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1. Comic Con International Recap

I’ve attended San Diego’s Comic Con International off-and-on since the 1990′s and I’ve watched it grow to become the daddy of all geek conventions. Despite the long airplane flight, long lines and 200k+ crowd, it is a fun four-day ride.

SDCC

I’ve always felt that I am a bit of an odd puzzle piece as a participant in the programming for Comic Con. Compared to other massive conventions, like BookExpo, there are far fewer kid’s lit author/illustrators present–and many that do attend are either current bestsellers or their book is Soon to Become a Major Motion Picture. I suppose my books fall somewhere in this category and I am thankful for that.

LATimes

As Angela and I shuffled past the decorated booths, I was reminded that Comic Con is a grab-bag cross-section of pop culture in media. Film, television, nerdy apparel, toys, games and books were all featured prominently. About the only thing that wasn’t front and center were good ol’ comic books, which seem relegated to the outer fringes of the convention floor.

But, because there was such a mix, I bumped into all sorts of creative types: like fellow artists and writers, sculptors and film-makers.

Allen

Next to me are Vicki and Allen Williams, director Kirk Thatcher, and artist Travis Lewis sits front and center.

GeorgeRR

HBO’s ubiquitous Game of Thrones series dominated the con. Here, I met the book’s author (and the winner of the Game of Thrones) George R.R. Martin at the Weta booth (there’s Weta Workshop founder, Richard Taylor, right behind us). After stalk-chatting with George for several minutes, he had some of his characters remove me from the premises:

GoT1

But I was remembered by my old friend, artist Donato Giancola–who used my likeness as one of the Night’s Watch in the 2015 Game of Thrones calendar. Scratch that one off of my bucket list.

Donato

I participated on a couple of panels, including “Fairy Tale Remix” moderated by the award-winning author, Shannon Hale (who may, or may not, be part of a crime-fighting duo).

Shannon

The conversation on the influence of fairy tales in modern storytelling was lively and the audience’s questions were thought-provoking. (Lytherus.com has a nice, detailed write-up on the panel).

panel

Above are authors aplenty (from left to right): Katherine Harbour, Shannon Hale, Cornelia Funke, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Ben Tripp, T-Dog and John Peck.

postcards

Friday was “Star Wars Day” at the con (in DiTerlizziland, every day is “Star Wars Day”) and I presented the upcoming picture book The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (featuring illustrations by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie). Along with Exec. Editor of Disney Publishing, Michael Siglain, and Lucasfilm historian and author, Jonathan Rinzler, we talked of how this book came to be and offered up inside stories of the development of the first screenplay as well as Ralph’s place in Lucasfilm history as the visual genius who presented the first glimpses into a galaxy far, far away.

SW

I had a moment when Jonathan told me that he thought Ralph would have liked how this book turned out. That meant a lot to this ten-year old kid and I am still beaming from his comment.

The Star Wars fun continued when Ang and I reunited with film effects dungeon master, Phil Tippett, who was not only responsible for bringing to life childhood cinematic moments (like the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back or the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) but goblins, trolls and Hogsqueal in The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Phil

After my authorial duties were completed it was time to spend some hard earned royalty money. For many nerd collectors, Comic Con has become a one-stop-shop of the weird and rarefied. In fact, there were one-of-kind props from some of my favorite films, like Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future II. (price tag: $30k):

hoverboard

…or one of the puppets from Beetlejuice:

beetlejuide

If your a 70′s kid trapped in a man’s body (like me) then you’ll love these Kenner-styled Alien figures. Sure, they’re about 30 years too late, but you know what they say…(in 1979 no one can hear you scream…for Alien action figures?)

aliens

Speaking of toys, Sideshow toys melted my brain with a new line of incredibly detailed creeptastic ghouls and demons called “Court of the Dead”. If you were a fan of McFarlane Toys or Wayne Barlowe, you’re gonna love these. Take a look:

sideshow

sideshow2

Lastly, I nabbed a few limited edition artist’s sketchbooks. By far, this is my favorite sort of thing to hunt down and purchase at the con. Fortunately, booksellers (like Stuart Ng Books) had many to choose from like this reproduction of Claire Wendling’s sketchbook.

claire

…and, yes, I dropped off a handful of signed The Battle for WondLa: Sketchbook III to Stuart who should have them for sale on his site very soon. I’ll share a link once they’re up. In the meantime, “Stay classy San Diego. I’ll see you next time.”

