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1. Life, Only Better review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anna Gavalda's Life, Only Better, just out in English from Europa Editions.

       I'm always curious about bestselling fiction abroad, and Gavalda is one of the few really popular-in-France domestic authors that is also regularly translated (others like Guillaume Musso or Marc Levy have a much harder time getting translated). This is the fourth of her books under review at the complete review, and that isn't even all of them (I drew the line at Billie).
       I do grudgingly have to admit that she's onto something -- indeed, I think these would be good books to dissect in creative-writing classes. I just wish she'd be a bit more (or is it less ?) ambitious with her subject-matter. (It's also why that other very popular French author, Amélie Nothomb, is so much better: Nothomb's aim isn't first and foremost heartstrings-tugging and crowd-pleasing (as Gavalda's so obviously is); Gavalda is a manipulative writer, playing to the crowd, while Nothomb is largely (and wonderfully hopelessly) only caught up/entangled in herself.)

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2. Holiday Characters Who Would Win

writing_prompt_holidayHoliday Characters Who Would Win

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! The holidays are upon us! In case you didn’t notice, I’ve got a really, really bad case of Holiday Cheer. Gingerbread cookies for everyone! Non-stop holiday sing-a-longs! Ugly sweaters galore! Hot chocolate! Hot chocolate! HOT CHOCOLATE!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the HOLIDAY CHARACTERS! I am so very thrilled to curl up on my sofa with some fuzzy socks (and hot chocolate) and watch my favorite movies: The Grinch, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf . . . It’s not the holidays without movie magic!

Some holiday characters have magical powers, while others just have magical hearts. I’d like to think that the holidays makes everyone a little more magical, am I right? So, if these characters had to duke it out (in the name of saving the holidays, obviously), who would win??

  1. The Grinch vs. Ebenezer Scrooge from The Night Before Christmas
  2. Buddy the Elf vs. Tiny Tim from The Night Before Christmas
  3. The Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker vs. The Little Drummer Boy
  4. Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  5. The Abominable Snowman vs. The Ghost of Christmas Past
  6. Jack Frost vs. Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. The Nutcracker Prince vs. Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch
  8. Max from The Grinch vs. Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

Who do YOU think would win? Which holiday characters do you want to see included on the list? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!

Happy happy holidays,

En-Szu, STACKS Writer

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3. Friday Linky List - 27 November 2015

From NewStatesman via Fantasy Glasgow: English magic: How folklore haunts the British landscape

From BuzzFeed Books via SCBWI British Isles: If White Characters Were Described Like People of Color in Literature - Surely there must be more appetizing pale foods than mayonnaise, cauliflower, and tapioca?

At Gotham Writers via SCBWI Belgium: Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules for Good Writing. Short, sweet, yup.

From HuffPost via SCBWI Belgium: How To Think Like a Writer

The Trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass

From OMG Facts: 5 Things You Didn't Know Grimm's Fairytales And Will Now Think About All Differently - interesting.

From the BBC: Orpheus Underground...Novelist Neil Gaiman explores the intricacies of the Orpheus myth, the timeless story of art's place in trying to recover the dead.

From Arts.Mic via Stumble: 14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time It Takes to Eat Lunch

At the poke. Elizabethan Superheroes. They've made the rounds before, but they're worth another look for my costume design friends at the University of Edinburgh.

At The Picture Book Den: Looking at the illustration of eyes in children's picture books - Peony Lewis

At BoredPanda: Fairytales Come to Life in Magical Photos by Russian Photographer Margarita Kareva

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4. Friday Feature: Mayan Blood Blurb Reveal

Today I'm happy to share the blurb for Mayan Blood by my fellow Limitless author Theresa McClinton.

