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1. ‘Mouse in Transition’: The Trials of ‘Oliver & Company’ (Chapter 17)

Steve Hulett recounts his experiences working on "Oliver & Company" and the unexpected tragedy that happened during its production.

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2. It’s Not Too Late

It's not too late to sign up for the SOLSC!

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3. point of view

Question: If it's someone's point of view do you tell their thoughts only or can you tell other peoples thoughts too?? Answer: The point of telling the

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4. MMGM Fail

Hey Guys,

I know lots of you probably sent me links to participate in MMGM this week. But alas, if you follow me on social media you know I've spent the last 5 days going back and forth to urgent care, trying different medicines, etc. It's been ALL KINDS OF FUN.

Don't worry--I'm not dying. I even think I'm finally on the mend. But I'm still pretty out of it. And I was technically supposed to turn in NEVERSEEN today (my lovely, amazing, wonderful, incredible editor was kind enough to grant me one final extension). So...no MMGM this week. But I'm hoping to be back on track next week.

And if you're planning to see me at the North Texas Teen Book Festival on Saturday, don't worry. I am still planning to be there. Details are on my events page if you'd like more information.

Thanks so much for your patience!


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5. Snug House, Bug House!

Random House Bright and Early Books, 1994.  About some bugs who make a house out of an abandoned tennis ball.

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6. Doodles and Drafts – Under the magnifying glass with R. A. Spratt

R. A. Spratt and I share a dubious childhood secret. We were both mad for Trixie Belden. I’m busting another secret; there’s a new super-youth-sleuth in town and she goes by the name of Friday Barnes. And now, I’m going a bit mad for her. Spratt’s latest series of detective stories exploded onto the shelves […]

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7. Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 2 of 31

It's Day Two of the Classroom SOLSC!

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8. Overdone Plots

Your novel needs to be unique to stand out from the rest.


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Hip-Hop history was made at Payroll Studios in High Point, NC on Wednesday, February 11th, when Eric Graham, and the legendary Supreme DJ NyBorn, finished recording the final songs on his up-and-coming album,  Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems, which many consider to be a Hip-Hop classic.

With anticipation of something great happening, this historical studio session was filmed by Terrence Graham, of 5 Foot Productions, in preparation for a future documentary, which intends to highlight the recording and writing process, as well as the potential rise to Hip-Hop stardom, of the self-proclaimed Black poetry writer, turned MC, from Magnolia.

Amazingly, with every song made, the North Carolina-born Hip-Hop fiend displays his versatility, story-telling ability and overall lyrical prowess.

Matter of fact, during his last studio session, he revealed some new material, which included the following songs:

  1. nybornnewTrue Master
  2. My Last Black Love Letter
  3. Bulletproof
  4. Money and The Power
  5. CIAA
  6. Too Many MC’s
“At this point, I am really surprised at the type of support I am receiving from Facebook as well as from people in the community, who have heard some of the songs that I have shared over the Internet so far. Especially, when one considers that I am an unknown so-called artist "said Graham, who is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, where he received a B.A. in Mass Communications, with a concentration of Radio & Television and a minor in History, with an emphasis in African-American Studies.

“But, honestly, this whole process has really been a humbling experience, especially from an art standpoint, when you allow other people to critique your work.”

As Graham, who some know by the name Steel Magnolia, continues to shock people with his ability to rap.

It’s, however, his level of creativity with his image-driven videos that have really impressed so many people.

nyborn3“Yes. For those, who know me from college. They are very familiar with my God-given ability to capture and relay a message through the power of images…” admitted the writer and director of “Bobbee Bee “The Hater” The Movie.

“Plus, everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words. So, this helps, give seemingly, meaningless,- music- meaning.”

With that said, Graham is definitely painting a beautiful picture worth seeing or in his case, to be heard, especially by those willing to listen.

“They are many layers in this mixtape-slash-album,” stated the Magnolia native.
“If those, who purchase it, when it is made available, really listen to the content within it, they will find out, it is really is a masterpiece.”

“Especially, after see-ing the visual videos made along the way.”

If you doubt it, go to www.soundcloud.com and type Bobbee Bee “The Hater” in the search engine-and judge for yourself.

If you like it, please let us know. So, go listen and leave a comment, whether negative or positive.
    Why? Because, the HATER is motivated by HATE. So, let the hate begin.banner1

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    10. Farewell to February

    I bid farewell to February,
    Month of ice and snow.
    No one living in the north
    Is sad to see it go.

