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1. Göran Malmqvist profile

       In the South China Morning Post Janice Leung invites readers to Meet Göran Malmqvist, Nobel Prize member and champion of Chinese literature -- the Chinese-speaking member of the Swedish Academy.

       The big news here is Malmqvist claiming of Border Town-author Shen Congwen that:

If he hadn't passed away, he would have got the Nobel Prize in 1988
       Stop the presses ?!??
       Was the 1988 laureate -- Naguib Mahfouz -- really second choice ?
       Well, not so fast -- Shen passed away in May of 1988; he may well have been one of the (usually five) finalists by then, but they don't settle on a winner until the fall, so there's no way of telling whether he would have prevailed over Mahfouz. Still, interesting to hear he was so close.

       Also of interest: Malmqvist's complaints:
Unfortunately, he says, there are as many poor translators as there are good writers in China.

"What makes me angry, really angry," he cries, eyes blazing, "is when an excellent piece of Chinese literature is badly translated. It's better not to translate it than have it badly translated. That is an unforgivable offence to any author. It should be stopped.

"Often translations are done by incompetent translators who happen to know English, or German, or French. But a lot of them have no interest and no competence in literature. That is a great pity."
       One exception:
David Hawkes' rendition of Cao Xueqin's epic novel The Story of the Stone, which he regards as a rare gem of translated Chinese literature.

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2.

From Goodreads:
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead. 

Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception. 

Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.
This, like every other Brandon Sanderson book, has been part of the Golden library collection since the day it was released.  If you were unaware, and I'm not sure how you could be, Luke has a major book crush on Sanderson.  We get all of his books, usually signed first editions, and occasionally in multiple formats.  I like Sanderson fine, but Luke is devoted.  And I have no complaints.  Any book is welcome, obviously.  Except for ones with egregiously hideous SFF covers - those have a "special" shelf in Luke's office.

Anyway, Luke's been after me to read this since he got it, and I've been resisting because I always had something else lined up to read next.  He must have realized things were looking hopeless, so he traded me laundry duty for reading the book.  I'm going to go ahead and say I won that one, since I got to lay around and read a book rather than doing the laundry.

Writing
As much as I love short stories, I am, unfortunately, a short form snob.  I don't typically like anything but literary short fiction.  I particularly avoid short form genre fiction.  It's just not a good medium for what I'm looking for in genre fiction because of the obviously limited space for characterization and plot development.

This is the second novella I've tried by Sanderson (the first, Legion, was unimpressive).  I think this was definitely a better effort in terms of quality of writing.  There weren't as many characters, which allowed for more opportunity to get to know the protagonist.  I also think Sanderson did a better job in this one of sticking to a single storyline, rather than exploring subplots that he didn't have time to flesh out.

Entertainment Value
Again, I think this is an improvement over Legion.  I felt like the story was contained and complete, despite the fact that it's only a bit over 150 pages.  I was sucked into the story and cared about the characters.  I also really appreciated the ending and the feeling of completeness.  Whereas Legion felt like it ended abruptly and awkwardly, I thought that The Emperor's Soul was paced well and ended in a believable and satisfying spot.

Overall
I think it's a good choice for fans of Sanderson, although I still maintain that the place to start is with his full-length fiction.  If you insist on starting with his novellas, this is a good place to begin.  And if you're a devoted follower, you'll definitely want to add this to your list.

0 Comments on as of 4/17/2014 8:21:00 PM
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3. Rounding out characters

Question: I keep coming up with things for my main character like what happened to her and what she's going through but I have like 4 or 5 other characters

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4. Gabriel García Márquez Has Died

GabrielColumbian author Gabriel García Márquez has passed away. He was 87-years-old.

In 2012, Márquez’s brother Jaime revealed that the beloved writer was suffering from dementia. Earlier this month, he was hospitalized in Mexico City.

Throughout his career, Márquez wrote nonfiction, short stories, news articles, and novels including his best known works, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). In 1982, he won the the Nobel Prize in Literature and accepted the award by delivering his now famous speech, “The Solitude of Latin America.” (via Latin Times)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

       The 1982 Nobel laureate, Gabriel García Márquez, has passed away.
       Only two of his titles are under review at the complete review (I read pretty much all the rest before I started the site):

       One Hundred Years of Solitude still seems to me the most significant novel of the past fifty years; get your copy -- if, incomprehensibly, you don't have one -- at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

       There has been extensive coverage (and much, much more will follow, no doubt); see, for example:        But there's tons more -- especially in the Spanish-language press.

