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1. Ways of Giving Your Readers Information

MQR - winter 2007Reading the short story "Missionaries" by Jeremiah Chamberlin (truly a great story, very hard to believe the Author Notes that it was his first nationally published story) in the Winter 2007 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review, the first page alone had me realizing there are different means of offering information to your reader and Chamberlin had used a couple quite well already.

There's the simple idea of what is currently going on given to us by the narrator's thoughts:

"I'm pumping the gas. My brother-in-law, Chris, is washing the windshield."

There's information from the past given, again, through the thoughts of the narrator:

"Chris was born again in high school, though he isn't any more."

There's observation of what others are doing and possibly thinking, again, through the thoughts of the narrator:

"Then she turns to her blonde friend and they laugh, as if we'd taken some kind of bait."

And there's also via dialogue, which can also be used to give some information from the past, though more in the line of the action, as opposed to from somebody's recollection:

"'Holy shit,' he says. '1979 Pontiac Phoenix. This was my first ride.'" (from Chris).

Each of these, and there are others, just not from the first page of this short story, have their reasons for being used. The current through the narrator's thoughts is a simple and easy way to catch the reader up to what is going on and get the story started. Some of that information from the past can be filled in through the current action (Chris pointing out the girls are driving in the same model as his original car) and other material from the past, if it's necessary for the reader to know, might need to be dropped in through the narrator's thoughts if there's no clean way of doing so in the current action. It seems most frequently this type of information will be useful as a bit of foreshadowing that maybe could have been slipped in through current action later in the work, but then it might seem almost too conveniently brought up.

I think Chamberlin has made great choices with all of these examples and again, hope to see this story in a full collection in the future if this, again, his FIRST, is any indication of what other stories he's written might be like.

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2. Open Letter profile

       A nice long profile of publisher Open Letter Books by Rebecca Rafferty in the Rochester CITY Newspaper, Found in translation (arghh ...).
       Lots of interesting background, so check it out.

       (See also the Open Letter titles under review at the complete review.)

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3. Marciarose Shestack, broadcast pioneer, will join me at the Free Library, to launch Love: A Philadelphia Affair

This, up there—the gorgeous woman seated beside Tom Snyder—is Marciarose Shestack.

The first woman to anchor a prime time daily news show in a major market (famously rivaling Walter Cronkite in the ratings). The face of ABC, KYW, Noon News, and her own "Marciarose Show." A film and theater critic. A woman who regularly sat with presidents. A credible and beloved analyst of culture, history, and politics.

Marciarose—still gorgeous. Once my mother's friend, and, today, my own.

How grateful I am to her, then, that she has accepted my invitation to join me on the Free Library of Philadelphia stage as I launch Love: A Philadelphia Affair (Temple University Press) on October 7, at 7:30.

I hope that you will join us—and take this opportunity to meet this Philadelphia legend on a night dedicated to Philadelphia love.

With thanks to Andy Kahan, always, for opening the door.

Love will go on sale on September 7.

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4. Three chances to win a signed copy of Green Valentine!

IMG_9738

To celebrate the release of #GreenValentine I am giving away three SIGNED copies – one each on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter!

Official publication page.

In Melbourne? Come to the launch and get a signed book and free organic vegetable seedlings!

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5. Oculus Creative Director Saschka Unseld: “It Feels Like We’re in Film School Again”

After directing Pixar's "Blue Umbrella," Saschka Unseld has moved into the world of VR filmmaking.

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6. Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Luc Lang's Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor, just out in English from the University of Nebraska Press.

       This was translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith -- who won this year's (well, the 2014, awarded this year) French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for his translation of Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Mad and the Bad, and also translated, among other titles, the similarly cruel Mygale (also published as Tarantula, and as the film tie-in The Skin I Live In) by Thierry Jonquet -- so, yeah, the right man for the job.

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7. Aula com Antônio Pedro sobre o ECA – Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente

Anotações feitas durante a aula dada por Antônio Pedro Soares, da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania da ALERJ aos membros do DDH.
Rio de Janeiro, julho de 2015.















