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1. ‘Breaching the Seawall’ by Adam Wells

When Laurel Fantauzzo met a young woman and her bicycle in Manila, her relationship to the city was transformed.

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2. The Best Mobile App Award normination!!

Junganew: A Herd of Sounds get nomination for The Best Mobile App Award!! You can download Junganew from iTune Store @ http://goo.gl/L6USgd

Creator, Writer and Executive Producer - Esther Giordano
Executive Producer - Timothy Michael Harrington
Art Director - Alina Chau
Lead Software Engineer - Skye Freeman
Music Composer and Sound Designer - Max Repka
Animator - Jen Paehr 

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3. David Tennant will be The Purple Man on AKA Jessica Jones

David Tennant david tennant 15000822 2560 1707 1000x667 David Tennant will be The Purple Man on AKA Jessica Jones

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he’ll be doing it all covered in purple.

The Scottish actor will be joining the cast of AKA Jessica Jones, the second Marvel-Netflix series after Daredevil debuts in April, as Kilgrave. Kilgrave aka Zebediah Killgrave aka The Purple Man is described as an enigmatic figure from Jessica’s past whose reappearance will “send shockwaves” through her world.

Tennant will be the main antagonist of a series that’s already netted Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) as Jones and Mike Colter (Criminal Minds) as Luke Cage.

Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg had this to say:

I’m so honored and excited by the prospect of David inhabiting this multifaceted character. He can deliver the most heart-wrenching moment to the driest of lines, and all points in between. He’ll make Kilgrave a truly original villain.

While this is an exciting casting announcement, and makes for the fourth big BBC star to join the MCU after Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Doctor Strange, Karen Gillan as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy and Christopher Eccleston played (and was wasted as) Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, I’m hopeful Tennant will either be allowed to keep his Scottish accent or really master a Serbo-Croation one in a way that’s better than his attempt at an American accent in Gracepoint.

AKA Jessica Jones will debut in 2015.

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4. David Foster Wallace Movie Debuts at Sundance

The End of the Tour, a biopic about author David Foster Wallace, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this week in Park City.

James Ponsoldt’s film is based on David Lipsky’s piece Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself in Rolling Stone. The essay is based on five days Lipsky spent interviewing Wallace while he was on a book tour in Minneapolis in 1996. Lipsky never published his intended profile, but after Wallace’s death published a transcript of the encounter. The film stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg.

Follow this link to check out a video from the set of the film.

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5. One good thing about a blizzard

When the weather is dreary
it's time to query!


My feeble attempt at rhyme................. Read the rest of this post

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6. Grantchester on PBS

Have you been watching this yet?  It is so good!  The first thing that caught my eye was Robson Green, I have adored him for years.  Then, I watched Happy Valley over Christmas break and James Norton was so good and scary as Tommy Lee Royce.  I wanted to see how he would do as a good guy because he was so perfect as a psycho.  (If you haven't watched that on Netflix, do so now!)  Plus, it is British and a mystery series set in the 50's.  My excitement level for the first episode was through the roof.  And it is good!  So good!  I really wish I had waited until all 6 episodes were out so I could binge watch, however, I like having something to look forward to every Sunday night.  But, here lies my problem.  These mysteries are based on a books series by James Runcie.  I guess the format is a little unusual because the whole first season--6 mini mysteries--is based on the first book.  And since I am loving the world of Grantchester so much I really want to read the first book.  But, I don't want to know all the answers.    I did put books 1 & 2 on hold at my library and there is no guarantee that I would get them before the show is done airing.  I might never read book 1 if I don't get it until after the show is over, but I will read book 2!

It's just hard to think of anything else right now...


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7. David Arnold's MOSQUITOLAND

A few days ago, I wrote about the ways that Amazon is using a snippet of School Library Journal's review of David Arnold's Mosquitoland, due out this year

In contrast, Barnes and Noble uses the entire review. The reviewer, Angie Manfredi, pointed to Arnold's use of lipstick as "warpaint" and noted that the protagonist is "part Cherokee."

Today (January 26, 2015), David Arnold tweeted the photograph to the right as part of a hashtag started by Gayle Forman. I take it to be his way of showing us his protagonist in her "warpaint."