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2. McMillan Recap

Although the rain cut us a little short, we had a great time hosting Claire McMillan last Wednesday, July 23, for our second to last Literary Picnic of the 2014 season. Her novel brings Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth to Cleveland Ohio, complete with passion, excitement, and of course, scandal. Having been an enormous Edith Wharton fan her entire life, McMillan was thrilled to share her work with the audience. DSCN4375 DSCN4386 DSCN4390

Our last Literary Picnic of the 2014 season will take place next Wednesday, August 6, with Tony Mendoza. For more information or to order tickets, click here!


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3. Editorial Submission :: Ji Hyun Yu

Post by James

Editorial Submission :: Ji Hyun Yu

Editorial Submission :: Ji Hyun Yu

Editorial Submission :: Ji Hyun Yu

Editorial Submission :: Ji Hyun Yu

Seoul, South Korea-native Ji Hyun Yu is an illustrator currently based in Germany. She graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany with a B.A. in Communication Design and since has worked as a freelance illustrator and member of an illustration collective called “Parallel Universe”. Ji draws her inspiration from people, fashion, nature, other illustrators, designers, and creative people. She describes her work as simple, humorous, and quirky.

You can see more of Ji’s work here.

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4. YO HO YO HO a pirates life 4 me

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5. Publishing Jobs: HarperCollins, Little Bee Books, Psychology Press

This week, HarperCollins is hiring a website and email marketing manager, while Little Bee Books needs a marketing and publicity manager. Psychology Press is seeking an associate editor, and Harvard Common Press is on the hunt for an office manager. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great publishing jobs on the GalleyCat job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented GalleyCat pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 30

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book to adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and an summary post about the status of KidLitCon planning

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read four middle grade books and one adult book. I read:

I'm currently reading Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb on Kindle, and Memory Maze (The Hypnotists, Book 2) by Gordon Korman in print. I'm listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I am quite enjoying listening to the Harry Potter series (for the first time). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. She has been developing more of an appreciation for humor lately. She especially likes Plants vs. Zombies: Brains and the Beanstalk and Wedgieman: A Hero Is Born. She also likes to peruse the back covers of the Berenstain Bears books, where they display some 20 or so pictures of other books in the series, and make requests. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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7. ‘Sweet Addiction’ Stays on Top of the Self-Published Bestsellers List

Sweet Addiction by J. Daniels leads the Self-published Bestsellers List this week for the third week in a row.

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. You can read all the lists below, complete with links to each book.

If you want more resources as an author, try our Free Sites to Promote Your eBook post, How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores post and our How to Pitch Your Book to Online Outlets post.

If you are an independent author looking for support, check out our free directory of people looking for writers groups. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Get a book gift wrapped in August and we will donate the money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation

fdayilfFather’s Day is fast approaching and we have heaps of books to choose from for your Dad. We also have a fantastic gift wrapping service to take all the hassle out of buying a gift for Fathers Day. We can even ship it directly to your Dad wherever he is in Australia or the world.

Boomerang Books offers colourful gift wrapping for $3.50 per book in a single order, as well as the opportunity to send a personal message with your gift.

For the month of August Boomerang Books will donate the $3.50 from all gift wrapping to The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation provides books and literacy resources for Indigenous kids and families in remote communities.

So this Fathers Day grab Dad a book, get it gift wrapped and not only will your Dad get a great book to read but you will also help someone else develop a lifelong love of reading.

To use gift wrapping, select the drop down box on the payment page, choose your desired wrapping pattern and type your personal message.

Boomerang Books will then donate all the money spent on gift wrapping in August  to The Indigenous Literacy Foundation on Indigenous Literacy Day – Wednesday September 3.

