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1. Book Sales

There could be many reasons why your book isn't selling as well as you expected it to.

https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/why-your-book-isnt-selling/

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2. Review of the Day: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet

cloud-and-wallfishCloud and Wallfish
By Anne Nesbet
Candlewick Press
$16.99
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8803-5
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

Historical fiction is boring. Right? That’s the common wisdom on the matter, certainly. Take two characters (interesting), give them a problem (interesting), and set them in the past (BOOOOOORING!). And to be fair, there are a LOT of dull-as-dishwater works of historical fiction out there. Books where a kid has to wade through knee-deep descriptions, dates, facts, and superfluous details. But there is pushback against this kind of thinking. Laurie Halse Anderson, for example, likes to call her books (Chains, Forge, Ashes, etc.) “historical thrillers”. People are setting their books in unique historical time periods. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) we’re seeing a lot more works of historical fiction that are truly fun to read. Books like The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, or My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp, or ALL of Louise Erdrich’s titles for kids. Better add Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet to that list as well. Doing what I can only characterize as the impossible, Nesbet somehow manages to bring East Germany in 1989 to full-blown, fascinating life. Maybe you wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s certainly worth a trip.

His name is Noah. Was Noah. It’s like this, one minute you’re just living your life, normal as you please, and the next your parents have informed you that your name is a lie, your birth date is wrong, and you’re moving to East Berlin. The year is 1989 and as Noah (now Jonah)’s father would say, there’s a definite smell of history in the air. His mother has moved the family to this new city as part of her research into education and stuttering (an impediment that Noah shares) for six months. But finding himself unable to attend school in a world so unlike the one he just left, the boy is lonely. That’s why he’s so grateful when the girl below his apartment, Claudia, befriends him. But there are secrets surrounding these new friends. How did Claudia’s parents recently die? Why are Noah’s parents being so mysterious? And what is going on in Germany? With an Iron Curtain shuddering on its foundations, Noah’s not just going to smell that history in the air. He’s going to live it, and he’s going to get a friend out of the bargain as well.

It was a bit of a risk on Nesbet’s part to begin the book by introducing us to Noah’s parents right off the bat as weirdly suspicious people. It may take Noah half a book to create a mental file on his mom, but those of us not related to the woman are starting our own much sooner. Say, from the minute we meet her. It was very interesting to watch his parents upend their son’s world and then win back his trust by dint of their location as well as their charm and evident love. It almost reads like a dare from one author to another. “I bet you can’t make a reader deeply distrust a character’s parents right from the start, then make you trust them again, then leave them sort of lost in a moral sea of gray, but still likable!” Challenge accepted!

Spoiler Alert on This Paragraph (feel free to skip it if you like surprises): Noah’s mom is probably the most interesting parent you’ll encounter in a children’s book in a long time. By the time the book is over you know several things. 1. She definitely loves Noah. 2. She’s also using his disability to further her undercover activities, just as he fears. 3. She incredibly frightening. The kind of person you wouldn’t want to cross. She and her husband are utterly charming but you get the distinct feeling that Noah’s preternatural ability to put the puzzle pieces of his life together is as much nature as it is nurture. Coming to the end of the book you see that Noah has sent Claudia postcards over the years from places all over the world. Never Virginia. One could read that a lot of different ways but I read it as his mother dragging him along with her from country to country. There may never be a “home” for Noah now. But she loves him, right? I foresee a lot of really interesting bookclub discussions about the ending of this book, to say nothing about how we should view his parents.

As I mentioned before, historical fiction that’s actually interesting can be difficult to create. And since 1989 is clear-cut historical fiction (this is the second time a character from the past shared my birth year in a children’s book . . . *shudder*) Nesbet utilizes several expository techniques to keep young readers (and, let’s face it, a lot of adult readers) updated on what precisely is going on. From page ten onward a series of “Secret Files” boxes will pop up within the text to give readers the low-down. These are written in a catchy, engaging style directly to the reader, suggesting that they are from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who knows the past, the future, and the innermost thoughts of the characters. So in addition to the story, which wraps you in lies and half-truths right from the start to get you interested, you have these little boxes of explanation, giving you information the characters often do not have. Some of these Secret Files are more interesting than others, but as with the Moby Dick portions in Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner, readers can choose to skip them if they so desire. They should be wary, though. A lot of pertinent information is sequestered in these little boxes. I wouldn’t cut out one of them for all the wide wide world.