Mr. Arnold? Did you imagine a Native reader of your book? Did it occur to you that this "warpaint" would be problematic?  I see that this is the person in the book trailer. In it, she is shown putting on this "warpaint." How did the particular "warpaint" design come about?!

The book trailer ends with "Mim Malone is not ok." What you have her doing is not ok either.


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8. February Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

A so-so month for author events. Note that we have more library events than bookstore. I've been seeing this kind of thing over the last year.

Notice that I'm getting this calendar up before the snow devil hits? Well, it is snowing, but not in a particularly devilish way.

Sun., Feb. 1, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, West Hartford Public Library, Bishops Corner
Branch 2 to 4:30 PM  Please note that this event is at the Bishops Corner Branch, NOT the Noah Webster. The site was changed.


Wed., Feb. 4, Wendy Rouillard, New Canaan Library, 3:30 PM

Thurs., Feb. 5, Eric Walters, Bank Square Books, Mystic 4:00 to 5:00 PM

Sat., Feb. 14, Cindy L. RodriguezWest Hartford Public Library, Noah Webster Branch 12:00 PM

Sun., Feb. 15, Jane Sutcliffe, UConn Coop, Storrs 3:00 PM




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9. Entertainment Round-up: Gorilla Grodd, Dollmaker on Gotham, Baron Zemo?

daniel bruhl chef movie casting Entertainment Round up: Gorilla Grodd, Dollmaker on Gotham, Baron Zemo?

With warm wishes for our friends getting snowed upon in the Northeast, here’s a few items that have crossed the newswires this Monday morning:

The Flash is, on balance, probably my most looked-forward to superhero series each week (give or take Agent Carter), but nothing about that show excites me more than the upcoming appearance of Gorilla Grodd. He’s an evil, psychic, talking gorilla for pete’s sake! We don’t know much about who is voicing him or how CW’s generally meager budget will be able to manage the villain, but yesterday Andrew Kreisberg tweeted out the following:

Grodd is expected to appear this season. The high pierced squealing sound you hear upon his debut is probably me. Don’t mind it too much, okay?

Gotham continues to build up Batman’s rogues gallery and their latest acquisition is veteran actor Colm Feore, who will be playing The Dollmaker. You’ll probably best recognize Feore as Laufey from Thor (a movie that continues to grow in my estimation over the years). Gotham‘s version of The Dollmaker has ties to Catwoman as he’s behind the kidnapping of Gotham’s street children. A nicely surprising casting coup for the series.

MovieCastingCall.org has posted info regarding the upcoming shoot for Captain America: Civil War, which is filming not far from my home here in Atlanta. According to the write-up, Daniel Bruhl, who recently joined the cast of the upcoming Marvel film will be playing Baron Zemo. Additionally, here is their description of the plot:

In Captain America: Civil War, billionaire Tony Stark is pitted against Captain America aka Steve Rogers in an ethical face-off over the U.S. government’s Superhuman Registration Act, which requires all superpowered individuals register their powers and report to S.H.I.E.L.D.

I’d take this with a grain of salt right now, Baron Zemo is certainly the go-to guess regarding Bruhl’s role, but the site in question has been known to post potentially dubious info on occasion.

On that same subject matter, Robert Downey Jr. recently spoke with Empire regarding the third Captain America film and his upcoming appearance (via Collider):

They said to me, ‘If we have you, we can do this, or Cap 3 has to be something else.’ It’s nice to feel needed. And at this point it’s about helping each other, too. I look at it as a competition and I go, ‘Wow, maybe if these two franchises teamed up and I can take even a lesser position, with people I like and directors I respect, maybe we can keep things bumping along.’

And he also described some of the character evolution in Tony that will lead to this antagonism between he and Steve Rogers:

It’s natural to change your views…The main thing to me is, what sort of incident could occur, and what sort of framework could we find Tony in? The clues about where we might find him next are in Ultron. But what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for? Joss brings this up all the time. It’s kind of weird that these guys would have all these throw downs all over planet Earth and yet when the movie’s over, nobody minds. What would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn’t imagine?

 

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10. mirror mirror on the wall....

"wishful companions"
©the enchanted easel 2015
she truly is the fairest of them all!

my version of the beautiful and sweet, Snow White....accompanied by her *charming* and seemingly smitten companions. 

