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1. Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES

When I learned that Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's The Smell of Other People's Houses has Native characters in it, the title took on a dark connotation. Central to European and US racism towards Native peoples was their characterization of Native peoples as primitive, dirty, and in need of "civilizing."  Thanks to a friend who was at the American Library Association's Midwinter meeting last month, I was able to read an advance reader's copy of it.


Most of Hitchcock's story takes place in Fairbanks in 1970. Here's the synopsis:

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. This deeply moving and authentic debut is for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Benjamin Alire Saenz. Intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare talent.
Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled. This unforgettable book is about people who try to save each other—and how sometimes, when they least expect it, they succeed. 

The story is told in alternating chapters, by Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank. This review is primarily about Dora.

It starts out with Ruth. Her little sister is named Lily. They live with their grandmother. As the story begins, Ruth and her friend Selma, and Lily and her friend Bunny (Lily and Bunny are 11 years old) are about to sit down to eat together. Bunny gets to talking about fish camp. Lily asks Gran why they don't have a fish camp, and gran says "because we aren't native."

To that, Bunny says (on page 17 of the ARC):
"I'm not native, I'm Athabascan." 
Ruth and Selma laugh at her. Lily (Ruth's little sister) responds:
"What's so funny? She is Athabascan," says Lily. "Natives are the people like Dora's mom, the ones who hang out all day at the bar--they're too drunk to even bother fishing."
Remember--Lily is eleven years old, but she apparently holds some rather stereotypical ideas about Native people. Maybe because she's eleven, we're meant to excuse her remark.

Later on that page we learn a little more:
Fish camps are pretty much handed down from family to family, but maybe Gran shouldn't have lumped all Alaska Natives together. It didn't seem to make Bunny very happy. Especially because Bunny and Dumpling actually have the nicest parents in Birch Park. 
Are there tensions in Alaska between different Alaska Native groups that would cause Bunny to be upset? Are they specific to alcoholism? Are we to understand that "natives" in Alaska are more likely to be alcoholic than Athabascans? A few pages later, we learn from Dora that most people in Fairbanks "lump all native people together" and that she (Dora) is Eskimo or Inupiat, while Dumpling is Athabascan, or Indian (p. 27-28).

As the synopsis indicates, Dora is one of the main characters in the story. Her escape is from her own home. Her dad, we read, drinks, too. But there's more: her dad sexually abuses her, and her mother knows about it. Near the end of the story, he beats up her mother and threatens to shoot Dora. By then, Dora has been living next door with Bunny and Dumpling's family for awhile.

When Dora wins some money, her mother pesters her for it so she can buy more beer. When her dad gets out of jail for shooting up the bar, he wants her money, too.

There are characters in the story that might be Eskimo or Inupiat (not sure what Dora's preferred term is). George, the old guy who works at Goodwill, knew Dora's great grandparents, but I can't tell if he's Eskimo/Inupiat or not. Nick, the bartender with nice teeth might be, too. Dora's mom dated him for awhile. If these two men are Eskimo/Inupiat, that would be cool, because they're likeable. But--we don't know.

And then there's Dora's mom's friends, Paula and Annette. Paula has a beaded wallet, so maybe she's Eskimo/Inupiat. The three woman are loud and drink together, a lot. Paula seems nice enough but the vibe I get of them is not good. In that scene in which Dora's father threatens to shoot her, Paula and Annette came running out of the house, abandoning Dora's mom.

The contrast between the Bunny and Dumpling's Athabascan family and Dora's Eskimo or Inupiat family, is striking. In the Athabascan home, Dora feels safe and cared for. Dumpling's family may be shown that way so that we'd have more than one image of Native peoples, but I wish that we were given more information about Dora's parents so that we might understand them as more than the stereotypical drunken and violent Indians. Why do they throw pictures across the room, cracking the glass and putting them back on the wall, with that cracked glass? What is the backstory on them? Without it, I think this story confirms troubling stereotypes. I'm also unsettled by the sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of Native women is rampant, and while there's no doubt that incest is part of that, I wish that wasn't part of Dora's story.

I'd also like to know more about Indigenous peoples of Alaska. Hitchcock gestures to complexities in terms used but I'm reading and re-reading those passages trying to make sense of it. Due out in 2016 from Random House, I'm marking this as not recommended.

0 Comments on Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES as of 2/7/2016 6:14:00 PM
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2. Fitz and Van's Formula


Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman teamed up to paint many of the classic car ads of the 1960s. Using gouache, Fitz painted the cars and Van painted the backgrounds. They had a formula, but it was a great formula.


It goes like this. Coloristically, they choose a overall background color (here, blue). They let that color key fill the scene, including the areas that aren't so important. Those areas are allowed to stay flat (here, dock, water, and sky). The car is the feature color (here, a soft gold). And there's usually an accent color in the background (here, red). A black shadow beneath the car makes the other colors look sharp. 

Compositionally, they fill the foreground with the car's front end, seen in perspective and stretched horizontally. They pick a complex background theme which suggests an attractive couple enjoying leisure time at an exotic location with other affluent people. This time we're dockside with a pleasure-boat party. 

Fitz said that the ad was supposed to make people feel: "I wanted to be in that car, in that place, with that gal on my arm." 


Overall background color—cyan. Feature color, magenta. Accent color—green (figures and swash of light). Background—tropical foliage. Theme—moonlight in the tropics.


Overall background color—dull ochre. Feature color—brighter yellow and blue. Accent color—red. Background —mountains and crowd. Theme: A day at the races.


Overall background color—magenta to violet. Feature color—red. Accent color—yellow. Background— architecture. Theme: Evening party. 


Overall background color—yellow green. Feature color—green with blue highlights. Accents—yellow and pink. Background —stately mansion. Theme: Southern elegance.