Foto da Laíze Benevides (?):


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8. How I lost over 20 pounds without going on a diet or going to the gym (more)


Me, a year ago (left) and me now (right)

A year ago, a reader at an event asked to take a picture with me and posted it on Facebook. When I saw it, I didn’t look at our happy faces. I focused on the roll of fat around my waist.

I hadn’t been happy with my weight for a long time, but that really struck home.

Things I had tried to lose weight


  • Weight Watchers. This actually mostly worked, but I was always hungry and I got tired of constantly counting points. Due to some quirks of the time period I attended, I cooked atrocious things like Black Bean Brownies (just because they are the same color doesn’t mean they taste like brownies - but WW used to give you lots of credit for fiber). Once at a family reunion we all got food poisoning and took turns hurrying to the bathroom. But the next day I had my lowest weigh-in ever at WW, so food poisoning FTW!

  • Being mindful of every bite, taste, sensation. I actually think this is a good thing, but I usually read when I eat, so my concentration is fragmented.

  • Eating 35 grams of carbs a day, two days a week. I remember sitting with my friend Amy every Thursday for 17 weeks when she did her chemo treatment and glumly regarding my turkey breast and hard boiled eggs. It turns out all kinds of high protein or high fat things have some carbs in them - and they add up fast.

  • Living on 600 calories two days a week. A friend did this and lost eight pounds. I would pour over the menus and wonder how I could possibly do it since I am so active.

And that’s the thing. Even though writing is a sedentary occupation, I have always been otherwise active. I was fit AND fat, or mostly fit and fat. Last fall I had had to switch to walking instead of running, after having been diagnosed with moderate to severe arthritis in both knees. I asked my doctor if I could run again if I lost 20 pounds. You could practically see the thought bubble over his head: Like that will ever happen. Despite my knees, I was still active: walking, jiujitsu, kung fu, and weight lifting. However, study after study will tell you that you can’t lose weight through exercise.

But….

I had heard of friends of friends who lost a lot of weight once they started using a treadmill desk. And last fall I unexpectedly got some German money for Shock Point, which nearly ten years later still sells well over there.


So I bought a LIfeSpan treadmill desk, found an old computer (from 2008, but still runs what I need) and started using it when I wrote (and sometimes when I watched Netflix). I wear a Fitbit and went from putting in 12K steps a day to 25—30K. In the first eleven weeks, I lost eight pounds.

The pace has slowed now, but I’m still losing a pound every couple of weeks. Not that much different from Weight Watchers, but I am eating whatever I want! (Caveat: I mostly eat healthy.) I’m running again, and my knees feel fine. Every pound less is 3-4 pounds less on the knees.

And this morning I was down 22 pounds!

How to replicate this yourself

  • Get a Lifespan desk

  • Or try making one yourself (google DIY Treadmill Desk)

  • Or try housewalking.

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9. a most incredible Bank Street Book Fest

How lucky am I?

What an incredible line-up.

I will learn so much.

I am grateful.

Thank you, Jennifer Brown, Bank Street, and all those writers, reviewers, librarians, teachers, thinkers that I will learn from soon.

You can register at Bank Street College. And I hope you will.

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10. Hamilton, the Play

All the buzz is justified;
If I’d said different, I’d’a lied.
A slice of history unfurled
Like nothing else that’s in the world.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote
The lyrics, book and every note
Of music, all in hip-hop time
With such creative, perfect rhyme.

For everyone who has the chance,
Go see it, for it will enhance
Your theater props, with bragging rights
(And more if you’ve seen “In the Heights”*).

*Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous play

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11. “Career of Evil” Available for Pre-Order

This spring, J.K. Rowling announced that her good pal, Robert Galbraith, would be releasing his third Cormoran Strike novel. Though the other novels in the mystery series were released during the summer season, Career of Evil will be hitting shelves this fall (October 20th in the US, and October 22nd in the UK).

