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<<August 2014>>
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1. Pretty Flyers: The Art of Ben Foot

Article by Oli Rogers



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Before we begin, a quick disclaimer: you’ve already missed all of these gigs. Sorry about that.

But never mind, you were probably busy anyways, right? However, had you been there in the crowd, it would in all likelihood have been because your eyes eager eyes once alit upon a flyer whose unique style could be described as “mid-Century comic book meets etching inside a disarranged psychonaut’s brain”: a flyer that was the work of illustrator Ben Foot. And today, Illustration Friday is here to save you all the bother of rescuing one of his aesthetically outstanding yet probably somewhat trampled pieces of art from of a post-mosh puddle of beer, because you can admire them all from behind a nice, clean screen of your choice.

Music and illustration are two disciplines that have a rich shared history; they’ve probably been complementing one another in some form or another since the first time someone opened their mouth to sing, thereby unleashing an avalanche of images on the inside of someone else’s skull. Indeed, there’s definitely something synesthetic about Ben’s work, with its behind-the-eyelids glow of candied violets and emeralds – and although there may not be any lyrical reference to moons with whimsical cat faces in the songs they complement, these images certainly hail from the same dimension of inspiration that informs the work of the musically innovative. In fact, this is artwork that at times strays into the sublime realms of true psychedelia, where image breaks down and the pure geometry of the universe, unfettered by mere human perception breaks through, spewing bubbles of energy and shards of celestial light through the rift and into the viewer’s consciousness. Yeah, you heard. At other times though, it’s as wistful and human as the work of Daniel Clowes.

Besides creating musical ephemera par excellence, Ben’s work has also adorned t-shirts from purveyor of illustrated fashions, threadless.com, and appeared in self-penned comics effervescing with his trademark surrealism and wry humour, such as the outstandingly-named Sparkly Sparkly Chew.

If you’d like to see more of Ben’s artwork (and why wouldn’t you?), head over to his website.

The post Pretty Flyers: The Art of Ben Foot appeared first on Illustration Friday.

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2. The Empire Strikes Back

No Fighting1 The Empire Strikes BackALSC Past-President Starr LaTronica responds to my July editorial. Incidentally, we’re publishing a terrific piece in the November issue by Thom Barthelmess (former ALSC prez and BGHB chair) about how to conduct oneself in a professional book discussion. Thom is far more temperate about these things than am I.

share save 171 16 The Empire Strikes Back

The post The Empire Strikes Back appeared first on The Horn Book.

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3. Long Neck


A self portrait emerged today. Once one of one of my friends said to his dad. “Dad him have a long neck.” True statement.

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4. A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking...

A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking back from dinner and there was this nice grenadine-ish smell in the air, and I said, “It smells like cherries.” My stepson paused, sniffed, and said, “That’s urinal cakes, Carrie.” (Except he’s very deadpan, so it was more like, “That’s. urinal. cakes.”) Anyway, I was writing well this morning so I was late getting to the woods for a walk. It was already hot out and there were lots of thick gnarly spider webs everywhere with dime-sized spiders in them. None of the guys I passed were wearing shirts. And once in a while when the breeze picked up it smelled a lot like urinal cakes (not unpleasantly!).

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5. Audio Teachings: The Errors of the Trinity: Session Ten


Click the arrow to listen.

Do you have to believe in the Trinity to be saved? The short answer is no. The Bible does not mention a “Trinity,” let alone state that one must believe in it in order to attain salvation. Furthermore, no verse in Scripture says you must believe that Jesus Christ is God in order to be saved.

1. Jesus is the son of God – NOT GOD.
2. Soul is breath life; it’s what animates you and makes you a LIVE person. You lose your soul, your breath life, when you die.
3. Holy Spirit is the gift of salvation that is bestowed upon you when you do one simple thing:

Romans 10:9
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Salvation is of the utmost importance, so let’s be sure we understand God’s instructions, which are really quite simple. To be saved, you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. What does that mean? It means that you say what the Bible clearly declares—that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins, was raised from the dead, and highly exalted to the right hand of God. Have you ever opened your mouth and said, “Jesus is Lord?” Why not say it right now? It’s simple: “Jesus is Lord.”

Romans 10:9 goes on to say that along with confessing that Jesus is Lord, you are to believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. What is it to believe in your heart? It means to really believe it. Is that difficult? No, not at all. You probably believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States, even though you never saw him. In the same way, there are many, many valid reasons to believe that God raised Jesus up from the dead.