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9. You have two hours to get your New York Comic-Con panel submissions turned in

IMG_3904.JPG

5pm EDT is the deadline for this year’s New York Comic-Con panel submissions. I’m sitting on a train desperately trying to be coherent and lucid enough to put together a proposal that will pass this kind of scrutiny:

Panel and screening slots at NYCC are in high demand, but are extremely limited. Last year, NYCC was unfortunately only able to accept less than 25% of all submissions into the schedule. So, before you submit, please make sure your application is the best it can be. NYCC is looking for programs that are original, exciting and creative. Most importantly, think about the value your panel will provide to fans and what sets your panel apart from others. This application does not guarantee you panel time at NYCC and instead only registers your request to hold a panel at our event.

The timing of the deadline — three days after San Diego while everyone in the industry is still in a brain haze or sitting in a sauna—is also, to be frank, kinda sucky. But it is what it is.

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10. Hartford MFA: Dennis Nolan

Just got back from the first session of my Hartford University MFA Illustration program. Dennis Nolan was one of the instructors for the Advanced Illustration class. Can you guess what his mantra was? Go on, try.

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11. Street GIFs are awesome. YOure welcome.


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12. Card Shark









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13. I'm Picking Up Good Curations: Content Curation Tools in the Classroom

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14. E-Book Sales Statistics Every Author Needs to Know Before Signing a Book Deal

This month I read one of the best reports on e-publishi […]

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15. Summer Doldrums

It's hard to keep up our writing routines this time of year. Kids are home. The outdoors beckons. We take vacations. The heat makes us lazy. There's a lot of yard work, and we have to deal with all that stuff from our gardens and fruit trees. We have add things like summer camps and similar scouting and church activities. It's a wonder we can get any writing done at all, if we do.

So what can we do about it? How do we keep from destroying our writing habits? Here are a few ideas.

Reset Expectations

Maybe you can't write for an hour every day. How about twenty minutes three times a week? Whatever your schedule allows, try to do it. You might keep up your usual routine, but any kind of routine at all is better than a summer of no writing at all.

Mini Retreats

Do you have friends who write? Are you part of a writing group? Sometimes you can jump start your writing by getting together with other writers. Meet wherever you can, even if only for a couple hours, and write away. You can spend some of the time socializing or discussing writing problems, but make sure you leave plenty of time to write. One tip: don't get together in somebody's home. That's not going to work for the host. Unless, of course, there's nobody else at home and so it's quiet and comfortable with minimal distractions.

Prioritize Your Writing Days

Set regular writing days and decide that you won't do anything else until you've written to your goal, whatever that is. Make sure your family knows that you are unavailable for that time, but that you'll do whatever they want and whatever else needs to be done when you've finished. This works best, of course, if you don't have small children and you have a somewhat private writing area. You might have to start early or stay up late, whatever works best for you, to avoid all those other things you need to do. You might not be able to do this every day during, but if you have scheduled writing days and your family understands that you need that writing time and that it's your time, it can work.

Just Accept It

Finally, you might just have to accept that summer is not a good time for you to write. If you have young kids who are out of school or other summertime distractions, you might have to take the summer off, or accept that your production will take a nose dive. If you're in this situation, just accept it. Don't feel guilty. You have priorities, and some of those might be higher than writing. There's no shame in that. You haven't failed. You're doing what's most important to you during those months. It's OK. It can actually be a good thing. Sometimes it helps your story if you can set it aside for a while and let it simmer. Your brain is still working, and you'll come back to the work with fresh eyes when school starts. Those fresh eyes will help you identify weak places you didn't see when you were in the heat of creativity.

*

These are just a few suggestions. Maybe something else works for you. The point is, if you need a different routine in the summer, or if you're not able to write as much, it might just be the way things are for the life you want to live. Summer won't last forever.

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16. Sherryl Clark In The West!

Yesterday we had our YABBA Ambassador visit. Sherryl Clark spoke to the Year 7 and 8 students and some older ones who came because they were in my book club and wanted to hear her. Some had been reading the books I bought in advance of the visit although nobody actually asked specific questions related to the books they had read and the girl who had asked me if she could ask questions then was too shy to speak them herself, so wrote them down for me to ask on her behalf. But they,too, were general questions. One of my book clubbers couldn't make it due to SRC commitments, but met us in the hallway and told Sherryl how much she had enjoyed the book she'd read.