{princes in the making, perhaps...? ;)}

PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE:

and other treats here:

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11. Leaving Megalopolis tops Comixology Submit’s top books of 2014

leaving megalopolis Leaving Megalopolis tops Comixology Submits top books of 2014

Comixology’s Submit portal is a way for independent and self published digital comics to get onto the largest digital comics service out there, and many people have taken advantage of it. While no one seems to have gotten rich off it, a sale is a sale. And COmixology has just released a list of the top 25 sellers for 2014, topped by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore’s Leaving Megalopolis. This superheroes with a twist story was originally Kickstarted. The impressive Testament Omnibus by Douglas Rushkoff and a bunch of awesome artists was second, and Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika was #3. Severl anthologies Kickstarted by the tireless C. Spike Trotman were also on the list…she is a powerhouse.

There are some excellent comics by top creators on the list, so the lesson for how to be successful on Submit it…be totally excellent.

snow rivers Leaving Megalopolis tops Comixology Submits top books of 2014

Here’s the full list of the Top 25 comiXology Submit Titles of 2014:

  1. Leaving Megalopolis
    Writer: Gail Simone; Artist: Jim Calafiore

  • Testament: Omnibus
    Writer: Douglas Rushkoff; Artists: Gary Erskine, Peter Gross, Dean Ormston, Liam Sharp
  • Lady Mechanika #3
    By: Joe Benitez
  • Watson And Holmes Vol. 1: A Study In Black
    Writer: Karl Bollers, Artists: Rick Leonardi, Larry Stroman
  • Smut Peddler: 2014 Edition
    Writers: Kate Leth, Trudy Cooper, Blue Delliquanti, Joanna Estep, Jess Fink, Erica Henderson, and more; Artists: Kate Leth, Trudy Cooper, Blue Delliquanti, Jess Fink, Niki Smith, C. Spike Trotman and more
  • The Sleep of Reason
    Writers: Blue Delliquanti, Rachel Edidin, Meg Gandy, KC Green, Brittney Sabo, Jason Thompson and more; Artists: Langdon Foss, Meg Gandy, KC Green, Kel McDonald, Brittney Sabo, C. Spike Trotman and more
  • Snow: Complete Edition
    By: Benjamin Rivers
  • Lady Mechanika #1
    By: Joe Benitez
  • Brandi Bare #1
    Writers: Joe Pekar, Jeff Outlaw; Artist: Joe Pekar
  • Testament Vol. 1
    Writer: Douglas Rushkoff; Artists: Liam Sharp
  • Lady Mechanika #2
    By: Joe Benitez
  • Fade Out: Painless Suicide
    Writer: Beto Skubs; Artist: Rafael de Latorre
  • Saga Of A Doomed Universe #1
    By: Scott Reed
  • Jackie Rose Vol. 1: The Treasure of Captain Read
    By Josh Ulrich
  • Snipe
    Writer: Kathryn Immonen; Artist: Stuart Immonen
  • The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel
    Adaption: Sean Michael Wilson; Translation: William Scott Wilson; Artist: Chie Kutsuwada
  • Requiem Vampire Knight Vol. 1: Resurrection
    Writer: Pat Mills; Artist: Olivier Ledroit
  • Oh Joy Sex Toy
    By Erika Moen
  • Template: The Complete First Season
    Writer: Quinton Miles; Artist: Andres Quezada
  • Sinsationals #0
    By Scott Jones
  • Brandi Bare #2
    Writers: Jeff Outlaw & Joe Pekar; Artist: Joe Pekar
  • a7249bd71fcb132249dd7e29d0fed8bd Leaving Megalopolis tops Comixology Submits top books of 2014

  • Moth City Preludes #1
    By Tim Gibson
  • The Pride #1
    Writer: Joe Glass; Artists: Marc Ellerby, Joshua Faith & Gavin Mitchell
  • Anne Bonnie #1
    Writers: Tim Yates, Lelan Estes; Artists: Tim Yates, Tony Vassalo
  • The Package
    Writer: Elliot Blake; Artist: Alexis Ziritt
  •  

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    12. San Francisco Tea Party

    If I could I would love to have a tea party with a dragon, friendly of course. The style used for this work is a bit more fluid than most of my vector pieces. I especially love the line work on this one, because I pushed the capabilities of brushes and it turned out unique.