Overall background color—blue green. Feature color—yellow. Accents—pink. Background —country club or hotel architecture. Theme: party in the country.


Even though the paintings look photo-real, when you compare them to a photo of a real car, you can see how many artistic choices they brought to their renderings. They ignored a lot of hood reflections, made the windshields more transparent, simplified the ground plane, and exaggerated the car's geometry.

Van Kaufman died in 1996, and Art Fitzpatrick died last year at age 96. Here's a New York Times article about how Fitz received some recognition late in life for his accomplishment.
------
Fitzpatrick's art appears in a book called Pontiac Pizazz!
Previously: More technical notes about Fitz and Van
My video tutorial "Gouache in the Wild"

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3. Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett on winning the American Indian Library Association's 2016 Picture Book Award


I asked Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett for a response to the news that their exquisite board book, Little You, had won the 2016 Picture Book Award from the American Indian Library Association.

Richard said:
 "I've always wanted to work with Julie Flett so I'm honoured to receive this high honor with her and our team at Orca Books!"

Julie said:
It's really exciting to hear that Little You is being honored along with the other books listed. Wow, thank you, committee!"

Congratulations to both of you, Richard and Julie! 

Several books by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett are amongst AICL's Best Books lists, so do click on over there and see what else they've done.

I hope they work together on additional books!

Before hitting the upload button for this post, I want to point readers to another huge plus for Little You. At Orca's blog, I learned that is available in South Slavey, Bush Cree, and Chipewyan:






0 Comments on Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett on winning the American Indian Library Association's 2016 Picture Book Award as of 2/7/2016 11:46:00 AM
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4. Work of the Day - Aerial Acrobatics by Julia LaSalle

Litro: Stories Transport You is a site that is new to me. I've read a couple of the works there now and think that maybe a touch more editing could be employed (some spelling issues, or homonym issues, for one thing---and tense changes that shouldn't be there slipping in) but I've liked the works that I've read so far. One of which is Julia LaSalle's "Aerial Acrobatics."

An early line, "He was standing under the “34th Annual Model Airplane Contest” banner...", brought this reader to life as it let me know that LaSalle was taking meto a place I'd not been before--neither in real life, nor in my readings. The story also brought shipyard welding into play--another aspect of life I've never encountered physically or in my readings.

In both instances, LaSalle got just deep enough into the subject for me to feel like I understood what was going on, but not so much that I felt like I was being lectured on the topic. There's a nice little thread throughout the story about the narrator's heart running alongside her narrative, and I found myself really liking the ending:  "She watched Mustafa work until she trusted him, watched him until she became a spark herself, flying through the air, first rising then falling, and finally sputtering as her spark-self bounced once on the rubber mat by Mustafa’s foot and extinguished." I'll definitely be looking for more of Julia LaSalle's work in the future and remembering to visit Litro as well.

 

 

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5. More Comic Shops Need To Close Down -And I Am NOT Joking

Remember the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption?  I think 2010 was my last year going into a comic shop, too. 

Anyway, comic shops began to panic because their Marvels and DCs (their Image and that other company) comics were not getting to the UK.  But did the shops try to push back issues or graphic novels that they had so many of because they ordered out of stupidity and greed? 

No.

They panicked.  As far as they were concerned they HAD to have new comics on the shelves because what else could they put on their comic shelves (let's not be too hard on them because a lot of these people are just stupid through greed)?

In the UK Diamond has a monopoly on comic distribution. If you were around in the 1980s and knew a lot of the shop holders back then you will know how they got that monopoly thanks to Titan Distributors.  From 4-5 distributors we went to one.  A monopoly.  But business monopolies in the UK are far from legal.  Here, read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_competition_law

But do shop owners complain when, if they did, a new distributor might set up competition and offer them lower prices?  No, because they are scared of Diamond and they don't know much about business other than that they can inflate comic prices to get their money back.

But in 2010 Diamond had a panic. No comics to distribute and there was talk that another distributor (I know who) had access to the latest US comics and was starting to offer them to shops. The shops all acted like scarede kids because "What if Diamond finds out?" -that was said to my face three times by shop owners.

So, Diamond thought "Independent comics -they saved us all before!" Which is what the "Black and White Explosion" of the 1980s did along with US companies recruiting UK creators. "Now's your chance to get on comic shop shelves!" they declared -and comic shops had to bite the bullet.

I asked Diamond how many copies per month of titles they would need?  What the special deal was" and so on.

"We only want the books until we can get our usual stock in" I was told.  As were several other Indie publishers. The deal?  Over 75% of the book cover price -and the publisher paid to get the books to Diamond so....publishers had to give their books for free...now you know why those shelves remained empty until the US imports started arriving.

But Indie publishers who did supply comic shops turned up to find their books no longer on the shelf. Most were dumped into boxes waiting for them to collect and some were turn, badly creased or even had coffee stains (?!) on them.  "We did say we took no responsibility for damages" was a phrase used a lot. Three years later one publisher who was owed £20 (just £20 -$40) gave up trying to get his money.

Back in the 1980s with Preview Comic I lost £50 from the sales of issues 1-5 because Forbidden Planet in London "can't read the signature on the invoice?" and other insulting con-man remarks.  £50 back then was a lot of money and would have meant continued publication.

But comic shop owners are "okay" and "their mates" -what I used to think. Remember I supported one shop and was banned (I still have all the emails) because I purchased an Independent comic they told me for months they could not get so I told the owner I'd track it down online. Two weeks later the owner (I saw him) hid at the top of the shop stairs as one of his staff verbally abused me because I bought the comic they now had (after months of saying it was impossible to get so go online). The temptation was to floor the little fecker being rude but I just said loudly "You hide up there while one of your staff rudely insults someone who has promoted and supported your business since day one?" then I walked out (the boss was very brave later in his email).