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6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
I am late to the party. This has been known to happen. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, if you've not read it already, should be on your to-read list. It evokes a profoundly strange and exotic and surreal world, in which creatures can be made from teeth (super creepy, super awesome) and hidden realms can be accessed through magical doors and holes in the sky. This stuff, you guys? I love this stuff. Not quite as much as I love time travel, coma dreams, and everybody getting killed by zombies, but almost as much. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was so extraordinary that my expectations were impossibly high for Days of Blood and Starlight, and while that contained some astonishingly good twists and more of the vivid imagery of the first book, it's pretty difficult for a middle book of a series to be a stand-out, especially after the amazing world-building and utterly mesmerising first novel.
Another thing that happens with series is that with each subsequent book the characters have experienced more suffering and pain - necessary for a good, exciting plot, but if the characters develop properly (i.e. not in soap operas, where everyone forgets five minutes later) characters get dark and tortured really quickly. I think that can make a book a little too draining - and as Karou discovers more and more about who she was, it gets terribly heavy. What I seek in stories is generally some sort of ultimate hopefulness, and Days of Blood and Starlight did not end on a good note. So I'm certainly looking forward to Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final instalment of the trilogy.

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7. Surtex Flyer

I am not sure if I will be attending, but my work will be at Surtex -





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8.


Have just set up shop at Goodreads and invite you to join me there!

-Dms

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9. Friday Feature: A Whisper in Time by Elizabeth Langston




"I have never been useless in my life…"

Rescued from a life of servitude by the boy she loves, Susanna Marsh escapes across two centuries, only to be plunged into a world she's ill-prepared to face. Unable to work or go to school, Susanna finds herself dependent on others to survive.

Immersed in the fun and demands of his senior year of high school, Mark Lewis longs to share his world with the girl who's captured his heart. But first he must tackle government bureaucracy to prove Susanna's identity.

Overwhelmed by her new home, Susanna seeks refuge in history and in news of the people she left behind. But when she learns that danger stalks her sister, Susanna must weigh whether to risk her own future in order to save Phoebe's happiness.


If you haven't read Whisper Falls yet, the first book in this series, you should. I loved it. Mark and Susanna are from different times, yet that doesn't stop them from falling for each other and their story is both touching and exciting to read. Elizabeth was nice enough to share a scene from A Whisper In Time, which releases April 8, 2014 through Spencer Hill Press. I'm really looking forward to it.


Excerpt:
Setting up the scene: A Whisper In Time begins five weeks after Whisper Falls ends.  Susanna has immigrated across two centuries and doesn't understand how modern America works. One weekday, left alone at Mark's house, she finds herself locked out.


It took very few moments to discover that every door at Mark's house was locked.

I tried the garage last. It had a keypad that could raise the garage door, if only I could remember the correct numbers.

Mark said that the numbers changed each month and reflected a special occasion. What was the holiday for September? Had it not occurred this Sunday?

9-1-1. Yes, that had to be it. I pressed the three buttons.

Nothing happened. 

I tried again. There was no difference. Perhaps I should abandon the keypad and seek an open window instead.

I walked to the driveway and then assessed the distance from the ground to the window of the studio apartment over the garage.

A vehicle rolled behind me on the lane and stopped. A car door shut slowly with a deep ker-thunk. I glanced over my shoulder. A man in a dark uniform approached. He must be a member of law enforcement. An unfortunate circumstance.

"Hello," I said, clasping my hands before me. "Are you a police officer?"

"I am," he said, his voice clipped. "Who are you?"

"Susanna. How may I help you?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing."

Were there not crimes to manage in this city? My problem seemed entirely too mundane to concern the police. "I cannot get into the house."

"Why not?"

"It ís locked, and the keypad doesn't work."

"Ah. Do you know the combination?"

"Apparently not, else I should be inside now."

His eyes narrowed. "Is this your house?"

"No, indeed. It belongs to the Lewis family, but I do sleep here."

"Where do you sleep?"

"In the space over the garage."

"Miss, Iíll need to see some ID."

"I do not have any."

"Is your ID in the space over the garage too?"

Had he not heard me? "I have no identification card. The government will not give me one." I shook my head. America was far too concerned with identification.