    Although it is the shortest month,
    It wasn’t short enough,
    Sending us conditions
    Most uncomfortable and rough.

    I’m well aware that March might hang
    On February’s tails
    And thus the possibility
    Of cold and snow prevails.

    Yet psychologically, at least,
    I’m thrilled to say goodbye.
    The calendar says “Spring” in March
    If Nature will comply.

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    11. Monday Mishmash 3/2/15

    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Migraines  Last week I had two awful headaches. One was a migraine that left me unable to do anything and up all night sick from the pain. I'm hoping this week passes without any headaches, because I have work to do.
    2. Editing  More edits on my plate this week. :)
    3. Taxes  My tax forms took a long time getting to me this year. I'm usually finished with this process by now. I need to schedule an appointment soon.
    4. FREE Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out this evening. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive one, click here.
    5. Thunderclap  I still need help reaching my goal off 100 supporters for my Thunderclap campaign for Looking For Love. Click "Join this Thunderclap" on the image below and sign up to allow Thunderclap to post this message for you. Once you're signed up, you don't have to do anything else. It's that simple. I hope you'll consider signing up. If I'm short of my goal, the campaign won't post. :( 

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    12. "All Right, So Far"

    As a child I liked the following little ditty. In fact, I liked it so much, I wrote it on a postcard sent home to my friends on my honeymoon:

    The optimist fell ten stories
    And at each window bar
    He shouted to his friends,
    "All right, so far!"

    I think of this whenever I have a busy, fraught schedule. Right now my busy fraughtness is around a series of trips. I'm toward the beginning of six straight weekends of travel.

    Last weekend: Costa Mesa, California, for the annual conference of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. Conference highlight below:

    This weekend: home in Colorado for Kataleya's first birthday. Weekend highlight below:

    Next weekend: speaking at a children's literature festival in Tampa.
    The following weekend: speaking at the children's lit festival I attend every year in Warrensburg, Missouri, the one where we all buy shoes at the old-timey shoe store downtown.
    The following two weekends: to Colorado for spring break and back to Indiana again.

    That is a lot of travel, especially in this snowy winter, especially when two of the trips involve connecting flights. I added up all the flights: 14. The odds become very good there will be a snafu for at least one of them, wouldn't you say?

    I now have five of the flights done: two from Indy to California, two back to Indy from California, and one home to Colorado. I had one minor snafu. The Indy-Chicago leg of my trip out to California was delayed for some kind of "VIP hold" on incoming flights (the president?), so I missed the last flight of the day to Santa Ana (Orange County), but luckily I was able to fly to Los Angeles that evening instead, and take an hour-long-shuttle to the hotel, so all I really missed was two hours of sleep and didn't miss any fun at all.

    So I can say, of my intense travel schedule this spring: "All right, so far!" I'm hoping the travel gods will think that the delay on the Indy-Chicago flight counts for my mandatory snafu, even though it was barely a hiccup. If not, here's to handling all future travel travails with the optimist's cheer.

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    13. Travel Journal: Drawing Thai Boats

    I still haven't shared all the drawings I made during my week in Thailand. Here's a drawing that took me over an hour and was an adventure from beginning to end.

    Intrigued by all the colours of the Thai Fishermen's boats, I planted myself in the shade of the waiting area on the pier of the marina. Then, I took a good look first, to single out an area to draw. I chose this row of three boats and focused on those, so I would not get distracted by all the other colourful elements around them and in the background. Then I started drawing. Drawing all the lines and shapes (making a lot of use of negative spaces) was very interesting and challenging too, since the boats were floating and constantly moving a little bit, turning left and right, with the waves of the water. I just relaxed and whenever an element got out of view because of the swell of the sea, I just focused on another detail or shape, to get back to it later.
    At some point when I was well into my drawing, a fisherman left with his boat that was on the right side of these three boats, so all three boats moved drastically towards the right, closer to the quay, and for a moment I was afraid that it would mess up the whole scene and my drawing, but all I needed to do, is move a little to the right so I had the same poit of view on the boats again.

    Step by step, my drawing grew while I listened to the constant chatter and bustle around me on the pier. At some point I realized I had an audience: tuk-tuk drivers waiting for the next ferry to come in, were watching my drawing moves closely. When I looked around and up to them, they gave me encouraging thumbs up.
    The moment I opened my travel watercolour box and waterbrush, I even heard a few 'ooh's' and 'aah's'.