It was a hectic day for me. I had some drama in my literacy class, felt bad about it and went to seek the child I had upset. Then I rushed to the canteen, which had prepared lunch for me and my guest. Then I hung around, panicking when she was a tiny bit late. What if she had got the dates confused? What if...? I think it was my nerves.

But she turned up a minute later and all went well. She talked about her books and dear me, hasn't she written a huge variety of genres, from short humorous books for younger readers to verse novels and fantasy mysteries for teens. Apparently, her bestseller is her first book, The Too Tight Tutu, which is based on her own experiences as an overweight child doing ballet lessons. With some of her books she has bought back the rights and self published because there was still demand for them but the publishers weren't interested in keeping them in print.

There were some quite good questions from Year 7 and I invited Sherryl to choose a couple of students to receive copies of her books as a reward for the best. I usually do that as an encouragement to get them started, but it wasn't necessary this time, which was nice. You know, nobody wants to be first? Not a problem this time. 

After lunch, we returned to the library, where the Year 8 students were even better, and I have to say I was pleased and relieved. We have a lot of difficult students in this year's Year 8 and apart from one or two, whose teachers took them away from the others, they were really very good and asked some great questions, including some of the most difficult students of the lot! In fact, two of the three prizes went to some of our harder-to-handle boys. One of them was so chuffed he showed off his book to the sub school leader who has given him many a detention.

After the session I had students asking to borrow some of Sherryl's books, which I had on a display. Some were out, but others were grabbed.

A successful event all round. Pity I couldn't even get a reply from the local press, but then, for them it's just another ho-hum author-visits-school event, big deal, it happens all the time. I did explain it was a special program run by YABBA, for only twenty-five schools, but no interest.

It's not a ho-hum thing for us. When I first arrived at the school, we had an annual writers' festival. The Principal gave us $2000 for inviting writers to speak. Not a lot, but enough for each campus to have someone, and we supplemented it with free visits from myself and Chris Wheat, my colleague who has written five YA novels. That was a principal who respected us and what we did. There was a college head of library.

Now my budget is half what it was back in the 90s and no college writers' festival. We just don't have the money to bring in guest speakers, so having a freebie like this means a lot to us and our students.

I hate that I can't do more, but never mind, it was a great day, if exhausting. Thank you, Sherryl, and especially thanks, YABBA, for paying for this! 

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17. चित्रकार


बना रहा था मैं एक चित्र,
गहराईयो में थोड़ा डूब कर,
तन्हाइयो से थोड़ा ऊब कर,
हाथो को आड़ा तिरछा हिला कर,
रंगो में सपना सुनहरा मिला कर,     
किसी के ख़यालो में यू खो कर,
आँसुओं से चेहरे को यू धो कर,
मस्ती में कुछ ऐसा झूम कर,
दृढ़ता को जज्बातो से चूम कर,
मुस्कुरहटो को पानी में पिघला कर,
गमो को समय की आग से जला कर,
दोस्ती का तज़ुर्बा अपना कर,
हर दर्द को कही अंदर दबा कर,
विचारो का युध यू छोड़ कर,
वक़्त की रफ़्तार कुछ यू मोड़ कर,
आँखो को उनसे यू चार कर,
उत्सुकता को मन में सवार कर,
कर्कष्ता को यू हवा कर,
मौसम को कुछ यू जवा कर,
पसीने को बिल्कुल भूल कर,
रास्ते के पत्थरो को यू धूल कर,
फूलो का बगीचा सा बना कर,
खुद को खुद में ही फ़ना कर,
बना रहा था मैं एक चित्र.

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18.

LATEST NEWS

My book View from a Zoo was released in a flash-animated video through Animatus Studio. To watch the video, please click on the link below.

Part 6 of Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet was published in the July issue of Jabberblabber Magazine. To read parts 1-6 in the July issue, please click on the illustrated cover below. The series is featured on pages 30-32. Look for part 7 in the August issue of Jabberblabber Magazine next month.