Like the guy in the last video posted says, most of the people are shit.  Morons.  Rather than build a strong comic shop industry embracing all genres and publishers like they used to up to the late 1980s, they prefer decline with Marvel, DC, Image or that other company.

Decent, honest shop owners are very rare today and how long have they been trading -most are almost dealing with their comic shops as an extension of their hobby not a real business.

Personally, I think we need less and less comic shops.  More need to go out of business, and they will be, because if they are SCARED of their distributor who cannot survive without them, and will not diversify, they deserve to go. "Where are people going to get their comics then?" If you are really asking that question then YOU need to go, too!

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6. Avoid this Platform-Building Mistake

Write without Crushing Your Soul 500 longGuest Blogger: Ed Cyzewski

 
New authors routinely hear that they should build their marketing platforms by publishing articles in print magazines. There’s one problem with this advice: it rarely helps authors actually sell books.
 
There are exceptions to this, and I’ll get to them. But I’ve spoken to publicists and authors, and examined my own book releases, and I’m convinced that print magazine articles rarely convert into book sales or fans who will eventually buy a book. If a platform is supposed to help you sell books, then publishing in print magazines should be a low priority on your “platform building list.”
 
One award-winning reporter and widely published magazine writer I know noted that she rarely sees growth to her online platform through her magazine or newspaper work. “People just read the articles,” she shared. “They rarely look for the by-line.” One popular print and online magazine columnist shared the same experience with me after her second book failed to hit sales goals.
 
What should aspiring and experienced authors do to grow their marketing platforms if they aren’t writing for magazines? Are online magazine articles more effective than print magazine articles? And is there any hope for authors with experience writing for magazines?
 
Invest in what You Can Do
 
I’m not the best magazine writer around, but I genuinely enjoy blogging and have invested significant time into it. As a result, I’ve been approached by at least five editors from Christian publishing houses based on my blog. These days I aim to write something relatively long, audience-specific, and “evergreen” each week.
 
While I’ve seen no notable gains in my platform or my book sales from my articles in top print magazines, each blog post provides readers an opportunity to either join my email list (in exchange for two free eBooks) or follow me on social media. Blogging is a slow build, but it is a build that is working toward a viable end.
 
Authors need not throw themselves into blogging. A personal note each week or every other week through an email newsletter or a niche podcast can prove just as effective. Author Seth Haines has invested a great deal in his Tiny Letters (Tiny Letter is a scaled down version of MailChimp), while bestselling author Tsh Oxenreider reaches her readers through her podcast.
 
Build an Email List through Short eBooks
 
Short eBooks are a tried and true way for both commercial and independent authors to build their email lists and to prompt new readers to check out their full-length books. If you swing by NoiseTrade Books, an eBook giveaway site that lets users download eBooks by entering their email addresses and zip codes, you’ll find many bestselling Christian authors sharing books there, including Don Miller and Ally Vesterfelt. I give away several eBooks through NoiseTrade and have more than doubled my email list.
New authors should be especially eager to publish a short eBook in the 10-20,000 word range. It will provide invaluable experience in writing for a specific audience and book marketing before you have a book deal on the line with a publisher that has specific sales goals.
 
Learn How to Advertise Your Books
 
If you go the short eBook route, then you may find that publishing a few short or long independent books will help prepare you for a longer-term career with a publisher.
 
For instance, independent authors and commercial publishers have used price promotions and discounts as ways to spark pre-sales, encourage early reviews, or to revive an older title. Along with these price promotions, there are many services and Twitter accounts that make it easier to share these deals and give them a longer lifespan that could translate into more print sales and a longer period of time on the eBook bestseller lists when your book returns to full price.
 
Whether you try out Facebook ads, guest posts on high profile blogs, articles for an online news site in your niche, or some other promotion, independently releasing a book or two before querying a publisher will provide some real life book marketing experience so that you have a better idea of what works best for you and your readers.
 
When I promoted Write without Crushing Your Soul to my email list, I quickly learned that readers were far more receptive to a personal note about the book’s writing process than a simple overview of the book’s content.
 
Authentically Connect with Readers on Social Media
 
I entered publishing back when authors were first getting shoved onto Twitter and Facebook. We were told this would help us sell books, and far too many of us found that this wasn’t necessarily always the case.
Rather, social media provides a place for us to authentically connect with our readers, and sometimes the sales will follow if we provide the right kind of book. I’ve found that the authors who connect with readers through hashtag conversations on Twitter or niche groups on Facebook have far more meaningful interactions that are much more likely to result in readers buying a book in the future.
 
For instance, author Cindy Brandt (now a client of Rachelle’s at Books & Such) created an amazing group called Raising Children Unfundamentalist around her next book project, and the group is already a thriving community. On Twitter, check out the way author Emily Freeman created a conversation around the hashtag #SimplyTuesday.
 
So… Should Authors Write for Magazines?
 
While there are many other ways to promote yourself and your work outside of traditional print magazine publishing, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it. Some authors have built up a loyal following through writing for a particular magazine, especially in a niche market.
 
Authors with a background in journalism are especially suited for the research, querying, and unique style of writing that magazines require. In addition, a few published articles in relevant magazines can indicate to publishers that you have both the credibility and professionalism to write a book for them.
Most importantly, there’s a big difference between platform building and actively selling books. Many authors gain newsletter subscribers and social media followers through publishing articles for online magazines, but posting an article in an online magazine is not necessarily a sure bet for directly selling books from the article itself. In fact, strategies vary from project to project and from publisher to publisher.
 
Publicists Remain Divided Over Marketing
 
Having worked or spoken with several Christian publishers, I’ve found book marketing strategies and tactics vary from one publisher to another. Book marketing is a moving target, and there’s hardly a consensus on the best mix of new and old media marketing.
 