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on...
Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.
With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend.
Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.
When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.
A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face...
When Arwan, a dark-eyed time bender, takes interest in Zanya's mission, it's unclear if his intention is to help, or if he's on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.
Theresa McClinton with Leanne Renee Hieber

"Theresa's books resemble her person: full of rich life and heart, interest and engagement, imagination and importance, shining beautiful light across all genres in which she'll be sure to delight the reader." - Leanna Renee Hieber, award-winning, bestselling Fantasy author

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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5. Lire books of the year

       French magazine Lire annually selects a top book in twenty different categories -- with one crowned as overall "meilleur livre de l'année". They announced this year's list -- and 2084, by Boualem Sansal, is the not-so-surprising book of the year.
       Other category winners include a two-volume Virginie Despentes as French novel of the year, a Jón Kalman Stefánsson as best foreign fiction (beating out titles by Javier Cercas and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), and Ryan Gattis' All Involved as best roman noir.
       They also list the finalists in all the catgories, and among the oddities surfacing there: an Elmore Leonard-biography, apparently translated from (though apparently not yet published in) English, by Laurent Chalumeau -- see the Rivages publicity page -- the author of such works as Anne Frank 2, le retour !, and Fuck (see the Grasset publicity page). I wonder whether this will make it (back ?) into English.

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6. Thankful - a Poetry Re-Issue

Seems like the right day to dust this off for the first time in seven years....

Greg Pincus

You ask me what I'm thankful for....
I hope I don't sound jerky,
But I'm really, truly thankful that I wasn't born a turkey!

I'm also thankful for all of you who are part of my life (virtual, in person, wherever/however it might be.). I wish you and yours a day of peace, joy, and dessert!

If you want to get all my new poems (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

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7. Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti

Where Did My Clothes Come From? by Chris Butterworth with illustrations by Lucia Gaggiotti is the fantastic companion to equally fantastic How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?, published in 2011. What I love about both books is the intended audience, which I would say is roughly 3 - 6 years old. The text in Butterworth's books is short and playful, drawing readers in. Gagiotti's illustrations are superb. She captures the absolute cuteness and fun of little kid clothes (and little kids) while also doing a fine job of illustrating industrial machinery and factory work.

Where Did My Clothes Come From? is definitely a global book with Butterworth focusing on textiles that have interesting creation processes, from blue jeans and sweaters to silk, soccer uniforms, boots and fleece. Besides cotton, rubber and wool, Butterworth also notes other plants that clothes are made from, like linen and hemp, and other animals that wool is collected from, like yaks, camels, bison, rabbits and goats.

Where Did My Clothes Come From? gently touches on what has become a national issue, clothing waste. Butterworth makes some friendly suggestions for reusing clothes that you have "grown out of or just don't love anymore" without specifically stating that the influx of cheap and cheaply made clothing encourages Americans to buy more and toss more clothes every year. Apparently not everyone sends cloths to Amvets or Goodwill, nor, according to the infographic below, does everyone know that out of the 13 million tons of textiles trashed every year, only 2 million of that is recovered for reuse or recycling.

This is heady information for the intended audience, but a message that the adults reading the book could probably stand to hear. For readers and listeners who are fascinated by Where Did My Clothes Come From?, check out this book:

For slightly older readers, don't miss:

Source: Review Copy

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8. Harold at the North Pole

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. XMAS GIFTS - hema

Our Friday eye candy this week come from the Dutch chain store Hema whose HQ is in Amsterdam. The company are now in the UK, with a British online shop and retail stores in London, Bromley, Birmingham and Stanstead. I had a browse around the website and it is a place to find something a bit different to the high street. Here are some picks that stood out for their surface prints... Read the rest of this post

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10. Desk-Drawer Portrait: Latest Idea for my Residency

When it comes to my residency at the Morgan Centre, I have licence to pretty much draw whatever I want. I have a security pass to all the university buildings and have already drawn in lectures, tutorials, meetings, leaving dos, student areas... I am keen though to get a breadth of approach and want the sketchbooks to contain as much visual variety as possible. So, we hatched the idea of the desk-drawer portrait.

Professor Sue Heath is the person who got the ball rolling with the Leverhulme Trust grant and is very supportive of my work, so she volunteered to be my first desk-drawer victim. She promised not to interfere with what was in there: she took the whole top drawer out of her desk and handed it to me. It was a jumble of all sorts.