LG Cover

The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is offering several of my children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is my story titled The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum.  To read the stories, please click on the title link above.

 

Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law 

COPYRIGHT © 2014 ARTIE KNAPP               

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19. My Summer Blog Tour plus…. meet the family in The Little Kid's Table!

Wow summer is almost done and it seems I've been everywhere but on my blog. To start here's a few guest posts and interviews I did over the summer:

I was profiled on Kid Lit 411. Ya'll this is a terrific site for readers, creators, and lovers of children's literature. I was interviewed by the talented Sylvia Liu, who curates the illustrator's sections.

In May and June I contributed my regular columns to Once Upon A Sketch.com and Word Disco.com:
Both Once Upon a Sketch columns focused on best practices for illustrators. In May I discussed how to deal with a difficult client. In June I wrote about the difference between sampling for a client or working on spec. These are both issues that aspiring illustrators will encounter.

While Once Upon A Sketch is about hardcore, practical advise for illustrators, Word Disco is my fun dance floor. In July I wrote about my summer reading list.

Finally last week, I kicked off Telaina Muir's DOT Drawing Challenge with this post about art, love and fear.

So go catch up on reading and come back when you want to see my characters for The Little Kid's Table….

What's that? Let's see them now? Ok you twisted my arm… BUT I'm going to introduce them in batches. First here's the family portrait:




The family members are Grandma Mable, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bob, Uncle Fred, cousins, Little Brother, Daisy the dog and MC (main character.) Whew, this is a lot of people to keep up with but I decided to create my own backstories for all of them. And because most modern families are colorful these days, The Little Kid's Table has a lot of diversity around it. Here's some more family groups.

Grandma Mable is bringing out the pie… and the real fun is going to start

This is a proposed page layout for one of the final spreads:

Kind of like casting for a movie, determining who each character is as a person helped me illustrate how they would react in a different scene. In this book most of the action takes place in one area - the dining room at Grandma Mable's house. The drama had to be heightened through the characters' personalities. Next week I'll post about building their individual personalities and backstories. 

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20. Flash Back Summer! July, 2008 at Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog: 500 Years of Palladio

Church of Redentore
(Venice, Italy) In these hazy, crazy days of summer, I am going to be lazy and publish a rerun of a post I wrote just about six years ago in July, 2008 -- the year I first created this blog -- before most people in Italy (and other parts of the world) knew what a blog was. I've had other blogs before this one, but Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog was when I decided to blend what I used to do when I wrote for the International Herald Tribune's Italian supplement, Italy Daily, with my personal thoughts. These days, you can throw a rock out the window and hit someone who is writing a blog about Venice, but back then, there were only a few...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

500 Years of Andrea Palladio - Palladian Gala - Save Venice, Inc.

(VENICE, ITALY) When the Director of the International Center for the Study of the Architecture of Andrea Palladio in Vicenza begins his lecture with a not-very-flattering quote by John Ruskin about his subject, you know you're in for an exciting ride.

Professor Guido Beltramini did just that in the Giorgio Cini Foundation's Palladian refectory yesterday, and it was one of the most fascinating lectures I've heard in a long time. He was part of the Save Venice, Inc. Palladian Gala, which culminates at Hotel Cipriani's Granai tonight with the celebration of our most beloved Venetian holiday, the Festa del Redentore, complete with fireworks. (Each one of these topics could be a blog in itself, so I am going to give you a brief overview, and delve more deeply in the future.)

Professor Beltramini said that last year on November 30th, the kick-off of the 500 year anniversary of the renowned architect's birth, many local architects in Vicenza held an anti-Palladio demonstration. The projection screen then flashed up a picture of Andrea Palladio that had been doctored to give him horns! Professor Beltramini said it was about time we had a look at this part of Palladian architecture, and the dark forces that generate the upper harmony. The windows that are eyes; the doors that are mouths are countered by the belly of the building. He spoke about the "heart of darkness" and the unconscious, and showed us a photo of a brutish faun on the floor, saying no visit to a Palladian villa would be complete without a visit to the underground vaults. The lecture covered the Villa Rotunda in Vicenza, the nobility who supported Palladio, his early life, and much, much more.

