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By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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If you’re a warm blooded human and have been out in public, then you’ve most likely heard that wildly popular and award winning song from the movie Frozen. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. The one that has gotten so far wedged into your head that brain trauma is the only remedy. Well don’t worry. This article isn’t about that song.
No one can deny that Frozen hasn’t been a homerun for Walt Disney Animation. It has won the first Oscar award for an animated movie for the 91 year old Disney Animation Studios, and reports are claiming that it’s the highest grossing animated picture for the company, ever! A lot of time, planning and work went into this sweep of a film. But aside from the producers, the voice actors, and the animators, there are those that worked well behind the scenes who made the movie the hit it has become: The story artists.
This year at Wondercon Anaheim we were joined by four story artists who worked on Frozen: Jeff Rango, Fawn Veerasunthorn, Nicole Mitchell, and Normand Lemay. Each of them shared what they felt what the term “story” meant for them. Jeff Rango, whose first work with Disney after his three years at Cal Arts was designing the Titans for a little animated film named Hercules, shared that for him, “Story is the architecture of a movie. And [that] the story artist is the architect.”
Jeff is also the man who worked on making the scenes match up well with the movie’s music. “The songs are pretty much done before we start [working] with the scenes. I listen to the songs and try to design the scenes around them.” Jeff worked closely with the music and lyrics composers, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, during much of the process. Since the pair lives on the East coast however, Jeff had to do it all over the web. And because he really didn’t live near the animation offices, he had to get there early to make up for the three hour time difference. But he made it work. “Since my drive was an hour and a half both ways, it let me listen to the music probably over a thousand times. It allowed me to get a feel for it.”
Fawn Veerasunthorn, Thailand born and having worked with Disney since 2011, shared that she felt the story process was broken up into two parts. The first of which is more or less pitching ideas, communicating and elaborating with others verbally, and also a little bit of “worrying” too. The ideas that make it through then are then put to a storyboard and sketched out. “With the scene that included Elsa and Anna after the coronation, we originally had it that Hans wasn’t going to be there. But as we sketched it out, we felt that Anna was just talking about her invisible boyfriend. There wasn’t enough Hans.” With the sketches, the story team was also able to focus on some repeating symbolisms. Over and over in the movie we see the gloves (protection/security) and doors (fear/hiding). They were able to decide where these symbols were most effective for each particular scene.
Before any of the scenes are animated, the general ideas have to be discussed and finalized. To get a better idea of what would work for the animation, the artists create what are called “screenings.” They’re basically the proposed scenes drawn out in pencil and animated like a slow flip book. Potential dialogue is also given to each of these hand drawn scenes. “Screenings help put into perspective what will and will not work for the story,” says Normand Lemay. Normand, the Canadian born story artist, has worked for Disney Animation for four years, with Frozen being his first credited work.
What about the snowman do you ask? Where did he come from? Well, you have Jeff Rango to really thank for that. Seen as the more comedic one of the team, he helped to design and name that silly but brainless pile of snow called “Olaf.” “I’ve lived in San Diego, and in [Ocean Beach] there use to be ‘Big Olaf’s Ice Cream.’ I pushed for that guy to be named Olaf.” Jeff also helped much with Olaf’s comedic singing scene, which personally was my favorite singing scene. Guilty pleasure you can call it. But that cute and funny snowman almost ended up on the cutting room floor if it weren’t for one scene that helped solidify his importance. “We decided that it should be Olaf who helped Anna realize that Kristoff might be her real true love and answer,” says Nicole Mitchell. She’s worked with Disney Animation for the last six years, first entering through the trainee program. “That she was loved. It helped Olaf to become a [real] piece of the movie.”
There’s a lot of work that goes into an animated feature. A lot of it is what you see in the final product on the big screen. But like any house, it should be build on a strong foundation. Next time you sit down in a theatre, or flip on your favorite animated movie, don’t forget to thank those who helped form the supporting beams that hold the entire thing up, and allowed it to become something great.
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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Cat Says Meow: And Other Animalopoeia
by Michael Arndt
Chronicle Books 2014
Age 2 to 4 28 pages
“Dog says woof . . . pig says oink . . . cow says moo. Animals and the sounds they make are paired up in playfully compelling ways in this eye-catching illustrated gift book featuring bold colors and an engaging use of onomatopoeia. Kids and parents will delight in discovering the ways in which the letters that spell out each animal’s sound are key elements of that animal’s illustration. With so much to see and to sound out, kids will relish this unique visual and educational experience, brimming with color and letters.”
How do you say hello? Ask any of the animals in Cat Says Meow and you will get the answer you probably are expecting, but the animal may look a tad different from normal. The duck still says quack, but look closely at the animal that just spoke to you.
Its left eye looks like the letter “q.”
Its beak looks like a large “u.”
Its right eye looks like an “a.”
The wing looking like a large “c.”
Its legs that look like an odd “k.”
There is something odd going on. Still, if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, then it must be a . . . wait a minute, that duck says “quack” and it is made out of the letters quack, which spells “quack!” This has to be a coincidence.
Well, there are 25 animals in all, each greeting you in their native tongue, and each looking mostly normal. Take the cow. It greets you by saying, “Moo.” It looks normal as normal can be . . . wait, again. This cow is a bit odd looking.
Its right eye looks like an “m.”
Its left eye looks more normal, but still it looks suspiciously like an “o.”
Its nose looks like another “o.”
“Moo” says the cow that looks like moo.
There is a definite trend going on. A random turn of the thicker than usual pages brings me to an owl, which says, “Hooo.” An owl that looks like “hooo” and says, “Hooo.” Interesting. A pattern has definitely emerged from Cat Says Meow. Every animal, on every page looks like it sounds.
The author calls this animalopoeia, a word he has trademarked. Each animal, which the author also drew, looks like it sounds. A dog is “woof,” a lamb is, “baa,” and a horse is “neigh.” Onomatopoeia means words that sound like the actual act or thing. The words cough, growl, and boom are onomatopoeia. In Cat says Meow, all of these words are animal sounds. The author has coined these sounds Animal*opoeia. This is Michael Arndt’s debut children’s book.
Cat Says Meow is a great little book for teaching your child about 25 common animal sounds. As in reading, the words in each animal shape are formed from left to right, top to bottom. The large, singular illustrations little kids will easily recognize and will enjoy speaking like the animals and hearing you do the same.
Michael Arndt explained Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia and animalopoeia in particular, “[aim] is to promote verbal and visual literacy as well as foster a love of animals at an early age.” Part of the Arndt’s proceeds from Cat Says Meow go back to animal rescue organizations, groups that are also dear to me. The next time you hear a familiar “meow” and think it is your Fluffy, take a quick look, it could be an animalopoe*ia.
CAT SAYS MEOW: AND OTHER ANIMALOPOEIA. Text and Illustrations copyright (C w2014 by Michael Arndt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Youtube video found by Erik at ThisKidsReviewsBooks. His review is HERE.
Learn more about Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia HERE.
Buy a copy of Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia at Amazon—B&N—Chronicle Books—your local bookstore.
Meet the author/illustrator, Michael Arndt, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/animalopoeia
Find more books at Chronicle Books’ website:http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Posted on 4/19/2014
Question: If you wrote a book and it got published and there's a sequel to it do you have to come up with a title? If you can't think of anything can you
, by Andy Weir (Random House 2014), was delightfully gripping. The basic premise--Mark Watney is an astronaut abandoned on Mars after his spacesuit is punctured by a rouge antennae during a storm. His crewmates, in a desperate hurry to leave the planet before it's too late for them all, are sure he is dead. But he's not.
And now he is stuck on Mars, alone. The next manned mission won't arrive for four years; he has food for only a few months. He has no way to communicate with Earth. But Watney is nothing if not resourceful, and he refuses to give in....
What follows is a harrowing survival story, in which human ingenuity is pitted against an environment where the smallest mistake can become deadly. Basically, it's a grown-up version of My Side of the Mountain
on Mars, and I enjoyed it very much.