"Miss, why don't you come with me?" He caught my elbow and tried to tug me down the driveway.

"Pardon me, sir," I said, pulling my arm from his grasp. "It isn't proper for you to touch me so."

He reached for me again. "Okay, that ís enough."


Have you read Whisper Falls yet? What do you think of this excerpt?

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10. Manischewitz

Once a year, for one week straight,
A beer I will decline.
Instead, I will indulge in
Manischewitz kosher wine.

If you have never tried it,
Well, your life is not complete,
But you’d sure surprise your taste buds
‘Cause it’s sickeningly sweet.

Since it’s part of my tradition,
It’s a habit I can’t break
And from childhood sips to current times,
I’ve stuck with Concord Grape.

Though I’m not at all religious,
I’m nostalgic for the past
And at Seders* long ago,
The Manischewitz die was cast.

Certain connoisseurs of culture
Call me out and say, “Enough!
Now it’s time to climb the ladder
And reject that sweetened stuff.”

But a creature (me!) of habit
Thinks that Manischewitz wine,
Like the macaroons and matzoh,
Fits the holiday just fine.

*Passover meal

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11. "I still see her standing by the water"

From Billboard magazine, yesterday:

Glen Campbell has been moved into a care facility three years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, People.com reports.

"He was moved to an Alzheimer's facility last week," a family friend told the title. "I'm not sure what the permanent plan is for him yet. We'll know more next week."

The singer, whose "Rhinestone Cowboy" topped the charts in 1975, had been suffering from short-term memory loss in recent years. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in early 2011.

His voice, and the songs he made famous, are as much a part of America to me as the documents we hold so dear and the land we love so much. I never get tired of hearing him sing. I hope he has peace in his life in times ahead.

[Video from 2001 - it provides not only Glen singing "Galveston" but the brief story of the song, which was significantly linked to the Vietnam War. "Galveston" was written by Jimmy Webb.]

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12. Westie Sketchies

Christine Marie Larsen Illustration Westie West Highland Terrier sketches

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13. Environmental Book Club

Check out Literacy, Families and Learning's Literature and Environmental Issues: 18 Challenging Picture Books. The blog breaks the eighteen titles into four groups:

  • The relationship of people to the environment
  • The negative impact of humanity on the environment
  • A celebration of the environment, its beauty and wonder
  • Environment as creation and the metaphysical experience of our world
Graeme Base makes the list twice.
_____________________

Make your comment in order to be considered for the Saving the Planet & Stuff giveaway.



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14. Billy and the Monster Book Blast with David Chuka – Chance to Win $50 Amazon GC or PayPal Cash

Billy and the monster who ate all the Easter eggs

About the Book

Title: Billy and The Monster Who Ate All The Easter Eggs | Author: David Chuka | Publication Date: March 23, 2013 | Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: Join Billy and Monster in this third episode of the series titled Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food…CHOCOLATE! This year, they’re spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She’s an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta. This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday. What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

Get your copy of this funny book for kids of all ages that is not only full of laughs but also has a lesson weaved in that you’ll love sharing with your loved ones.

 

Book Trailer

Purchase

* Print copy includes FREE coloring book inside *

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle)

 

The Buzz

“Experience is the best teacher as Billy and his “purple shadow” learn a sweet lesson in Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Beautifully illustrated, nicely formatted, this quick, easy story will be read over and over again.” ~ 5 Star Review, Julia B., Amazon

“My daughter has really been enjoying David Chuka’s Billy and Monster books. This is another fun addition to the “family.” As always, the story has a lovely moral (this time teaching the value of moderation – definitely the biggest word in the book)! It’s based on the very realistic theme of overindulging in chocolate/sweets, which virtually anyone can relate to and which kids find a lot of fun. And, awesome pictures as always. Definitely recommend it.” ~ 5 Star Review, Renee B., Amazon

“I really like the little monster in this book and how they get into trouble together. What child hasn’t snuck into the cache of candies that their parents have hidden? Cute story with a lesson for the little ones in your family!” ~ 5 Star Review, Patricia T., Amazon

“This is a cute story about a little boy Billy and his funny friend Monster. They love chocolate so much that they forget about obeying to older. At night, they sneaked to the chocolate egg pyramid, started eating the chocolate eggs and made a big mess. On the morning, they not only got in a big trouble, but they also got a bad stomach pain. They both had to learn a lessons about MODERATION. Nice illustrations, book well written.” ~ 5 Star Review, OPV, Amazon