It is the ancient argument -- who is more powerful? Man or Nature? Does Man impose his Will on Nature? Does Man work together with Nature? Does Nature impose her Will upon Man? Or, most importantly, what is Man anyway? Who are we and what are we doing on this planet?

People constantly ask me why I moved to Venice, and I reply that Venice is a magnetic center. The more you study Venice, you will find it is not just about canals and gondolas. The palaces and churches were designed with esoteric principles. As was the Art. As was the Music. As was the Literature. Etc.

This is from the website of Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio at http://www.andreapalladio500.it/mostra0_en.php

"Andrea Palladio was born in Padua on St Andrew’s Day, 30 November, 1508. To celebrate this quincentenary, the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza and the Royal Academy of Arts, London, with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), are mounting a major exhibition. It will open in Vicenza, (palazzo Barbaran da Porto, 20 September 2008 – 6 January 2009), it will then move to London (Royal Academy of Arts, 31 January – 13 April 2009) and will close in the United States of America in Autumn 2009. ...
Jefferson’s house at Monticello will be presented."

Well, apparently we have run out of money in the United States of America, and the Washington D.C. leg of the exhibition has not been confirmed, and may well be cancelled. Makes you wonder... doesn't it? Well, I most definitely intend to go to Vicenza to see it this fall, and strongly suggest you all try to catch it either here or in London.

Another interesting tidbit about Palladio: as hard as he and the nobility who supported him tried, he didn't make it into Venice until he was about 60-years-old, and even then, he only designed buildings on the outskirts of town, like the Churches of Redentore, Zitelle and San Francesco dello Vigna -- which, if you remember, I have written about before:


http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/2008/02/church-of-san-francesco-della-vigna.html

After the lecture, the Save Venice, Inc. folks bravely climbed into a wild boat, rearing against its ropes, docked outside on the Island of San Giorgio. It was pouring rain, and the waves were ghastly, but off we chugged to the Church of Redentore itself, where I have spent a lot of time behind the scenes with the Capuchin friars, an Order close to my heart. (In fact, you will find a Venetian Capuchin friar in Harley's Ninth:) We were given a brief tour of the interior by the scholars Professor Deborah Howard of Cambridge, and Professor Frederic Ilchman of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Now, you might think that scholars are stuffy, but I actually hang out with them, and they always amaze me with their wit, humor and ability to bring the past alive.

The Church of Redentore was built in honor of Christ the Redeemer to save Venice from the plague, which wiped out ONE THIRD of the population, including Titian himself. Professor Howard said we must remember the time it was built, and what, exactly, were the sins from which the Venetians thought they needed redemption. One was that they did a lot of trading with the Muslim countries. (I can think of several others:) The Venetians had tried everything, and as we know, when all else fails, the only thing left to do is to pray. In any event, it WORKED! The end of the plague on July 21, 1577 is what we are celebrating tonight with what is usually the best fireworks in the entire world exploding over the lagoon. Venetians from all over the Veneto arrive in their boats to watch the show. The fondamenta on the Giudecca is lined with tables and Venetians eating traditional food. Terraces and balconies are filled with revelers. The Lido has their own party going on over there. It's a big Venetian party, and deserves its own blog, which perhaps I will give it in the future.

After the Church of Redentore, it was onto the Church of Zitelle, and then a lunch at the newly restored Zitelle convent, now the magnificent five-star Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa. I have known the Chair & CEO, Francesca Bortolotto Possati for a long time -- and no, I am not related to the Bauer Hotel:) But I saw the convent many years ago, long before Francesca restored it, and I will tell you that she did an amazing job (the photo you see is the garden where we had lunch -- the rain had stopped and the Sun came out!). She is also the International Chairman of Save Venice, Inc.. Something you should know about Francesca -- she puts her whole heart into all her projects with the purest intentions, and works tirelessly to help this city. For instance, despite all odds, she launched the very first solar-electric boat on the Grand Canal, which runs from the Bauer Hotel in the historic center, across to Zitelle.