Mostly it's told in Watney's log entries (in which he records all the various technical jury-rigging and repurposing projects that fill his days--don't try these at home), but when he finally manages to communicate with Earth, we get to see how NASA desperately does what it can to rescue him, and how the whole planet becomes riveted by what's happening out on Mars. A lot of what concerns Watney is fairly technical, and I confess I read lightly over his engineering endeavours. But I was riveted by his potato farming adventures--Watney is a biologist, as well as an engineer, and the 12 potatoes that flew to Mars for Thanksgiving turn out to be life-savers (composting for the win!).
I was sad this nearish-future vision of the scientific world hadn't made many strides with regard to the inclusion of women as full fledged geeks- true, the commander of the original mission is female, but NASA command is still pretty much all male. And there were two gratuitous bits of nerd culture slamming that I wish hadn't been there (Watley wonders why one crew member is a nerd when she is so beautiful, and the PR woman at NASA sneers at colleagues who reference the Council of Elrond, which she's never heard of). But I guess it's believable; attitudes take a while to change.
There's some strong language (the first sentence, for instance, is "I'm pretty much f***ed"), but I'd be comfortable giving it to my own eight-grader because there's really no point in pretending he doesn't know the f word at this point.
Anyway, I pretty much read it in a single sitting, and recommend it enthusiastically to anyone who enjoys harrowing survival stories that are chock full of science--instructive as well as entertaining. And of course it could conceivably described as "a testament to the indomitable will of the human spirit" etc. etc. which is, you know, not a bad thing in thing to be reading in these difficult times when one's own spirit might be daunted by all there is to do at home and work. At least I don't have to combine hydrogen and oxygen in the kitchen in order to wash the dishes.
My children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet began being published as a 5 part series in February, and will run through June in Jabberblabber Magazine. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Jabberblabber is a print and online Earth Friendly magazine for kids available at all Walgreens in the Tri State area, as well as various other locations throughout the Mid-South. To read part 3/5 in the April issue, please click on the illustration below. Parts 1-3 are covered on pages 31 and 32.
The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is offering several of my children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is my story titled The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum, which was published on March 18th. To read the stories, please click on the illustration below.
Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law
COPYRIGHT © 2014 ARTIE KNAPP
Blog: The Open Book
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Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
1. Teaching Students About Narrator Bias
Etched In Clay is a compelling case study for narrator bias and trustworthiness. The text structure with 13 narrators and its economy of words make Dave’s story captivating, especially to middle grade students who are beginning to engage with primary sources from the period of American slavery. Students can analyze how each speaker’s social experiences, status, motivations, and values influence his/her point of view, such as evaluating the poems of the slave-owners who would have had a vested interest in popularizing a particular narrative of slavery.
Using multiple perspectives to tell the story of one life is a striking display of how events can be interpreted and portrayed by different positions in the community. Students face the task of examining the meaning and nuance of each narrator (13 in total!) and what they choose to convey (or don’t).
Discussion questions include:
- Why might the author choose to share Dave’s story using multiple speakers? How do multiple narrations develop or affirm the central idea?
- How do the author’s choices of telling a historical story in present tense and first person narration affect our sympathy toward the narrators and events in the book?
- Select a poem, such as “Nat Turner,” and defend why the author chose a particular narrator to tell that event or moment. How would the event and poem be different if another, like Reuben Drake, had told it?
- Are there narrators the readers can trust more than others? Why or why not? What makes a narrator (un)trustworthy? How is each narrator (un)reliable? Why might one of these narrators not tell readers the “whole” truth? Does having more than one narrator make the story overall more reliable? Why or why not?
- How does a narrator’s position in society or in Dave’s life affect what he/she knows? How does the historical context affect what a narrator may or may not know and his/her reliability? How can readers check a narrator’s knowledge of facts?
- What is the motivation of each narrator to share?
- Does this alternation between narrators build compassion or detachment for Dave in readers? How so?
- Why is it important to learn the history of slavery from slaves themselves?
- Compare and contrast the conditions of slavery from Dave’s point of view and Lewis Miles.
- How do the slaveholders depict the relationships with their slaves? How do the slaves depict their relationships with the slaveholders?
- Compare Dave and Lewis Miles’ perceptions of the Civil War.
- Consider whether Dave and David Drake should be considered one perspective or two.
- Contrast how each narrator feels about antebellum South Carolina.
- Who might be the audience the narrators are telling their version of events to (themselves, God, a news reporter, etc.)? Are they the same? Why is intended audience important to consider?
- Argue whether 13 points of view flesh out this figure or make Dave and his life even more elusive.
2. Poetry Month and Primary Sources
As “Primary Sources + Found Poetry = Celebrate Poetry Month” suggests, the Library of Congress proposes an innovative way to combine poetry and nonfiction. Teaching With The Library of Congress recently re-posted the Found Poetry Primary Source Set that “supports students in honing their reading and historical comprehension skills by creating poetry based upon informational text and images.” Students will study primary source documents, pull words and phrases that show the central idea, and then use those pieces to create their own poems.
This project not only enables teachers to identify whether a student grasps a central idea of a text, but also encourages students to interact with primary sources in much the same way as Etched In Clay’s Andrea Cheng. When researching Dave’s life and drawing inspiration for her verses, Andrea Cheng integrated the small pieces of evidence of Dave’s life, including poems on his pots and the bills of sale.
3. Common Core and the Appendix B Document
Many middle school educators are currently using Henrietta Buckmaster’s “Underground Railroad,” a recommended text exemplar for grades 4-5, and Ann Petry’s Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad and Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave, Written by Himself, recommended text exemplars for grades 6-8 in the Common Core State Standards’ Appendix B document.
Educators can couple Etched In Clay with those texts to involve reluctant or struggling readers, prepare incoming middle school students, and scaffold content and language for English Language Learners. Additionally, Andrea Cheng’s biography offers educators an inquiry-based project for ready and advanced readers to analyze “how two texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9).
For a more inclusive, diversity-themed collection of contemporary authors and characters of color, check out our Appendix B Diversity Supplement.
Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse
A Poem from Etched in Clay
Filed under: Curriculum Corner
Tagged: African/African American Interest
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Zonkey outside the Music & Rock School building. A great place to learn to play an instrument certainly needs great art!
I'm not sure who Wrench is but I tried to match the colors of the Zonkey to compliment the writing. I like the large, forward facing Zonkey portrait. It works well on this type of space.
SEALS OF SUMMER
Military Romance Superbundle
Print Length: 1300 pages
Publisher: SOS Ladies
Publication Date: April 21, 2014
Military Super-bundle of ten novellas and novels by New York Times, USA Today and award-winning bestselling authors: Delilah Devlin, Sharon Hamilton, Anne Marsh, Cora Seton, Zoe York, Roxie Riviera, S.M. Butler, Kimberley Troutte, Jennifer Lowery, Elle James.
IT TAKES A SEAL by USA Today Bestselling author Delilah Devlin:
When Susan heads to the Bahamas, she thinks the sexiest part of the trip is that she can count it as a tax deduction. After all, her agency has new offices in the Bahamas, and she needs face-time with her employees, who also just happen to be her best friends. However, things go quickly awry when their island benefactor comes under threat. After a night of partying on his yacht, she awakens to discover she’s stumbled into a sting operation to lure the bad guys into the open. She’s got to pretend she’s the billionaire’s trophy girlfriend, which isn’t hard when the man taking his place is a sexy ex-SEAL. When the bad guys kidnap the couple and imprison them on a deserted island, it’s up to ex-SEAL Justin to orchestrate an escape.
SEAL MY HEART by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Sharon Hamilton:
Kate Livingstone’s engagement is at risk the instant she sets eyes on the handsome elite warrior sitting next to her on a plane trip to visit her sister. Navy SEAL Tyler Gray had thought he knew what he wanted in life, until he meets Kate and their obvious attraction for each other sparks something deep in his soul. What starts out as innocent letters between friends turns out to be much more. Can someone fall in love deeply just with words and letters exchanged, or is this just a pleasant fantasy that will ruin their lives forever?
SMOKING HOT by National Bestselling author Anne Marsh:
When an ambush kills his teammate, Navy SEAL Tye Callahan steps in to fulfill the fallen man’s obligations. He vows to spend the summer in Strong, California, fighting fires with the smoke jumper team and looking out for Katie Lawson, his teammate’s fiancée. Now, as the summer heats up, they must decide if the chemistry burning between them might just be their second chance at living their own lives… together.
