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1. long neck


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2. On this morning's walk..

A black bear crossed my path!

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3. Amazon Picks 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime

Looking for books to read to your kids? Amazon editors have put together a children’s book edition of its series of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime lists.

The list includes classics such as Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon. The list also includes modern favorites such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

We’ve embedded the entire list after the jump for you to explore. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. Bluewater Productions & PETA Create a Poster Protesting Against Killer Whale Cruelty

Bluewater Productions and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have partnered together to create a promotional poster.

The 20-foot cartoon piece is being used to protest against the cruel handling of orcas at SeaWorld theme parks. It is displayed at Terminal 2 inside the San Diego International Airport.

Here’s more from the press release: “Bluewater, known for its edgy spoofs of controversial topics, designed the cartoon in the wake of last year’s hit documentary Blackfish. The film—viewed by 21 million on CNN alone—explored SeaWorld’s cruel capture and devastating confinement of orcas, which led the whale named Tilikum to kill three people.”

SeaWorld has made a public statement against this act. According to the Times of San Diego, the executives at SeaWorld claim that “the truth is that our killer whales are healthy and happy, and thrive in our care. The real animal welfare organization is SeaWorld, not PETA, and our trainers, aviculturists, animal-care staff and veterinarians are the true advocates for animals.”

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5. Chicks ‘n ducks ‘n geese

WONDERFUL FARM HARPER Chicks n ducks n geeseWe’re off tomorrow to spend a few days with the Sendak Fellows, Nora Krug and Harry Bliss, at a farm Maurice owned in upstate New York. (Why did he need a farm? Did he need a place to get away from it all from his place to get away from it all in the wilds of rural Connecticut?). The management tells me my job there is to “be Maurice,” but someone and his pal Wolfie are up in heaven laughing themselves sick at that suggestion. Instead, I imagine myself poking my head around easels, saying “perhaps a little more green there, Nora” or “Harry, you know, Brownie here would make an excellent companion to Bailey, yes?”

I guess the one thing I can tell them about is what Maurice loved and hated–and it was generally one or the other, whether it came to his taste in pictures, movies, TV, books, music or food. “I love it!” “I hate it!” The tricky thing with him, though, is that even though you coulda sworn he’d said he loved something, catch him ten minutes later and his passion had reversed. What I wish I had was Maurice’s talent for contagious enthusiasm: he could make you love what he loved, even if, years later, you finally–secretly and hoping he doesn’t overhear–admit you really don’t find Christa Wolf all that enjoyable.

I’m sure I’ll think of something to say. And we’re going to Tanglewood to meet Lizzie Borden; we’ll show Brownie the land of his birth (he was found wandering in the Berkshire woods); and I’m to be given the opportunity to milk goats. I hope I can see them run!

 

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The post Chicks ‘n ducks ‘n geese appeared first on The Horn Book.

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6. Synopsis 41



Ratman's Revenge

When eleven-year-old CODY feels left out and alone [abandoned] by his too-busy divorced parents and his off-at-summer-camp friends, he ventures into the woods for the first time. There he meets two kids who claim to live in a city deep below the surface of the earth where everyone has amazing paranormal abilities. Of course, Cody doesn’t believe them. [Of course. But later when no one believes Cody about seeing a man-sized rat, he won't understand how they can be so dense.]

The next day, Cody’s mom bails on him when she starts dating a new guy, and Cody’s dad says he’s moving to across the country with his giggly girlfriend. Cody has had enough and storms off to the woods. This time, he begs the kids to take him to their underground city. Even though [when] they warn him [that] once he goes down, he can never go home again, Cody is all-in. [He can never go home because it's against the rules or because it's physically impossible?]

With strange caves to explore and plenty of new friends with crazy abilities, Cody thinks he’s scored the perfect new home. Except outsiders from the surface are not allowed. [So the kids who brought him down and the plenty of new friends he's made are unaware that surfacians aren't allowed?] But when Cody is discovered by the Council of Elders, instead of executing him, they ask for his help. [If execution is the usual penalty for being there, you'd think that would have been mentioned by the kids who brought him down.] With his knowledge of the surface, he may be able to find out what happened to their missing Detectors, the citizens who protect the underground city by patrolling the surface.

As a way to find the Detectors, the council wants to teach Cody paranormal abilities and create a psychic link between Cody and the Detectors. [Have they tried creating a psychic link between the two kids Cody met in the woods and the Detectors?] Cody is determined to help his new home [friends]. The problem is, he’s failing his simplest paranormal classes, and a man-sized rat, RATMAN, attacks [him] every step of the way by using paranormal abilities to create Cody’s dangerous “accidents.”

Since Cody is the only one who sees the giant rat, no one [else] believes Ratman exists. So while Cody struggle[s] to find the Detectors, he wants to figure out who or what Ratman is and why he’s attacking him.