“Billy and his monster friend enjoy lots of fun in this book, filled with great pictures and a cute story. It shares a lot about celebrating holidays, and intertwines humor and family love throughout the story. Hidden in the story is a nice message about eating in moderation, a well needed lesson in our culture of over-eating. Billy ends up being proud of himself and makes good decisions by the end of the book, while all the while sharing some adventures with his cute monster friend. Great read to share with your children or grandchildren year round, not just for the Easter holiday.” ~ 5 Star Review, Katie W., Amazon

 

About the Author: David Chuka

David ChukaDavid Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, ‘If You See a Doctor‘ after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He’s gone on to write more books including the popular ‘Billy and Monster‘ series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you’ll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you’ll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka’s books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He has so many stories to tell and can’t wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Google+ | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

 

Want to win a copy of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs?

Enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka in a Goodreads giveaway (Open U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia; Ends April 17, 2014).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 13, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Services
Billy and the monster who ate all the Easter eggs

About the Book

Title: Billy and The Monster Who Ate All The Easter Eggs | Author: David Chuka | Publication Date: March 23, 2013 | Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: Join Billy and Monster in this third episode of the series titled Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food…CHOCOLATE! This year, they’re spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She’s an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta. This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday. What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

Get your copy of this funny book for kids of all ages that is not only full of laughs but also has a lesson weaved in that you’ll love sharing with your loved ones.

 

Book Trailer

Purchase

* Print copy includes FREE coloring book inside *

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle)

 

The Buzz

“Experience is the best teacher as Billy and his “purple shadow” learn a sweet lesson in Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs. Beautifully illustrated, nicely formatted, this quick, easy story will be read over and over again.” ~ 5 Star Review, Julia B., Amazon

“My daughter has really been enjoying David Chuka’s Billy and Monster books. This is another fun addition to the “family.” As always, the story has a lovely moral (this time teaching the value of moderation – definitely the biggest word in the book)! It’s based on the very realistic theme of overindulging in chocolate/sweets, which virtually anyone can relate to and which kids find a lot of fun. And, awesome pictures as always. Definitely recommend it.” ~ 5 Star Review, Renee B., Amazon

“I really like the little monster in this book and how they get into trouble together. What child hasn’t snuck into the cache of candies that their parents have hidden? Cute story with a lesson for the little ones in your family!” ~ 5 Star Review, Patricia T., Amazon

“This is a cute story about a little boy Billy and his funny friend Monster. They love chocolate so much that they forget about obeying to older. At night, they sneaked to the chocolate egg pyramid, started eating the chocolate eggs and made a big mess. On the morning, they not only got in a big trouble, but they also got a bad stomach pain. They both had to learn a lessons about MODERATION. Nice illustrations, book well written.” ~ 5 Star Review, OPV, Amazon

“Billy and his monster friend enjoy lots of fun in this book, filled with great pictures and a cute story. It shares a lot about celebrating holidays, and intertwines humor and family love throughout the story. Hidden in the story is a nice message about eating in moderation, a well needed lesson in our culture of over-eating. Billy ends up being proud of himself and makes good decisions by the end of the book, while all the while sharing some adventures with his cute monster friend. Great read to share with your children or grandchildren year round, not just for the Easter holiday.” ~ 5 Star Review, Katie W., Amazon

 

About the Author: David Chuka

David ChukaDavid Chuka lives in London with his lovely wife and two adorable children. His family are usually the first people to hear his funny and quirky tales. He was inspired to write his first book, ‘If You See a Doctor‘ after he struggled to find a book for his daughter who was a beginner reader.

He’s gone on to write more books including the popular ‘Billy and Monster‘ series, a funny set of books about a little boy and his Monster who get into all sorts of funny situations and learn about moderation, friendship, self control, bravery etc. Young children can relate to Billy and you’ll love sharing his adventures with your children, grandchildren and loved ones.

As a father himself, he has parents at heart when he writes. He recognizes that bedtime has to be one of the best parts of the day for parents and grandparents as it gives them the opportunity to bond with their little ones. He believes you’ll enjoy sharing his stories with your loved ones at bedtime.

In David Chuka’s books, you can stay rest assured that quality and captivating images will always complement the story to ensure your loved ones are spell-bound as you read to them. Beginner readers will also enjoy discovering new words as they read his books.