THE NAVY SEAL’s E-MAIL ORDER BRIDE by National Bestselling author Cora Seton:
Mason Hall, Navy SEAL, has fought insurgents, drug lords and terrorists, but his current mission is one for the records. Not only must he find a wife—and get her pregnant—or forfeit the ranch his family has prized for over a hundred years, he also must convince his three brothers to marry, too—before the year is up. Who knew one city girl and three wayward brothers could put up such a fight?
FALL OUT by Zoe York:
Drew Castle is a Navy SEAL with a bad case of indifference. Until Annie Martin shows up on his doorstep, scared out of her mind, and all of a sudden, keeping her safe becomes the most important mission of his life. And this time, he’s on his own. Annie knows that letting Drew whisk her away under the guise of protection is a recipe for disaster, but he’s the only person she can trust. Drew’s strange mix of laid-back bossiness takes some getting used to, but as they escape to a Caribbean hideaway, she finds herself wondering what it would be like if they came together at a different time. As the threat is resolved, a new danger arises: one of passion, heat and desire so overwhelming neither can resist, no matter the cost.
CLOSE QUARTERS by Bestselling author Roxie Rivera:
When Navy SEAL Leland Gates runs off to his family’s secluded cabin to lick his wounds, he never expects to find makeup heiress Jamie Pearson hiding out there. His sister’s best friend swears she’s only there for a weekend of relaxation, but his well-honed instincts tell him that she’s in big trouble. Getting tangled up in Jamie’s latest hot mess—or her sheets—is the very last thing he needs, but in close quarters like these, there’s no denying the white-hot passion blazing between them.
KILLING HONOR by International Bestselling author S.M. Butler:
Returning home after a disastrous extended deployment, Navy SEAL Brody Battles struggles with nightmares and government secrets building a wall between him and his wife, Devyn, especially when a security breach compromises his identity. While they’re adjusting to being a family again, an old enemy waits in the shadows, salivating for the sweet taste of revenge.
COMING IN HOT by Award-winning author Kimberley Troutte:
For Navy SEAL Mack Riley, rescuing a family in Colombia is not as hard as seeing the admiral’s daughter again. He’d sworn a vow to steer clear of that heartbreaker. But since the family was taken hostage on Jenna’s watch, she’s determined to join the rescue team. When the admiral orders him to protect Jenna, Mack is forced to keep her as close as body armor. In the heat of battle, love Mack and Jenna deny breaches their defenses. With missiles locked onto their coordinates…can they save the family and get out alive?
A SEAL’s SONG by Golden Heart Finalist Jennifer Lowery:
Navy SEAL Jack Taggart’s plans to catch some much-needed downtime between deployments are demolished when he risks everything to rescue beautiful wedding singer, Darci O’Shea, from a band of thieves. Will the battle between their inner demons be the hardest one to fight, or will they find rescue in each other’s arms?
SEALS’s EMBRACE by USA Today Bestseller Elle James:
Navy SEAL, Ceasar Sanchez has it bad for Army Lt. McGee, a nurse at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. When a rescue mission goes bad and he ends up being medically evacuated, she’s there. Not sure whether he’ll walk again, he’s afraid to pursue the pretty nurse, not wanting to shackle her with half a man. Lt. Erin McGee is a Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse, responsible for ensuring her patients arrive alive at the next level of health care. Fighting an attraction to a sexy Navy SEAL she outranks, she resists the risk of losing her commission for fraternization. But one sensual tryst behind a supply building isn’t enough and the SEALs determination to see her wear at her resolve. Ceasar and Erin share a medevac plane ride to Germany with a critically wounded Taliban leader who could provide information to the whereabouts of four missing soldiers. Transferred to the hospital at Landstuhl, Caesar undergoes surgery, restoring movement to his legs in time to stop a hostage takeover of the ICU where Erin is in charge of the Taliban leader’s care. Together they fight to save lives and halt a Terrorist attack, while finding that love trumps rank every time.
Available April 21 – Preorder Now:
by Elle James
Injured Navy SEAL and the critical care nurse he’s attempting to woo join forces to stop a terrorist attack at a military hospital
Navy SEAL, Ceasar Sanchez has it bad for Army Lt. McGee, a nurse at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. When a rescue mission goes bad and he ends up being medically evacuated, she’s there. Not sure whether he’ll walk again, he’s afraid to pursue the pretty nurse, not wanting to shackle her with half a man.
Lt. Erin McGee is a Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse, responsible for ensuring her patients arrive alive at the next level of health care. Fighting an attraction to a sexy Navy SEAL she outranks, she resists the risk of losing her commission for fraternization. But one sensual tryst behind a supply building isn’t enough and the SEALs determination to see her wear at her resolve. Ceasar and Erin share a medevac plane ride to Germany with a critically wounded Taliban leader who could provide information to the whereabouts of four missing soldiers.
In the hospital at Landstuhl, Caesar and Erin fight their attraction for each other while a terrorist plot is underfoot to rescue the Taliban leader. Together they struggle to save lives and halt the an attack, while finding that love trumps rank every time.
“Sanchez,” a firm voice called out.
Caesar spun, his pulse ratcheting up as he faced the woman he couldn’t get out of his system.
Irish backhanded him in the chest. “I think you’ve met your match in that one.”
By the way Lt. McGee was shaking her pretty red head, Irish might have it right. What Irish didn’t realize was just how much Caesar had been working to break down the lady’s defenses. “Trust me, at this very moment, she’s on the brink of raising the white flag.”
“And her skirt?” Irish snorted. “I seriously doubt it. Wanna lay down another bet?”
“Sorry, I have to go. My future awaits.” Caesar took off across the floor, his focus on the petite nurse with deep auburn hair and emerald green eyes.
With her full, luscious lips pressed into a thin line, she led him deeper into the clinic to an examination room. All the way down the aisle, Caesar couldn’t help but notice the way her hips swayed beneath the flight suit that hugged her body like a tailored glove.
His groin tightened along with his resolve to have this beauty.
“Sit,” she ordered, pointing to the examination table.
Caesar hopped up on the table and spread his knees wide. The only way she was getting to that cut finger was to step between them. Still wearing his PT shorts, he realized the mistake that was. With nothing much to hold him back, he tented the shorts in an instant when the door closed to the room and they were alone.
“You really have to stop cutting yourself. This camp is full of all kinds of germs. Keep this up and you might lose that finger altogether.” She pulled a gauze pad out of a drawer, alcohol pads and a bandage before she turned and met his gaze, her own green eyes dancing with humor. “And the answer is no.” She pressed her lips together.
“How did you know I was about to ask a question? I might really be here to seek aid for my cut finger.”
“Uh huh.” She shook her head and stepped between his knees. “Two times in the same week is suspicious. Three times cutting the same finger, and that the injuries just happen to be on the same days as I’m volunteering at the clinic, is proof. You’re stalking me.” She bumped the inside of his thighs with her hips and sucked in a sharp breath, moving back quickly, her cheeks turning a rosy shade of pink.
So, she wasn’t immune to his presence. She just needed a little persuasion.
“Lt. McGee, mi amor, I’m crushed.” He pressed his uninjured hand to his chest. “Can I help the fact that I’m clumsy and deeply in love? Have coffee with me just once, and I won’t bother you again.”
“What do you know about love?” She pushed a loose strand of red hair behind her ear, twin flags of pink flying high on her cheekbones. “And I only have two words for you: fraternization and sexual harassment.”
Crooking an eyebrow, he grinned. “That’s four.”
“Yeah, I know, but with you, they all go together.” She swiped the alcohol pad across his finger, careful not to sway sideways and touch his thighs.
At the sting, Caesar bit down on his tongue to keep from hissing.
Two seconds later, she had the wound cleaned, and a bandage plastered over it. “There. Your booboo is all better.”
Before she could move away, Caesar hopped off the table and captured her wrist. “What do I have to do for you to look at me as other than a patient?” They stood so close, he could feel the heat of her body through the flight suit.
Her free hand rose to his chest, her eyes widened and her breathing grew more ragged. “An act of God?” She wet her lips.
That simple act sent Caesar over the edge of reason and he swooped in to steal a kiss. “Rules be damned.” He captured the back of her head, and bent to crush his lips against hers.