For proof, read our article, “23 Arguments for the Historical Validity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Once you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you are saved. Salvation is very easy because God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), and He is offering it as a free gift. The reason it is free to you is because Jesus Christ paid the price for it with his life.

[For further study, click here]

If what you have just listened to has been a blessing to you, please consider sowing into our continued outreach of the Gospel, all over the globe.

To donate online via PayPal or any major credit card, click here. To contact the folks at Truth or Tradition, click here.

We trust you have enjoyed this free online class. God bless you!

Check out Truth or Tradition teachings on:


More from Write From Karen

Filed under: Abundant Life

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6. This Is Sadie

My new picture book This Is Sadie, co-created with the ridiculously talented Julie Morstad, and produced under the tender care of the brilliant editor Tara Walker at Tundra Books will be out in the world next spring. 

Today I saw it listed for the first time online and am so very happy to be able to share the cover!

More here.

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7. The Kiss of Deception (2014)

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception was an excellent fantasy. It is probably one of the best fantasies I've read all year. From start to finish, it held my attention. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of it that held up for three-quarters of the book. The mystery being who is who.

Kiss of Deception has multiple narrators. Princess Lia is our heroine, our runaway bride. Some chapters are narrated by "The Prince," and other chapters are narrated by "The Assassin." To add to the delight OR possibly add to the confusion, there are chapters narrated by Rafe and Kaden. Readers know that Rafe could be the Prince OR the Assassin. Likewise, readers know that Kaden could be either the Prince or the Assassin. The first third of the novel focuses more on all three being on the go. The Princess has runaway, taking her maid Pauline with her. The Prince is chasing after her. The Assassin is chasing after her too. Of course, he has been hired by someone to kill her. And the Prince's motivations are vague. What happens when these two men find her hiding in a small country town? What happens when she begins to get to know these two men, Rafe and Kaden, over the course of a week or two?

Kiss of Deception was definitely suspenseful in places. There's a bit of an intrigue mixed dangerously OR delightfully with romance. Readers learn that there is so much to learn about the world in which this novel is set. There is a hint of depth to it. I wanted more--in a good way. It wasn't that this novel was inadequate, it was that what we know is so small in comparison to what we don't know. And there's this wanting to see more, know more. If fantasy worlds feel fake, then, the wanting is completely different. It isn't curiosity but frustration.

I felt this novel was well-written. I enjoyed the world-building. I enjoyed the characterization.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Rockwell and Engelbreit

Over the weekend my family visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. It was suggested as a things-to-do-with-kids-in-the-Berkshires activity because of Rockwell’s “accessibility” as an artist. (Be that as it may, the little boys were much more interested in climbing on the outdoor sculptures — allowed! — and running around on the lawn.) Amidst all the small-town folksy scenes and the smiling cheerleaders was Rockwell’s arresting The Problem We All Live With. Large and horizontal, among the mostly vertical and more contained (and restrained) pieces, the image commands attention and reminds viewers that Rockwell, though undoubtedly adept at capturing cozy Americana, had something more to say.

rockwell The problem we all live with Rockwell and Engelbreit

I then read in the news about the flap caused by illustrator Mary Engelbreit, best known for her sweet, cherubic children and bucolic scenes — from her website: “Mary Engelbreit is known throughout the world for her distinctive illustration style, imbued with spirited wit and nostalgic warmth.” The St. Louis native was inspired by events in Ferguson, Missouri. Who knew she had it in her? You go, Mary.

engelbreit ferguson Rockwell and Engelbreit

It’s an apt time to re-post last summer’s thoughtful, moving piece by Christopher Myers — “Young Dreamers” — about cultural diversity in children’s media, the state of race in America, and childhood cut short.

share save 171 16 Rockwell and Engelbreit

The post Rockwell and Engelbreit appeared first on The Horn Book.

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9. Back to school sale!

Hi everyone, 

I am doing a Back-to-School sale @ my on-line store!!

$20 purchase or more 10%off - Coupon Code: schoolrock
$35 purchase or more 20%off - Coupon Code: schoolfun

Sale end Sept 23

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10. What is the future of international law?

With the 10th European Society of International Law (ESIL) Anniversary Conference just around the corner some key thinkers share their thoughts on what they think the future of international law looks like.