Another way Nesbet keeps everything interesting is with her attention to detail. The author that knows the minutia of their fictional world is an author who can convince readers that it exists. Nesbet does this by including lots of tiny details few Americans have ever known. The pirated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that was disseminated for years throughout the German Democratic Republic? I had no idea. The listing of television programs available there? Very funny (did I mention the book is funny too?). Even the food you could get in the grocery store and the smell of the coal-choked air feels authentic.

Of course, you can load your book down with cute boxes and details all day and still lose a reader if they don’t relate to the characters. Noah could easily be reduced to one of those blank slate narrators who go through a book without a clear cut personality. I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case here. And I appreciated the Claudia was never a straight victim or one of those characters that appears impervious to the pain in her life. Similarly, Noah is a stutterer but the book never throws the two-dimensional bully in his path. His challenges are all very strange and unique to his location. I was also impressed by how Nesbet dealt with Claudia’s German (she makes up words or comes up with some Noah has never heard of and so Nesbet has the unenviable job of making that clear on the page). By the same token, Noah has a severe stutter, but having read the whole book I’m pretty sure Nesbet only spells the stutter out on the page once. For every other time we’re told about it after the fact or as it is happening.

I’ve said all this without, somehow, mentioning how lovely Nesbet’s writing is. The degree to which she’s willing to go deep into her material, plucking out the elements that will resonate the most with her young readers, is masterful. Consider a section that explains what it feels like to play the role of yourself in your own life. “This is true even for people who aren’t crossing borders or dealing with police. Many people in middle school, for instance, are pretending to be who they actually are. A lot of bad acting is involved.” Descriptions are delicious as well. When Claudia comes over for dinner after hearing about the death of her parents Nesbet writes, “Underneath the bristles, Noah could tell, lurked a squishy heap of misery.”

There’s little room for nuance in Nesbet’s Berlin, that’s for sure. The East Berliners we meet are either frightened, in charge, or actively rebelling. In her Author’s Note, Nesbet writes about her time in the German Democratic Republic in early 1989, noting where a lot of the details of the book came from. She also mentions the wonderful friends she had there at that time. Noah, by the very plot in which he finds himself, would not be able to meet these wonderful people. As such, he has a black-and-white view of life in East Berlin. And it’s interesting to note that when his classmates talk up the wonders of their society, he never wonders if anything they tell him is true. Is everyone employed? At what price? There is good and bad and if there is nuance it is mostly found in the characters like Noah’s mother. Nesbet herself leaves readers with some very wise words in her Author’s Note when she says to child readers, “Truth and fiction are tangled together in everything human beings do and in every story they tell. Whenever a book claims to be telling the truth, it is wise (as Noah’s mother says at one point) to keep asking questions.” I would have liked a little more gray in the story, but I can hardly think of a better lesson to impart to children in our current day and age.

In many way, the book this reminded me of the most was Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. Think about it. A boy desperate for a friend meets an out-of-the-box kind of girl. They invent a fantasyland together that’s across a distinct border (in this book Claudia imagines it’s just beyond the Wall). Paterson’s book was a meditation on friendship, just like Nesbet’s. Yet there is so much more going on here. There are serious thoughts about surveillance (something kids have to think about a lot more today), fear, revolution, loyalty, and more than all this, what you have to do to keep yourself sane in a world where things are going mad. Alice Through the Looking Glass is referenced repeatedly, and not by accident. Noah has found himself in a world where the rules he grew up with have changed. As a result he must cling to what he knows to be true. Fortunately, he has a smart author to help him along the way. Anne Nesbet always calls Noah by his own name, even when her characters don’t. He is always Noah to us and to himself. That he finds himself in one of the most interesting and readable historical novels written for kids is no small thing. Nesbet outdoes herself. Kids are the beneficiaries.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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3. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.4: Corona 4 typewriter, 1924

Number 4 in this series of 10 Images from my Archives found at my dad's house is my old typewriter... and I mean old typewriter!