It’s true that some authors have used timely, shareable magazine or newspaper articles (especially online) to generate book sales. It’s especially helpful that these authors have books that are easy to find in the front of local bookstores or online retail sites!
 
Print magazine articles can help a few authors sell a few books. They can help most authors demonstrate credibility to an editor. They will not help the majority of authors sell books because far too many magazine readers will enjoy a well-written piece, think “That was nice,” and then go on with the day.
 
coffee-ed-cyzewskiThis is post adapted from Write without Crushing Your Soul: Sustainable Publishing and Freelancing.

 

Ed Cyzewski
is the author of A Christian Survival Guide, Pray, Write, Grow, and Write without Crushing Your Soul. He blogs about prayer and writing at www.edcyzewski.com.

The post Avoid this Platform-Building Mistake appeared first on Rachelle Gardner.

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7. Day 7: Ekua Holmes

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Photo credit: Clennon L. King

Before making her debut as a children’s book illustrator, Ekua Holmes was already an accomplished and award-winning fine artist. She was the first African American woman to be appointed a commissioner on the Boston Arts Commission. She was the recipient of a 2013 Brother Thomas Fellowship from The Boston Foundation for her contributions to the Boston arts community. In addition, she was the creator of a 2015 Google Doodle honoring the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday!

 

Last year, Holmes took the children’s book world by storm with her illustrations in Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. The book went on to receive numerous awards, including a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art exhibition, four starred reviews, a Sibert and Caldecott Honor, and a Coretta Scott King New Voices Award.

Holmes is a painter and collage artist who uses news clippings, photographs, vibrant gunnamed[1].jpgcolor and skillful composition to infuse her work with energy.

Presenting Ekua Holmes:

Tell us about your path to publishing. How did you get that first trade contract?

My path to publishing seemed to appear out of the blue. One day I got a call from a woman who had seen my work at an Open Studios event in my hometown of Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston, MA. They asked would I be interested in working in Children’s literature. Would I ??? YES! I have always loved Children’s books and in the back of my mind held it as a possible path for my work. At exhibitions of my work people would say, “Have you ever thought about doing Children’s books.” I believe children’s books introduced me to art through the illustrations. Long before I went to museums and galleries, I went to the library. At the time of the call, I didn’t know if anything would come of it but I was pleased that there was interest.

Tell us about your most recent book, “Voice of Freedom.”

Months later the same woman called to say that her company, Candlewick Press, had a manuscript for me to consider—a manuscript about Fannie Lou Hamer. I knew about her role in the Freedom Summer, and her signature statement, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I admired her and was honored to be asked to illustrate her story. I said YES! What a blessing.

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Talk about the research process for the book.

Well first things first—reading the manuscript— again and again! Then images began to come into my mind – colors, patterns, shapes, faces.  After that, I started doing online searches. One search led to another and I was able to find images of Ms. Hamer from the 60s. The manuscript is so rich! It chronicles her life from the age of six to her 70s. Of course there were no early photos. Her family was too poor for that. So for the early years, I had to imagine her as a child. What did she look like? How did she wear her hair? What was her demeanor? Where did she live? I read books and articles about her. I read comments written by people who had worked with her in the movement. I listened to tapes of her speaking and singing. I looked at photos of her hometown. I immersed myself in her world.  Another smart thing I did was engage a college student to help me collect the books and information from various sources. She was so helpful (thank you Chianta).

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Google Doodle by Ekua Holmes

Talk about the medium you use in your work

I primarily use collage techniques with acrylic paint. Collaging is basically glueing things onto a surface – photos, newspapers, lace- whatever helps to tell the story. My work is made of cut and torn paper and paint. I am also a proud and committed thrifter. I am always at the flea markets and thrift stores picking up things that speak to me. Just as I was about to work on the image of the doll Fannie Lou Hamer’s mother bought for her, I ran across these two old handmade dolls at a thrift store in Salem, MA. They seemed to be just the kind of dolls that Fannie Lou Hamer would have received from her Mother. They were so authentic! It was as if the universe had provided just what I needed.

Was there anything especially interesting that you learned about the subject while researching the book?

Fannie Lou Hamer was 45 years old when she started her Voting Rights work. Because of her upbringing, experiences and intellect, she was ready when it was her time to step onto the world stage. She was a devoted mother and daughter, committed wife and staunch believer in the word of God. She knew the battle was bigger than her, bigger than any human being. It was a righteous struggle and right had to win.  She never said, I’m too old, too tired, too poor- I’m inspired by that.

If you could spend one day in a studio, working with any artist — past or present — who would that be, and why?

What I would really enjoy is going thrifting with them, so artists like Whitfield Lovell, Radcliffe Bailey, Rene Stout or Bettye and Alison Saar. Oh and Nick Cave! They have the same affinity for the power of found objects. WE could spend the entire day (or days) driving through the South (or new England) visiting garages and barns, finding just the right items to inspire our work.

What would be your dream manuscript?

 

I like to think it’s on its way to me right now. Stay tuned.

 

 

Your dream author to work with?

 

Its funny, there is not as much communication between author and illustrator as you might think. Generally the publisher selects the illustrator (but does get the writer’s approval, I think). So I feel very fortunate to have worked on this book by Carole Boston Weatherford, who has written over 30 books and won many awards. Now I’m working on a book of poetry created by Kwame Alexander – another powerhouse writer/poet and winner of the 2015 Newberry Award. I couldn’t be happier.

 

 

 

Can you talk a bit about your process of illustrating a book?

 

This was my first time illustrating a book but I think it’s much like working on my personal collages. Research is crucial. I saturate myself in the author’s words (or subject) and allow images to rise to the surface. I sketch and revise, sketch and revise. Each time hoping to get closer to what I feel is the right composition. There is a lot of looking, thinking and moving things around.

 

 

 

Who are your cheerleaders, those who encourage you?