    I bet they eat their way through the whole pile of fortune cookies.

    San Francisco Piece FINAL-01

          

    Related Stories

     

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    13. The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People: INFOGRAPHIC

    Haruki Murakami works on creative projects from 4am to noon. He spends the next hour exercising and the rest of the day on food/leisure until he goes to bed at 9pm.

    Maya Angelou wakes up at 5am and writes from about 6:30-3 and the rest of the day eating and having leisure time except for a half hour of creative time at 7:30.

    Podio.com has created an infographic outlining the daily routines of famous creative people. We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump.


    Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days.
    Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

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    14. Some things I learned from being "judge-y" :-)

    Hi everyone,

    It's been a while since I posted here, and I have completely fallen down on the job for my Monday Morning Warm-Ups. Please forgive me! If you are ever looking for some prompts, you can always go to my Web site and check the resources page for some oldies but (hopefully) goodies: http://www.joknowles.com/Prompts.html

    I came back today to share some thoughts I have about writing contests. It's very odd and awkward to be a "judge" when you've spent most of your writing career being the one in the other seat. So when I was asked to be a judge for several contests this year, I told myself I would try to use the experience to learn as much as I could and then share whatever that was with my writing friends.

    Right away, I realized I was picking up on a lot of common mistakes (well, I hesitate to use that word but it's the best my tired brain can think of at the moment) when submitting first pages/chapters of their work. I decided to start taking notes on submissions, classifying them into groups. So below, you will see how, as I read, I would place subs into one of three categories: No, Maybe, Yes! and finally WINNERS. I can tell you that almost all of the no's were clear no's almost from the very first paragraph, though I continued to read the entire submission.

    Note: These are comments come from more than one contest. Some are pictures books, some middle grade, some YA, and I didn't include ALL of my notes on every single one, especially various winners, in the interest of keeping this very anonymous.

    Looking at them all again now, it's fascinating to me how similar my comments were for so many, even the ones I loved. Obviously what spoke to me most was work that had:
    • strong voice
    • active pace
    • engaging plot
    • meaningful dialogue
    • rich description that grounded me in the time and place

    I offer these notes in hopes that you can use them to look at your own opening pages and wonder if a judge like me, or an agent or editor, would say the same thing. I hope you find them helpful!

    Love,

    Jo

    Comments on No's:

    Entry 1
    Lacks voice
    Sounds too adult
    Main character not believable and therefore hard to connect to

    Entry 2
    Great first line
    Too much info dumping
    No action
    Too agenda filled?
    No voice

    Entry 3
    Nice dialogue and description
    No voice
    Fantasy element added with no surprise (too easily accepted by main character)
    No character development

    Entry 4
    Inconsistent storyline
    Too much physical description that doesn't actually work-characters are too perfect
    A bit far-fetched
    Dialogue forced

    Entry 5
    Very disjointed and hard to follow
    Voice is very distant
    Plot is vague
    Not sure what the conflict is

    Entry 6
    No real conflict
    Not clear what's at stake for character
    No character development or growth

    Entry 7
    The writing is good, but the pacing is really slow.
    Didn't have anything to pull me in.

    Entry 8
    Story starts without any introduction of time/place/character
    No clue where person is, how old
    No setting established

    Entry 9
    Interesting subject matter but text not very engaging
    Needs some conflict
    Needs to feel more like a story

    Entry 10
    Not really a story but a scene.
    Needs more.

    Entry 11
    Interesting story but REALLY slow
    Lots of telling but the details don't actually help build the story

    Entry 12
    Narrator feels too removed from story
    Slow pace
    Lots of explaining/info dumping instead of letting back story flow more naturally
    Has potential! But needs lots of work.