He has so many stories to tell and can’t wait to share them with you and your loved ones.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Google+ | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

 

Want to win a copy of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs?

Enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka in a Goodreads giveaway (Open U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia; Ends April 17, 2014).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 13, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Services


0 Comments on Billy and the Monster Book Blast with David Chuka – Chance to Win $50 Amazon GC or PayPal Cash as of 4/18/2014 1:23:00 AM
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15. Last Hurrah

Years ago, on a family trip to Washington, D.C., I told the boys that this trip was going to be the last hurrah of our practice of buying beanie babies on every vacation (and for every Christmas, birthday, Easter, and other occasion). We'd buy ONE more beanie baby in the nation's capitol, as our last hurrah of beanie-baby-buying. Every day on the trip the boys would ask me, "Is this the day we get the hurrah?" The day came when the answer was yes. That little bunny beanie baby was known for years as "the hurrah."

I just returned from my last hurrah as a professor of philosophy, attending my last-ever APA (conference of the American Philosophical Association). Actually, this year I had two last hurrahs, for I attended the Central Division APA in Chicago in February (where I also did a book signing at the Magic Tree Bookstores in Oak Park, reconnected with extended family, and took part in a hilarious trivia contest at the Oak Park Public Library as part of a team of Betsy-Tacy Society friends). This week is the Pacific Division meeting in San Diego. I flew out on an 8:00 am flight yesterday and flew back on an 8 am flight today. So the hurrah lasted just twenty-four hours. But they were a sweet twenty-four hours indeed.

I learned a long time ago that I have little tolerance for listening to papers with titles like "Why the Debate over Composition Is Factually Empty (Or Why There’s No Fact of the Matter Whether Anything Exists)" (an actual title from this year's program). I've always had only half my heart in philosophy, anyway. So as soon as I arrived in San Diego and checked into the lovely Westin Hotel in the Gas Lamp District, I wandered across the street to a French bakery/bistro and treated myself to an hour of writing on my Nora ant farm book revisions over croissants and chocolat. I do so love writing somewhere new.

I spent the afternoon in our APA session where three philosophers, including me, gave commentary on Jana Mohr Lone's wonderful book, The Philosophical Child, her argument for why we should encourage children's philosophical wondering. I loved the book, so I had little direct criticism to offer. My comments focused chiefly on Jana's thought that some of the approach she and other pioneers in the Philosophy-for-Children movement use with children could be illuminating to consider for undergraduate education as well: a focus on actually doing philosophy, living in the space of the questions for their own sake, rather than dutifully imparting knowledge of canonical texts. I shared her regret that so often we discourage our students from the joys of philosophical wondering - but also confessed my discomfort when a student tells me that rather than write his ethical theory paper on Mill or Kant or Aristotle, he wants to come up with his "own" theory.  No, no, no! The discussion that followed all three sets of comments was wonderful: wide-ranging, honest, real.

Of course afterward I had the last hurrah of drinks in the hotel bar with a bunch of people from our session: the San Diego Sea Breeze was my cocktail of choice. Then I wandered through the Gas Lamp District with beloved former grad student Sara (organizer of the afternoon's session) and her family (including her delightful children aged nine and five) for a last hurrah APA dinner.

Now, candor compels me to confess that we did buy other beanie babies after that trip to Washington, DC. The beanie baby bunny hurrah was joined by other hurrahs down the road and across the years. I may go to an APA again sometime. Or not. It's expensive to attend, with registration fees of $120, airfare, hotel tariff running to $200 for a single night. This time I got some support from the university for my expenses (though I was on my own for the San Diego Sea Breeze!). The APA is never held in Denver. So maybe this was the last hurrah, or maybe there are future hurrahs to come. I know enough "never to say never."

But if it was the last hurrah, well, I say hurrah for the last hurrah.





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16. Science/English Poetry Pairings - Animal Collectives

I fell in love with words at a young age. Coupled with my love for science, I became enamored of the words to describe groups of animals and spent hours researching and memorizing the names.  When I turned turned twelve and my mother took me shopping for my birthday, I used money I'd saved to buy The Stranger by Billy Joel (vinyl!) and the book An Exaltation of Larks or The Venereal Game by James Lipton (yes, THAT James Lipton). I carried that book around for years, always entertained and intrigued by the contents.
While this topic may be more about etymology than science, young people are still interested in learning about the names given to animal groups. Today's book pairing can easily enhance and extend any study of the animal kingdom. 