*   *   *   *   *

“International law traditionally flourishes with liberal hegemony, shared interests, or balance-of-powers parity. The first condition is visibly waning. The second and third conditions support regional and functional islands of multilateralism. While those islands may sometimes be shaky, they will continue to provide work for international lawyers. Beyond that, in the rough waters of war, peace, and even justice, the language of international law will also continue to pervade international relations. But it increasingly risks being perceived as an imprudent distraction. That is unless civil societies can unsettle the present monopolies that shape the terms of international legal discourse.”

Ingo Venzke, Research Fellow and Lecturer, Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam, author of How Interpretation Makes International Law: On Semantic Change and Normative Twists, and co-author of In Whose Name? A Public Law Theory of International Adjudication

*   *   *   *   *

“The future of international law will be somewhat as with its present: we will witness the continued expansion of international law’s reach into new and emerging areas of common concern, wrought by climate change, technology, and continued processes of international and regional integration that are changing the nature of State-to-State relations. I do hope, however, that there will be continued and sustained critical reflection in scholarship on the impact of law on the international space—on who it empowers and excludes, on the nature of legalisation and its purposes—for it is only through heightened scrutiny, and not unquestioned application, that international law may serve as a progressive force.”

Gleider I. Hernandez, Lecturer in Law, Durham University, author of The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Function

*   *   *   *   *

“In my opinion, the international law of the future will be less influenced by the ‘Westphalian model’, for at least two reasons: the increasing role played by non-state actors, in particular armed groups and multinational corporations, which challenges existing state-centred rules of international law, and the emergence of cyberspace as a separate domain, that will entail a rethinking of traditional concepts like territory, sovereignty, and jurisdiction. With regard to the future of international institutions, it remains to be seen whether the United Nations will be able to survive in its outdated structure.”

Marco Roscini, Reader in International Law, University of Westminster, author of Cyber operations and the use of force in international law

*   *   *   *   *

“The future of international law is likely to be as its past: a vital, though often misunderstood, medium through which social actors at various levels and in various forms can structure and order their interactions, reflect their desires and manifest their concerns. It is neither static nor predictable. Following a period in which there have been high expectations of what international law can achieve, the next few years may be times of challenge as it struggles to deliver solutions which have become expected of it. But this is merely part of the endless re-calibration necessary to reflect the tasks to which it is being put and the realities which need to be faced. If international law does not disappoint from time to time it will cease to be a source of aspiration – and that would make for a far bleaker future.”

Malcolm Evans, Professor of Public International Law, University of Bristol, author of International Law and Blackstone’s International Law Documents

*   *   *   *   *

Vienna, AT. Photo by  Luca Sartoni. CC BY-SA 2.0 via lucasartoni Flickr.
Vienna, AT. Photo by Luca Sartoni. CC BY-SA 2.0 via lucasartoni Flickr.

“International law has undergone dramatic change in the past fifty years, with issues from human rights to the environment to trade now the subjects of a wide range of hard and soft law instruments. Yet, many of the principles encapsulated within these documents remain unrealized due to the inability of international law to influence domestic law and national political priorities. Oftentimes, international law seems to remain distinct from domestic systems, treated with suspicion by national institutions.

“In the twenty first century, the national and international cannot be so easily separated. In areas such as refugee flows, arms proliferation, environmental degradation and combatting impunity, domestic initiatives and capability hold the key to international security. Agreement on and adherence to international standards is essential if global threats with national origins are to be managed effectively. International law must become not only the standard setter but the enabler and enhancer of domestic capacity. One of the key challenges will be to alter perceptions of international law itself. Rather than being viewed as something to be resisted or resented, side-stepped or paid lip service to, international legal standards must become part of domestic legislative and political agendas. The challenge is enormous, but essential, because, in the words of Anne-Marie Slaughter, the future of international law is domestic.”

Alison Bisset, Lecturer of Law, University of Reading, author of Blackstone’s International Human Rights Documents

*   *   *   *   *

“In the security regime, the future of international law looks increasingly dim. Attributability is a prerequisite for accountability, and powerful governments are discovering new ways to mask innovative forms of coercion behind a veil of anonymity. “Little green men” with no visible identification, untraceable drone strikes, “NATO” bombings that conceal belligerents’ identities, cyber-attacks masked by false flags—these sorts of intrusions all erode the rule of law by making it difficult if not impossible to impute responsibility. Should this trend continue, the security regime could look increasingly like Ferguson, Missouri—a juridical black hole where lawless police hide their badges.”