When Cody finally develops visions in his meditation class, he gets glimpses into the mind of Ratman. He discovers [that Ratman is usually thinking about cheese.] there’s a real man behind the rat illusion, [If you're gonna create the illusion that you're an animal, you oughta be able to come up with something better than a rat.] and that man is a vengeful council member, KIRK, who has been using the missing Detectors to locate a mysterious power source that can create an earthquake. Cody fears Kirk is about to get his revenge for the death of his family by destroying the city with a man-made earthquake. [This is the plot of that Star Trek episode where Kirk destroys the planet Romulus as revenge for some Romulan woman digging Spock more than she digs Kirk.] [Also, how did this Elder's family die? Unless everyone in the city was responsible, destroying the city seems like overkill.]

But when the entire Council of Elders is the next to disappear, it’s up to Cody and his friends to stop Kirk. [I see we've decided to call him Kirk instead of Ratman. If Ratman is an illusion and is actually Captain Kirk in a rat costume, maybe the title should be Kirk's Revenge. You'd see huge sales to Trekkies who think it's fanfic.] Despite their best efforts, one of Cody’s friends is killed [The one in the red uniform shirt.] and the remaining friends are held under Kirk’s hypnotic spell.

As the earth begins to shake, Cody is left to face Kirk’s wrath [The Wrath of Kirk] alone and save his new home. Cody draws on the simple talents he had on the surface—quick thinking and telling a convincing lie—to deceive Kirk and refocus the power source to kill him. [Quick thinking and lying may be useful talents, but do they allow you to refocus a power source that's causing an earthquake so that it kills one wererat?] The council and the Detectors are then freed from Kirk’s control. [


Notes

If these other kids are able to come to the surface, why wouldn't Cody be able to come back and go home?

Are the people who were unable to see Ratman able to see Kirk?

Hard to believe they pin all their hopes on an eleven-year-old stranger who fails even the simplest paranormal classes, just because he has some familiarity with the planet's surface. It would be easier to have Cody teach someone who aced his paranormal classes about the surface.

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7. Things That Make Me Happy







































Publishers Weekly Children's Books Fall 2014

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8. Now coming to you from Oregon

AshlandPart of the reason for no post on Monday is that I'm in the midst of a move to Ashland, Oregon, a lovely place we lived 20 years ago and are happy to return to. We're staying with friends while we look for a house (timing was such that we had to put our household into storage--bummer).

But I should be able to continue posting as usual--NOTE: could use some more chapters to flog, the queue is at two (this week's supply).

Go here to see what Ashland and the valley it's in look like. It's in southern Oregon and is a high desert climate, not the rainy climate people associate with Oregon.

See you tomorrow.

Ray

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9. On writerly risk taking: M.T. Anderson and Rahna Reiko Rizzuto talk

I stole upstairs with Clockhouse in hand and read the conversation between my friend Rahna and the ever-interesting M.T. Anderson (Octavian Nothing, Feed, etc.). It's the sort of interview the whole world should read—two very smart people talking, unexpected tangents and revelations, deep questions, unvarnished (which is to say actively honest) responses.

I share just a snippet here, but oh my. The whole is New York Times quality stuff.

RRR: What is the biggest risk you ever took as a person and as a writer?

MTA: Every big work is a risk. One thing I found is easy enough to tell my students, but now I am having to tell myself is: every time you write a new book, you should try to write something that is impossible for you. You should try to write something at which you think you are going to fail. Because it's only then that you actually realize that you've succeeded in new ways you've never dreamed of before. Now that obviously a nice adage to tell students when they are facing trouble, to say, look, you just need to lean into this, and trust that you can do it and seek solutions because if you don't feel like it's impossible for you then you aren't re-envisioning yourself as much as you need to be. On the other hand, it's very difficult to do that for yourself....
The photo above is of too long ago—my husband, my son, Reiko's Ming and her boys, then Reiko herself at Hawk Mountain. Reiko sees things others don't. This interview (and her books) are proof of that.

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10. Haruki Murakami’s New Novel Excerpted on Slate

Haruki Murakami‘s new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage comes out next month.

Slate has an excerpt of the RandomHouse  book, which is currently available for preorder. Check it out:

“I have a kind of weird story related to death. Something my father told me. He said it was an actual experience he had when he was in his early twenties. Just the age I am now. I’ve heard the story so many times I can remember every detail. It’s a really strange story—it’s hard even now for me to believe it actually happened— but my father isn’t the type to lie about something like that. Or the type who would concoct such a story. I’m sure you know this, but when you make up a story the details change each time you retell it. You tend to embellish things, and forget what you said before. … But my father’s story, from start to finish, was always exactly the same, each time he told it.”

 

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11. The Open Window

You had that dream again. The one where the beast with the drooping hands and wicked fangs stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

Want more creative writing prompts? Pick up a copy of
A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing
Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for
every day of the year and you can start on any day.