For a moment her hand pressed against his chest, then her fingers curled into his T-shirt and her mouth opened on a gasp.
Caesar thrust his tongue through, sliding it along hers in a long, wet caress. She tasted even sweeter than he’d imagined. When he lifted his head, he whispered against her mouth, “Muy precioso.”
The lieutenant gazed up into his face, her eyes glazed, her lips parted. Then she blinked and the spell was broken. She glanced down at his hand on her wrist, and her gaze narrowed. “Do you know how wrong this is? Let go.”
Immediately, he released her. “For now. I still want to have coffee with you.”
“No. It’s a bad idea.” She eased back a step.
“Are you afraid of me?”
“No. I’m not afraid of you.” She turned back to the cabinet, fished something out of a drawer and a bottle out of the cabinet above. “Drop your drawers.”
“What?” He frowned. Had he read her wrong? Surely she wasn’t going to…not here…anyone could walk in. His heartbeat quickened.
“You heard me.” She turned toward him, syringe in hand and fire in her eyes. “Drop ‘em.”
He held up his hand. “Seriously? You’re giving me a shot for a little cut on my finger?”
“No, for three little cuts on your finger.” She tilted her head, her brows rising in challenge. “Are you afraid of me?”
He stared at the syringe she wielded like a weapon. “Frankly, yes.”
About the Author
Elle James spent twenty years livin’ and lovin’ in South Texas, ranching horses, cattle, goats, ostriches and emus. A former IT professional, Elle is proud to be writing full-time, penning intrigues and paranormal adventures that keep her readers on the edge of their seats. Now living in northwest Arkansas, she isn’t wrangling cattle, she’s wrangling her muses, a malti-poo and yorkie. When she’s not at her computer, she’s traveling, out snow-skiing, boating, or riding her ATV, dreaming up new stories.
You can reach Elle James at www.ellejames.com or email her at
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Earlier this month, the Harry Potter Alliance in Chicago had a read-a-thon for their Accio Books book drive. As many fans know, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is an international non-profit organization, constructed by Harry Potter fans, that fights injustice using morals and themes found in the Harry Potter books. The HPA's Accio Books drive focuses on raising awareness for literacy needs world wide; in this specific event literacy needs close to home, in Chicago.
The Alliance for Awesome at Loyola sponsored the Accio Books read-a-thon in Chicago. This Accio Books supported two charities: Open Books
and Reading is Fundamental.
Eric Scull from MuggleCast, one of our friends at Mugglenet, opened the read-a-thon by reading the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
. Entertainment included Wizard Rock performances from Tonks and the Aurors, the Remus Lupins, and Seen and Unforeseen. There was a silent auction, costume contest, trivia, snitch scavenger hunt, among many other fun activities. The event weekend raised $1,571 to be split evenly between Open Books and Reading is Fundamental.
Congratulations to the Alliance for Awesome and the HPA for another successful drive, and being a force of fans for good. Hopefully there will be more future events held by the HPA, as well as the Alliance for Awesome, Loyola, to report soon.
This isn't just Easter weekend. There isn't just sun out there, and my radiant son upstairs, asleep. This is the birthday of editor supreme and dear friend, Tamra Tuller.
How can a girl like me, so full of gladness for a friendship like ours, say, You are really special?
I went outside. Tiptoed through dew. Brought the brightest daffodils in.
Happy birthday, Tamra!
By: Alexandra Boiger,
I would like to share the link to Andrea Blasich
's new website. This sculptor's voice has to be heard.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the beloved Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Like most families reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, we were mesmerized and enchanted by the adventure into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
As my family closed the book for the third time on Charlie and Willy, as they’ve become known here, a litany of questions followed.
“Mom, can we please jump into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” This brought about a bit of a problem for me as “Charlie” was one of those “untouchable” books. A book so captivating that it’s better to let it rest in the mind and imagination instead of disappointing by not meeting up to the “enchantment” standards.
“Mom do you think a place like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory could really exist ? Is it possible or is it just too made up to even be realistic?”
It was the answer to that question which sent me down a path, not unlike the yellow brick road, with Willy Wonka in hand to create an enhanced e-book adventure of Wonka size proportions.
Little did I know that on the journey into opening up the magical world of Willy Wonka that we would need to find our own golden tickets, no admittance allowed without one is what the sign said. That we would venture into South American jungles to discover where chocolate comes from and how gum is made. Soon we would taste the banks of the chocolate river and learn the secrets to making delectable Swudge, the minty grass which grows on the banks of the Chocolate River.
As we raced a pack of clothes changing Oompah Loompah’s down the croquet lawn, we can absolutely verify that they exist. I can also attest that hot chocolate definitely tastes better churned by waterfall.
Oompah Loompah’s are great game players. While the rest of the world is trying to let their gobstopper’s last forever, Oompah Loompah’s never put their gobstoppers in their mouths. Instead they play a series of games which occupy their “off” hours. My family and friends play these games often and prefer to save their gobstoppers forever so that we can eternally play our favorite games.
One cannot explore Willy Wonka’s incredible factory without knowing a thing or two about mazes to keep ones bearings. Again gobstoppers came to our rescue with a clever shoe box maze game, as well as learning how to walk through a piece of paper by cutting a scissor maze. Like Charlie we found ourselves stopping in the Fizzy Lifting drink room and gave our hand at making a few of our own fizzy concoctions and of course burping incredibly loud. We wouldn’t want finger prints on the ceilings would we?
We are the creators of magical moments, magnificent candy, fun and nonsense, fizzy drinks, makers of Swudge, maneuverers of mazes, tower builders, but mostly adventurers at heart. To grab your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory enhanced digital e-book for kids, go to iTunes or to our Ultimate Charlie site to learn more about the making of this memorable adventure!
Tweet: Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places- Roald Dahl
The post 50 Years of Charlie: A Celebration of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory appeared first on Jump Into A Book.
By: James Gurney,
Blog: Gurney Journey
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His digital students sketched them from life, gathering inspiration for an assignment to create a poster for the reptile house at the zoo.
The animals came from The Drawing Zoo
, a company in the Baltimore area that specializes in bringing exotic animals into schools for drawing. The animals move, but not too much, and they don't mind the attention. They're experienced with people and completely non-aggressive.
The team from the Drawing Zoo has experience in both art and animal handling, and their subjects are well cared for. They say that "snakes, spiders, lizards, frogs etc. make great models because they are easy to transport, handle and care for, both inside and outside of the classroom."
As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer.
When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story.
Courtesy : Lori Branham @ Creative Commons
Description: sewing encompasses a variety of forms: dressmaking, embroidery, millinery (hat making), quilting, needlepoint, crocheting, knitting, and other activities involving needle and thread. Sewing can be a practical endeavor (as a means of producing a needed product) or a leisurely activity that is more craft-like or entertaining in nature.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: dexterity, good hand-eye coordination, sharp eyesight, a basic knowledge of mathematics, being able to communicate clearly with others
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: patience, meticulousness, creativity, organization, dependability
Required Resources and Training: The basics of sewing can be self-taught but many sewers choose to train through an apprenticeship or via trade or fashion schools.
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Sewers are usually portrayed as females; it would be nice to see other people groups represented in this field. Closely related to sewing, fashion design is a popular skill or hobby that is quickly becoming cliché among female protagonists, particularly in YA books.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful: when extra income is needed; as a means of artistic expression; when money is scarce and clothing/cloth has to be recycled or repurposed; when an article of clothing needs repairing at an important, high-profile event
Resources for Further Information:
Hand Sewing Basics
Choosing Fabrics for a Sewing Project
A Sewing How-To
You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.
The post Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Sewing appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.