    As you can imagine, I was very proud when I finished the drawing and felt a great sense of accomplishment.

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    14. Izzy Elf Doll Testing Lab 2!

    So Deedy put her West Coast Izzy Doll Testers to work testing Frizzy 2.0.

    Frizzy 2.0 seems to be quite a hit!

    The Lab Testing Personnel, young and old, agree that Frizzy 2.0 is not only huggable, but kissable!!
    And they all LOVE her Accessories!

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    15. Juna's Jar, by Jane Bahk and Felicia Hoshino (ages 4-7) -- imagination and friendship soar

    I adore picture books for the way they let us escape into our imagination, but they can also help us recognize our resilience (and our children's) as we face disappointment. Share Juna's Jar, a lovely new picture book by debut San Francisco author Jane Bahk, and talk with your children about how Juna's imagination helps her when she misses her friend Hector.
    Juna's Jar
    by Jane Bahk
    illustrated by Felicia Hoshino
    Lee & Low, 2015
    Your local library
    ages 4-7
    Juna and Hector always loved collecting things together and putting them in Juna's kimchi jar, but Juna is at a loss when Hector moves away. It's especially sad that she hasn't had a chance to say goodbye.
    "Juna loved to take the jar and go on adventures with her best friend, Hector."
    Her big brother, Minho, helps cheer her up, getting her a fish. That night, Juna dreams of diving into the ocean, swimming with her new fish and looking for Hector. The next night, after her brother gives her a bean plan to fill the jar, she journeys into the rain forest. On the third night, Juna rides a cricket in her dreams, traveling far outside the city to Hector's new home. As she sees him sleeping, Juna is able to whisper goodbye.

    Felicia Hoshino's gentle watercolor illustrations capture Juna's wistful emotions, full of longing but also the final promise of new friendship.

    I love how friend Margie Myers-Culver sums it up in her review at Librarian's Quest:
    Juna's Jar "asks readers to think about friendship, family and the potential of imagination. It's not about looking at life as a glass half full or not but what can happen when we fill the glass."
    Jane Bahk won the 2010 Lee & Low New Voices Award for an unpublished author of color, with the manuscript for Juna's Jar. I look forward to more stories from her! I also want to honor and thank Lee & Low for this important award.

    The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Lee & Low. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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    February's expedition was to the Lehman College art gallery in the Bronx.

    I wanted to see a showing of some of the quilts made by the women of Gee's Bend. I had heard of the wild beauty of these quilts. They have been celebrated as modern art. I was also interested in their connection to that place and its history.

    Gee's Bend is a scrap of land, five miles long and eight miles wide, isolated from the rest of southwest Alabama by a bend in the Alabama River. The land had been Gee's plantation. The descendants of his slaves stayed to work the land as poor sharecroppers. There is no bridge. There wasn't even a ferry from 1962 until 2006. Many people believe that service was discontinued to keep the residents from voting. This link will let you read more about Gee's Bend.

    The poverty and the isolation were terrible for the people. Out of necessity, they made quilts to keep their children warm. Each quilt did more than fulfill that purpose; it showed its own bold vision.

    "Flow Plans" Loretta Bennett 2012
    Quilts are made from scraps. In this way, some use could be gotten out of the bits of a shirt or a dress that hadn't completely worn out. I have no doubt that the quilters could tell you whose clothes those used to be.

    Those small pieces were transformed by the juxtaposition of color and pattern. This quilt actually vibrated when I looked at it.

    "Star of Bethlehem with Satellite Stars" by Leola Pettway 1991

    Another room of the Lehman exhibit contains Linda Day Clark's photographs of Gee's Bend. One shows a quilter assembling her pieces. The wall in front of her had a montage of family pictures. They looked like a different kind of quilt. I thought about how our lives are bits and pieces of memories.

    Aren't we all collecting scraps? And aren't we all trying to make them into something useful and beautiful?

    The quilters of Gee's Bend have certainly done that.

    My husband Lee and I left the warmth of the gallery and took the subway to the western edge of Manhattan.

     The cold weeks of February had transformed the Hudson River into a different kind of quilt!