Corona Model 4 portable typewriter, 1924 pattern

When I was 16 I discovered the work of the Golden Age illustrators (Rackham, Dulac, Heath-Robinson, Stratton etc). In fact it was a re-discovery really as my mum had kept a couple of compendiums from her childhood that had been illustrated by these artists, but I rarely saw those. It was only in the mid-70's that I began seriously examining children's illustration, Arthur Rackham's work in particular began transporting me to realms of the imagination. Gradually my artwork at school began to take on the iconography of old fashioned ethereal fairy tales, anthropomorphised animals and so on. By the time I reached 6th Form I knew I wanted to be a children's book illustrator, so it was only natural I'd also pursue writing too.

My first attempts at writing children's books had been laughable copies of Enid Blyton adventures, written by hand when I was around 13.... none extended past the first chapter! But by 1977 I was serious, and so managed to persuade my parents to buy me a typewriter.

Of course, what I had in mind was a modern, zippy electric typewriter that I could churn out pages of manuscript. But, ever watchful for a bargain, my mum spotted an ad for something second-hand, and what I ended up with was a Corona 4 manual machine,  released onto the market in 1924. I remember the day we picked this up from a big old house on the private estate, I didn't quite know what to make of it - this wasn't hi-tech! though I fell in love with it's look.



I'd never touched a typewriter before in my life, so the fact the ribbon feed was rusty, you had to bang down the keys so hard it made your fingers ache, or that the 'e' was slightly misaligned didn't bother me, I had no other experience to compare to so just got on with it - it was the only way for me. I felt I was following the route of the great writers, rather than obsolete, it was 'classic'.

While other 18-year olds were discovering pubs, I spent most of my free time typing out my first manuscript In Search of Summer Gold - my one and only attempt at a novel - a long, pretty unpublishable tale of anthropomorphised mice and fairies in the 18th century, a mix of The Wind in the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings, with a good dollop of Brothers Grimm and Peter Pan thrown in for good measure. And of course I illustrated it with highly derivative pen drawings. From a professional level it was not very good and was turned down by two publishers before I eventually shelved it .... but at least it taught me to type!


Later on I used the Corona to type up my degree thesis, and in the early '80's the first issues of the Norwich post-punk fanzine/magazine The Blue Blanket ... banging those keys down with a satisfying smack! smack! smack! as they hit the ribbon, it was the perfect instrument on which to take out frustrations with the world. But thereafter it was retired, and I've never attempted to write a novel again.

It took a battering in the years I used it, 35 years in my dad's loft has not been good to my old stalwart either, but I was very glad to rediscover it there.


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4. Book Review - Portrait of the Mermaid

Another amazing and heartfelt review of my mermaid coloring book. I am SO joy filled hearing how much these lovelies are touching people all around the world. 🐳

❤️ ADORE the blue mermaid!!!!


Color by Iris Eenmäe (@iriseenmae) http://thecoloringaddict.com
Get your own copy of Portrait of the Mermaid HERE

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5. प्रकृति से प्रेम करो

प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल हुए पेड राजधानी के प्रसिद्ध, वर्षों पुराने और ऐतिहासिक 18 पेड़ों को प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल किया है इससे जहां प्रकृति की रक्षा होगी वही प्रकृति से प्रेम करो का सबक भी मिलेगा  .पर्यावरण का ख्याल रखते हुए ये फैसला लिया गया है.. पर्यावरण की सुरक्षा की शानदार […]

The post प्रकृति से प्रेम करो appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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6. The earnest faith of a storyteller

Ang Lee, the two-time Academy Award-winning director, has noted that we should never underestimate the power of storytelling. Indeed, as a storyteller, Lee has shown through his films the potential of stories to connect people, to heal wounds, to drive change, and to reveal more about ourselves and the world. In particular, Lee has harnessed new technology for storytelling in movies such as Life of Pi (2012) and his upcoming feature film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (to be released on 11 November, 2016).