Poetry Book
A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry, written by Marjorie Maddox and illustrated by Philip Huber, is a collection of 14 poems that consider animal groups and how, perhaps, they came by those names. Why, for example, is a group of rattlesnakes called a rhumba? Here's Marjorie's poetic answer.
A Rhumba of Rattlesnakes

A rhumba of rattlesnakes knows how to shake
their long, slinky bodies and twist till daybreak.
They wobble their heads, give their hips a quick quake.
They jitterbug tails till their skeletons ache.

The rattle maracas and rat-tat on drums,
blow in tin trumpets, uncurl their tongues
to hiss a sweet song that invites you to come
a little bit closer. But you know to run

way over here and avoid the mistake
of dancing the rhumba with ten rattlesnakes.
While many of the poems in the collection rhyme, readers will also find free verse and poem for two voices. Here's my favorite of the lot. It is accompanied by an illustration of a rather alarmed scarecrow.
A Murder of Crows
Oh no, there they go, a murder of crows
throwing corncobs at the tattered scarecrow.
Though they never quite hit her, they flap to and fro,
cawing and jawing out names as they go.
They eat what's not theirs, then rush back for more,
ignoring her warnings, her pleas for reform.
No polite songsters here, well mannered with charm,
just fast flying hoodlums unfit for a farm.
Poems © Marjorie Maddox. All rights reserved.

The book features Philip’s lovely scratchboard illustrations with colored ink, depicting various animal packs. Back matter includes a note from the author explaining collective nouns and offering a list of books providing further information on the subject.

Nonfiction Picture Book
A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns, by Woop Studios, is a handsomely designed alphabet book that begins with "An Aurora of Polar Bears" and ends with the title collective, "A Zeal of Zebras." The folks at Woop Studios with responsibility for this project have impressive credentials. Two of the founders, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, spent a decade working as graphic designers on the Harry Potter franchise. In describing themselves they write, "United by a love of graphic design, words and images they founded Woop to bring a unique and exciting angle to the fascinating world of collective nouns." Unique, exciting, fascinating—their words pretty much sum up this book. The text is engaging and Woop's graphic designs are vibrant and fun, resembling in many ways vintage travel posters.

Each letter of the alphabet receives a double-page spread with a bit of informational text about the animal on the left side, with a gorgeous, full page graphically designed illustration on the right. Here's the text that accompanies one of my favorite entries.
A Galaxy of Starfish
Starfish, also known as sea
stars, are usually seen in
large numbers only when they
are washed up on beaches
after a storm. 
However, some starfish may
gather together when they
are ready to reproduce, using
environmental or chemical
signals to coordinate with
one another.
Text © Woop Studios. All rights reserved.

On their web site you can find many examples of the artwork, including more pieces than occur in the book. Stunning illustrations paired with interesting tidbits of information make this an unusual and outstanding entry in the alphabet book genre.

Perfect Together
During your next unit on animal study, consider extending it to include animal groups. Using Maddox's poems and Woop Studios illustrations and snippets of information as models, encourage students to create their own books or a class book on animal collectives. For example, while studying reptiles they can design pages for collectives of snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and more. Students can then create their own illustrations and write about the characteristics that are common to reptiles and unique to each order.

For additional resources, consider these sites.

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17. Rainbow Bird

Here are some illustrations from a recent project - an Australian folk tale about the rainbow bird, commonly known as the rainbow lorikeet. In the tale, the lorikeet which starts out grey obtains his beautiful colors from the rainbow.






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18. And The Fox Kit Research Begins

Fox kits 4-17

I went to the fox den today, just thinking I’d be collecting the SD card from the trail cam.  But I didn’t get that far.  Once I saw these adorable kits outside the den entrance, I knew I had to keep my distance.

fox kits 4 4-14

I set up my camera and extended the lens. I itched to get closer, but resisted the urge. Two very young kits lay in the opening, curled around each other, soaking up a sunbeam.

I never *sneak* in to see them, quite the opposite in fact.  I let my hiking boots crunch and snap twigs so they know I’m coming and have the opportunity to hide.

These two didn’t scramble away though. They just peeked in my direction through sleepy lids . . .

fox kit 3 4-14

Stumbled around a bit on wobbly legs .  . .

Fox kit 2  4-14

Curled up together again, and fell back asleep.