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    17. Day 2 of the March SOLSC! #SOL15

    Anyone who starts the SOLSC today, tomorrow, or on Wednesday, 3/4 will still be eligible for one of the incredible prizes we’re offering. All you have to do is “write, share, and give” today and every day for the rest of the month. If you have a friend who’s on the fence about committing to the Challenge, please encourage him/her to jump in because it’s not too late!

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    18. The 2015 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

    With only ten days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, I'm cutting these posts a little close.  And the truth is, I could have done with another two weeks to round out my Hugo reading this year, which between the absence of free time and a two week vacation in the middle of February that didn't leave me much time for reading, has not been as comprehensive as I would have liked.  Even as I

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    19. Norman Manea Q & A

           At Bomb Morten Høi Jensen has a Q & A with Norman Manea, whose early work, Captives, is finally available in English; see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com.
           I have a copy and should be getting to this; meanwhile, the only Manea title under review at the complete review is The Lair.

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    20. IF: Reflection

    Experiments with Vector Paint Presets SAV5

    cd_vect_cakedline series

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    21. March issue of Words without Borders

           The March issue of Words without Borders is now up, featuring: 'On Memory: New Japanese Writing', as well as some pieces on 'Mexico Interrupted'.

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    22. the Ancient Region of Hairiness is a fictional place where everyone is loved, nurtured, adored and respected when little and throughout their lives, which in turn results in a land filled with delight, true wildness and extreme contentment. Oh, plus every


    Elderflush and Stan Motion

    They dance like tomorrow’s birdsong
    – times one hundred.

    Hands meet briefly
    making wings.


    From the series:
    PORTRAITS and SCENES from the ANCIENT REGION of HAIRINESS. Here there is much JOY, MIRTH…and HAPPINESS SOARS HIGHER than PieQuills, because LOVE is given to ALL, from tiny, tiny onwards…

    Filed under: dances, finding norway, flying, love, pigeons, Uncategorized

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    23. The Faces of God review

           The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mallock's thriller, The Faces of God -- part of his 'Chroniques barbares'-series (though US publisher Europa editions is going with the more anodyne 'A Mallock Mystery').

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    24. The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in March

    Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief. Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout Fiction Books Touch by Claire North The premise alone of this book is enough to give you goosebumps. The main character, who we become to know as Kepler, is […]

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    25. Chickens! Bicycles! Rambling!

    What a busy weekend it has been! It’s been chickens and bicycles and not much time for reading which stresses me out a bit but I suppose I will survive, it is only one weekend after all.

    Yesterday I took Bookman to work so I could have the car to go to my chicken class at Egg Plant Urban Farm Supply. I got there a little early so I could buy some seed starting things. Hauled that out to the car and then returned for the class. I had hoped there would be chicks to pet but they had all been bought already. There was a full-grown 8-year-old chicken named Goldilocks that kept us company through the class, however. She was a big girl, I don’t remember what breed, and quietly clucked and cooed, let us feel her crop (that sounds naughty but it isn’t) and give her some seed.

    I learned quite a lot about chicken keeping. There is a bit of a start-up cost with building the coop and run and feeders and all that, but after that it seems like it’s not a while lot of work for quite a lot of satisfaction. As Bob (co-owner of the store and chicken keeper of 8 years) said, chicken care is not as much as dogs but a little more than cats. I can handle that. We talked about health problems and expectations and feed and city permits and coops. In Minnesota it’s a good idea to insulate the coop and provide a heat lamp. Bob said while we should be concerned about keeping chickens warm in winter, they are pretty hardy birds and generally do just fine as long as they are protected from wind and damp. It’s summer heat we have to worry about more. So he talked about the importance of good ventilation and keeping the coop free from moisture and making sure the chickens have shade.

    I learned that three is the smallest flock. Bob recommended four with the fourth so if/when one bird dies there are still three. I had only wanted three but having four makes sense because chickens are social and death is an eventuality and I do not want a flock of two being stressed out over not being much of a flock any longer. However, when applying for a Minneapolis permit, you have to say how many chickens you are going to get and when your neighbors give the okay for that number, that is all you get unless you go back to them later for their signatures on additional birds. So, ask for as many as you think you might ever have.

    The class ran a little over the scheduled two hours but no one minded because we were all learning what we needed to know. Like me, there were several people there who came because they thought it would be neat to have chickens but wanted to find out what was involved. I think we left wanting to go forward with the process. I just had to convince Bookman.