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12. Where’s the Diversity, Hollywood? Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blockbusters Overwhelmingly White, Male

Summer blockbuster season is in full swing. For many moviegoers, that means escaping to a galaxy far, far away—or perhaps just a different version of our own planet Earth—through science fiction and fantasy movies. As fans clamor for the latest cinematic thrills, we decided to focus our next Diversity Gap study on the level of racial and gender representation in these ever-popular genres that consistently rake in the big bucks for movie studios. We reviewed the top 100 domestic grossing sci-fi and fantasy films as reported by Box Office Mojo. The results were staggeringly disappointing, if not surprising in light of our past Diversity Gap studies of the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, US politics, and the Academy Awards, where we analyzed multi-year samplings and found a disturbingly consistent lack of diversity.

Infographic: the Diversity Gap in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films

The Diversity Gap in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films infographic (click for larger image)

Among the top 100 domestic grossing films through 2014:

• only 8% of films star a protagonist of color
• of the 8 protagonists of color, all are men; 6 are played by Will Smith and 1 is a cartoon character (Aladdin)
• 0% of protagonists are women of color
• 0% of protagonists are LGBTQ
• 1% of protagonists are people with a disability

The following interviews with two prominent entertainment equality advocacy groups shed more light on the subject.

Marissa Lee
Marissa Lee is co-founder of Racebending.com, an international grassroots organization of media consumers who support entertainment equality. Racebending.com advocates for underrepresented groups in entertainment media and is dedicated to furthering equal opportunities in Hollywood and beyond.

Imran Siddiquee


Imran Siddiquee
is Director of Communications at the Representation Project, which is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness toward change. The Representation project was the follow-up to the critically acclaimed documentary Miss Representation.

 

Jason Low: Do these statistics surprise you? Why or why not?

Marissa Lee: The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination. These statistics aren’t necessarily surprising, since lack of diversity in Hollywood films is a well-known problem. There have been enough studies and articles, and any moviegoer can pause to notice there is a disparity. . . . Hollywood can’t go on pretending that this isn’t a problem.Hollywood can't go on pretending like this isn't a problem.

JL: Do you think the American movie-going audience would support a big, blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy movie with a diverse protagonist if a studio made it?

Imran Siddiquee: Yes, definitely. But I think an important thing to understand about Hollywood blockbusters is that they are almost never flukes; they are preordained. Sure, we have the occasional surprise indie hit, but you need a lot of money and marketing behind you to become a blockbuster. Just look at the top ten films in each of the last five years: nearly every single one had a budget of more than $100 million (a lot of them were also sci-fi/fantasy films).

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a single film released this year starring a person of color with a budget of more than $50 million, let alone a sci-fi film, which is naturally going to be more expensive. The same goes for most of the last decade. So for anyone who might say “people just don’t watch sci-fi movies starring people of color,” or “there’s no evidence that this would work,” the truth is that we have no evidence that it wouldn’t work.

Studios take a couple of massively expensive chances every year on mostly unknown actors or directors—aka giving the Spider-Man franchise to Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield in 2012—but they just don’t take those kinds of chances on people of color. In other words, if Hollywood wanted to make a blockbuster sci-fi/fantasy film starring a woman of color, they definitely could.

ML: I think American audiences would support a film with a diverse protagonist, because we already have. One pullout statistic from your infographic is that Will Smith leads six of the top 100 big sci-fi/fantasy films. His race wasn’t a huge impediment to box office success and may have, in fact, been part of what made him all-American and relatable. That was back in the late 1990s, but since then, Hollywood hasn’t tried to find a new Will Smith. This is kind of ironic, given that Hollywood likes to stick to formulas and sequels! They could push forward another actor—or actress—of color with Smith’s charisma. They haven’t.

The American movie audience supports any movie that Hollywood successfully markets well, especially—but not always—if the film is well produced. Hollywood has managed to market some weird stuff, like a tentpole movie about talking teenage turtle martial artists, or cars that change into space robots, and so on. I don’t buy that when it comes to marketing diverse leads, suddenly this giant industry can’t do it.

So for anyone who might say “people just don’t watch sci-fi movies starring people of color,” . . . the truth is that we have no evidence that it wouldn’t work.I’d be interested in seeing how many of these top 100 grossing sci-fi and fantasy films star non-human leads. I wonder if there are more films with non-human leads than minority human leads on the list!

(Side note: Does the infographic count Keanu Reeves as white or as a person of color? I think he has more than one movie on this list given The Matrix trilogy…)

Editorial note: Yes, Keanu Reeves is counted as a PoC and did make the list for The Matrix. The second Matrix film, The Matrix Reloaded was the only installment of the trilogy to make the top 100 list.

JL: What challenges have you faced or seen peers facing as a woman/person of color, etc.?

ML: There are films with built-in audiences that Hollywood still insists on whitewashing, which has a very adverse effect on actors of color. Let’s be honest, audiences would have still flocked to see The Hunger Games or Twilight if characters like Katniss or Jacob had been cast with people of color as they were written in the books. An actor with a disability could have played the protagonist in Avatar—if we have the technology and imagination to animate a fanciful world populated by blue cat people, we could have cast an actor with a disability similar to the lead character’s in that role. As a result of these casting decisions, up and coming actors from underrepresented groups were deprived of career exposure from being a part of these established franchises, making it harder for Hollywood ever to try and launch a new franchise with an actor from an underrepresented group.