    Entry 13
    Too much telling/explaining rather than showing
    Launches into fantasy too fast
    Nice writing but feels too preachy
    Author's "cause" too strong on page

    Entry 14
    Too preachy
    Voice is too young
    More message than story
    Too simple

    Entry 15
    No character development
    Setting/time not clear
    No idea what's happening or who main character is
    Too much action without context
    Not clear who audience is—feels adult
    No connection to characters

    Entry 16
    Voice doesn't reflect time period (feels too modern for time depicted)
    Agenda too obvious on page
    Nice writing but story needs to feel less forced

    Entry 17
    Has great potential!
    Not sure this is YA given age of characters
    Overdramatic
    Need to slow down pace and do more scene setting/character building

    Entry 18
    Nice writing
    Captivating in some ways but not grounded in a familiar world and without stage setting, it's too confusing to follow or understand what's happening
    Not really sure who the main character is or what her plight is

    Entry 19
    Writing is snappy and fresh but too much banter for too long—doesn't move the story forward
    Dialogue is too light—doesn't reflect what's actually going on in a believable way

    Entry 20
    Too much dialogue that doesn't move story forward or provide secondary info.
    Premise is interesting and has promise but tragedy made light of in a strange way—would be OK if it was clear why. Not really believable as is.

    Entry 21
    Good writing
    Some really lovely phrases
    Good dialogue
    Story was a little hard to follow
    Seemed to be a few inconsistencies in relationships
    Slow beginning
    Whose story is this?
    Author withholding too much information

    Entry 22
    Well-trod ground
    No real conflict

    Entry 23
    Chapters are too short and disconnected-nothing really seems to happen
    Reads like a series of vignettes but the point of each isn't clear
    Parents act in a way that doesn't make sense/not believable
    Not sure what the point is
    No clear conflict

    Entry 24
    Reads more like a summary than a story
    Too much telling
    Agenda on every page

    Entry 25
    Rhyming too forced
    Powerful story but would be more effective in free verse or prose
    Too bad because there is some really raw and powerful stuff here


    Comments on Maybes:

    Entry 1
    Beautiful writing
    Lovely scene/setting descriptions
    Nice character development
    Sweet characters, nice dialogue
    No action until page 6
    Lots of info dumping where there doesn't need to be
    Agenda too visible on page

    Entry 2
    Very good writing but very slow pace
    Story never really starts
    Felt very distant from main character-didn't know enough

    Entry 3
    Good!
    Like the pacing and introduction to the secret.
    Compelling, but not a great voice.
    Written in first person but feels more like a distant narrator, which isn't quite working.
    Too much telling.

    Entry 4
    Sweet
    Great writing but concept doesn't actually work

    Entry 5
    Very nice writing
    Flow is OK
    Lack of any character/setting development before the big conflict happens

    Entry 6
    Great voice
    Wonderful writing
    Loses threads
    Not good choice of 2nd person
    Not good choice of format-doesn't work
    Plot/time span moves too quickly-summary vs. story

    Entry 7
    The fiction sections are good but too preachy
    The nonfiction sections disrupt the story
    Good writing but the format doesn't work
    Needs to be more engaging

    Entry 8
    Excellent writing
    Snappy dialogue but goes on a bit without moving plot forward
    Does a nice job with character development
    Wish this was written in first not third

    Entry 9
    Very nice writing but the agenda is too present on the page. Gets in the way of the story

    Entry 10
    So much to love
    Great voice, wonderful writing, but SO SLOW
    20 pages in and still getting backstory
    Nothing has happened

    Entry 11
    Good writing but a bit too repetitive
    Starts at an odd place
    Very intriguing though!

    Entry 12
    Very nice writing but too many props to help story along
    Too much looking back instead of showing story unfold
    Inconsistent voice

    Comments on Yes! -- considered for win but in end didn't make it:

    Entry 1
    Really beautiful
    Original voice
    Nice pacing
    A little agenda-y at end

    Entry 2
    Beautiful writing
    Great storytelling voice
    Rich details
    Nice character development
    Good dialogue
    Tension, heart, longing—all nicely conveyed

    Entry 3
    Wonderful!
    Engaging tone
    Mystery
    Care about main character
    Great connection to prologue
    Beautifully written
    Perfect pacing and dialogue

    Winners:

    Entry 1
    Amazing voice!
    Rich dialogue
    Wonderful dialect
    Strong female protagonist
    ORIGINAL and ambitious story
    Beautiful writing
    Got lost in story and invested in character
    Secondary characters very believable
    Love the hint of adventure and danger
    Perfect pacing