Here is a little excerpt from something I wrote about Zitelle for the International Herald Tribune's Italy Daily years ago:

"Santa Maria della Presentazione, or Le Zitelle, was once a home for maidens famous for their skill in creating punto in aria Venetian lace. Founded in 1599 on the premise that impoverished, good-looking virgins were doomed to a life of sin unless someone intervened, the convent had strict entry requirements: the virgins had to be between the ages of 12 and 18, very healthy, very beautiful, and have a graceful, lively demeanor. The girls received training that prepared them not for the nunnery, but for marriage. The three-story structure, built on a Reformation model with a cloister behind the church and two wings near the Giudecca Canal, is currently undergoing restoration. Plans exist to convert it into a hotel and conference center, retaining much of the original structure, and to bring the large botanical garden back to life. The wellhead in the courtyard bears the coat of arms of the aristocratic Loredan family, and dates from the early 14th century when the Loredans were granted possession of the property by the Venetian Senate."

And something you should know about Save Venice, Inc. -- I have never seen the organization more vibrant and alive. There is a new contingency from the West Coast in the United States, which I strongly recommend those of you out there support, plus the Old Guard from New York, Boston and the South, etc. If you're looking for a charitable organization to stash your cash, your dollars will not only beautify Venice and its structures, but the soul of Venice itself.

http://www.savevenice.org/

Ciao from Venice,
Cat
P.S. I am back from Redentore. At the last minute, I decided to watch the fireworks with the Guardia di Finanza in honor of Bruno Abbate. Bruno was a renowned boat builder in a traditional family business, and he made some boats for the Guardia -- their party was next door to Save Venice over at Cipriani's. Bruno died last week at age 57. His birthday is one day before mine. We are Leos. Last year about this time, I had the great honor to be with Bruno on his yacht you see there during his Primatist Trophy with a group of friendly folks -- seriously, I was taking the Sun on that very cushion in the back of his boat. It seems incredible that he is now gone. Last year was the first time I had met him... he was such a generous man; he enjoyed sharing his great wealth. We zoomed all over the coast of Sardinia during the morning, paused for lunch and a swim, then zoomed some more in the afternoon to the next stop. Every evening there was some kind of spectacular. Bruno genuinely loved human beings from every walk of life. He created an enormous family called Primatist People, providing lots of jobs and lots of fun. When Bruno showed up, the world came alive with helicopters swirling overhead, and music, music, music -- he was like fireworks personified. The great explosion at the end of Redentore tonight reminded me of Bruno... Even though I didn't know him well, when you spend a week on someone's boat, you form a kind of bond.... he touched so many lives... Thank you, Bruno, for granting me the privilege of being one of the Primatist People, if only for a moment.

After the fireworks, I was swept back into another world -- the Cipriani Olympic-size pool where there was music, food, drinks, dancing.... It was strange... one of the first articles I had ever written for IHT Italy Daily was about the Redentore party at that very pool, back in 2001 -- it seemed almost frozen in time with the same stock characters wearing the same outfits.... as if that party has been going on for centuries during Redentore, and will continue for centuries in the future.

Tonight, however, I met a vibrant woman from Los Angeles, Francesca DeMarco, who had never been there before. She said: "I've seen fireworks at the Rose Bowl. I've seen fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl. But I've never seen fireworks like these!" I said, "Francesca, I am going to quote you. Are they the best fireworks you have ever seen in your life?" Francesca said, "YES!"

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21. Squeetus summer book club: Enna Burning, chapter 19

Enna-newpb"silly songs about swimming rabbits and no-tailed squirrels": it occurs to me I should have had my husband write this song! He wrote the "bodiless piglet" song Tegus sings in Book of a Thousand Days. He also expanded the rap I wrote for Humphry in The Storybook of Legends and then wrote new raps for him in The Unfairest of Them All and A Wonderlandiful World. He's my go-to song writer! I should have made him write all those songs in the Princess Academy books. (I think he wrote part of one or two in the upcoming third book, actually.)

The journey south: I mentioned my love of fever dreams. Other things I love: journeys through wilderness. Love it. I feel very disappointed by high fantasy books that don't move, stay in one place. They feel stagnant to me. I want to wander, feel the landscape beneath me and around me, changing and threatening. Writing Book of a Thousand Days felt so risky to me because I knew I wanted to start the book inside the tower and stay there for some time.