Amazon has recently made the new mystery novel available for pre-order. Hardcover copies of the novel, Prime eligible for free shipping October 20, have already been marked down 37% on the American Amazon. The cover price of the novel is $28.00, saving consumers $10.22 before the book is even published. Amazon has also made the Kindle format available for pre-order.

The summery on Amazon (from Galbraith’s website) reads:

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

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12. Book Titles

Though your publisher will likely change it, it's still worthwhile to choose the best title you can.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/05/10-tips-for-choosing-right-book-title.html

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13. Ottawa 2015 Selections Announced

Seventy-nine animated films were selected for competition at Ottawa this year.

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14. 48 days, day 44-46: almost time

{{ I am chronicling 48 days of writing before my July 31 travel. If you are chronicling your summer writing/days and would like to share, please link or comment so we can all cheer one another through. Strength to your sword arm!}}

The Year of Exploration is here.
On Being a Late Bloomer is here.
My speech at Vermont College (moments, memories, meaning) is here.

It's that no-man's place where I've got one foot in the work I'm trying to do, and one foot in my suitcase, trying to make sure I remember to pack everything I'll need in California this weekend... not very effective for doing anything requiring concentration, but it is always like this before travel. We leave Friday morning and return late Monday night. Then it is August. How did that happen?

I took 7 weeks this summer to write, just write, and to see what it might bring me to have no outside obligations or travel. I haven't read back through these entries, but I will at some point, and I bet I'll see a trajectory of some sort.. something that happens when we give ourselves the time it takes and aren't pushed by deadlines of any sort.

Life still happens, of course. This last few days it has been hard to concentrate on anything for long, so I sat with my work -- all these stories I've dragged out in this seven weeks -- and said, "what would just plain make me happy?"

A story about a little girl who is full of the joy of living -- that's what grabbed me. And so I began playing with her story. One morning when I woke at three, wide awake, I went through old mss and found her. It's been so long that I've been writing about her -- let's call her Cambria -- that I'd forgotten all the little vignettes and all the beginnings and all the possibilities I'd sketched out for her over the years.

I still love her. So much! And so she has been keeping me company today, while I write a while, pop up to put in a load of laundry; write a while, go get the dry cleaning; write a while, clean up this section of my office; write a while, go water the tomatoes.

The days are also somehow filled with Vaporwave music, bathing caps, goggles, and ear muffs and laughter. It's all good. We have beans, sweet peppers, tiny tomatoes, and new haircuts.

It's almost time to go. Almost. Almost...




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15. Through The Green Rez to Flagstaff
















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16. Reading in ... Zimbabwe

       In The Herald Stanely Mushava writes about the situation in Zimbabwe, in Cry our beloved reading culture.
       The lament is common enough -- though rarely is the fault ascribed as here:

Writers, publishers and literary academics that attended the ZIBF Indaba blamed schools for the country's love-hate relationship with books.
       And:
[V]eteran author Aaron Chiundura Moyo said it was clear that schools had destroyed the reading culture.
       Harsh. (And, yeah, there may a few more issues locally .....)

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17. New Photos Released of Emma Watson in ‘Colonia’

Earlier this week, Toronto International Film Festival website announced a large portion of its official line-up for the festival starting on September 10. Included in the line up is Colonia, a thriller directed by Florian Gallenberger, starring Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl.

Playlist writes that Colonia:

“tells the story of Lena and Daniel, a young couple, who become entangled in the Chilean military coup of 1973. Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police and Lena tracks him to a sealed off area in the South of the country, called Colonia Dignidad. The Colonia presents itself as a charitable mission run by lay preacher Paul Schäfer but, in fact, is a place nobody ever escaped from. Lena decides to join the cult in order to find Daniel. “

The script for Colonia is co-written by Gallenberger and Torsten Wenzel. The film is produced by Benjamin Herrmann and Nicholas Steil. Colonia will premiere as part of the TIFF Special Presentations Program.