    Entry 2
    Excellent writing
    Strong sense of place
    Great character development from the first page
    Fantastic dialogue
    Powerful opening
    Wonderful balance of tension/action/suspense
    Rich descriptions that fit the scene and don't slow it down
    Connected with and became invested in character's plight immediately

    Entry 3
    Lyrical, light, moving
    So simple and beautiful
    Perfect word choice with surprises that were a delight
    Could see and feel every scene, sweet, but not too much so

    Entry 4
    Love!
    Great storytelling
    Perfect pacing
    Nice balance moving story forward while still giving enough backstory and setting the scene/developing character
    So original and engaging!

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


    Soooo... what do you think? See some common threads in each category? I sure do! So, for your Monday Morning (really afternoon, sorry) Warm-Up: Go check out your opening pages and see what you think! Would your reader put you in a Yes! Or a Win? What can you do to take your work to the next level? Give it a try!

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    15. Rental House: Ugly Wallpaper

    This wallpaper used to be in one of the bathrooms in the rental house. And this was actually just one of the pictures on the wallpaper. There were several different bathroom scenarios – I think one of them was a naked man peeing into the toilet.

    What were they thinking putting that on the walls? Were they trying to be funny? Because it wasn’t only inappropriate, it was the ugliest wallpaper I’ve ever seen.

    Ever.

    I wonder if we’ll look back on the fashion choices we’ve made today and think, “What was I thinking?”

    Actually. We already do. HA!


    Filed under: Rental House Woes

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    16. China Forces Authors to Abandon Pen Names Online

    Chinese authors have a tradition of using pen names, particularly when writing about controversial subjects. The government wants to put an end to this practice for authors publishing online.

    China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, has released new guidelines requiring all authors that publish literature online to register their real names with the publishing platforms they use.

    The New York Times has more:

    Under the guidelines, creators of online content will still be allowed to publish under pen names. But unlike before, when some writers registered accounts under fake names, websites will know exactly who is publishing what.

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    17. Early Bird Registration is Open for #alaac15

    Christy Estrovitz, Chair of the ALSC Local Arrangements Committee, and Carla Kozak, Chair of the ALSC Pre-Conference.

    Christy Estrovitz, Chair of the ALSC Local Arrangements Committee, and Carla Kozak, Chair of the ALSC Pre-Conference (photo courtesy of Christy Estrovitz)

    Ready to leave your heart in San Francisco? Early Bird Registration for the 2015 ALA Annual Conference is now open! Get ready for the Also Truly Distinguished Pre-Conference, scrumptious meals, delightful colleagues, cultural outings, great programs, beloved Karl the Fog, and more.

    A word to the wise from the Local Arrangements Committee, book your hotel soon. ALA Annual coincides with the 45th Annual San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade. AirBnB is another lodging opportunity and splendid way to immerse yourself in one of SF’s neighborhood. Stay tuned for more tips from the locals.

    The post Early Bird Registration is Open for #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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    18. Avoiding LGBTQ Stereotypes

    How to make your young adult LGBTQ characters fully realized instead of being stereotypes.

    http://www.malindalo.com/2010/06/avoiding-lgbtq-stereotypes-in-ya-fiction-part-5-resources/

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    19. On writing, privilege, and being a working mom

    A Salon article sparked some conversations yesterday on twitter and rightly so. I thought the article writer made some excellent points (as well as missed some others), but it all feeds into the conversation we've been having the last couple of weeks about writers and money and how we use our time. I think it's vital to acknowledge privilege wherever we have it--yes I've worked hard, I've sacrificed a lot to be able to write books, but I've also had help. It was a huge help that for the first 8 months of my marriage we lived on my husband's income while I finished The Goose Girl. When my student loan payments kicked in, I put aside fulltime writing to get a job, and my writing became slower and more sporadic.

    We had some rocky years with job losses and recession, but then there were 2 1/2 cushy years when he had a job that paid our bills and I was able to stay home with our first child, who did not have special needs and was a good napper. (I did have two books published at this point, but that income was pocket change.) I was able to write Princess Academy, River Secrets, and Austenland during that time. I've written while having a fulltime job, I've written with small children and no babysitting help, I've put in the hardcore years. But I've been much more productive when I didn't have to work full time, when I did have a babysitter, etc.  Circumstance has as much to do with the ability to create art as talent and passion.