Every single Marvel Studios movie has centered around a presumably straight, white, male protagonist, even if white women (mostly love interests) and men of color (support roles) have played roles in the film. The franchise is a box office juggernaut and has a ton of movies on this list, but we’ve gotten two to three movies about each of the men on the Avengers and there’s yet to be a film about Black Widow. Both of Marvel’s ensemble films—The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy—trimmed down the superhero teams for their film adaptations, and the women characters, save for one, were the first to be cut. Most moviegoers will never know that women of color and LGBTQ characters were cut from Guardians of the Galaxy, but audiences will get to relate to the talking raccoon and the talking tree.

More recently, the Divergent franchise cast Naomi Watts to play a character who was a woman of color in the books. It’s a supporting role for an already established franchise, and for whatever reason the production still couldn’t bring themselves to cast an actor of color.

Trends that fans have noted in the media include that in big blockbuster sci-fi and fantasy films, the presence of a straight, white, able-bodied, cis male in some central role in the story is almost guaranteed, while the presence of characters with “minority” identities (e.g. LGBTQ folks, people of color, people with disabilities, women, etc.) is not. Even when a character who isn’t a straight, white cis male is centered in a story, there’s probably a straight, white, cis male character playing second, if not lead, billing. For example, while we can reasonably assume that the next few Star Trek and Star Wars movies will have some diverse characters, we can guarantee that at least one of the leads will be a straight, white man. If The Hunger Games or Twilight had cast actors of color for Katniss or Jacob, there would still have been plenty of lead roles filled by white actors. DC is including Wonder Woman in an upcoming movie, but the film will also feature Batman and Superman.

This means that someone with a lot of intersecting privileged identities (especially straight, white men) will always be able to walk into a multiplex and find a sci-fi/fantasy movie starring someone who shares those identities. If you have a lot of marginalized identities, then representation is a sometimes thing, never a solid guarantee. There is a very small but vocal minority of people who want to maintain this status quo, and Hollywood seems to cater toward them due to institutionalized racism, fear, and habits. But there are just as many, if not more, people who are willing to support, vociferously, films with diverse leads. I wish our money was as good as theirs.There is a very small but vocal minority of people who want to maintain this status quo, and Hollywood seems to cater toward them due to institutionalized racism, fear, and habits.

JL: How can consumers encourage more diversity in movies? 

IS: Avoid buying tickets to films which clearly rely on stereotypes or demeaning portrayals of people based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, ability, or circumstance. And anytime you do watch a film, give it The Representation Test afterward. The test grades films on their inclusiveness pertaining to all those above categories. When a movie scores really low on the test, use #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to let the filmmakers and all your friends know how you feel. Since so much of this industry is based on money, this is one way we can express our discontent and get the attention of the studios.

ML: Media literacy is a huge start. As media consumers, we should feel empowered to critique the media we consume, and to decide what media we choose to consume. Beyond helpful steps like going to see movies that feature diverse leads, it’s just as important to start conversations in our own communities and with our friends and family (the people we consume media with!) to raise awareness about diversity and representation. Even if we don’t go to see movies that whitewash or exclude or present discriminatory content, people we know will. One way we can help change things is by continuing to start conversations. We need to create an environment where it is safe to criticize popular franchises for lacking diversity. We also need to keep drowning out the malcontents who cannot even handle actors of diverse backgrounds in supporting roles. Social media has really knocked down barriers when it comes to communicating our opinions with Hollywood brass. It’s also given us several spaces where we can discuss the media we consume with our friends and family. In addition, the internet has really changed how we access and consume media. There are Kickstarters and indie channels and online comics and other outlets so we don’t have to be reliant on big production studios or publishers as our only sources of entertainment.

JL: How close or far do you think we are from getting these statistics to change?

IS: When you’re talking about representation that is this low, it’s hard to go anywhere but up. For instance, 0% for women of color in top sci-fi films means I’m being honest when I say things will certainly improve soon, but that’s not saying much. I think we are pretty far away from true equality, or a cinema that reflects and includes the broad diversity of human experiences in the real world.

When you’re talking about representation that is this low, it’s hard to go anywhere but up.Too many wealthy, white men still run Hollywood, and their decisions still have too much power. As I mentioned earlier, these kinds of movies are very expensive, and so it’s hard for independent or upstart filmmakers to break through or compete.

That being said, the slight increase in success for white women in blockbuster sci-fi movies, such as Gravity, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, means change is possible. And it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Oscar wins for 12 Years a Slave last year, because while it wasn’t a blockbuster, it is a film that everyone in the industry now knows about and has probably seen. And the whole reason we’re even talking about representation in movies right now is because we know how much seeing different experiences on screen can impact people’s real world thoughts and attitudes. So films like 12 Years a Slave are part of the gradual shifting of consciousness that has to happen in Hollywood to get to a point where studios are consistently greenlighting big-budget films starring people of color.