 

My partner and I are both artists (he’s a filmmaker). We give each other a lot of high fives. He is very proud of me right now.  Also my 8-year old granddaughter introduces me by saying “…and this is Nana, my artist.” Once she patted me on the head while saying this. I couldn’t have been more amused or flattered. If I can work on books that she and her generation will cherish, I will have everything I need in this world as an artist.

 

 

 

What’s on the horizon, what can your fans expect to see from you?

 

Winning a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award and a Robert F. Sibert Award for “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” is a hearty and magical welcome into the world of Children’s literature. I look forward to illustrating many more books. Folks can expect me to do my absolute best on each story, striving for creative excellence so that the illustrations I make will complement, illuminate and enhance the texts —it’s a collaboration. And after all—my granddaughter is watching.

–Don Tate


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8. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree begins with a gloomy, wet boat journey to a gloomy, wet island in the English Channel.  Fourteen-year-old Faith Sunderly, our protagonist, is moving with her family to the Isle of Vane, so that her father, the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, can consult on an archaeological dig.  It's the 1860s, and amateur natural scientists like Erasmus are grappling with the new, controversial theory

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9. Diane Duane, author of GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, on never being afraid that you won’t be original enough

GAMES WIZARDS PLAY is the latest novel in the Young Wizards series, and we're thrilled to have Diane Duane with us to chat about writing.

Diane, what's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I do love to work away from home when I can, and some of my favorite books have been written that way. I’ve written a Spider-Man novel in a Bavarian country beer hall and an X-Men book in a medieval townhouse in Bruges, and I’ve outlined a Star Trek novel in a flat buried inside the walls of a Scottish castle. My all-time record daily word count (13,000 words and a bit) happened when I was writing in a chocolatier/cafe in the Swiss capital city of Bern, while I was working on the fantasy novel A Wind from the South. …But I also get good results at home, which is probably just as well, as that way I get to see my husband a lot more. (Of course he has his own writing to do too, so when we're not working at home, sometimes we wind up in the same city but different cafes…)

Generally speaking I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, these days, because I find it interferes with me clearly hearing character voices when creating dialogue. I do listen to it, though, when writing action scenes or when I need to get myself into the mood to do a particular kind of emotionally loaded scene.

In terms of ritual, the only one I’ve got is that I do my best to write something every day, whether it’s contracted work or one of the too-many-other-projects presently choking my to-do list. A good day’s writing for me varies widely in terms of word count: it might be as few as a thousand words or as many as ten, but about four thousand would be average — a couple thousand in the morning, a couple thousand in the afternoon/evening. For screen work, since for me that's much harder work than prose, ten pages of screenplay would be a good day. Either way, I alternate between composing at the computer via keyboard, or dictating using Dragon Naturally Speaking (sometimes I do this while out walking).

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Never be afraid that you won’t be original enough. At one level, it’s simply impossible for you not to be original. You occupy a unique position in spacetime. By definition, no one else can be right where you are, right when you are, with your unique worldview, your outlook, your developmental history, your “tone of mind”, your reading and writing history. But more to the point, our craft is such that you could give two writers exactly the same idea for a novel and turn them loose to write, and their works would still be significantly different and unique. (In fact I’m betting that you could give two writers the same outline for a novel and each work would still be radically different.) …If you’ve honestly done your homework—if you’re clear about what you want to be writing and what effect you mean to produce—your voice, and your writing’s uniqueness, will inevitably show through. Just concentrate on telling your story.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to GWP (still untitled), the fourth and final book in my first fantasy series (The Door Into Starlight), a third book that unfortunately I can’t talk about, and a miniseries screenplay (ditto).

ABOUT THE BOOK

Games Wizards Playby Diane Duane
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 2/2/2016

Every eleven years, Earth's senior wizards hold the Invitational: an intensive three-week event where the planet's newest, sharpest young wizards show off their best and hottest spells. Wizardly partners Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan, and Nita's sister, former wizard-prodigy Dairine Callahan, are drafted in to mentor two brilliant and difficult cases: for Nita and Kit, there’s Penn Shao-Feng, a would-be sun technician with a dangerous new take on managing solar weather; and for Dairine, there's shy young Mehrnaz Farrahi, an Iranian wizard-girl trying to specialize in defusing earthquakes while struggling with a toxic extended wizardly family that demands she perform to their expectations. 

Together they're plunged into a whirlwind of cutthroat competition and ruthless judging. Penn's egotistical attitude toward his mentors complicates matters as the pair tries to negotiate their burgeoning romance. Meanwhile, Dairine struggles to stabilize her hero-worshipping, insecure protégée against the interference of powerful relatives using her to further their own tangled agendas. When both candidates make it through to the finals stage on the dark side of the Moon, they and their mentors are flung into a final conflict that could change the solar system for the better . . . or damage Earth beyond even wizardly repair.

Purchase Games Wizards Play at Amazon
Purchase Games Wizards Play at IndieBound
View Games Wizards Play on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.

She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of twenty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."
---
Have you had a chance to read GAMES WIZARDS PLAY yet? How fun does it sound to write in all these exotic places? Do you make sure to tell your story in your voice? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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10. Joe Mclean

joe Mclean  Joe Mclean  Joe McleanJoe Mclean Joe Mclean  

Joe Mclean is an Illustrator from Norwich, who creates illustrations using a combination of hand drawn lines, scanned textures and Adobe Illustrator. His inspirations include traditional printing processes, hand drawn type and graphic illustration. His speciality is editorial illustration and greeting cards. His clients include; Computer Arts, Spindle Magazine and Loud and Quiet to name a few.

See more of Joes work on his website and Behance.

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11. Philosopher of the month: Plato

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Plato (c. 429–c.347 BC) as their February Philosopher of the Month. The best known and most widely studied of all the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato laid the groundwork for Western philosophy and Christian theology. Plato was most likely born in Athens, to Ariston and Perictione, a noble, politically active family.