    Bookman has gradually softened from absolutely not to maybe and when I picked him up from work yesterday and told him all about the class he said he couldn’t get as excited about it as I was but that he thought chickens would be ok. Woo hoo! We’re gonna get chickens!

    But not this year.

    Garage, your days are numbered

    Garage, your days are numbered

    This year we must deal with the garage. The photo (click to enlarge) is the back quarter of our city lot: a concrete slab and a garage that is out of square. The plan is this summer to have the garage and all of the concrete removed. We never park in the garage even in winter because our car is too low and light to get through the snow in the alley before it gets plowed. We have enough difficulty on the street sometimes and getting stuck in the snow in the alley is a close to nightmare scenario. Since we do not use the garage we are not going to rebuild it. Instead we are going to build a small shed for garden tools and bicycles. This will leave plenty of space for a chicken coop and run as well as additional space for gardening. I have already begun imagining what I want to plant and I don’t even know what the final configuration of it all will be!

    When it comes to the chickens, we’ve decided to get a permit to keep five. That means, even though we are only planning on having four, we will build the coop and run to accommodate five. I can foresee a future when one of the hens dies and we are left with three, getting two new chicks because it just seems wrong to raise one chick by itself. Thinking ahead!

    Also in the category of counting chickens before they have hatched, I’ve already decided what kind we are going to get. When it was only three in the plan I had decided on three Buff Orpingtons, quiet, docile, friendly birds. I have it in mind I will name them after three literary sisters. Now that we will have four birds, we’ll add a Black Australorp to the mix, an equally docile, quiet bird of a similar size. Bookman will get to name this one. He is saying he might call it “Noodle” as in chicken noodle. I wouldn’t put it past him. He named our first cat together Kamir ( say “come here” fast) and our dearly departed cocker spaniel was Godzilla. So a chicken named Noodle would be quite in line with his naming tradition. Stay tuned.

    Because of all the pre-work we have to do to make chickens happen, and because we want to hand-raise chicks so they will imprint on us and be used to being handled by us, and because the chicks are only available from Egg Plant from now until June, we will not be getting them until this time next year. But that’s ok. We want to do this right which means not rushing. I’m sure there will be plenty of chicken preparation stories to tell!

    One change we will have to make in our main garden is filling in Amy Pond. I was looking forward to another season of trying to make the pond work, but since it is such a big raccoon attractor and raccoons will eat chickens and our raccoons have already demonstrated their determination and destructive powers in catching very small goldfish, the pond has to go. And it has to go this year so the raccoons will learn it no longer exists and won’t come looking for it after we have chickens to worry about next year. Maybe in the future we might be able to find another location for Amy Pond, but for now it has to go.

    Enough about chickens. Bookman and I spent several hours this afternoon at the fantastic Hub Bike Co-op where the marvelous AK helped us find the perfect bikes to propel us to our goal of riding a half-century (50 miles/80km) in October and a century (100 miles/161km) in summer 2016. Bookman decided on a Giant Anyroad cyclocross bike and got a great deal on a 2014 closeout model. I had a hard time deciding between a really nice women’s Jamis model that has a steel frame and a smooth ride or a Liv Avail women’s model that has an aluminum frame with a carbon fork and a bit more vibration than than the Jamis. In the end after taking each for a test ride, I went for the Liv Avail because the bike fit me perfectly and since I will be spending hours and hours on this bike, the fit is very important.

    I also got clipless pedals (clipless on one side, platform on the other) and bike shoes (they didn’t have my size so I had to order them), a new helmet because mine is well past its prime, and a small, lightweight fender. Bookman got a new helmet too and is getting the pedals that came on my bike put onto his because they have adjustable foot straps on them already. Bookman decided to go with straps because he has clonus in his right ankle due to his MS and he isn’t sure he’d always be able to get his foot unclipped from the pedal quickly enough.

    We left the bikes at the Hub for them to add the fenders and do the pedals and make sure everything is tuned-up and ready to go. We’ll pick them up Thursday. Now, if only it would warm up enough to actually make riding a comfortable endeavor without having to don winter gear. With any luck, that could be next weekend. The long-term forecast is predicting 40F/4.5C!

    One last thing. The wonderful Colleen of Jam and Idleness interviewed me for her Brain/Food series. Check it out!

    Filed under: gardening Tagged: chickens

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