ML: As budgets for tentpole science fiction and fantasy movies have soared, studios have been more reluctant to take a chance on actors or characters that they perceive as risks. Because people of color and women are also already more likely to consume movies than white people and men, maybe they don’t feel an incentive to change what they are doing because, from their perspective, minorities are perfectly willing to watch films starring white guys. Hollywood is pretty stubborn, especially when it comes to tentpole movies. We are seeing more diversity in television, particularly in children’s television, as well as in online content. The establishment will change when someone influential in Hollywood decides to take the risk and make an effort to diversify their film offerings. The stats in this infographic are focused on profit, not art. For things to change, Hollywood needs to believe that diversity can be profitable.

***

This is not an isolated incident, but a wide reaching societal problem.
Read more Diversity Gap studies on:

The Academy Awards
The Tony Awards
The Emmy Awards
The children’s book industry
The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List
US politics

Further resources on how to teach content and visual literacy using Lee & Low Books’ infographics series on the Diversity Gap:

Using Infographics In The Classroom To Teach Visual Literacy

CONTACT: For more information or to request permission to reprint, please email hehrlich[at]leeandlow[dot]com


Filed under: Diversity, Race, and Representation, Guest Blogger Post, The Diversity Gap Tagged: African/African American Interest, Asian/Asian American, diversity, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, LGBT, Middle Eastern, Multiracial, Native American, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, whitewashing

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13. Early Theme Adopters: Bloggy

Designed by Anariel Design, Bloggy is a stylish, sophisticated, and versatile premium theme that showcases text and photography equally well.

What’s more, Bloggy sports Special Elite — a distinctive default font — on the site title, post titles, navigation, and text widgets:

specialelitetitles

If Special Elite isn’t your style, the Custom Design Upgrade offers scads of additional fonts to choose from.

Let’s tour a few sites that use Bloggy for some customization inspiration.

R.M. ENGELHARDT

ressurectionwaltz

Prolific poet R.M. Engelhardt uses Bloggy to great effect to promote his most recent volume of poetry, The Resurrection Waltz. The black background and chunky all-caps site title and tagline lend a distinct gravitas, wouldn’t you agree? Engelhardt uses Bloggy‘s custom header feature to load one of four header images at random. The grainy black and white images lend portent and emphasize the sense of a serious poet at work.

OBJECTIF SANTE ~ FORME

objectif

Julie Catherine Gagnon is a kinesiologist and professional figure skating coach. We especially loved the large, inviting custom header image at OBJECTIF SANTE ~ FORME. It combines light-green leaves and slim, elegant type which underscore the healthful focus of the articles on her French-language site.

Food To Glow

foodtoglow

Be prepared to feast your eyes on some recipes! American expat Kellie Anderson, blog proprietress of Food To Glow, uses stunning, large-scale photographs to show off her culinary feats. Kellie’s light background and muted typography allow her food photos to whet your appetite for her tantalizing recipes.

Looking for more Bloggy inspiration? Check out:

While Bloggy is a premium theme, there’s a wealth of free themes you can choose from to create just the look you’re after for your blog.


Filed under: Customization, Themes

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14. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Official Teaser Trailer [HD]

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15. Guest post by Tracy E. Banghart: Alloy Entertainment Partners With Amazon To Create A New Digital-First Imprint, and her previously self-published book is included. Enter to win $25 Amazon gift card.

Hello! My name is Tracy and I am so excited to be here today, celebrating with my blogger buddies! WHAT are we celebrating, you ask? Well, today marks the launch of a very exciting, special new program. Alloy Entertainment (of Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame) has partnered with Amazon to create a new imprint! As a “Powered By Amazon” imprint, it will be exclusively distributed by Amazon. Here’s more info from the official press release:


“Today, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, announced a digital-first imprint that will focus on young adult, new adult and commercial fiction. The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach.”


I am super super proud to share that my previously self-published novel, Shattered Veil, is one of the inaugural books in this program! It has been retitled REBEL WING, given a new cover (check out the beauty below!), fully edited, and I am so, SO excited to share it with you today! In addition, two other books are part of the launch, and they are AWESOME. Read on for more info and purchase links for EVERY UGLY WORD by Aimee L. Salter and IMITATION by Heather Hildenbrand.


REBEL WING


YA Scifi Adventure


“I’ve never been actively jealous of a fictional character .  . . until now. Aris’s adventures set my imagination on fire, and made my heart take flight.” ~Kass Morgan, author of New York Times bestseller The 100


Description


The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.
Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.


About Me

Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. Rebel Wing is her third novel.  She can be found at www.tracybanghart.com 


EVERY UGLY WORD

By Aimee L. Salter

Description

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school, bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and The List, Every Ugly Word is a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying.

About Aimee

Aimee L. Salter lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and son. She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler. She never stopped appreciating those moments in the dark when you say what you’re really thinking. And she’ll always ask you about the things you wish she wouldn’t.

Aimee blogs for both writers and readers at www.aimeelsalter.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Every Ugly Word is her debut novel.


IMITATION

By Heather Hildenbrand

Description

Everyone is exactly like me.
There is no one like me.

Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.

When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?