I sat quietly and sorted the contents into little piles, then methodically drew everything. It turned out to be much more amusing than I expected, because 90% of the contents were either completely unused, had not been looked at in eons, or were so well past their sell-by date, they belonged in the bin (totally dry Tippex with a brush-end like an exploding firework, glue-stick dried to a skinny, petrified finger...)

It took up half of one of my concertina books. I put down a painted background first, to tie it all together, so it wouldn't look 'bitty'. I also used text to add my own personal commentary. I left absolutely nothing out. I counted all the perished rubber bands and even drew the bent staples I fished out of the back corners: 

It took me 3 sessions to sketch it all, but I eventually got it done. It was rather revealing that, in the entire week I had her drawer contents held captive, Sue missed only I item: her stapler. But like many other objects in her drawer, it came with a sibling, so she took one and left me the other to sketch:

I had great fun and thoroughly enjoyed adding my ironic labels alongside each item. Luckily Sue has a good sense of humour, so I wasn't run out of town!

Okay, own up, who is already peering sheepishly into their own desk drawer and wondering..?

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11. Happy Holidays!

Now that we've all had about as much food as our stomachs can hold,... it's time to shop till you drop.
First there is Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday and finally Cyber Monday.
I like to encourage people to give the gift of art on each day and most days this season.
All the best to you.

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12. A Very Special Christmas Tree, by Debra Buchanan | Dedicated Review

A Very Special Christmas Tree is a picture book that helps spread the “true meaning” of Christmas.

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13. Avoid Black Friday Mayhem & Create Happy Writers

Well, the terrifying shopping season is upon us. I find people either embrace Black Friday with incredible enthusiasm, or they want to get as far from it as they can. I am not a big shopper on my best day, so you can probably guess I’ll be hanging out at home, and any shopping I do will be from my keyboard.

If you’re like me, then I have some good news for you: maybe we can knock a few people off your Christmas list if they happen to be the writerly sort!

pinterestFirst of all, I have created a Pinterest Board FULL of gifts for writers. Oh, the cool things I have found. (I hope Santa is listening!)

Second, Becca and I have put together a page full of the top writing books that have helped our careers immensely. These are our personal recommendations, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Or, if you want a few more ideas for a specific area of craft, then check Amazon’s Best Sellers & Most Wished For lists.

gift certificateFinally, if you have been thinking about taking One Stop For Writers for a spin or know someone else who wants to, we now have Gift Certificates available, so if you like, swing by and check it out. They never expire.

Speaking of One Stop, a newsletter just went out that details our planned upgrades. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

So, what are your BLACK FRIDAY plans…fight the crowds, shop at home, or get some writing done? Let me know in the comments!

The post Avoid Black Friday Mayhem & Create Happy Writers appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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14. सलीका

सलीका खूबसूरती के साथ साथ सलीका  होना भी बहुत जरुरी है . असल में ,कल समारोह में एक महिला को देखा जोकि बेहद खूबसूरत लग रही थी. सलीके से बांधी हुई साडी, आभूषण और हलका सा मेकअप सभी कुछ बहुत फब रहा था. मेरे मन में हुआ कि जाकर उस महिला से हैलो बोल कर […]

The post सलीका appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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15. XMAS GIFTS - white stuff

More pretty gift packaging patterns, which I keep seeing particularly on soaps, this time from White Stuff. This fashion label have created a group of home and gift items to compliment their clothing, bags, and accessories.

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16. Scholastic Kids Council: Julie

Hi!Welcome Julie to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

JulieI’d like to introduce you to Julie who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Julie this year!

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17. Is neuroculture a new cultural revolution?

Are we at the birth of a new culture in the western world? Are we on the verge of a new way of thinking? Both humanistic and scientific thinkers suggest as much.

The post Is neuroculture a new cultural revolution? appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Facebook Author Page

Is it worthwhile to have a Facebook author page as part of your social media campaign?