    Privilege also meant I was born in a house with books in it. Both my parents were college graduates. I didn't have to worry about where I was getting my next meal. I wasn't mocked for spending a Saturday reading. I was encouraged and able to attend college. I was encouraged and supported in my decision to get an MFA. At every point in my life, I've been surrounded by people literate in things like how to apply for college or a student loan or a checking account, all the nitty gritty stuff that helps lead to success that I had the privilege of taking for granted.

    One part of the article stood out to me. The writer tells about a bookstore event she attended for a breakout, successful author.

    "When...an audience member, clearly an undergrad, rose to ask this glamorous writer to what she attributed her success, the woman paused, then said that she had worked very, very hard and she’d had some good training, but she thought in looking back it was her decision never to have children that had allowed her to become a true artist. If you have kids, she explained to the group of desperate nubile writers, you have to choose between them and your writing. Keep it pure. Don’t let yourself be distracted by a baby’s cry."

    When I was young and hopeful of becoming a writer, I believed that was true too. I'd heard other women writers say the same. I thought I'd have to choose between being a writer or being a mother. It was a great motivator for me, actually, to finish The Goose Girl because I thought that would be it. I needed to get one book out before having a kid because then it would be all over.

    Twenty books and four children later, it's not all over.

    I've written at length about living in the crossroads of art and mothering. It's challenging for sure. And I have a feeling that the books I write (genre, for children), that glamorous, childless writer wouldn't consider real books anyway. But it's simply not true that children prevent deep thought, the creation of art, the passion for something as involved and longterm as writing a novel. There are many writers who have proved otherwise, over and over again. And for me, the more years I spend with my kids, the more stories I'm eager to tell, both for them and for me.

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    20. Hornet Opens London Studio

    New York-based commercial production company Hornet has opened up a new outpost in London's Shoreditch district.

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    21. PASSION by Lia

    passion_lia

    Submitted by Lia for the Illustration Friday topic PASSION.

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    22. Living next to a Superfund site


    We don't really hear much about Superfund sites anymore but they haven't gone away. From last month's National Geographic Magazine:

    Money remains a constant problem. The Superfund program once had two pillars: rules that held past polluters liable for cleanup and a "Superfund"--financed by taxes on crude oil and chemicals--that gave the EPA the resources to clean up sites when it could not extract payment from the responsible parties. Congress let those taxes expire in 1995; the program is now funded by taxes collected from all Americans. It's low on staff. The Superfund itself is nearly empty.

    Superfund sites have entered a mostly benign but lingering state, dwarfed in the public's eye by issues like climate change, says William Suk, who has directed the National Institutes of Health's Superfund Research Program since its inception in the 1980s. "It's not happening in my backyard, therefore it must be OK," is how Suk sees the prevailing attitude. "Everything must be just fine--there's no more Love Canals."

    Check out the full photo gallery here.

    [Post pic by Fritz Hoffman via Nat Geo: "The municipal water supply in Hastings was contaminated by landfills--and by the FAR-MAR-CO grain elevator. Fumigants sprayed to control rodents and insects leached into the ground. The city closed some wells, but cleaning the groundwater will take decades."]

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    23. Winter, Winter, Winter

    Snow has arrived in Pittsburgh, but nothing compared to what New York and other Northeastern states are going to get.

    Stay safe if you are affected.

    Here are two shots.  One out of my front door and one out of the back door.  I love seeing the bushes and trees covered.

    This may cool off anyone who is having hot temperatures.  :)


    Are you getting any snow?


     

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    24. "Injun" in Chris Kyle's AMERICAN SNIPER

    When American Sniper opened in theaters last week, I started to see reviews that pointed out Kyle's use of the word savage to describe Iraqis. That word has been used to describe American Indians. I wondered if Kyle made any connections between "savage" and American Indians in his book. The answer? Yes.