Both Playlist and Firstshowing.net have released three first look photos from the film.

colonia1 colonia2 colonia3

 

Earlier this year, we reported that Emma Watson shared her experience of playing this role in Colonia. She talked of how the role challenged her as an actress. For more information on Colonia, visit the official TIFF page designated for it.

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18. Man Booker Prize longlist

       As reported everywhere, they've now announced the thirteen-title-strong longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize.
       They were selected from 156 submissions -- though, alas, the Man Booker folk don't reveal which titles were actually in the running. (Publishers are limited as to how many titles they can submit, a complex formula determining how many each is allowed to submit, so it is likely prominent and promising titles were never even considered for the prize -- but they won't tell us which ones. People should find this more disturbing than they seem to (most of you don't seem to mind at all).)
       The Telegraph has the main points covered in various articles: American dominance of Man Booker Prize longlist 'confirms worst fears' and Men and women take equal share in the Man Booker Prize longlist pretty much sum things up.
       Prominent authors whose books missed the cut (but, after all, may not have even been submitted ....) include those by Kazuo Ishiguro, Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie, and Pat Barker.
       Unsurprisingly, none of the longlisted titles are under review at the complete review -- sorry.

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19. for Brian Tappin ~ joy and sparrows, seagulls and sky and hope and… ~ part one

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to fleetingly meet a someone who changes us, bursts heart open, adds three feet to your height and shows you where your forgotten wings are buried. And it’s mutual. The following (and the rest of the song which I need to illustrate) are for you Brian Tappin ~ roaring lion, gentle angel, boy I miss you right now, dude! xx

for brian - july 29 2015


Filed under: Brian Tappin, flying, journeys, love, sea, songs

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20. J.K. Rowling on TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”

An episode of the genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are?, featuring J.K. Rowling will make its American television debut this Sunday, August 2 at 9 PM EST on TLC.  While TLC is touting this as a premier, it is actually a reworking (if not a complete rerun) of an episode that debuted on BBC One on August 17, 2011.

According to the New York Times, the TLC episode will investigate Rowling’s family history in France, on her mother’s side.

She learns, among other things, that a family story about a grandfather who won a high honor in France wasn’t quite right.

This sounds strikingly similar to an account of the episode from BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are? from The Daily Mail in August 2011.

Her great-grandfather then led the small team tasked with protecting the rest of the unit in retreat. Miss Rowling said she was ‘proud’ of Valont, ‘a waiter’ who had little more than two weeks training but became a ‘war hero’.

The Telegraph also wrote an extensive review of the BBC One episode that mentions the mistaken family legend.

Rowling did, however, consent to appear on BBC One’s genealogical series Who Do You Think You Are? In it she learnt that her French great-grandfather had not, contrary to family legend, been awarded the Legion d’honneur, but had none the less been decorated for his bravery in the First World War…

Anyone who saw an online video of the original episode (J.K. Rowling had a link on her website) can probably miss the one on TLC on Sunday; but then again, it may be worth another look.  Rowling saw the BBC One episode as momentous, and a follow-up article in Who Do You Think You Are? magazine mentions a part of Rowling’s story that was left on the cutting-room floor.

When I asked Jo if there’s anything she wishes the programme had followed up, she says: “Yes, I would love to know who my great grandfather’s father was.  He was illegitimate, but his mother fell pregnant while working as a maid next door to the notoriously promiscuous French writer Guy de Maupassant.  A girl can dream…”

Perhaps something new has been added in four years.  The cut scene was made available to magazine subscribers; maybe TLC viewers will get to see it too.

Find out more about the TLC program here and learn about the BBC One program here.

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21. Oculus Debuts ‘Henry,’ An Immersive Virtual Reality Short

Interactive, immersive animation experiences are now a reality.

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22. AW15 - paperchase : notebooks

And we end the round-up of what we can expect from Paperchase next season with some of their new notebook designs. I snapped these at their Autumn Winter 2015 press show a couple of weeks ago so apologies for some of the low light. Good things to look out for included colourful mice and sausage dogs, cute woodland characters, and a dark mystic rose.