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19. La nave di Teseo

       The big news in Italian publishing this year has been the sale of RCS Libri to Mondadori (see, for ecample, the Mondadori press release), with venerable literary imprints including Bompiani and Rizzoli suddenly swallowed into a 'Mondazzoli' juggernaut (apparently controlling half of the local book market, and seventy percent of the paperback market) -- run by a Berlusconi, no less.
       It doesn't come as much of a surprise that many literary types are apparently jumping ship -- led by Bompiani editor in chief Elisabetta Sgarbi, who has now announced the founding of a new publishing house, to be called 'La nave di Teseo'; see, for example, the (Italian) report at Il libraio.
       I'm not so sure about that name -- suggested by no one less than Umberto Eco, who is fully on board with the new venture -- given that it's the (Rizzoli-published) Italian title of a ... J.J.Abrams book (see the publicity page)
       No real English-language coverage that I've seen so far, but there should be some shortly -- this is a big (and nicely messy) story.

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20. Schoalstic Kids Council: Leah

Hi!Welcome Leah to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

My name is Leah and I am a 7th grader in New Jersey.Leah I put my collage on a boogie board to represent how I love to go boogie boarding at the beach with my cousins. I have a basketball, a soccer ball, rollerblades, and a hockey stick on my collage because these are three of the sports I really love. I also have Stephen Curry, my favorite basketball player.

Beyond sports, I love to draw, hang out with my friends, and play with my stuffed animals. I have a Minion because when I went to Universal Studios in Florida over the summer, I got to ride the Minion ride, which was my favorite. I have pictures of Sponge Bob and Stitch because they are two of my favorite characters. Lastly, I have Snowball, my hamster, because I love to play with her, and I also love animals.

Leah, Scholastic Kids Council

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21. Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed?

As representatives from 146 countries gather in Paris for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, we’ve turned to our Very Short Introduction series for insight into the process, politics and topics of discussion of the conference. Is the UNFCCC process flawed?

The post Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed? appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. My Fantasy Homes in Tolkien

In yesterday's newspaper, in the real estate section of all things, I found an article about a company offering a pre-fab Hobbit hole. Basically, you put together the home and then add your own grass and such to get that Hobbit hole feel to it. While someone has certainly come up with a great way to make money out of the current craze for all things Tolkien, I couldn't resist fantasising about it. There's no doubt in my mind that Peter Jackson's interpretation of Bag End was the best interior in the movies - and I think I've wanted to live in Bag End since I first read The Hobbit. Well, if you could put it somewhere near the sea, anyway, though that would probably jar a bit; Hobbits are not great fans of the sea and they're really meant to be seen against the background of English countryside.

But then again, the pre-fabricated Hobbit hole would jar in the suburbs of Melbourne and would look downright silly in the Dandenongs, surrounded by gum trees, and that won't stop fans from building them. And I can imagine that seaside Hobbit residence as being a bit like the cottage in The Ghost And Mrs Muir, minus the grumpy ghost, of course, with sand outside, a cosy garden and a view of the waves...

Rivendell is my next favourite Tolkien location. I could live there as long as I was allowed to run the library, and it would be a great place to write that book without distractions(well, Bilbo certainly thought so). I assume everyone would have kitchen duty and housework to attend to(see my post on this blog, "Who Washes The Dishes In Rivendell?"), but you wouldn't have to do that all the time. The rest of the time you could write or go for long walks or read or talk to your housemates...

We never actually get to see Dol Amroth, the home of Prince Imrahil and Faramir and Boromir's Mum, Finduilas, but it's by the sea and you don't have Elves constantly turning up to sail West, so yes, I could build a house there. Maybe that beachside Hobbit hole? 

Anyone got a favourite fantasy home, in or outside of Tolkien?