Michael J. Glennon, Professor of International Law, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, author of National Security and Double Government

*   *   *   *   *

“In my opinion, the future of international law in the coming decades will continue to be shaped by the continued tensions between sovereignty and other interests of the international community, such as the protection of the environment, the development of the Responsibility to Protect and more broadly human rights.

“On the one hand, states will obviously have to continue to accept that the traditional Westphalian model of international law is facing challenges and that things cannot be as they were in the past.

“But on the other hand, activists in various fields need to accept that the world is not changing as fast as they would like everyone to believe and that sovereignty remains a key feature of the international legal order. To a certain extent, as a feature of any given community, sovereignty is in fact conceptually unavoidable in one shape or another, whether at the domestic or the international level. Testimony to this is the continued relevance in international affairs of national(istic) claims which find their legal cristalisation in concepts such as statehood, self-determination and the prohibition of the use of force in international law.

“Accepting this reality is key in shaping realistic, effective and intellectually sound policies that not merely focus on individual rights, however important they are, but also take into account the collective dimensions and interests of any human society.”

Dov Jacobs, Associate Professor in International Law at the Grotious Centre, Leiden University, contributor to “Targetting the State in Jus post Bellum: Towards a theory of Integrated Sovereignties” in Jus Post Bellum: Mapping the Normative Foundations

The post What is the future of international law? appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Review of The Madman of Piney Woods

MadmanPineyWoods Review of The Madman of Piney Woodsstar2 Review of The Madman of Piney Woods The Madman of Piney Woods
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Intermediate, Middle School   Scholastic    370 pp.
9/14    978-0-545-15664-6    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-545-63376-5    $16.99

In this companion to Newbery Honor Book Elijah of Buxton (rev. 11/07), it is now 1901, and for thirteen-year-old Benji Alston of Buxton, Ontario, the American Civil War is ancient history — great material for war games, but tedious when the Buxton elders harp on it. Life for this African Canadian nature lover involves coping with two irritatingly gifted younger siblings, spending time with his best friend Spence, and dreaming of becoming a newspaper reporter. In nearby Chatham lives Alvin “Red” Stockard, a scientifically inclined Irish Canadian boy whose borderline-abusive grandmother tells horrific stories of the Potato Famine and coffin ships on the St. Lawrence River, tales that, in her mind, justify her inflexible hatred of Canadians and “anyone whose skin is darker than [hers].” The two boys eventually meet and become friends, discovering unexpected similarities in each other and their family histories. And then there is that supposedly mythical woodland monster — called the Madman of Piney Woods by Buxton residents and the South Woods Lion Man by Chatham folk — who tragically and irrevocably brings the past into the present for both boys. Curtis takes his young protagonists — and his readers — on a journey of revelation and insight. Woven throughout this profoundly moving yet also at times very funny novel are themes of family, friendship, community, compassion, and, fittingly, the power of words.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of The Madman of Piney Woods

The post Review of The Madman of Piney Woods appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. How do you name your characters?

This question comes from reader Puneet Agrawal, who is wondering about a seemingly simple and yet quite complicated and important question: How do you name your characters?

Where do you draw your inspiration? What's your process? Do they just come to you or do you spend time brainstorming? Do you draw upon any resources, like baby name books or census data?

I'm personally partial to naming important characters after coffee drinks. What about you?

Art: The Gardener by Paul Cezanne

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13. Makes Me Happy - Home Sweet Home

The lazy days of summer are winding down and my schedule seems to be filling up, so I missed last week's Makes Me Happy post. I think I will now shoot for posting every other week, so I don't stress myself out. It would be a self-induced stress, since I'm choosing to do these posts, so that would just be silly, wouldn't it!

There is something about little house shapes, in a row or in a pattern, in particular, that really captures my heart. They can be simple, like something a child would draw, or more intricate, with lots of detail and texture. Here are a few that brightened my day, with the links below. To see more, visit my Home Sweet Home board on Pinterest.

Tall pink house by Me!

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14. Back-t0-School Sale!!

Hi everyone, 

I am doing a Back-to-School sale @ my on-line store!!

