complex: Write an informational essay about the tradition of the Naadam horse racing in Mongolia and determine your opinion, presenting a convincing argument either for or against the horse races.

Differentiate by Resource:

Differentiating by resource should be approached with thoughtful consideration of students. This requires thinking about their reading strengths and needs, as well as students’ interest in and prior knowledge about a topic. Differentiating by resource may involve selecting supplementary reading materials, such as articles, magazines, and primary documents, and using visual aids, including videos, charts, and graphic organizers. Offering all students opportunities to engage with different resources and assigning age-appropriate materials to groups of students supports collaboration and inclusion of readers of all levels.

Example: Gorilla Walkmain_gorillawalk_cover

Lower-level readers: Provide supplementary informational texts or materials about the endangered mountain gorilla on a lower reading level, such as a pre-reading guide/outline for Gorilla Walk, an audio recording of Gorilla Walk to listen to as students read along, or a graphic organizer to record notes as students read.

Advanced readers: Provide challenging supplementary articles or texts about the endangered mountain gorilla or animal habituation and critical-thinking questions to answer as students read the text.

Differentiate by Process:

When students are expected to achieve similar outcomes, such as understanding new vocabulary words, teachers often differentiate assignments by how students will achieve expected learning objectives. Therefore, how students engage with the content involves considering how challenging and complex the process or strategy is for the student, as well as offering varying and supplementary resources.

Example: Elephant Questmain_elephantquest_cover

Vocabulary words: delta, protrude, submerge, matriarch, bounding, intent, emerge

  • Frayer Model: Students will use the Frayer model to: define the word in their own words, list essential characteristics of the word/concept, and provide both examples and nonexamples.
  • LINCS strategy: (on an index card)

L: List the word + definition

I: Identify a reminding word

N: Note a LINCing story

C: Create a LINCing picture

S: Self-test

Differentiate by Product:

When students are all provided with the same materials, educators may decide to differentiate the assignment by outcommain_pufflingpatrol_covere, or what students are expected to be able to do in order to demonstrate gained knowledge. Differentation by product is valuable in encouraging student success and practice in other areas of thinking and learning.

Example: Puffling Patrol

Visual/Spatial: Create an informational video advertisement persuading people to join the Puffling Patrol on the island of Heimaey.

Verbal/Linguistic: Create an informational brochure persuading people to join the Puffling Patrol on the island of Heimaey.

For further reading on differentiation:

  • 5 Harmful Differentiation Myths: Part 1
  • Heacox, D. (2012). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How to reach and teach all learners. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.

Veronica SchneiderVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources Tagged: Educators, ELA common core standards, literacy, teaching resources

0 Comments on 5 Ways to Differentiate Assignments & Tasks: Part 2 as of 11/23/2014 9:04:00 AM
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24. leeds thought bubble 2014: jampires comics jamtastic!

Last weekend, the Jampires were out in force at Thought Bubble comics festival, to spread Comics Jam over Leeds! Here's team Jampires' David O'Connell, Matt Badham, Molly Bruton and me:



So what distinguishes Comics Jam from, say, raspberry jam?


Badges designed by David O'Connell; Jampires jam by the Butch Institute

A little explanation (as seen in the Thought Bubble anthology):




Our Comics Jam session attracted fellow Jampires like, uh, bees to honey. (These were Phil Welch and Katie White, who stayed with us and blogged all the way through the 24-Hour Comic Marathon at Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, earlier in the autumn.)



We ran a Comics Jam competition, and here's the winning comic! It's by 13-year-old Jordan Vigay and 10-year-old Jonathan 'Jonny Toons'.




Congrats, guys! Here are Jordan and Jonathan drawing away at our activity area tables, buoyed up by jammie dodgers.



Actually, the competition was a close call. Their original Comics Jam was in black and white:



And was competing hard against this Comics Jam, which really zinged off the page with its colours.



So we struck a deal, that if Jordan and Jonathan promised to colour the comic right after the festival, they'd be the winners. (And they did, using a mix of digital and coloured pencils.) You can find out more about running Comics Jams at home (or in school!) over on the Jampires website.

So let's meet the creators: I filmed Jordan and Jonathan each giving a lesson on how to draw a character from the comics they self-publish. And you can get a glimpse of other kids getting involved with Thought Bubble:



If you're scrolling through this and can't see the video, here's the shot of Jordan and me with the Red Crow comic he publishes. (You can buy the latest issue, No.8, for £1.75 via his website.)



Issue 8 includes a Comics Jam that Jordan and I did at the end of my signing session in Page 45 bookshop's room at the Lakes festival.



Oh, and you may have noticed that Jordan dressed up! He's cosplaying as Captain Spaceington from James Turner's Star Cat (which is hugely funny and I recommend it for kids AND adults). Here's an interview with James on Comics Beat.



James was super-pleased to see his own cosplayer! Right behind him, you can see Liz Payton manning The Phoenix Comic table (a weekly comic which I also highly recommend).