The post Philosopher of the month: Plato appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. 85-Year-Old Phil Roman Delivered The Sickest Burn At the Annie Awards

Roman's comment about how much Disney pays its artists got the biggest laugh of the evening.

The post 85-Year-Old Phil Roman Delivered The Sickest Burn At the Annie Awards appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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13. Take What Your Stories Give You


Big Believer in Boom Factor

I've written about the martial art of writing. I've done martial arts and I noticed that writing is like it in this way: you have to do a lot of things at once without thinking when you write. You can do this because you've studied each skill separately and because you've practiced a lot. I still think this is true. But I was thinking as I walked Merlin the dog


(which is where I do some of my best thinking, such as it is, which is why one of my best pieces of advice for becoming a writer is that you get a dog and that you walk your dog) that even though I now pre-write more than I used to and plan --as I'm working along but still--a lot more than I used to, I STILL DISCOVER new connections and twists and turns in plot and character and new setting ideas as I go along. I think this is because it's the mix, the way the various elements of writing interact  (language, characters, story, setting, conflict) and the way this creates new  insights and new--the technical term is BOOMS--BOOMS in the manuscript. You have to allow this to happen, throw out all your plans and plotting and whatever when it does. Because these booms--or sometimes just tiny and subtle shifts--help you to take your story to places you couldn't have imagined until you do-

To me, this is why formulas do not solve all writing problems as their proponents sometimes claim. It's a big reason why fiction writing can't be reduced to Step 1, Step 2...there's this constant interaction and it creates NEW. The writer has to react to NEW. If she/he does it well, finds the right moves, the manuscript improves. If not--

Learning skills, practicing skills will help you make those right moves but you have to be open to taking what your story gives you, too.

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14. Bang, bang — democracy’s dead: Obama and the politics of gun control

It would seem that President Obama has a new prey in his sites. It is, however, a target that he has hunted for some time but never really managed to wound, let alone kill. The focus of Obama’s attention is gun violence and the aim is really to make American communities safer places to live.

The post Bang, bang — democracy’s dead: Obama and the politics of gun control appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Outdated Slang

Make sure you're not accidentally using slang words in your YA that will date your novel.

http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/writing-ya/accidental-outdated-slang-in-ya/

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16. The Pony on East 88th Street

Walking up East 88th,
I had to smile in shock;
A saddled pony was parading
Up and down the block.

A little girl astride his back
Looked bored or else blasé,
Like a pony on the sidewalk
Happened every single day.

As the other children waited
Patiently to take their turn,
I reflected on the lesson
That those kids would likely learn:

When you’re living in Manhattan,
You will come to realize
That each day has the potential
To deliver a surprise.

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17. One Writer’s Process: Gigi Amateau

Surrounded by deer, foxes, raccoons, and a host of other forest creatures who inhabit the woods near her house, Gigi Amateau lives on a tributary of the James River called Rattlesnake Creek and finds inspiration for many of her stories by looking out the window or taking a walk down to the river. “I cannot imagine living or writing without access to the river,” says Amateau, the author of

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18. Too much, if any, backstory allowed...

Hello, sir. May I have your thoughts on backstory, please? Is devoting most of the first chapter to backstory unwise? Would doing that turn off an editor

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19. This Month for Writers - January 2016


A new year brings new writing goals and a swath of information to help writers develop their craft and challenge themselves with each new project. This past month, in addition to celebrating the authors honored with the American Library Association's YMA awards, we were also excited to find articles with tips on writer self-care, as well as loads of advice on how to keep readers turning pages and coming back for more, and encouragement for writers to stop following "rules" and forge their own writing path. Read on, and keep writing!



Read more »

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20. Don Tate & Phoebe Wahl Win Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

By The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
from Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi, announced the winners of the 30th annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.

Each year, a new writer and new illustrator are celebrated. The 2016 award ceremony will be held April 7 during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The winners receive a gold medallion as well as an honorarium of $1,000.

“We are proud to present the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award to the best new talents in children’s illustrated literature each year. These are writers and illustrators whose books reflect the spirit of Keats, and at the same time, are refreshingly original,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “This year is Ezra’s 100th birthday! So we are especially delighted to celebrate him by honoring those whose books, like his, are wonderful to read and look at and reflect our multicultural world.”

“The Keats Archives at the de Grummond Children’s Collection is a happy reminder of the joy that Ezra’s books have brought to readers and the impact they have had on children’s book makers.

"Once again, we see that influence in the work of this year’s EJK Book Award winners. We are confident that they’ll join the long list of illustrious past winners whose books continue to delight and make a difference,” said Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

Lois Lowry, two-time winner of the Newbery Award for Number the Stars (1990) and The Giver (1994), will present this year’s Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards. Michael Cart, columnist/reviewer for Booklist and a leading expert on young adult literature, will deliver the Keats Lecture.

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new writer is:

Don Tate for Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree)

In the South before the Civil War, it was illegal to teach slaves to read, but George Moses Horton loved words too much to be stopped. He taught himself to read as a child and grew up to be a published poet, while still a slave.

Writing about slavery for young readers is challenging but important, and Don Tate succeeds brilliantly, in an engaging, age-appropriate and true narrative.

Tate said, “Three years ago, I won an Ezra Jack Keats honor award, one of the proudest moments of my career. I never imagined being considered again… this time [for] the top award. There has always been a special place in my heart for Ezra Jack Keats. When he chose to picture brown children in his books, he chose to acknowledge me. I wasn’t invisible to him.

"As a creator of color in a field that sorely lacks diversity, it can be easy to sometimes feel unseen. This award serves as a reminder to me that I am not invisible and that my work matters.”