Fans of Cinder, The Selection and Sara
Shepard’s Lying Game series will love Imitation, a thrilling, action-packed novel sure
to keep readers guessing until the very last page.



About Heather

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. She now lives in coastal VA, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, with her two adorable children. She works from home, part time, as a property manager and when she’s not furiously pounding at the keyboard, or staring off into space whilst plotting a new story, she’s lying on the beach, soaking in those delicious, pre-cancerous rays. Heather loves Mexican food, hates socks with sandals, and if her house was on fire, the one thing she’d grab is her DVR player. You can find out more about her and her books at www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com 

Heather is a co-founder of Accendo Press, a publishing group she operates with fellow authors: Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby. Accendo (a-CH-endo), A Latin word, means “to kindle, illuminate, inflame, or set fire.” This is something Accendo strives to do inside a reader’s imagination with every title released.

Please join me, Aimee, and Heather, along with some other great YA authors for a Facebook party this afternoon to celebrate the big launch! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!  

Thanks so much to my wonderful bloggers friends who are helping me spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. Once Upon A Time – Benefits of the Bedtime Story

Enjoy this blog post about the benefits of reading stories to children at bedtime by Super Mum and Freelance Writer, Serena Assih.

 

After an epically busy day, dinner and bath time are now over, your toddler is settled into his or her pyjamas and the final ritual of the evening is about to commence – the bedtime story.Jamee-Marie Edwards Reading

Once this has been completed – inclusive of appropriate character voices, you’re gently warmed from within by the feeling of satisfaction at successfully closing another day. At this point, your little one drifts off into a peaceful sleep and you silently tiptoe out of the bedroom and head downstairs for some much needed adult time.

While this may be an idealised version of events, there is real evidence that nightly reading to children has many positive benefits. As a mother with three little darlings at home, it’s reassuring to know that my efforts are helping my children in multiple ways, apart from just trying to get them to sleep. Due to their ages, currently six, four and seven months, this is an activity that we’ll be engaged in for several years to come.

 

The Benefits Explained

So how exactly are you aiding your little cherubs by sharing stories before bed?

Vocabulary expansion

Exposing children to a wide variety of language gives them the opportunity to add new words and expressions to their own speech. Reading enables this process of language acquisition and development to happen more quickly. Stories also allow them to gain knowledge about concepts which are not part of their everyday lives, for example, polar bears, penguins and sea lions.

Improves Logical Thinking

While reading the same books over and over again to our children can be tedious for us as adults, it’s quite the opposite for youngsters.Marta Moran Bishop Reading to Kids When encountering a story for the first time they do not catch all the details. Each time they listen to it being read they notice new things. Eventually they learn to recognise patterns and will begin predicting what will happen next. This ability stays with them as they move through school and can help in several subjects such as maths, music and writing.

Motor Skills

Learning how to turn the pages of a book gives children the opportunity to develop their motor skills, starting with chunky baby friendly board books all the way through to weighty tomes with wafer thin leaves.

Better Attainment at School

According to research, attainment at school at age eight has a lot to do with how quickly that child was able to process words when they were two years old.

Emotional and Social Development

A child who progresses well through primary school is said to be more likely to continue onto higher education, have better employment prospects, stay married and be less likely to go to prison.

Reduces stress

An important part of children’s development is learning how to cope with stresses, such as moving to a new school, being bullied or the arrival of a baby sibling.Choosing a Cat During times like these, the body produces the hormone cortisol which is responsible for  ‘fight or flight’ response. If there is too much cortisol present, it can stop a child from learning, but snuggling up in bed being read a favourite story can actually reduce stress levels. That also goes for parents too.

 

Because I’m Happy…

The benefits of reading bedtime stories to your precious little angels are quite substantial. Each day’s investment of a few minutes of time is creating a greater chance of raising a happy, balanced and well-adjusted young person. So read on Mums and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunties and Uncles and be encouraged that you’re doing a great job.

 

Sereena Assih is a freelance writer at finerwords.com

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17. Softy - available on REE soon!!

Hi everyone, 
I want to introduce you to my pal, Softy.  Softy introduced me to the tastiest Food Truck Festivals, when I first moved to San Francisco over 3 years ago. Softy is a Mexican Chocolate favor ice-cream - He is the coolest and the hottest!!  The dude can catch fire ... quite literally!! 

Softy will soon be available on Ree!!  
Please like and support him!!  

Yours truly,
Minty, the ice-cream cone

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18. China Dolls (2014)

China Dolls. Lisa See. 2014. Random House. 376 pages. [Source: Library]

China Dolls is historical fiction. The novel follows three women through the latter days of the 1930s through the 1940s. Three very different women I might add. The friendship between these three women is not quite pure or ideal. Grace, one of the heroines, is running away from an abusive father. Her dream is to sing and dance and to go into show business. Ruby, another heroine, is also a dancer and performer. Helen is the third heroine. Before a chance meeting with Ruby and Grace, Helen had no big dreams of show business. In fact, Helen could not even dance! Yet, a chance meeting one day led all three women to audition for an Oriental nightclub. (For the record, Oriental is the term used throughout China Dolls.) Talent is only half of what is required, they learn. Appearance is super important. It is more important to be beautiful and amazing and be somewhat teachable than to be incredibly talented. Helen and Grace are hired to be essentially part of a chorus. (They're called Ponies.) But Ruby remains a part of their lives. For better or worse.