 

I fox kit 5 4-14

I never did collect that SD card, as I would have had to take another seven giant steps in their direction.  Why disturb their nap in the sunshine?

The card can wait. I got what I needed for today.

 

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19. Creative Writing- can it be taught? - Linda Strachan

There has been a lot of debate about whether creative writing can be taught and whether it should be taught.  
I do believe that you can teach certain aspects of creative writing - but then I would say that, having written a book about it!   
Some say writers should be free to find their own way, to experiment. That is fine, but why reinvent the wheel?
I think it is akin to someone who wants to draw buildings or street scenes being told that no one should teach them about perspective, they should find out by trial and error.

There are aspects of any skill, including writing, that can be taught, there is always something new to learn and I think the best teachers in any field will encourage students to go out and experiment, but they give them some kind of board to dive from.
It is important that the people who are teaching have some kind of credibility and publishing credentials. There are so many universities and colleges offering creative writing courses and I often wonder how many of them give their students any insight into the realities of what it takes to survive as a writer in this day and age. Do they tell them how uncertain a career path it is, that even if the book they write on the course gets published (with lots of time, help and support when writing it), that is no guarantee for the future?

I get a real buzz from working with emerging writers of any age. I love encouraging people to explore their creativity, and watching as they discover they have written something that surprises them; seeing ideas blossom into stories and their characters growing into fully fleshed out people.
We all know that writing can be scary, and sharing it with others is sometimes the most difficult thing, which is why creating a sense of trust within a group of students is so important. They should feel safe, and confident that any comments though honest, will not be destructive.  Whether a novice writing in secret, or an experienced writer waiting to hear what people think of your new book, we all feel wary when putting our latest creation out there. People may not like it!  But we keep on writing, because we love it, and hate it, and we just have to do it.
Moniack Mhor



I recently spent a weekend at Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, Moniack Mhor.  I've been there a few times before, tutoring Arvon courses much like those discussed in the post last Sunday The Arvon Habit by Sheena Wilkinson.   

This time I was working with a group of adults both at Moniack Mhor and at the Abriachan Forest Trust, on a short course called Words in the Landscape, and what a landscape it is!
View from my window at Moniack Mhor

We spent one day at Abriachan walking in the forest, being inspired by our surroundings. 

It was wonderful to stand quietly in the middle of the forest and -

LISTEN to the quiet, and the noises we often miss because we are talking or making noise ourselves -
Abriachan Forest Trust cabin classroom





LOOK at everything around us from the great majesty of trees to the smallest insect walking on the water - 

FEEL the wind against your skin, the warmth of the early spring sunshine -

IMAGINE what creatures might have inhabited these woods thousands of years ago, or in an imaginary world far away.  



Artist's Impression of Straw Bale Studio




On the second afternoon at Moniack Mhor some of us were lucky enough to be the first to try out the newly finished Straw Bale Studio, an 'eco friendly tutorial space. It was really exciting to see it finished.

I had watched some of the early stages of the build when I was there in August last year.

The group created some great stories and ideas for further writing.


I always come away inspired and ready to get back to my own writing. 

Running courses in creative writing reminds me to make sure my readers will care about my characters; to make the plot layered, the characters flawed and fascinating; to work harder on dialogue, and at making the plot grab the reader and pull them through the story.  It sharpens my critical senses and reminds me of all the things I have been working on with my students.  

Teaching creative writing is hard work but rewarding in so many ways.


-----------------------------------


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and the writing handbook Writing For Children  

Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me  


Linda  is  Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh 


website:  www.lindastrachan.com
blog:  Bookwords



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20. Poetry Friday - By Messenger

I've shared poems by Amy Lowell before. This poem was first published in 1919 in a volume entitled Pictures of the Floating World. It is one of my favorite poems of all time.

By Messenger
by Amy Lowell 
One night
When there was a clear moon,
I sat down
To write a poem
About maple-trees.
But the dazzle of moonlight
In the ink
Blinded me,
And I could only write
What I remembered.
Therefore, on the wrapping of my poem
I have inscribed your name.
This poem and the book it was published in are in the public domain and have been digitized and made available by Google. You can read the entire volume simply by downloading a copy.


Do check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge. Happy poetry Friday friends.

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21. Bird Speed Painting In Photoshop





Just playing around with doing some speed painting videos.