And here's Jonny Toon's table! Not many 10-year-olds are on Twitter, but you can follow this one at @JonnyToons. (He's just tweeted the work-in-progress cover of his Christmas issue.)



I was very impressed with Jonathan's design skills for Crystal Orb...



...and the comics inside are funny and remarkably sophisticated for someone his age! Keep an eye on this guy, I think he may go far. It was great to see him teaming up with Jordan to draw stuff; they're a real power duo.





And of course, if you read the Guardian, Independent, Vogue, almost any newspaper, you'll have seen articles about Zoom Rockman, who's been making comics since he was 8. He's 14 now, and has a lot of issues under his belt. He sources local advertising and has been a real pioneer in kids self-publishing comics. Check out his website and you can follow him on Twitter as @The_ZoomComic



I love the Skanky Pigeon quill pens!



His younger brother, Ace Rockman, also loves to draw and drew up a storm at the activity tables. (Great hat, Ace!)



Here's a video Zoom made about how to make comics when he was much younger and still too shy to talk on camera.



And it was great to see the debut of TEAM KETCHUP with their comics anthology Issue No.1! They found local Yorkshire funding and the kids involved worked shifts at the table, selling their comic and badges and running their doodle area. If you have questions about how they did it, have a chat with coordinators @_Joolze, @Coldjenius and @beth_k_t.



And you can follow Team Ketchup collectively as @theteamketchup! Here's a recent tweet of their doodle wall:



One of the coolest thing about Thought Bubble is seeing parents and kids geeking out together about books, comics and artwork. It's such an awesome way to spend time with your kid and let them see that reading is fun, without turning it into a lesson. This family were a joy to watch, and that little Green Lantern Guardian went straight for the books and got stuck into them. Ha, one of the funny things about Thought Bubble was that my picture books sold much better than my chapter books. Usually it's the other way around at book festivals; people see Oliver and the Seawigs or Cakes in Space and prefer them to the picture books because they have more words and are therefore deemed more like 'proper books'. Whereas I'd see Thought Bubble people leaf through them, realise they didn't have quite as many pictures, and move on to the fully-illustrated picture books, with 'proper illustrations'. This crowd is a visual crowd, and they appreciate reading pictures as much as words. It's a wonderful place to be.



My Jampires co-author David O'Connell and I kept looking over and breaking into broad grins as we saw our teammate Matt Badham working his magic. He's SO GOOD at relating to people, I wish I could work with him full-time. He could talk to anyone, on their own level, and he made a lot of people feel very welcome. It was almost poetic. (And he also sold a heap-load of books. Matt could very easily lead courses for booksellers.)



Here's a look at the two activity tables we had in our area. We had four tables in total: one for display, one for talking with people, book signing, laying out drawing supplies, and two table with chairs around them for families (and anyone who fancied a sit-down) to gather and draw. Some people wanted to keep their drawings, but we hung a lot of them up on the backboards and had a flip-chart ready for people to draw on and other creators to come over and do drawing demonstrations.



Some people did Comics Jams with other people, but a lot of kids were happy just to draw comics on their own. We found they didn't actually want much adult intervention; most of them were familiar with comics and happy to be left alone to get on with making things.



There were LOTS of jammie dodgers. When we ran out, we gave Jordan and Jonathan money to go off to the Tesco and buy us more.



It was fun seeing people of all ages getting stuck in.



Some people were a bit young to draw comics, or just wanted to do something a bit more relaxing, and we had a sheet posted, showing them how to draw a Jampire.



I always love seeing the Jampire variations. (I hope someone someday writes a symphony called The Jampire Variations.)









Flip chart fun times:





(Who can even SPELL 'submarine'?)














Here's Jordan and his mum, running The Phoenix Comic tables for awhile, so Liz could run around and talk to people.



And look at the fabulous volunteers, in their matching Thought Bubble staff t-shirts! They're designed by partners Donya Todd and Jack Teagle. (I sat next to Jack and Donya for a full 24 hours to do our 24-hour comic, and they're both ace.) The lady in the middle was our main contact for the family activity area, Martha Julian, and she really worked with us to make the best possible space for everyone. Thanks so much, Martha and team!



Of all the comics festivals I've been to, Thought Bubble and Lakes have by far been the best organised, and you could really tell, the way everyone talked about them so positively afterward. They made creators feel welcome, and we didn't have to fight like cats to make sure we had all our backboards, and they went out of their way to get stuff for us, to make things work more smoothly. Having a team in matching t-shirts is really helpful, there's always someone in view that you can run over to and get some help. I also did some planning with Lisa Wood (shown here) and Clark Burscough. If you follow @ThoughtBubbleUK, that's Clark manning the Twitter feed.



Huge thanks from Dave and me, and team Jampires!



Another cool thing about Thought Bubble is that kids can meet their favourite creators milling about everywhere! Here's The Phoenix Comic's Matt Baxter at the activity table:



Hey, look, it's my studio mate Gary Northfield! Gary did some awesome drawings and little watercolour paintings at his table. Check out his family-friendly The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs and Gary's Garden comic books; they're ace. Gary's the guy who originally walked me through how to do workshops and went with me on my first library event.