The post The earnest faith of a storyteller appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Experimenting with Photoshop Brushes


Doing some experimenting with Photoshop brushes
for this month's theme of "Pig". 

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8. Just Started Reading... Blackthorn And Grim #2!



With Juliet Marillier's visit coming so soon(start cleaning and dusting the blog residence!) I'm trying to catch up with this wonderful trilogy! I finished Dreamer's Pool last night and have just begun Tower Of Thorns. It's a little shorter, but still plenty to read.



Juliet Marillier makes good use of fairy tales in her fiction. People enjoy figuring out which ones as they read. There were elements of The Goose Girl in Dreamer's Pool, but I haven't read enough of the current book to figure out which, if any, tale is involved here. We'll see. It does have a beginning that reminds me of the Arthurian tales which begin with a damsel arriving at court to ask for help, only instead of a king, there's his son, as the king has gone off South for a meeting at the High King's court, and instead of a brave knight the damsel wants a grumpy wise woman's assistance... The grumpy wise woman being Blackthorn, who is trying to avoid being asked for help because, under the terms  of her agreement with fey nobleman Conmael, she has to give it or risk finding herself back in the dreadful lockup from which he rescued her a year ago.

The covers are beautiful, with dreamy, Pre-Raphaelite style maidens on them. I'm not sure what the connections are to the stories, but authors would kill for such gorgeous covers! People pick those up.



Time to get up, eat and start organising my tax documents... Groan...

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9. This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest

New York City has a new mini-animation festival, and it's taking place this week.

The post This Week in Manhattan: Animation Nights New York Best of Fest appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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10. MAISONS DU MONDE - exotic & ethnic

P&P today is all about the Exotic - mainly meaning designs inspired by a country that seems distant and different from your own. French company Maisons du Monde created a variety of looks inspired by countries such Mexico, Brazil, and Spain. We begin with a selection using ethnic motifs and colourful embroidery, with poms poms and South American brights. This is followed by Palm Springs and Rio

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11. Dan Woodger

Dan Woodger

Dan Woodger is a London based illustrator who uses pastel color palettes and black outlines to create eccentric scenes that are bound to make you chuckle. His portfolio of highly expressive characters has helped him land editorial and advertising collaborations with The New York Times, Heineken, and Google. I am especially impressed with his work for the messaging app LINE, in which he crafted 1000 unique emojis in 10 weeks. To keep up with his work and read his personal insights on each of his projects, make sure to follow his blog and Instagram.

Dan Woodger

Dan WoodgerDan Woodger

Dan WoodgerDan Woodger

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12. हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन

हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन आज है. गूगल सर्च इंजन एक शानदार जरिया है जानकारी पाने का . Happy Birth day Google.26 सितम्बर को गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन मना रहा है. Happy Birthday  पर गूगल ने अपना स्‍पेशल डूडल जारी किया है. क्या है गूगल का इतिहास  हैप्पी बर्थ […]

The post हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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13. Celebrating 25 Books from 25 Years: Chess Rumble

LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating Chess Rumble, which explores the ways this strategic game empowers young people with the skills they need to anticipate and calculate their moves through life.

Featured title: Chess Rumble

 Author: G. Neri

 Illustrator: Jesse Joshua WatsonChess Rumble cover image

Synopsis: In Marcus’s world, battles are fought everyday—on the street, at home, and in school. Angered by his sister’s death and his father’s absence, and pushed to the brink by a bullying classmate, Marcus fights back with his fists.

One punch away from being kicked out of school and his home, Marcus encounters CM, an unlikely chess master who challenges him to fight his battles on the chess board. Guarded and distrusting, Marcus must endure more hard lessons before he can accept CM’s help to regain control of his life.