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23. elements of choice for how to start the writing

Begin -- and find the personality
Last week one of our leading authors of fiction died--E. L. Doctorow.  He was noted for creating fiction in a historical setting and mingling real persons of the period along with his fictional characters.  For example, in his novel, Ragtime, he has a fictional episode with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, sharing a ride at Coney Island.  NPR aired an earlier radio interview with Doctorow in which he said he preferred to think of such writing as 'national' fiction, instead of historical fiction.  Perhaps because he veers more widely from the known historical script for the characters and period, though he captures the true characters and place settings of the era all the same.

In the radio interview, Doctorow discussed his writing of Billy Bathgate.  He had spent a lot of time thinking out the character of Billy and the elements of plot and motif, but was having a difficult time getting started with the actual writing.  It wasn't until he wrote out the first line of Billy himself telling us who he was, that Doctorow knew where he was heading and what Billy was to be about.  From there on it was a process of learning from his characters what had to follow, and how best to get there.  The method strongly suggests a process of listening to some inner muse, or the author's subconscious, to commune with the characters in writing the most authentic, compelling fiction.

This process is at the other end of a writing spectrum for starting a work of fiction, wherein it has been suggested to first develop a written outline of the novel before beginning to write, and maybe even a preliminary storyboard (a graphic, sequential display of the principal plot elements, as was discussed in an earlier post.)

The hazard of starting a new work without a well developed outline can lead beginning writers to "spaghetti-ing,"  a term coined by Jon Franklin, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, in his book, Writing for Story.  Franklin's book is honed toward creative non-fiction writers, but he stresses his advice is meant as well for fiction writers, too.  His point being that as any story moves along, more and more complications can arise; precedents that have been established seem to be falling by the wayside; motivations seem to be clashing; and so, the flow "is taking on the consistency of horse-hoof glue."  Seems like an apt description for a manuscript in trouble, nonetheless, one can allow that a writer as gifted as Doctorow may avoid such calamities, even without an outline, by being truly in communion with the characters, and practiced enough to consult his muse at key points about where the ongoing plot may be leading.  I've usually been a follower of Franklin's advice, but I think I might have written enough over the years to dare taking Doctorow's approach, even if just occasionally.  It certainly seems a bit more exciting and perhaps more creative--in skilled hands.

So, we have Doctorow's concrete example of how he began a specific, highly acclaimed novel (which led to a movie of the same name, featuring Dustin Hoffman); Doctorow had his character tell us who he was and what he was about.  This also presented an early opportunity to establish a unique voice for Billy, an eventual 'must' for any character in a compelling piece of literature.

  Another often used competing motif is to start with a description of time and place setting for the story.  The thought being these are principal screening criteria for many readers trying to decide whether to go any further before choosing a book.  Recalling another frequent advisory, there are arguably only three to five pages to capture a reader, agent, or editor.  Although place can indeed be an important element in a story, almost as compelling in stature so as to be a 'character' in itself, this choice might also easily devolve into some static, overly wrought descriptive language for opening a story.

 A closing thought on choosing a beginning motif is to consider the use of in medias res (into the middle of a narrative, into the midst of things.)  It might also provide a good opportunity for incorporating voice and place setting together, and right up front.  Select some dramatic scene that was visualized for later in the story and bring it forward, perhaps a scene that shows the principal character in action and speaking in his own, unique voice.  Keep in mind, three-to-five pages, at most, before your reader might, perchance, add the book to his cart and proceed to checkout. 

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24. AW15 PREVIW - paperchase : vision

My final day for previewing Paperchase's Autumn Winter collections has arrived and we finish with a more grown up collection called 'Vision'. This sophisticated range featuring lots of gold has a Peacock with floral and birdcage motifs as it's main print and includes a peacock feather repeat for gift bags and boxes. Designed for more grown up gifting it features on more feminine products such

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25. Oculus TD Max Planck: “We Want to Inspire the Virtual Reality ‘Citizen Kane’”

Challenges and lessons learned from interactive animation storytelling.

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