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22. How to write just enough but not too much

Question: When I asked a similar question you said sometimes less is more like with torture or sex scenes. Well in my book I have a sex scene and I was

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23. Two Selkie Stories From Scotland by Kate Forsyth, Ill. by FionaMcDonald, Armidale, NSW, Christmas Press, 2014


This is the second book to be published by Christmas Press, an Australian small press run by a group of writers and artists. The purpose of it is to publish the kind of  illustrated children's books they would have loved to read as children - and now! 

The first book, Two Trickster Tales From Russia, by Sophie Masson, featured Russian folktales with appropriately Russian-style illustrations(though they also reminded me of the art of British fairytale artist Walter Crane). The language was not too difficult for young children to understand, both those who could read independently and those to whom parents might read.

This new book is the same in that respect. I would have loved to read this when I was in Grade 2 or 3. (Admittedly, by the next year I was reading Robert Graves, but that was nerdy me.;-D) 

The two stories are "The Selkie Bride" - a story I have read before - and "In The Kingdom Of The Seals", which I haven't, although the theme of shooting at seals and hitting a Selkie is not unfamiliar. I've come across a much scarier version elsewhere. This one has a positive ending.

If you've been following Australian spec fic in the last year or two, you may have heard of Margo Lanagan's wonderful Selkie-themed Sea Hearts,  known as The Brides Of Rollrock Island outside Australia. It won about a million prizes and got on to the Stella list for women's fiction. 

Selkies are a part of Celtic folklore. The Selkie is a seal that can drop its skin and appear as a human for a while. If you steal the skin and hide it, the poor thing can't get home to the sea. The standard folktale is this: a fisherman or farmer sees a bunch of beautiful young women dancing on the shore. He startles them and they   run off back to the water, grabbing their skins and turning into seals. One poor girl isn't quite fast enough; the young man snatches her sealskin and demands she marries him.  She hasn't much choice. He hides the skin from her. She becomes a good wife and mother, but is always sad. One day, the  husband is out and one of her children finds the skin, either by accident or to make her happy. The woman grabs the skin, kisses the children goodbye - or sometimes doesn't bother - and returns to the sea. There's never a happy ending to these stories; even if the Selkie does go home, she loses her children and they lose her. 

In this book, the man who steals a bride from the sea is a laird, who tries to make his reluctant bride happy with nice clothes and food. Of course, he doesn't, and the story is pretty much the usual one.In the  second tale, "In The Kingdom Of The Seals", a man who makes his living killing seals and selling their pelts finds himself under the sea, facing the results of his actions, with a badly wounded Selkie that can't be healed except by him. But he's not a villain, just a man who has a wife and children to support, and the seals are a lot more forgiving than you'd expect. 

It's very appropriate to have these stories retold by a writer well known for her YA and adult fiction with folktale themes. She doesn't disappoint in this one.

The art is gorgeous and lavish, perfect for the kind of stories it's illustrating.

Another triumph for a wonderful new Australian small press.

The book will be available at all good bookshops in Australia from May 1. If you live outside Australia and would like a copy, you should be able to buy online. Just check out the web site: http://christmaspresspicturebooks.com/buying-our-books/. 

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24. Rock the Drop: Recap #1

We cannot express how grateful we are about the amount YA love that you showed today! Here are just a few screen grabs of tweeted photos. More recap to come! If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at readergirlz AT gmail and we'll post it here. THANK YOU FOR ROCKING THE DROP!




























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25. "Seal Lullaby," by Rudyard Kipling [Poetry Friday]

I hope you've been enjoying our sharing of some of our favorite poems. I've really loved hearing my fellow Teaching Authors read!

I could never choose one favorite poem, but this is definitely one I come back to again and again. It has several elements I adore: rhyme, nature, the ocean, gorgeous language, a melancholy but still comforting tone, and content that acknowledges the dangers in the world but promises safety anyway.

Seal Lullaby

Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
  And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
  At rest in the hollows that rustle between.


Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
  Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
  Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas.


—Rudyard Kipling

And here I am reading the poem:



I hope you're having a terrific National Poetry Month! There's so much amazing stuff being shared in our kidlitosphere--it's hard to keep up, isn't it? I do hope you'll take a couple of minutes to go to our Blogiversary Post and enter our giveaway. You could win one of five book bundles from one of the Teaching Authors:>)

Artist/writer/blogger/poet and all-around lovely person Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Life on the Deckle Edge. Have fun!

[posted by Laura Purdie Salas]

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