    In his autobiography, Kyle uses "Injun" in two places. Here's what he said on page 267:

    Or we would bump out 500 yards, six or eight hundred yards, going deep into Injun territory to look and wait for the bad guys.
    And here's what he said on page 291:
    Our missions would last for an overnight or two in Injun country.
    See? He made connections between "savage" Iraqis and "savage" Indians. In his book, he used the word "savage" several times. Here's page 4 (the book uses caps as shown):
    SAVAGE, DESPICABLE EVIL. THAT'S WHAT WE WERE FIGHTING in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy "savages." 
    Later on that same page, he says that when people asked him how many he's killed:
    The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.
    On page 147:
    THE BAD GUYS THE ENEMIES WE WERE FIGHTING WERE SAVAGE AND WELL-armed 
    On page 173:
    It was near a hospital the insurgents had converted into a headquarters before our assault, and even now the area seemed to be a magnet for savages.
    On page 219:
    I hated the damn savages I'd been fighting.
    On page 228:
    They turned around and saw a savage with a rocket launcher lying dead on the ground.
    On page 244:
    They had heard we were out there slaying a huge number of savages.
    On page 284:
    There was a savage on the roof of the house next door, looking down at the window from the roof there. 
    On page 316:
    "...after we killed enough of the savages out there," I told him. 
    On page 338:
    I'd have to wait until the savage who put him up to it appeared on the street.
    Of course, Kyle is not the first person to equate American Indians with Iraqis. In 2008, Professor Steven Silliman of the University of Massachusetts did a study of the use of "Indian Country." His article, The "Old West" in the Middle East: U.S. Military Metaphors in Real and Imagined Indian Country includes a chart of how it was used in the Middle East, by media and soldiers.

    And, anyone who has paid attention to the use of "savage" or "Injun" in children's literature will be able to list several books that use either word to dehumanize American Indians. Here's a few examples:

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder used "savages" in her Little House on the Prairie.  
    • Carol Ryrie Brink used "savages" in Caddie Woodlawn.
    • Lois Lenski used "savage" in Indian Captive.
    • Elizabeth George Speare used "savages" in Calico Captive and "savage" in Sign of the Beaver.
    • Eoin Colfer used "savage Injun" in The Reluctant Assassin.

    When we share books with the dehumanization of American Indians, do we inadvertently put people on that road to being able to dehumanize "other" in conflicts, be the conflict that takes place in war or on the streets of any country?

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    25. Still a Mom, reading to my Kids

    Wow. I nearly forgot about this blog. I came back to it today, looking for a picture of a friend and me in high school. I read through a few of my Mommy's piggy tails stories and LOVED it! Why have I not been doing this blog still?

    And then I remembered why. All FIVE reasons why.

    Yep. I now have 5 kids! And I'm busy. And I'm run down. And whenever I have a spare moment I usually don't want to spend it blogging!

    Ironically enough, my new baby boy is named Oliver. I just saw that the last time I posted on here was about the book Oliver Twist. :)

    However, as I read through my old stories this morning, it made me want to start blogging again. I think it's therapeutic. I still have our family blog where I put pictures of my kids, and our family and what we've been up to. And I like to do instagram. But, I'm thinking this blog will be more for me.

    I still have a dream of becoming a published author one day. But I'm pretty content with the fact that it's just a dream. Maybe it will happen. Probably not. But, like I said, I'm ok with that.

    My oldest son is 7 and is a GREAT reader. I love that. My second son is 5 and is learning to read, and picking it up quickly. I love that too. I read books when I can, and I sometimes pawn the bedtime reading off to the oldest. And I won't lie, sometimes we don't have time for bedtime reading. And that's ok too.

    So, I'm thinking I'll try to blog when I feel like it, and share more stories from my life. I used to keep a journal very regularly. Up until about the time I had kids. Now, It's very sporadic. Usually when I'm very stressed or very happy. Which is fine. But, I know there are plenty of stories that happen that I would love to share with my children and their children and theirs someday. So. I'll write them here.

    If anybody still reads this, great. Let me know what you think. I'm not so good at linking up, but maybe we can encourage each other and choose topics to write about together. If nobody reads it, that's alright too. :)

    In the mean time... I think I'll go snuggle with my sweet baby girl who slept in until 10:30 this morning. Probably means she's not feeling so well... Read the rest of this post

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