$20 purchase or more 10%off - Coupon Code: schoolrock
$35 purchase or more 20%off - Coupon Code: schoolfun

Sale end Sept 23

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15. August Cat photo competition: Cats in boxes! Reminder + Entries so far

Originally posted on Katzenworld:
Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that our cat in boxes photo competition (as posted here) will soon come to an end! But there is still time to enter YOURS now! :) You are asking what you can win? A cartoon drawing of your cat as seen in our Hall of…

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16. The Hawaiian Hiatus of Herkimer Street

The Hawaiian Hiatus of Herkimer Street
Author & Illustrator: Desirae Foston
Publisher: Bliss Group Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9885359-0-9
Pages: 20
Price: $7.50

Buy it at Amazon

A child loves living on Herkimer Street and thinks it’s the greatest place in the world. So when his family is taking a trip to Hawaii, he wants to bring the whole street with him. Everyone cooperates to make the trip happen, facing obstacles with ingenuity and determination. Soon they’re all having a wonderful time in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Hiatus of Herkimer Street is a simple tale for young children, highlighting the importance of community and cooperation. Working as a team, the residents of Herkimer Street are able to realize their dreams of a fun Hawaiian vacation together.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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17. the long ship

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18. Summer Events

Reading Flight School and making penguins with new friends at the Norwich library last weekend. That was fun. Thanks also to the Eric Carle Museum for hosting me at their storytime!

Norwich Public Library

Norwich Public Library

The post Summer Events appeared first on Lita Judge.

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19. Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Post by James

Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen

Meet Renata Owen, an illustrator and designer from Surabaya, Indonesia.
Renata uses copious amounts of rich, ornamental detail in her work, which along with an soft, exquisite color palette, results in images that feel dreamy, complex and inviting.

You can see more of Renata’s work on her website.


The post Editorial Submission :: Renata Owen appeared first on Illustration Friday.

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20. Almost finished with Hungry Dragon!

I can almost see the finish line!! 2 more paintings left to tweek and then I can move on to final touches on all the paintings.   Monday deadline here I come!!!  Feelin determined 😆

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Time for pencils, books and backpacks!

 Summer's Fizz Boom Read program brought many fun programs to Syosset Library's Children's Dept. (see Miss Josephine's blog for great photos!)
But now, September is just around the corner...time to hang up your swim goggles and sharpen those pencils.
Get in the school groove and re-boot your brains.  You'll find books on math, science, report writing and much more.  Come visit us and we'll point you in the right direction.

Posted by:  Miss Rosemarie

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22. Little dragon

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23. Sponsor Me: Camp NaNoWriMo

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24. Flogometer for Erika—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below--new: I've added a request to post the rest of the chapter.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Storytelling Checklist

Before you rip into today’s submission, consider this list of 6 vital storytelling ingredients from my book, Flogging the Quill, Crafting a Novel that Sells. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Evaluate the submission—and your own first page—in terms of whether or not it includes each of these ingredients, and how well it executes them. The one vital ingredient not listed is professional-caliber writing because that is a must for every page, a given.

  • Story questions
  • Tension (in the reader, not just the characters)
  • Voice
  • Clarity
  • Scene-setting
  • Character

Erika sends a first chapter, not sure about the title. The rest of the chapter is after the break.

I hadn’t dressed for running and was losing ground fast. The shiny black dress shoes I wore burrowed into the dry sand with every step, my tuxedo jacket flapped open as I pumped my arms. The San Diego evening was cooler than you’d expect, brisk gusts of wind bouncing off the sea at sporadic intervals. A full moon blazed out of a cloudless, starry sky, washing the beach in cool shades of blue.

Waves sent salty spray into my face as I reached back to tear the jacket off my shoulders and fling it to the sand behind me. My quarry raced on ahead, lighter than me and almost dancing across the top of the sand. If I had to guess, I’d say I was chasing a woman, 5’ 1” max, with a body fat percentage that had to be in the low teens. She wore an all-black ensemble, complete with a matching ski mask and boots that kicked up little spits of sand with each stride.

Her speed was impressive; she widened the gap between us by almost two paces for each one I took. She ran like someone who knew where she was going, my guess was that she was headed toward the public parking lot a quarter mile ahead. I had to assume she’d prepared a contingency plan in that parking lot somewhere. Guns, explosives, sharp rocks, something painful of that nature. If I didn’t catch up with her before she reached her defense cache, I was guessing I wouldn’t like the welcome.

“Enough of this crap,” I said and stopped just long enough to kick off my dress shoes. A (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Erika's first page?

Ah, a good strong action scene with clear writing and a good (though over-written at times) voice. The scene is well set, what’s happening is clear, and good story questions are raised: what did the quarry do, who/what is the person chasing her, and why.