While each woman is given a back story and/or a sob story, I had a hard time liking any of the characters. Helen, Grace, and Ruby may spend time together, but, that doesn't mean they like each other and want each other to succeed. Helen, Ruby, and Grace could be quite mean and awful to each other.

The history is interesting. The story is certainly full of drama. The characters are incredibly flawed and remain consistently selfish.

I liked it fine, but, I definitely did not love it.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. "Firefly July" Wins NEIBA Award

Firefly July, A Year of Very Short Poems, which was our Environmental Book Club selection earlier this month, has won the 2014 New England Independent Booksellers Association New England Book Award in the children's category. These awards are given for books either about New England, set in New England, or by an author living in New England.

Firefly July is an anthology compiled by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

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20. My office featured in Andrea Skyberg's Tuesday Studio Tours today!

Thanks to Andrea Skyberg for featuring my Office Cave in her Tuesday Studio Tours today.

Find out why my office looks NOTHING like the rest of the house, how my hero husband Jeff helped enhance my office, my envy of those who have appealing-sounding creative rituals, music I'm listening to (including Ookla the Mok) and a sampling of my new OfficeCrazyDanceBreak playlist, the most useful tool in my studio, and advice for those who want to make a personal space where they can be creative. Plus LOTS of photos!

Thank you, Andrea!

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21. Free today: Nest. Flight. Sky., my Shebooks memoir (or any Shebook, for that matter)

Today and tomorrow, my friends, you can download one Shebook for free.

Go to the site. 

Use FREEBOOK as the promo code.

Find a shady spot.

Read.

I'd be so honored if you chose my memoir, Nest. Flight. Sky. But any Shebooks book will do

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22. Teaser Trailer Unveiled For Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2

A teaser trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 was unveiled this weekend at a Comic-Con International panel.

The video embedded above features Patton Oswalt doing double duty as Agent Billy Koenig and Agent Sam Koenig while overseeing a “security orientation.”

Entertainmeny Weekly reports the upcoming season will introduce several new characters including Barbara Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird, Isabelle Hartley, Lance Hunter, and Daniel Whitehall a.k.a. Kraken.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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23. MIDDLE-GRADE FANTASY (for the beach AND the classroom)

Looking for some recommendations for a middle grader who loves fantasy? Well, we’ve got just the list for you!

Here are some stellar picks for the kid looking for magical powers, mysterious forests, heros, and villains to take to the beach with him.

The Thickety

THE THICKETY, by J. A. White, is the start of a new fantasy series set in a world where magic is forbidden but exists in the dark woods called the Thickety. This book would be a great recommendation for fans of the Septimus Heap series, and here’s a book talk prepared by librarian, author, and Common Core workshop presenter Kathleen Odean:

How would you like to have the power to summon amazing creatures to do your will? When Kara finds a book in the Thickety, a dangerous forest, it awakens her magical powers. Local villagers view magic as evil but for Kara, it’s a connection to her mother, who was executed as a witch. The spells thrill Kara until the magic starts to change her in frightening ways. Is Kara in control of the magic—or is it in control of her? If she doesn’t figure it out soon, she could lose everyone and everything she loves.

There’s even a Common Core-aligned discussion guide with activities written by the author, J. A. White—an elementary school teacher! (You may not want to send this to the beach, though. Maybe save it for September.)

 

The Castle Behind Thorns

THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS, by Schneider Award winner Merrie Haskell, is a magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that will appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale.

When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. Everything in the castle—from dishes to candles to apples—is torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. To survive, Sand does what he knows best—he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place? With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, THE CASTLE BEHIND THORNS tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Thinking ahead to the new school year, Common Core applications include: Comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; and analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

The Dyerville Tales

THE DYERVILLE TALES, by M. P. Kozlowsky, tells the story of a young orphan who searches for his family and the meaning in his grandfather’s book of lost fairy tales.

Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he’ll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather’s journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can’t be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather’s than he ever could have known.

If you’d like to bring this one into your classroom next year, Common Core applications include: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text; analyzing the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone; describing how a particular story’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes; and describing how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw

THE HERO’S GUIDE TO BEING AN OUTLAW, by Christopher Healy, is the hilarious and action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed hit series that began with THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

And Common Core applications for this one include: Explaining how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text; comparing and contrasting texts in different forms or genres; and analyzing how differences in the points of view of the characters and the reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Happy reading!

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24. The ethics of sketching on the subway

Daumier, Riders on an Omnibus, 1864

Chuck Klosterman, ethicist for the New York Times, ponders whether it's OK to sketch strangers on the subway. His basic point is that:

"If you’re in public, people are allowed to look at you. This can be creepy and annoying, but it’s not unethical. If the individual scrutinizing you starts sketching your face, you can say, “Don’t do that,” and the person should stop (out of normal human courtesy). But the act is not inherently unethical."