"Over there!" After this book, Dean and I used to shout that to each other sometimes. I'd forgotten about that till I read this scene.

Yasid: Looking over my notes, I had so much more info about Yasid than I could use in the story. That's generally the case, I think. You use about 5% of your research. You need to rifle through the other 95% just to discover the 5% that you need. Here are some notes I took: 

"The Magi were the priests of the Persians, kept fire and ash upon an altar and without them no sacrifice could be made. Believed that sun, fire, and light were emblems of Ormuzd and sources of all light and purity. Worshiped fire not as separate being but symbol, embodiment. Worshipped on mountaintops, not in temples. Magi connected with astrology and enchantment. Ancient Zoroastrians forced to give up their religion, some refused and fled to the deserts of Kerman and to Hindustan. Arabs call them Guebers from Arabic word meaning unbelievers. Fire is still adored as the symbol of divinity. “Lalla Rookh” = “Fire Worshippers”.

Audrey asks, "Shannon what is your favorite Bayern book-inspired fan creation? (example: clothing/ cosplay, objects, art)" There are so many wonderful things! Sometimes people will email me photos, Halloween costumes, art. I love the watercolor paintings some have done.

Nicole asks, "I was just thinking that, since my favorite book is Enna Burning, what is your favorite book?" I couldn't choose. They really do feel like my children.

Eliza asks, "In The Storybook of Legends, the Narrator makes a passing reference to "the goose girl's daughter" attending Ever After High a year ahead of Raven. Does this mean...sister for Tusken? At least in your head? Or is it just a nod to your Bayern fans?" Yes! You're the first person to ask me about that. It's really just a nod. The Goose Girl and Ever After High take place in totally different worlds, so I don't think she'd literally be Ani's daughter.

Just two more chapters!

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22. Joy's latest interview (link)

Thanks to Kevin Cooper for inviting me to join him at Kev’s Author Interviews Presents: http://kevs-domain.net/2014/07/30/i-bring-you-joy/ 

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23. Comedy Central Teases 1980s Crime Parody ‘Moonbeam City’

Scheduled to debut in 2015, Comedy Central's "Moonbeam City" is described as an absurdist take on the sex-drenched crime dramas of the 1980s.

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24. Poetry Friday - A review of On the Wing

Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.

Douglas Florian
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Harcourt, 1996, 978-0152023669
Birds truly are remarkable animals. They come in a dazzling array of colors, live on every continent, and make their homes in all kinds of places. In this wonderful picture book Douglas Florian pairs short poems with his artwork to give readers a true celebration of birds.
   Over the millennia birds have evolved to suit many kinds of environments. Some birds, like the egret, sail on water and then rest on the beach making it seem as if there is a “feathered hat” lying on the sand. Dippers love to dip and dive in waterfalls. They are so aquatic that one wonders if they would be happy to “trade / Their oily wings for flippers.” They are such good swimmers that it is possible that the little birds might “think that they are fish.”
   Birds come in all shapes and sizes. The spoonbill is tall and thin with a beak that does indeed look like a long-handled spoon. In his poem about this rather odd looking species, Douglas Florian wonders if the spoonbill uses its bill “for stirring tea” or does it “use it as a scoop / For eating peas and drinking soup.”
   The stork has a bill that is perfectly suited for the environment it lives in. Wading through shallow water, the bird uses it rapier like bill to stab frogs and other creatures. Woodpeckers also have beaks that are perfectly adapted so that they can get to their chosen food - insects that live in wood and sap that runs through wood. Not only are these beaks perfect for creating holes, but woodpeckers also use them to communicate.
   With clever touches of humor and insightful descriptions, this collection of poems will give young readers a colorful picture of twenty-one bird speci

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25. Watch The Comic-Con Preview of ‘Mike Tyson Mysteries’

Warner Bros. Animation's "Mike Tyson Mysteries" is a throwback to the celebrity-endorsed TV cartoons of the 1970s and '80s, but the comedic twist is that the "celebrity" is a wife-beating, drug-abusing, flesh-biting, convicted rapist.

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