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new illustrator is:

Phoebe Wahl for Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra)

Sonya’s dad presents her with three baby chicks to care for, and she does her job well, providing food, shelter and lots of love as they grow into hens. Then one night, Sonya discovers that one of her hens is missing! But as her father explains, the fox stole the hen because he loved his kits and needed to feed them.

The circle of life is gently and exquisitely depicted in Wahl’s rich and colorful watercolor and collage illustrations of a multicultural family’s life on a farm.

Wahl said, “Keats’ work stands out as some of the most impactful of my childhood. I can directly trace the roots of my obsession with pattern, color and my use of collage to my affinity with the lacy baby blanket in Peter’s Chair. Keats inspired me to create stories that are quiet and gentle, yet honor the rich inner lives of children and all of the complexity that allows.

"I am humbled to be associated with Keats’ legacy in being presented with this award, and I am so grateful to the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the children’s literature community for this show of support and encouragement.”

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winners are:

2016 New Writer Honors


Julia Sarcone-Roach for The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, also illustrated by Sarcone-Roach (Knopf)


Megan Dowd Lambert for A Crow of His Own, illustrated by David Hyde Costello (Charlesbridge)

2016 New Illustrator Honors


Ryan T. Higgins for Mother Bruce, also written by Higgins (Hyperion)


Rowboat Watkins for Rude Cakes, also written by Watkins (Chronicle)

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria

To be eligible for the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the author and/or illustrator will have no more than three children’s picture books published prior to the year under consideration.

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21. Read Out Loud | There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

READ OUT LOUD - Penny Parker Klosterman

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is author Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book. There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight is based on the children’s song “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Penny’s tale follows a dragon who knows nothing of moderation or patience. However, thanks to the handiwork of Penny and illustrator Ben Mantle, the old dragon seems to know comedic timing. He swallows a noble night, a steed who runs at too fast a speed, and many other objects in the land — living or not. Something tells us this dragon is going to learn a lesson, today.

This episode of Read Out Loud was filmed during The Rhyming Picture Book Revolution Conference at KidLit TV HQ.

KidLit TV’s Read Out Loud series is perfect for parents, teachers, and librarians. Use these readings for nap time, story time, bedtime … anytime!

No matter how many swallowed-fly titles you own, this one belongs on your shelf too. — Kirkus Reviews

There Was An Old Dragon Book Cover

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

ABOUT THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT

There Was An Old Dragon Book Cover SmallThere Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight
by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle
Published by Random House

We all know that there was an old lady who swallowed lots of things. Now meet the old dragon who swallows pretty much an entire kingdom Will he ever learn a little moderation? This rollicking rhyme is full to bursting with sight gags, silly characters, and plenty of burps Parents and kids alike will delight in Ben Mantle’s precisely funny illustrations and in Penny Parker Klostermann’s wacky rhymes.

  • Click here to download the There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight activity guide from Random House.
  • Click here to download additional activities from Penny Parker Klostermann’s site!

CONNECT WITH PENNY PARKER KLOSTERMANN
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CONNECT WITH KidLit TV
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Read Out Loud
Executive Producer: Julie Gribble

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The post Read Out Loud | There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight appeared first on KidLit.TV.

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22. How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence?

Cometh the new year, cometh the fresh round of allegations that United Nations peacekeepers raped or abused some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 2016 has just begun and already reports are surfacing of UN peacekeepers paying to have sex with girls as young as 13 at a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic.

The post How can we hold the UN accountable for sexual violence? appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Coming Soon to a Golf Course Near Me: A Food Forest

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Minneapolis? It is by no means a perfect city and the winters are long and hard, but by golly how many other cities have a community advisory group that works with the city council on things like urban agriculture and food security issues? Homegrown Minneapolis is the name of the group and their latest newsletter included a map of all the vacant city lots that can be leased for community gardening and urban farms. Also in the newsletter is information regarding a proposal to turn a public golf course near my house into a food forest.

What’s a food forest? It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a designed landscape that mimics a natural ecosystem while incorporating food producing plants like nut and fruit trees, shrubs, perennial vegetables and herbs. Annual plants can also be grown in the mix. And of course it is a space that also utilizes native plants to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, control weeds and build soil fertility.

The site of this proposed food forest is a public golf course near Lake Hiawatha. The golf course is very expensive to maintain not just because it was built on a wetlands and requires millions of gallons of water to be pumped out of it every year. It turns out the amount of water being pumped far exceeds the permit limits and is therefore illegal. A portion of the golf course has also been closed since 2014 when we had so much rain that the “back nine” was flooded and is still so soaked and damaged the park board can’t really afford to fix it. This golf course also drains into Lake Hiawatha which suffers greatly from water quality issues do to run-off into the lake. This golf course covers 140 acres and serves very few people, costing to my mind and many others, more than it is worth.

So a young, brilliant city resident has put up a proposal and taken up the challenge to advocate for repurposing the land. His vision allows for a much reduced golf course, fruit orchards, nut trees, and more. His vision even includes returning wild rice to Lake Hiawatha which, I just learned, used to be called “Rice Lake” because local Native Americans grew and harvested wild rice there before they were forced to move elsewhere.

The food forest would be grown on public land, would be tended by volunteers, and would welcome all from the community to go and harvest food from it. It would solve the water pumping problem and the lake’s water quality issues as well. And it would provide learning opportunities for both adults and school children. Plus it would be far cheaper to maintain than a full golf course not to mention more beautiful and useful.

This is such an incredibly exciting thing and if it goes through, if the Park Board decides to go along with it, it would mean Minneapolis would be home to the largest food forest in the United States. And yeah, you know I’ll find a way to be involved with the project even if it is only volunteering a few hours every month. There is a meeting being held on February 27th. It’s scheduled for four hours in the afternoon which is a big chunk of Saturday time for me, but I might just see if I can make it for at least a portion of the meeting. If not, I am sure there will be other opportunities as the proposal picks up steam.