Here are a few excerpts from the many comments after the piece:
  • "I am amused in this day of pervasive smart phone cameras that someone is concerned with the "invasiveness" of a hand drawn sketch."
  • "It's always best to ask permission if the activity is obvious or intrusive."
  • "I am a stealth sketcher. The way I do it, although they know I am drawing, they can't tell who I am drawing. I draw them when they are distracted, sleeping, reading or on the telephone so they don't notice."
I believe it's helpful to consider what might going on in the mind of of the person being sketched:

Why is the artist interested in drawing me? 
Should I hold still?
Will he make me look good? 
How long will it take? 
Will I get to see the sketch afterward? 
If I like it, can I put it on Facebook?
Are they going to try to sell it to me? 
How are they going to use it? 
(Young woman's perspective might be) Is he hitting on me?

If the person being sketched is preoccupied with their phone or their book and doesn't notice the artist, the artist is under no obligation to tell them they're being sketched, and doing so could make the person self-conscious. But once the subject and the artist lock eyes, all the questions start playing in the subject's head. 

The artist can alleviate all the anxieties by addressing the questions in a friendly opener, such as: 

"Hi, I'm just getting some practice sketching people, hope you don't mind. Keep doing what you're doing. I'll be done in five more minutes and I'll show you when I finish." 

If they look annoyed after that, I'd probably try someone else, but nine times out of ten, you will have erased their worries and perhaps made a friend. 

Sometimes you're sitting too far away to make such a friendly request, or you're dealing with a language barrier and in that case, I have held up the sketchbook to face them, smiled, and raised my eyebrows, and pointed from the sketch to them, which helps clear the air a bit. That gives them the opportunity to decline politely nonverbally, by waving a finger or frowning.

If you're in a waiting room where you might wish to do a portrait with a lot more commitment, rather than stealth sketching, it's best to get permission and set the terms at the outset. Then you can say something like, "Hey, are you going to be around here a while? I'm an artist traveling around here, and I'd love to sketch your portrait while we talk." Asking permission up front from parents is also a good idea if you're a man sketching children in public places.

Many times people line up, wanting to be drawn or painted. In this case, I was painting a street scene on a rainy day, and a father and daughter came up to look at the painting and chat for a bit. Before they walked on, I asked them, "After you cross the street and get to the blue sign, would you mind holding a walking pose for a minute or so?" They did so, very willingly, and then turned around afterward to give me a happy wave goodbye.

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25. Ah, Sweet Messiness of Life

I now have just three Hollins days left before I fly home to real life on Friday.

How happy these six weeks have been. The daily early morning walks, two or three times around the 1.75 mile perimeter of this beautiful, pastoral campus with fellow writers Candice and Elizabeth and whoever else cares to join us. Stimulating classes with my seven creative writing graduate students, each one doing her best to meet my challenge of drafting an entire 15,000-word chapter book in a month: two have turned theirs in to me already. Weekly one-on-one meetings with most of them, sometimes in my office, sometimes curled up on the couch in the third floor lounge in Swanannoa, sometimes over a meal, sometimes while eating ice cream. Evening talks several times a week by the greats of our profession - Candace Fleming, Han Nolan, fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes - as well as emerging new voices. Reconnecting with so many dear friends from my past.

During this six week span, I wrote the entire draft of my spelling bee book, received probing editorial comments on it, leaped into revision mode, and emailed it off to my editor this morning, with a somewhat feeble "Ta-dah!" but a "Ta-dah" nonetheless. I worked through the copy-edited manuscript of my Nora ant farm book. I sent the fifteen copy-edited chapters of my Ethics and Children's Literature collection to the contributors for their final approval. A slacker, I have not been! 

Yet, despite many, many hours spent writing, teaching, and talking to students, it's been an enormously restorative, even restful, six weeks for me. I eat my easy-peasy meals in the Hollins cafeteria or cut up a farmers' market peach topped with Greek yogurt, a handful of blueberries, and a drizzle of honey. I have only the clothes I brought with me in my carry-on luggage. I am far away from so many cares.

Come Friday, I'll have to deal with the leak that ruined the downstairs bathroom ceiling at home while I was away. I'll have to figure out if I can really live on the amount of money I can earn with my pen. There are people there who need me. I may even have to cook a meal or two!

My dear wise friend Billie pointed out to me that if I stayed at Hollins longer, it would become real life, and then it would become messy, too. Real life is messy. There's no getting around that. In real life, real people need us, and real leaks cause real damage leading to real repairs followed by real (and really expensive!) mold mitigation (as I know too well from how I spent the first half of June before departing for Hollins).

But that's okay. Real life also has a grandbaby to hold, who turned five months old while I was away, and who can now laugh and roll over from back to tummy. Real life has my summer women's book group at church, and hikes with my friend Rowan. Real life has lots more writing in it, and I do love to write. Real life is messy, yes, but there is sweetness in the glorious mess of it, too.


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