Insomnia, methinks, doth stink; It carts one quickly to the brink Then yanks those taunting forty winks And turns them into toss and blinks. The hell with all those leaping sheep! My thoughts on them would earn a bleep. Instead I stare, in darkness deep, As minutes into hours creep. The mind, it fills as demons dance So slumber doesn’t stand a chance, But as the daylight does advance They’re gone, without a backward glance. And then at last, I get to drowse. The lines smooth out between my brows; But obligations don’t allow The time to catch up anyhow. Another tired day will dawn, My pillow something I could pawn. I’ll greet the morning, pale and drawn
And stifle yet another yawn.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Stop Motion
, Arnold Böcklin
, Brothers Quay
, Bruno Schulz
, Centre de Cultura Contemporanea
, Charles Bowers
, Emile Cohl
, Emma Hauck
, Francisco de Goya
, Georges Melies
, Gustave Courbet
, James Ensor
, Jan Svankmajer
, Jean Grandville
, La Casa Encendida
, Ladislas Starewitch
, Lotte Reiniger
, Luis Buñuel
, Max Ernst
, Max Klinger
, Monsu Desiderio
, Robert Walser
, Salvador Dali
, Segundo de Chomón
, Walerian Borowczyk
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“Animated cinema is the demiurgic art par excellence: matter comes to life and is transformed in the hands and imaginations of the creators. They, more than anybody, know about the secret life of objects.” This description, comes from the exhibition “Metamorphosis: Fantasy Visions in Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers,” now playing at the Centre de Cultura Contemporanea (CCCB) in Barcelona, Spain, and it's a good summary of the work of these four visionary animators.
What Kind of Writer Are You? Finding Your Writing Process
I'm one of Janice Hardy's Beta readers and I have to tell you how excited I am about her latest book: Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. So many of the things people tell you about writing are lovely, but leave you with questions of, "How"? Janice answers that. She is not only an amazingly talented writer (author of the Healing Wars trilogy), but she is a gifted teacher. She breaks down complicated ideas into easy-to-understand concepts you can adapt with your own writing. Now that the book is out - I will be shouting about it to everybody I know and using it in my classrooms. I'm honored Janice dropped by to talk:
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy
If you put ten writers in a room and ask them how they write, odds are you'll get ten different answers. There's bound to be some crossover, but everyone approaches the writing process differently. The creative process takes many forms and there's nothing wrong if your process differs from another writer's.
But it's sad how often new writers (and some old ones), don't realize this. I’ve met too many writers who felt they had to write in a certain way to be successful, and that style was contrary to their own natural process. So say it with me... There is no right way to write.
Trying to force yourself to write in a way that feels unnatural to you is only going to cause frustration. For example:
• The outliner who tries to wing it with no writing plan and feels lost, writing a book that’s a huge, unfocused mess.
• The pantser who tries to force her creativity into an outline and feels stymied, making her story go where it doesn’t want to go just because a list of events told her to take it there.
• The freestyler who forces himself to write chronologically and feels his creativity drain out of him when the scenes he’s most excited about fade away in his head.
If a process makes you miserable and hurts your creativity, there’s a good chance it’s not the right process for you. Don’t be afraid to dump it and try something else.
However, don’t reject a process idea if you’ve never tried it just because you don’t think it suits you. I’ve had techniques I thought would never work be exactly what I needed to take my writing to the next level.
If you’re just starting your first novel, you might not yet know what your process is, and that’s okay. Most writers try multiple techniques before they find the ones that work best for them. Experiment with different styles (or adopt pieces from many) until you find the one that feels the most natural to you.
Let’s look at a few process types and see if any fit your style: The Pantser
These writers write by the "seat of their pants" and enjoy sitting down at a blank screen with a general idea and letting the words take them. They don’t want to know what happens before it does happen, and seeing how the novel ends is half the fun of writing it. If you have no trouble finding the words when you sit down to write, but stare at the screen with a terrified look on your face when you try to plot or outline, this could be the process for you. The Outliner
Writing without a plan leaves these writers with a mess of scenes and no coherent storyline. They find comfort in knowing how a novel will unfold before they type a single word. They like to list how each scene starts, how it ends, and what happens in between.
If you need to know exactly where your novel is going and how it’s going to get there before you write it, this could be your process. The Loose Outliner
These writers like structure, but they don’t want to know every detail before they write. They prefer to build the foundation of the novel, creating a framework in which to write that lets them control the plot without the plot controlling them.
If you like knowing enough about your novel to guide your writing without losing the mystery of the story, this might be a good process for you to try. The Character Writer
Characters come to these writers first, and by the time they’re ready to write they know them inside and out. These writers don’t always know what those characters are going to do, however, and they enjoy letting the characters chase after their dreams and see where they take them.
If you’re the type who knows what the characters want and need, but aren’t sure of the plot events to get them there, you might enjoy this process. The Plot Driver
These writers see the plot unfold long before they see the faces of the characters. They love the mechanics of plotting and figuring out how the pieces all fit together, and once that’s solid, then they figure out who the story is about.
If structure and plot is what excites you, this could be the process for you. The Scene Sewer
Novels come to these writers in bits and pieces in random order. Scene sewers prefer jumping around when the mood strikes and sewing up the plot later. They’d rather see it in their mind, get it on paper, and worry about how the puzzle pieces fit later.
If you like to let inspiration strike and then write—no matter where that scene might be in the book—you could be this type of writer.
And if you fit more than one process? Take the parts that work for you and create your own style. Finding Your Own Writing Process
1. Which type of writer do you most identify with? How does that fit with your own writing style?
2. What style would you want to try? What about it appeals to you? Why?
3. What style don’t you like? Why not?
4. Is your process working for you, or do you feel like it’s holding you back?
5. If it’s holding you back, why? What about the process do you find frustrating?
6. Can those frustrations be eliminated by trying or incorporating any of the above styles?
Even if you know your process, it's never a bad idea to dust it off once in a while and re-evaluate what you're doing and why. You might discover you've grown as a writer, and making a few tweaks to your process could make you more productive overall.What kind of writer are you?
Looking for advice on planning or revising your novel? Check out my newest book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure
, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel. Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure
takes you step-by-step through finding and developing ideas, brainstorming stories, and crafting a solid plan for your novel—including a one-sentence pitch, summary hook blurb, and working synopsis.
Over 100 different exercises lead you through the novel-planning process, with ten workshops that build upon each other to flesh out your idea as much or as little as you need to do to start writing.
Find Exercises On:
- Creating Characters Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure
- Choosing Point of View
- Determining the Conflict
- Finding Your Process
- Developing Your Plot
- And So Much More!
is an easy-to-follow guide to planning your novel, as well as a handy tool for revising a first draft, or fixing a novel that isn’t quite working.
Janice Hardy is the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure
is out now. She lives in Georgia with her husband, one yard zombie, three cats, and a very nervous freshwater eel. Find out more about writing at her site, Fiction University
, or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.Website
| Barnes & Noble
| Indie BoundGIVEAWAY
Janice has kindly agreed to give away one free, signed and dedicated copy of Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure
to one of my lucky visitors. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
The Dawn of Easter
by Mary Ann Duke
Early morn, Easter dawn
Sunlight breaks, streaking pinks
over prairie, mountain and sea
My eyes flutter open. I snuggle under covers and wonder
what it was like that first Easter morn to see
the risen Christ walking, speaking,
A miracle then,
And a miracle now.
I scarce can comprehend. But I am thankful
that He gave his life for you and for me
And for all mankind.
I’ll be grateful eternally.
by Mary Ann Duke
Bunnies, chicks, colored eggs and candy
Bonnets and bows, frilly dresses and suits
Who will find the most at our egg hunt?
What prize will the Prize Egg bring?
These are but ten of my favorite things.
By: Evil Editor,
Blog: Evil Editor
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When, Joanas and Moses Criist, the owners of the popular S&M nightclub Dominion extend the basement, they inadvertently open a portal to Hell. The Devil, or Bezel as his friends call him, doesn't see a conflict of interest between paying customers and lost souls. That is until The Church of You Know Who comes knocking. The signal might as well be worth the Shave and a Haircut riff. Two bits.
The Devil takes Dominion viral as mortal man cries for more debauchery. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse arrive, closing their tour. Imagine a thousand years of exquisite pain. Times are good, Bezel makes money hand over fist and parlays his popularity by opening Dante's Timeshare condominiums. To hell with goodness, the end of days have arrived.
Not wanting to be on the wrong side of history the Almighty turns a new leaf and buys a lifetime membership in Dominion. Now that's a lot of money.
Moses is perturbed at his followers. S&M is his art, his love and muse. He wants to go back to when whips weren't an allegory and decides to go and live in the desert. Joanas is hung up, in denial. All Moses ever wanted was to get his rocks off the front porch and shut the front door. He wonders, will Joanas ever wake up from denial, and will Bezel ever become the friend he said he'd be? Moses isn't sure he'd bet his soul.