The narrative could be crisper, though, and my belief is that you can’t waste the space it takes for verbiage that should be subjected to the delete key. Still, I turned the page, but would have done so more convinced that I was in good hands with some editing, which I’m sure Erika can do. Notes to that effect:

I hadn’t dressed for running and was losing ground fast. The My shiny black dress shoes I wore burrowed into the dry sand with every step, my tuxedo jacket flapped open as I pumped my arms. The San Diego evening was cooler than you’d expect, brisk gusts of wind bouncing off the sea at sporadic intervals. A full moon blazed out of a cloudless, starry sky, washing the beach in cool shades of blue.

Waves sent salty spray into my face as I reached back to tear tore the jacket off my shoulders and fling flung it to the sand behind me. My quarry raced on ahead, lighter than me and almost dancing across the top of the sand. If I had to guess, I’d say I guessed I was chasing a woman, 5’ 1” max, with a body fat percentage that had to be in the low teens. She wore an all-black ensemble, complete with a matching ski mask and boots that kicked up little spits of sand with each stride. I like “little spits of sand”—nice description, very visual, promises more good writing ahead.

Her speed was impressive; she widened the gap between us by almost two paces for each one I took. She ran like someone who knew where she was going, my guess was that she was headed toward the public parking lot a quarter mile ahead. I had to assume she’d prepared a contingency plan there in that parking lot somewhere. Guns, explosives, sharp rocks, something painful of that nature. If I didn’t catch up with her before she reached her defense cache, I was guessing I wouldn’t like the welcome. a lot of use of “guessing” and “guess” here. Look for alternatives (figured, etc.) or delete some, too much repetition

“Enough of this crap,” I said and stopped just long enough to kick off my dress shoes. A (snip) we already know they are dress shoes, no need to repeat

The rest of the chapter follows the break.

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Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Erika


daily barefoot run on the beach routine has some advantages, not the least of which is being able to keep up with pixies during nighttime sand chases.

I put on a burst of speed and kept my eyes on the troublemaker who’d ruined what had been, up until ten minutes ago, a tedious evening of guarding teenage girls at a school-sanctioned Welcome Formal. Of course, when the girls you’re getting paid to protect are the daughters of the wealthiest and most influential people in America, you can’t afford to stop paying attention for even a minute lest you miss something. Something like a woman dressed in black trying to break in through the back door. Maybe it sounds weird, but I was actually pretty grateful to get out of there and put my training to use. If not for the woman in black, my post at the school would have run the risk of being the most boring assignment of all time. I didn’t sign up to be a case officer for the CIA so I could listen to girls whine about corsages and hair spray.

Without dress shoes slowing me down, my long legs ate up the gap between me and the troublemaker in short order. By the time I could hear her labored breathing and the staccato, panicked sounds she made as she ran, I knew I had her. All I had to do was tackle, disarm, and subdue her and I’d be free to find out what the heck she was doing trying to sneak into a high school formal. She wasn’t at that dance to make friends, and there were a lot of people who would need to know who she’d been targeting and why.

The unlit public parking lot materialized in the darkness. It was empty but for five cars scattered throughout the lot. I didn’t have time to make a note of the makes and models present because my quarry stopped up short, clutching her side as though she had a stitch.

In retrospect, I should have realized it was a trap. If I’d known who I was dealing with at the time, I would have handled it differently. Maybe I would have kept my distance, maybe I would have run, screaming, away from her as fast as possible. What I definitely would not have done is try to tackle her.

Which, of course, is exactly what I did.

She played me, and as I went flying over her head only to land hard on my back at her feet I realized she’d let my assumptions about her get the best of me. The air was knocked out of my lungs but I tried to scramble back up anyway to dodge the heel of her boot, which came stomping down next to my temple.

I grasped her toes and heel, wrenching her foot to the side with a quick jerk designed to disrupt her balance and send her to her knees. Anticipating what I would do, the rest of her body was already in motion and her foot flew out of my hand as she leapt up into a neat backward roll that not only served to jerk her foot from my hand but also kicked a bunch of sand into my eyes.

I rolled away and scrambled to my feet, my eyes burning with sand and tears, and tried to assess exactly what kind of hornet’s nest I’d managed to kick. She stood about five feet away in a textbook Hapkido ready stance, fists guarding her face and torso, her weight balanced on her back leg. The eyes that stared out at me from her ski mask were Asian, canted in a smile that was both menacing and mischievous.