Check it out, Glasgow-based Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy, creators of Corpse Talk! Lisa's done colourist work for Adam, Gary and lots of other people, and she's an important part of The Phoenix Comic team. I'd never really talked properly with her and Adam (other than fleeting festival chic-chat) but we had dinner together on our first night and really got to chat, which was one of my highlights of the whole trip.



Here's a look at their latest Phoenix cover. ZING!



And it's Neill Cameron and family! Neill's latest book, How to Make Awesome Comics is something I've been waiting a long time for; something I can recommend to kids who want to know more about making comics but are too young for the Scott McCloud books. Neill packs in loads of inspiring challenges and tips to get kids drawing and writing comics. And he's great at running workshops, too. In fact, Gary, the Murphys and Neill are all good at that, book 'em into your event diary, librarians, festival people, teachers, etc. His wife, Di Cameron, works at The Story Museum in Oxford, so they're a story-packed power team.



Neill and Adam had printed up their own Comics Jam for the festival, a humourous horror story called The Curse of Barry Starkey, which you can read about on Neill's website here.



Thought Bubble was so large this year that it filled three separate huge venues, all inside the big square at the Royal Armouries. The Jampires Comics Jamtastic area was in the Royal Armouries Hall, and there was a real effort to make that area the most kid-friendly place, including a special chill-out lounge for people with autism. In the middle of the square, the organisers erected a white marquis called 'The Teepee', a slightly misleading name because it was Enormous. A lot of the celeb signings were happening in there. And across the square was New Dock Hall, which has much higher ceilings, black walls and hosted more of the grown-up comics (although there was still a lot of family-friendly stuff there).

I first made a bee-line for Philippa Rice's table. I love Philippa's comics, and she always makes the most beautiful table displays. When I do talks about getting kids involved in comics festivals, I always show photos of Philippa's tables because I think I would have LOVED to have made dioramas and things like this as a kid. Check it out:



And a closer look. Those are real lights in there! So awesome.



Last year I came to Thought Bubble as a punter and had a great time going to events, browsing comics and talking with people at their tables. I'm quite tempted to do that again, one year at table, one year as punter, on and off. This year I hardly had any time to see anything, but the Jampires team let me off for half an hour to run around and see as much of the festival as I could. (Huge apologies if I didn't manage to say hello to you as I madly dashed about!) This book by Becky Palmer caught my eye, La Soupière Magique (The Magic Tureen?). Becky originally wrote it as The Biggest Helping but she couldn't find an English-language publisher, so she got it published in French instead, by SarBacane. You can see some pages of it here on her blog and it is GORGEOUS. It's quite startling to think that this is her very first comic book. Wow!



Hey look, it's Dan Berry, who ran our 24-Hour Comic Marathon! He makes fab comics and always uses hand gel. If you're not following him on Twitter, get on the case: @thingsbydan. And he also makes wonderful, professional-quality podcasts with my favourite comics creators for his programme Make It Then Tell Everybody. Check it out!



Here's Mhairi Stewart and friend manning the Roller Grrrls table she runs with Gary Erskine. There were table neighbours at the very first comic con I did by myself, and I was very clueless and they made me feel incredibly welcome. I love those guys.



And I'm a big fan of all three people here! That's Moshi Monsters' Nana Li, buying prints from North-Wales-based Jonathan Edwards (aka Jontofski) and Louise Evans (aka Felt Mistress).



Coffee time for Lizz Lunney, Joe Decie and Joe List. ...Oh, look, Decie has posted a Thought Bubble DRINKS TASTE TEST.



On Saturday night, Molly and I trotted along to the British Comic Award ceremony, hosted by a blue-suited Adam Cadwell and David Monteith, where we got to hear Maura McHugh interviewing Hall-of-Fame winner Posy Simmonds. Here's Molly, Posy and Maura with Alison Sampson, who won the New Talent award. Congrats! I was also hugely chuffed that Isabel Greenberg won Best Book for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. (You can read my fangirl meltdown blog post about it here.) And it was no surprise, Luke Pearson winning the Young People's Comic Award again, this time for Hilda and The Black Hound. The competition was stiff, but Hilda is MEGA.



You can read about the awards over on their website here. (Vern and Lettuce won it back in 2011 and you can read my blog post about that here.) I was a judge last year and it was great to see fellow judge Jamillah Knowles again! She caught me up on some of the comics I was missing out on by being at a table.



Okay, now for a few costumes:







Ha ha, here's when things started to get a little weird:



And finally, a good place to end, Dr Mel Gibson with the elephant in the room:



Oh wait! One more thing... what is this? Ha ha, this is what I look like to the kids I'm working with:



(THANKS, Jordan and Jonathan.)

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25. The top 10 graphic novels of 2014



Via the Washington Post

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