By: Alexandra Boiger,
CARSON ELLIS has put together an online auction
of some incredible artists. And it’s all for a great cause — Victory Academy, a school for autistic children in Oregon.
My friend and fellow artist, LeUyen Pham is only one of those numerous fantastic artists.
By: Julia Callaway,
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, Dictionaries & Lexicography
, henry james
, Jeff Sherwood
, oxford dictionaries
, oxford english dictionary
, oxfordwords blog
, very idiosyncrasy
, intersection between registers and
, phrase green
, and modernist
, its protagonist is
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By Jeff Sherwood
It is virtually impossible for an English-language lexicographer to ignore the long shadow cast by Henry James, that late nineteenth-century writer of fiction, criticism, and travelogues. We can attribute this in the first place to the sheer cosmopolitanism of his prose. James’s writing marks the point of intersection between registers and regions of English that we typically think of as mutually opposed: American and British, Victorian and modernist, intellectual and popular, even the simple good sense of Saxon-Germanicism and the fine silk shades of Franco-Romanticism. Thus, because his writing defies easy categories, it isn’t hard to suppose that James belongs in the back parlor of English-language history, a curiosity of passing interest, but one which, in its very idiosyncrasy, fails to capture the ‘ordinary, everyday’ language.
Henry James in the OED
Nevertheless, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites Henry James over one thousand times, often in entries for common English words like use, turn, come, do, and be. At least one explanation for this preponderance is the fact that, precisely because James’s prose incorporates elements from so many different kinds of English, it is uniquely positioned to exemplify—and even differentiate between—very subtle distinctions of usage and meaning. Thus, at green adj. James’s early novel The American provides a downright crystalline use of the phrase green in earth to mean ‘just buried’: ‘He thought of Valentin de Bellegarde, still green in the earth of his burial.’ By adding the final (semantically superfluous) three words, not only does James clarify the phrase’s context, he accentuates its poetic wordplay; its dependence on the double sense of green both as ‘new’ (sense 7a) and as ‘covered with vegetation’ (sense 2a) in order to conjure the renewal of the earth that is part and parcel of the burial rite. In this case, poeticism, often an obstacle to meaning, is actually the most probable explanation for the collocation’s longevity.
This old thing?
James’s ability to write prose that is both fastidiously discerning and euphemistically elliptical is not accidental, and cannot fail to intrigue someone whose business it is to describe words all day. In fact, despite clearly affectionate attachments to a number of words (presence and relation leap to mind), the one I would nominate as James’s absolute favorite is of great concern for lexicography—the thoroughly common word thing. Meaning quite literally any-thing from the genitals (sense 11 c) to a work of art (sense 13, complete with a James citation), thing is remarkably Jamesian in its ability to denote both the most concretely literal elements of reality and the most rarefied abstractions of human thought. And it is in just this respect that the word presents itself at the heart of perhaps the most naïve yet essential question that the lexicographer must answer: whether any particular meaning associated with a given word is actually ‘a thing.’ At times, this can be quite easy: it is not difficult to evaluate whether the physical object we mean when we say ‘smart phone’ is a ‘thing.’ But in many cases, the ‘thing’ referred to by a word is only conceptual. The existence of what we mean by ‘freedom’, for example, cannot be empirically proven. All we can say for sure is that the frequency and manner in which people use such words strongly suggests that they mean specific ‘things’.
Philosophically speaking, what makes ‘thing’ so interesting is that it straddles the gap between words that refer to physical objects and those that refer to abstract concepts, serving as a kind of verbal ‘junk drawer’ where items from both groups get casually tossed, only to wind up completely tangled and confused. Unsurprisingly, this confusion is just what James chooses to explore in his short story ‘The Real Thing.’ Its protagonist is an illustrator visited by two aristocrats, Major and Mrs. Monarch, who have fallen on hard times. They volunteer themselves as models for the artist, presuming that as bona fide members of society they are more suitable subjects for the aristocratic characters he depicts than the working-class types he typically employs. In fact, of course, the couple is awkward and unnatural, unable to embody the concept of aristocracy despite being literal examples of it.
Defining the tooth fairy
In just the same way, when a particular word is used ‘in the real world’, it will almost never be a perfect example of the concept it refers to. Consequently, it becomes the lexicographer’s job to improve upon ‘the real thing’, to illustrate a word more vividly than the real world can. This is especially clear when the word being defined refers to a fictional character, like the tooth fairy. To give wholesale priority to this term as a lexical object would render a definition like ‘a fairy that takes children’s baby teeth after they fall out and leaves a coin under the child’s pillow.’ This covers how the term is ordinarily used, since in everyday speech we are not in the habit of constantly remarking on the key conceptual detail that the tooth fairy is not real. Nevertheless, a definition that fails to note this misses, paradoxically enough, ‘the real thing.’ Just as Major Monarch doesn’t quite look like ‘the real thing’ he is, sometimes a word used in everyday speech doesn’t quite capture the thing it really is.
Jeff Sherwood is a US Assistant Editor for Oxford Dictionaries. Read more about Henry James with Oxford World’s Classics. A version of this article originally appeared on the OxfordWords blog.
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Image: Montage of Henry James Oxford World’s Classics editions.
The post Henry James, or, on the business of being a thing appeared first on OUPblog.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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There are a lot of very high calibre comic creators out there who have been working away for many years -John Erasmus, Tom Elmes, Jim Ritchey et al.
And despite the quality of their work and the years they have put into the industry they struggle to get work.
The answer is quite simple: the wannabe.
You see, years ago you had to schlepp your projects or portfolios around to publishers and talk to them, find out what they were looking for and even amend projects to suit their needs. I seem to have spent much of the 1980s-1990s doing this and it paid off for a few creators. Editors responded to letters as well which helped.
But then came the internet. People who could only contribute to small press comics put out by friends now had a new tool -web pages where they could post their art and even publish web comics and charge people to see their work (that died a death when people realised they were not exactly paying to see a great comic strip. Do not get me wrong -there were some nice online comics but, seriously, why pay every time
you wanted to read a comic online when you could buy others and pay once and it was yours to peruse whenever you wanted?
As a creators agent I used to get between 60-100 packages a week and whatever was popular at the time was copied and became an "original concept". The movie Blade Runner
-the number of strips sent to me that were just simply that movie -or part of it- was incredible. Then writers would send you their own personal 'Blade Runner' scripts. The same applied to The Evil Dead
and when the Watchmen
comic was published...oy!
I keep notes and out of around 600 or so "I am going to make comics my career -this is what I've allways wanted to do" most vanished pretty quickly having discovered that you needed to keep to deadlines and could not just change someones script or characters to how they wanted them.
I had this problem with a number of artists who worked on scripts of mine to submit to publishers. I got ten pages of comic work in the post one day, read them and wrote back: "It looks nice but you could have completed ten pages of my story that could have been submitted." And in reply I got: "This is based on your script. I thought I'd change the character names and some of the scenes."
Now, we had talked about this at length, given all the reference material that would be needed and even explained why certain characters had specific names. And the artist had nodded and understood but when he got home he "decided to change things as I think they will sell better with these changes". I explained that this is not how comics work. An editor does not give you a script written by someone and you decide you need to re-write it all or make major changes -some writers plan story-lines and incidents that are designed to be added to issue by issue until it all comes to a head. Besides, you start playing that game the writer is going to tell you where to stick your guillot nib. And the editor is not going to use you.
This happened several times to be on joint projects but when it happened professionally I just exploded. I wrote a series of scripts for Fleetway/Egmont (Revolver
in particular). The editor told me at a meeting that the title and theme of the scripts was so liked by his co-editor (who was an utter ass) that they would use different titles for my scripts. Why? Well, the co-editor wanted to use the titles. We bite the bullet in this job and since I was being paid...phah!
The editor then decided to use a "new hot talent" to draw one of the scripts. When it was published I missed it in the relevant issue until someone pointed to my name as scripter. Thew artist had quite literally re-written the script while drawing it that it made no sense. I pointed out to everyone I could that this was not really my work! Then the editor used my scripts vastly altered so I was never paid. That happens a lot.