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23. Joshua David Bellin on Unreliable Narrators, Recycling Characters, and Mashup Pitches

We're thrilled to welcome author Joshua David Bellin to the blog today as our monthly Ask a Pub Pro! Joshua is here to answer your questions on what exactly is an unreliable narrator and how to craft one, how to creatively recycle character types, and the pros and cons of using Book X meets Book Y in pitches. He's also giving away a signed copy of his recent release, SURVIVAL COLONY 9, with the winner also to receive a copy of the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, when it comes out next year. Be sure to check it out below!

If you have a question you'd like to have answered by an upcoming publishing professional, send it to AYAPLit AT gmail.com and put Ask a Pub Pro Question in the subject line.

Ask a Pub Pro: on Unreliable Narrators, Recycling Characters, and Mashup Pitches by Joshua David Bellin

Hi readers! I’m thrilled to be here on Adventures in YA Publishing to answer some of your questions. Enjoy, and at the end of the post, check out the cool giveaway I’m offering!

1. I keep seeing agents and editors ask for unreliable narrators. I know a bit about what this is but am not real clear. Can you explain what an unreliable narrator is and why they are so popular?

Unreliable narrators come in all forms, but the basic idea is that they’re narrators the reader can’t fully trust. This might be because the narrator lacks important information: for example, the narrator might be suffering from memory loss. Or the narrator might be a young child whose perceptions of the world are immature. The narrator might have a mental illness that leads her/him to misrepresent reality. And so on.

Read more »

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24. Poetry Friday - November and the Gift of Poetry

On this day after Thanksgiving I am looking at the calendar, amazed that the month is nearly over. This means that this is the very last Friday I can share a little gem by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes,
And November goes
With the last red berries
And the first white snows,

With night coming early
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

While some may be out shopping for gifts today, I'm thinking about poetry presents. If you would like to gift yourself some poetry, why not consider an e-mail subscription? Here are a few of my favorites.

Poetry Foundation Newsletters
You can sign up for a number of different newsletters on the Poetry Foundation site, including a poem of the day. If you like to listen to your poetry, you can also subscribe to the poem of the day podcast at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audio?show=Poem%20of%20the%20Day.

American Life in Poetry
American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry. You can register to receive a weekly email of the American Life in Poetry Column.

Poems From Jane Yolen
Did you know that you can get a new poem a day from Jane Yolen? All you need to do is: (1) subscribe; and (2) pledge to either buy a book of Jane's or borrow one from the library.

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends.

Poetry Daily Newsletter
Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry. Each day on the web site they share a poem from new books, magazines, and journals. If you sign up for the free weekly newsletter you will receive a poem selected from the archive and information on upcoming featured poets, special editorial events, poetry news and reviews, and more.

Getting a poem in your mailbox is truly a tiny little gift each day. I hope you'll consider one of these (or all of them!) as a way to bring a bit more poetry into your life.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Carol at Carol’s Corner. Happy poetry Friday friends!

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25. Thankful For Teachers and More

I have the honor of wrapping up the TA Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving.  To read the eloquent posts of my fellow TAs, follow these links: 

Like all of you, I’m thankful for many things like family, friends, church, health, a place to live and thousands of other things that I sometimes take for granted.  But since this is a TeachingAuthors blog, I’ll confine my thankful thoughts –online anyway – to blessings in that part of my life. 

I’m thankful for great teachers.  I recently spoke at the Arkansas Reading Association where I did a session titled “Writing Nonfiction Using Fiction Techniques” which was attended by some amazing teachers.   Teachers today are given the task of teaching students how to write.  It is a tall order and not an easy thing to pull off even for a professional author of books.   I’m thankful for teachers who do their best even though their classes are filled with a wide range of students that include both gifted and talented and struggling readers.

I’m thankful that people, organizations and museums through the years have preserved our history by preserving documents and artifacts.  As a nonfiction author who does lots of primary source research, I can do research like I do because those before me had the forethought of preservation.   

I’m thankful to enter this holiday season with an exciting new project spinning through my mind.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the real treat of having my newest project go to auction.  It is a dream of authors for more than one editor would want to publish their next book.  I know the new publishing house and editor is just as excited about the project as I am. 

What are you thankful for?  

Carla Killough McClafferty 

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