She should have run away while I was down, I thought as I assumed a ready stance of my own. By letting me face off against her, she ran the risk of me learning something about her. If she’d run while she had the chance, I would have been left with next to nothing. I filed her arrogance away as a potential weakness and tried a diplomatic tack with her.

“Nice night for a run, huh?” I asked. My heart rate was up, making it a little hard to talk. I was annoyed to see she wasn’t breathing hard at all.

She didn’t answer.

“Look, I don’t know what you were doing at the Coronado tonight but I’m sure it was a misunderstanding,” I said. Lying through my teeth is an integral part of being a counterintelligence officer. Not to brag, but I’m pretty good at it. You could say I’d had some practice before joining the Agency. “Can we talk about this?”

She sidestepped to her right and I matched her movement, studying the way she moved in the hopes of picking up on a vulnerability somewhere. A bad knee, an uneven stance, anything I could use to take her down fast. She had none, so far as I could tell. She just kept sidestepping and I just kept circling her, waiting for her to make the first move. When we’d rotated enough that I was facing the ocean with the parking lot at my back, I started getting antsy. I got that prickly, uncomfortable feeling I always get when I know someone’s sneaking up on me, but I couldn’t risk checking. She was up to something, I was certain of it, and it seemed like it’d be a bad idea to wait around for her to show me what she had in mind.

I moved in with a couple quick kicks and punches designed to focus her attention on defending herself. She parried the strikes, moving with an economy of motion I was forced to admire even as she retaliated with a sequence of blows to my throat and face. To my annoyance, our martial arts skills were evenly matched enough that, despite the substantial blows we were both able to land, neither of us ended up with the advantage.

When we separated after a bout of kicks that left me bruised and her winded, I saw her reach for the small of her back. I hadn’t spotted anything large enough to be a firearm there, but I couldn’t be certain thanks to the lighting and constant motion.

I reached for the .22 caliber Colt pistol I keep at my ankle, but before I could draw it she winked and ducked. I heard a quiet click and then a wall of furious sound and heat smashed into my back, laying me out flat on the sand.

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25. Happy 20th Anniversary Early Head Start!

Did you know that Head Start was founded back in 1965, with Early Head Start joining the ranks in 1994? Both agencies promote the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in local communities, making Head Start a perfect partner for the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committee, and libraries in general. Head Start also promotes and enourages the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teacher, just like libraries do.Smiling kids

For the last two summers, I have worked with my local Head Start agency, which has 21 centers in Suffolk County, NY, to help promote the summer reading programs in our local libraries. One easy thing to do? If your library is part of the CSLP, you can share some of the great information on family literacy that promotes parents and summer reading.

A father reading to his daughter

Photo rights maintain by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

On a state level, the NYS Library maintains a website, Summer Reading at New York Libraries that offers tip sheets for parents and caregivers on the importance of reading aloud in multiple languages, and an early literacy manual to download for childcare providers. I made 21 copies of the manual to share with each Head Start center in Suffolk County; encouraging the Head Start staff to share information on local summer reading programs with their families before the end of the school year.  I also gave out any early literacy give-away item that I had purchased with our Family Literacy Services grant to both the public libraries and the Head Start sites. And, I have presented twice now at their yearly staff conference on topics such as “how to choose books for babies and toddlers” and “best books for early childhood.” The teachers and classroom aides really appreciated having a librarian come and share books that they can use in their classrooms.

A more extensive, and long term partnership has evolved over the last two years with our Head Start agency. They administered an early literacy pre-survey to families last summer for my office (I am the youth services coordinator for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, with 54 member libraries). We provided the survey in both English and Spanish to over 1600 families, with over 900 being returned. Questions ranged from “I play with my baby or child every day” and “I know where my public library is in town” to “my baby or child participates in the summer reading program at our library.” It is our hope that we can administer a post-survey, asking the same questions, to returning families this September to see if we are creating change in early literacy knowledge and habits. Please feel free to contact me at lisa@suffolknet.org with any questions or comments about our local partnership with Head Start.

So help Head Start celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Early Head Start program this year by picking up the phone and making a call to your local site today. Because it’s never to early to start planning and building a partnership, one book and family at a time.

Lisa G. Kropp is the youth services coordinator of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and a member of the ALSC Liaison with National Organizations committe and the Managing Children’s Services virtual committee. She also writes the First Steps column at School Library Journal.


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