But back to the wannabees. I have had writers who have -seriously
- told me: "I dig your art. I have a shit hot project for you!" My response: "Is it for a publisher -what is the pay rate?" Silence. I have now, between 2012-2014 had six offers to draw "sure hit" graphic novels of between 120-200 pages for nothing. I have even had the "It's 120 pages and once that's done we can put something together for a publisher"....so what -WHAT- is the 120 pages graphic novel for? Oh, I can tell you that because I have seen this on a number of occasions happen to other artists.
Comics, probably because of the TV series The Big Bang Theory
and even the Watchmen
film and republished book, have become "hip". You see it in most fields -Crop Circles are hip and cool -Timmy is a Crop Circle investigator. UFOs are "popular" so suddenly Timmy sets up his own UFO group and gets in touch with newspapers/TV about his 'professional work' (based on a subject which he's read up on quickly -which is why Timmies spout such inaccurate crap). Oh, "mystery big cats" are hip -Timmy is now a Big Cat investigator of the same quality. All these ghost hunting TV programmes....you guessed it.
So, people who really cannot draw or are of a lesser standard than you might expect from a pro, jump in and publish their own comics or graphic novels (Print On Demand is a cruel thing, baby). Now, if they do this as a hobby or for fun then okay. Sell copies to their mates. No problem. BUT it becomes a problem when these people decide they are now "comic book professionals". I have heard on four occasions such people state: "My mother says I've become as good as those other artists in comics"...oh...my...gods. How do you respond to that?
But then these people put their art online to sell at very high prices and you have to ask if they are selling anything?
There is another problem, and this is another first hand experience. An American artist asked for a script set in the 1960s -he was a big Silver Age fan. The art pages he was selling on a well known comic site looked fantastic. I outlined the idea and he said "Perfect. You write it and I'll draw it" -fair enough. A few days later the guy got in touch as he had a problem "You say the villain is human on one side but the other part of his body is robotic/mechanical...what do you mean?" I thought it was quite straight forward. I explained. No, he didn't get it. Eventually I had to draw a sketch and he understood. Next: "You say a huge tower block in the centre of the city and at the top on all four sides are huge clocks -I don't understand?" Four sides to a building and a clock on each side. "I'm having trouble visualising this..." So, off went another sketch.
A few weeks later an email: "Attached are the pencils for the first five pages..." WHOOPEE! I opened the files. Ah, he'd sent me...well, something but not pages of art. You could not even call them "roughs" so I wrote back pointing out what he had sent. He wrote back that these were the finished art pages --a demolished skyscraper was a squiggly line at the bottem of a white page. WTF??????? I showed these pages to two people -a gorilla character on a page was so bad we all thought it had six deformed fingers and then I realised it was a banana it was holding! These were the finished pencils. THAT was his art and he wrote "If we could muster together $2000 I know an artist who'll ink the pages though we might be able to sell this based on the pencils!"
I was speechless but then I found something out from someone who knew the man. This 'artist' did these 'pencils' but then paid another artist to ink the pages. The other artist was actually drawing the pages and deserved every penny he got!!
We have the writers who want to be hip and say "Yes, I've written a graphic novel" and show their freebie drawn book. The artist is insignificant because, as Alan Moore 'proved' it is the writer who makes and sells the book. And the amateur artists fall for it all the time. Nothing happens with the book.
Then the artists who say they are pro and want money up front. They have NEVER had anything published before and most of their work is amateurish but
some of them are so full of themselves that they do get paid in advance. It is interesting to note that out of 25 writers I've read the 'woes' of, only two ever got any pages for their money. Some were told their books were two pages short of being finished...then nothing. That has happened to me a LOT.
I have been begged for scripts to help artists out "because you have a good reputation" and I have written short scripts of 5, 10, 15 or 20 pages and how many have ever been completed? Zero. As one 'artist' put it to me when I asked how he was getting on with the script -"Aww, man, I am so hung over. Basically I've been going to gigs and clubs and getting wasted." My reply: "We agreed on five pages drawn in three weeks -it's been over a month?" (If you CANNOT draw 5 comic strip pages in three weeks then go away. THAT is simple work) and I get "Well, you aren't paying me are you?" My response is usually **** off.
But then artists who DO draw a full story disappear. They do not respond to letters or messages. Then a year later you find they have changed some names in the story and been trying to sell it as their own work -I found this out in one case when an editor told me "I've seen this but with different names -it was drawn by ___ _____ -is this your work really?" Too ******** right. Response from the artist ...well, he never did respond.
Now, as working for a paying comic company -there are only a few around and the glut of wannabe artists means they feel they'll pay you what they want and you'll like it- is not likely I publish my own books. These days I rarely if ever work with another artist but if I do the deal is simple:
(1) it is a joint project (neither of us get paid up front)
(2) Money to promote or push books at possible other publishers comes out of my pocket. There is NO financial input by the artist (yes, I know, drawing materials)
(3) Any money made is split 50-50 (in the past on more than one occasion I've let my percentage go to the artist)
(4) Although characters are mine the art is wholly the artists. I never ever lay claim to any art. The artist can try to sell this as extra income if he wants so long as a (c) characters/story is written on the reverse side of the art.
(5) if another (paying) publisher is interested then unless there is a set rate for writer and artist it's a 50-50 deal.
So, on one occasion when an artist I knew said he really wanted to work on a specific character and could I write a 20 pages story for him I did. I liked his work even if it had a few rough edges. He liked the script! "How much are you paying me per page? When do I get the first payment?" Again, WTF??? I sent him copies of his emails where he agreed to a joint project because HE had asked me to write for him repeatedly. "Well, I don't see why I should work for free!" But I wrote the script for free -should I bill him?
There are now literally THOUSANDS of small pressers who publish their own books for fun and have no interest in comics -in fact they know nothing about comics. Good for them. Long may they continue and grow in strength.
Sadly, there are equally a great many comic wannabe types out there and the writers want their books drawn for free with no rights to the artist. And there are artists who really cannot draw a pencil who want large payments per page for their "professional time". These are the people screwing up the real comic artists and writers and some actually get published in high quality printed books by big companies
A little aside here. I've been asked over and over again ad nauseum
what I do in comics? I reply that I write, pencil, ink and rarely colour, oh, and letter (by computer). I get giggles or screwed up faces in response:"No, seriously -what is it you do?" The skill levels of some artists (I'm being polite) are such that they have to use a computer tablet to draw and a lot use programs designed to do a lot of the work for them. The very idea of someone pencilling AND inking art is freakish to them, or as they say to me "old school" or "Retro". Their computers crash and they have nervous breakdowns. I have physical pages.
Someone who can write or draw well I used to encourage (I still do privately) but 95% of those out there labelling themselves as "professional comic writers/artists" are no such thing. And for the real pros it means a loss of paying work. We DO have to pay bills and eat you know....or try to.
And what have any of the various comic "community" groups set up to promote and stand up for creators rights achieved? They have pulled in more wannabes as members.
Just a few thoughts.
Oh, I do have a bullet proof vest.
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, Current Affairs
, Health & Medicine
, Science & Medicine
, Barry S. Levy
, cold war
, Highly-enriched uranium
, nuclear weapons
, Nuclear Weapons Convention
, public health
, social injustice
, Victor W. Side
, Add a tag
By Barry S. Levy and Victor W. Sidel
Out of sight. Out of mind.
Nine countries, mainly the United States and Russia, possess 17,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki almost 70 years ago. An attack and counterattack in which fewer than 1% of these nuclear weapons were detonated could cause tens of millions of deaths and could disrupt climate globally, leading to crop failures and widespread famine. A greater conflagration could cause a “nuclear winter” and threaten the future of life on earth.
The recent tensions concerning Ukraine demonstrate that although 23 years have elapsed since the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons remain a clear and present danger to humanity. Persistent threats include accidental launch of nuclear warheads, proliferation of nuclear weapons among nations, potential acquisition and use of nuclear weapons by non-state actors, and diversion of human and financial resources in order to maintain and modernize nuclear arsenals in the United States and other nations.