In my own garden, I have a tray full of paper pots ready for onion seeds next weekend. I must continue working at making pots because at the end of the month I will need to get the peppers and tomatoes started. I love this time of year. While it feels so hectic getting everything started, it is also the most hopeful time of the gardening year because there is still so much possibility. The slugs haven’t eaten the greens yet, the squirrels haven’t dug up or stolen anything, there hasn’t been too much rain or not enough, too much heat or not enough. In my mind’s eye my garden is lush and green and perfect. Reality will kick in soon enough, but until then, everything is still perfect.

In chicken news, the same newsletter that brought word of the food forest proposal also informed me that the city council will be voting on the new chicken ordinance on February 12th! I wasn’t expecting anything from the city council until summer. But perhaps they want to get it all settled before spring when people who want to start keeping chickens will be looking to get underway. Bookman has not yet begun to collect neighbor signatures, it has been too cold and snowy. But now we will wait and see what happens come Friday. Bookman may just be saved the trouble of collecting signatures after all. Fingers crossed!

In cycling news, I am still riding in virtual races on Thursday nights. Each week is different and sometimes I finish first or second and sometimes I finish last. One thing for sure, my fitness has improved immensely. I am also in the final week of a 6-week workout program that has meant hour-long (or more) workouts four to five times of week doing intervals of varying intensities. This too has paid off. On a (virtual) ride after my workout yesterday I decided to see if I could beat my personal sprint records on the two sprint sections of the course and I blew each one away by several seconds! I even managed to ever so briefly hit 4 watts/kg, something I thought I would never manage. I also noticed I now frequently go over 3 w/kg which means that after this week I will start racing in group C instead of D. Technically I should start this week but I want to give myself one more “easy” week before I go to the next group and start coming in last all the time. I will be good incentive to work hard and improve, right?

Also this last week on Wednesday night I participated in my first virtual group ride. It was so much fun! I am part of a group on Zwift called ROL (Ride On Ladies — in Zwift you can give riders a “ride on” thumb’s up, it’s a way to offer support and tell other riders they are doing great or thanking them for a good ride, etc). There is an ROL group ride on Wednesday nights but I had not joined in because it is a fast ride and with the races I’ve been doing Thursday nights I didn’t want to overdo it the night before. Anyway, a slower group ride was introduced this week so I joined that one. We used an app called TeamSpeak which allows us to actually talk to each other while we ride. I rode with a couple people from Seattle and someone from Ohio and I think maybe Texas. Technology is awesome!

Also, there are enough ROL women who are interested in racing that we are going to have our own women’s race on Saturday upcoming. It will be a 30km race and I will have to race in group B which is both exciting and scary. There are not a lot of women on Zwift, I saw somewhere that women are only about 8% of the Zwift population, but among them are some really strong riders and racers. It is exciting to ride with them because it forces me to work harder and they are all supportive and encouraging so even though I feel intimidated, it comes from my own personal worries of not being very good rather than anything anyone else has said or done. Currently there are 24 women who have indicated they will be racing Saturday and 56 who have said maybe. We’ll see what kind of turnout there really is. I just hope I don’t finish last in my group. But hey, if I do, incentive to improve!


Filed under: biking, chickens, gardening Tagged: Food forest, Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis, sustainable gardening

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24. Semi circle


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25. SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!!!

and i'm going to try my hardest not to tear up just writing this (although that's probably not going to happen...).


i'm almost willing to bet that everyone who knows me knows my love and respect for Peyton Manning. i mean, seriously. i spent 16 years teaching preschoolers and i can tell you that some of them still, to this day, see this man on a football field and say "Ms. Nicole loves Peyton Manning". the number 18 forever embedded in their little minds. the number 18 representing greatness, gracefulness, determination, drive, talent and just a legend...a pure legend.


i have LOYALLY followed this man for almost TWO DECADES (yes, THAT long) and i have NEVER faltered once due to any loss by the Colts (his then team) or by the Broncos (his now and most likely final team-insert tears)...even after the ugly loss two years ago in Super Bowl 48 to the Seahawks. never. his humility and pure love of the game make him something special. a role model, of sorts. something the sports world alone could learn from this man.

ironically, beginning 6 years ago we wound up having something not so fortunate in common...multiple neck surgeries/fusions. every day (after THREE surgeries) i STILL live in pain....pain that shoots down my right arm (yes, my painting arm) into my hand, back up into my shoulder, down my trapezius and well, it's just not a whole lot of fun. i manage. i'll continue to manage. why? because my drive and determination and pure LOVE and PASSION for my craft will keep that pencil and paintbrush in my hand, no matter what the pain level may be. throwing a football and being one of the greatest players to ever grace a field after FOUR of those surgeries? well, that is nothing short of miraculous. yes, he has access to the greatest doctors in the world, etc etc etc. but he plays still because he has great LOVE and PASSION for the sport. no matter what his physical disabilities may be, his drive and determination is much much bigger.

knowing that today's game may be his last ever, you can bet i'll be crying a whole ocean (or two) just watching this man do what he loves most...honestly, humbly, respectfully and just Peyton being Peyton. not sure what i'll do with my sundays now but i'll still be wearing that magical number 18 and i'll still have his face as the screensaver on my Mac so that when i'm at my easel doing what i love most and the pain gets a bit mundane, i can just look over and know that it can be done. that pain and physical limitations don't have to stop you from doing what you love more than anything else in the world. always promised myself that one day i would pen this man a letter, letting him know how much of an inspiration he truly is....

helmets off to you, Peyton Manning for being a class act all the way to the end. win or lose, you'll always be a winner to this girl!


{my style may have changed over the years but that's about it when it comes to this man!}



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