Despite safeguards, accidental detonation remains a real possibility. A few years ago, a US Air Force plane transported six missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, unbeknownst to the pilot and crew. Twice, in recent weeks, it was revealed that as many as half of navy and air force personnel who maintain nuclear-armed missiles and would be responsible for launching them if commanded to do so had cheated on their competency examinations. In 1995, Boris Yeltsin, then president of Russia, had only a few minutes to decide whether to launch Russian nuclear-armed missiles against the United States in response to what, on radar, looked like a US air attack with multiple re-entry vehicles (MERVs); it turned out to be a rocket launched by a team of Norwegian and US scientists to study the aurora borealis.
Another major concern is that the leaders of the nine nations that possess nuclear weapons each have absolute authority — unchecked by other government officials or institutions, even in the United States — to launch an offensive or allegedly defensive nuclear strike.
Furthermore, proliferation remains a serious threat. During the past decade North Korea obtained nuclear technology and fissile materials, and developed and tested one or more nuclear weapons. At least until recently, Iran apparently was — and may still be — on the path to developing nuclear weapons. Given the widespread knowledge about nuclear technology and the potential availability of fissile material, non-state actors could acquire and use nuclear weapons.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Betty Puma, from the 5th Munitions Squadron, reviews a nuclear weapons maintenance procedures checklist as part of the Nuclear Surety Inspection (NSI) May 19, 2009, at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. An NSI is designed to evaluate a unit’s readiness to execute nuclear operations. Areas to be evaluated during the NSI include operations, maintenance, security and support activities needed to ensure the wing performs its mission in a safe, secure and reliable manner. This no-notice inspection is expected to conclude May 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III/Released). defenseimagery.mil
Highly-enriched uranium (HEU) — the fissile material used in nuclear weapons — is distributed globally, and used in nuclear reactors to perform research or power aircraft carriers and submarines. Converting to low-enriched uranium would eliminate the possibility of HEU being stolen or otherwise diverted to produce nuclear weapons.
Yet another major concern is the huge diversion of financial resources to maintain and modernize the US nuclear weapons arsenal, estimated over the next 30 years to be about $1 trillion. The proposed nuclear weapons budget of the US Department of Energy for fiscal year 2015 is higher than at any time during the Cold War. Meanwhile, substantial cuts have been proposed in programs to dismantle and prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons — and in programs to reduce poverty and protect human rights.
To most Americans, all of these concerns are out of sight and out of mind. Each of us has a responsibility to become more educated about these issues, increase the awareness of other people about them, and advocate for measures to reduce the dangers associated with nuclear weapons, including the abolition of nuclear weapons.
A longstanding proposal to eliminate all nuclear weapons is the Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). In 1997, a consortium of experts in law, science, public health, disarmament, and negotiation drafted a model convention. The Convention would require nations that possess nuclear weapons to destroy them in stages — taking them from high-alert status, removing them from deployment, removing warheads from delivery vehicles, disabling warheads by removing explosive “pits,” and placing fissile material under control of the United Nations. Such a convention has had wide public support throughout the world.
An immediate step that could pave the way to the Nuclear Weapons Convention and the eradication of nuclear weapons is a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Such a treaty could be negotiated with or without the participation of those nations possessing nuclear weapons. It could create an international norm of the illegality of nuclear weapons, similar to the norms that have been established concerning chemical and biological weapons, antipersonnel landmines, and cluster munitions. Such a treaty could put substantial pressure on the nations possessing nuclear weapons to comply with their disarmament obligations — which they have been unwilling to do thus far. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has mobilized 300 civil-society organizations in 90 countries to campaign, on humanitarian grounds, for such a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Given resurgent Cold-War-era arguments for revitalizing US nuclear-weapons capabilities to deter Russian actions in Ukraine, we must resist measures that would reset the “Doomsday Clock” to a point that places all humanity — and indeed all life on earth — in great peril of annihilation by nuclear weapons.
Barry S. Levy, M.D., M.P.H., and Victor W. Sidel, M.D., are co-editors of the recently published second edition of Social Injustice and Public Health as well as two editions each of the books War and Public Health and Terrorism and Public Health, all of which have been published by Oxford University Press. They are both past presidents of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Levy is an Adjunct Professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Sidel is Distinguished University Professor of Social Medicine Emeritus at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein Medical College and an Adjunct Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College. Victor W. Sidel was a member of the 1997 consortium of experts in law, science, public health, disarmament, and negotiation that drafted the model Nuclear Weapons Convention. Read their previous blog posts.
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Author Kate DiCamillo tells us writers see and pay attention.
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I got an email from Writer's Digest on Thursday letting us know we'd been honored as one of their 101 Best Websites for Writers for the second year in a row. And I honestly can't begin to tell you how grateful I am--how grateful we all are! We are in phenomenal company, which is even more astonishing.
One of the most wonderful things about this award is that it truly recognizes the team effort that goes into creating a blog like this. It would be an impossible, and far less rewarding, task for any one person to undertake. But the recognition is far broader than our core team of myself, Alyssa, Clara, Lisa, and Jan. It truly goes to the authors and publishers who contribute posts and interviews and books to us to share with you guys each week. Bringing their
words to you is what this site is all about.
Writing is a lonely endeavor so much of the time. Being able to share it with other writers makes it easier. Being able to learn from authors generous enough to give their insight, wisdom, and expertise is beyond price. Finding new favorite books is even better, because I truly believe there is no better way to learn craft than reading fabulous books.
We want this site to be an intersection between readers and writers, a place where readers and authors connect about the love of the journey and celebrate each other.
Ordinarily, we would post a giveaway in honor of a hallmark like this, but the honor came just a day after I posted a the huge giveaway to celebrate reaching two million page views, so I think that's celebration enough. : ) The giveaway for that post is here
, and to make a long story short, you'll find twenty prize packs in there including thirty-eight different books or series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Holly Black, Anne Blankman, Libba Bray, Sarah Rees Brennan, Rae Carson, Kresley Cole, Leah Cypess, Kimberly Derting, Lisa Gail Green, S.E. Green, Wendy Higgins, Rosamund Hodge, Clara Kensie, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Marie Rutkoski, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, Kat Zhang and more.
That should take care of the reading portion of our celebration.
To showcase the writing portion, I've asked Alyssa and Jan to go through and pull together a list of popular or helpful posts on writing craft and getting published. Here's the list they came up with.
There are a LOT more posts. Check the labels and browse around.
We hope you'll find something helpful on this list and on the site in general, something that will inspire you, get you past a hurdle, and push you a little further along the publishing path.
I can honestly say that everything that you'll find on this site is material that I've experimented with and applied to my own writing in the past four years. This site is how I learned to write.
I can't say often enough that I know luck plays a huge part in getting a book published and into the hands of readers. I feel beyond blessed every single day that Compulsion
was picked up and that I have the opportunity to work with the incredible team at Simon and Schuster and Simon Pulse. (And I have news I can't even share yet about how wonderful they are!)
That said, though, luck isn't all that goes into it. We have to be brutally critical of our own work. As writers, we have to be ready for luck to strike. It's no surprise that so many of the writers I've met online or at writers workshops have been published or are in the process of being published. We can't control which manuscripts get picked up by agents or ultimately sell, but we can get our manuscripts to publishable level. And to do that, we have to learn everything we can about craft. The writers I've seen succeeding are those who write all the time, read all the time, and question and eagerly pursue learning as part of the process.
I've been lucky to learn from most of the websites mentioned in this year's issue, as well as many who aren't on the list. Writers Helping Writers
, Janice Hardy
, and Jami Gold
are three sites you don't want to miss, and Mystery Writing Is Murder
, Victoria Mixon
, Anne R. Allen
, Jane Friedman
, The Plot Whisperer
, Writer Unboxed
, YA Highway
, The SCBWI
, Adventures in Agentland
, Rachelle Gardner
, Nathan Bransford
and so many others have been my go to sites for years. I can't believe we're on a list with Mashable, Absolute Write, and Goodreads, for Pete's sake. How awesome is that? Mind. Blown. But I truly wish the list was longer. So many people and great sites deserve it.
Thank you all! Thank you to Writer's Digest. Thank you to the amazing authors and publishers who make this happen. Most of all, thank you to Alyssa, Clara, Lisa, and Jan, without whom this site simply would not exist!
Happy writing, everyone,