Awards and Honors:

  • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, American Library Association (ALA)
  • Notable Books in the Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, International Reading Association (IRA)
  • Top Picks for Reluctant Readers, BoysRead.org

G. Neri, an award-winning filmmaker whose work has earned him several honors. Inspired by his editor, Jennifer Fox, who had wanted to do an urban chess story for years and finally saw the possibility of making it come to life through him, Neri dove into the project with unbridled enthusiasm. “I loved the idea of using chess strategy as a way to approach life. I had dealt with a few teens who had come from troubled pasts and had difficulty finding an outlet for their inner struggle. So the idea of pairing a kid like this with a chess mentor who did not back down came naturally. It was a very organic process, and I let the characters tell me their stories.”

Neri hopes that readers will come away from Chess Rumble “think[ing] about their lives and the choices they make before they make them.” Pressed to continue, Neri says, “I hope they are intrigued to play chess, and maybe start thinking about acting on, instead of reacting to, negative situations. Acting considers what can happen if you make one choice versus another. Reacting just responds impulsively to the problem instead of thinking ahead three steps and maybe making a better choice.

Resources for teaching with Chess Rumble: 

Watch the trailer:

You can purchase a copy of Chess Rumble here.

For more titles about different experiences with bullying and peer pressure, check out our Bullying/Anti-Bullying Collection here.

Bullying Collection Cover Images

Have you used Chess Rumble? Let us know!

Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection.

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14. The Inquisitor's Tale, or Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly, 384 pp, RL 4


In 2010, A Tale Dark and Grimm the debut novel by Adam Gidwitz, captured my attention and that of many other readers, young and old. Gidwitz is a master story teller and his reworking of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, many of them less than well known, is marvelous. I was thrilled when my son shared my enthusiasm for this book and even more excited when I discovered that reading it out loud was a great way to entice my students, many of whom are reluctant and/or struggling readers, to persevere with a longer book. True to his story telling nature, Gidwitz is back with The Inquisitor's Tale, a manuscript illuminated by Hatem Aly and like no other children's book I have read before.

Set in 1242 and echoing the structure of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, The Inquisitor's Tale finds an (initially) unnamed narrator at the Holy Cross-Roads Inn, a day's walk north of Paris. It is the perfect night for a story as a group gathers around the rough wooden table, sticky with ale. The king will be marching past the inn on his way to war with three children and their dog. A brewster, a librarian, a nun, a butcher, a jongleur, a chronicler, a troubadour and the innkeeper take turns telling stories of these three children and their dog, each one adding to the tapestry of their story. Subtly but surely, Gidwizt presents characters who are discriminated against or (much) worse, for gender, religion, and class.

Jeanne is a peasant girl who is seized with visions of the future. As an infant, her parents killed her babysitter/protector, Gwenforte, a white greyhound with a copper blaze on her snout, thinking that the dog had attacked Jeanne. Far from the truth, the loyal Gwenforte had saved the baby from an adder that made its way into the house. Realizing their mistake, they gave the dog a proper burial in a grove that quickly became a holy place and the dog thought of as a saint. Years later, after seeing a beloved neighbor, thought to be a heretic, hauled off by a huge, fat, red headed monk from Bologna, Jeanne knows she must keep her fits and the visions that follow a secret. She must also keep Gwenforte, who has come back to life, a secret.

The second child is William, an oblate. The son of a great lord fighting in Spain against the Muslim kings and a Saracen from Northern Africa, he was left at a monastery as a baby. More than his dark color, the size of William is a constant source of amazement and occasional frustration - or worse - to the monks. William's great size, strength and appetite, both for food and knowledge, make him a threat to some of the monks and he is sent away with a donkey, saddlebags full of books to be delivered to another monastery by way of a forest inhabited by fiends. 

Finally, there is Jacob, a Jew who survives the burning of his village by Christian boys and has the ability to miraculously heal the sick and injured. Jacob only wants to be reunited with his parents, but his ability to read and his love of his religion shape his path. As The Inquisitor's Tale unfolds, it becomes clear that, not only is this a story about stories and storytelling, it is a story about books. There are many strange twists and turns in The Inquisitor's Tale, including a hilarious incident with a dragon who, by way of a lactose intolerance issue, comes to pass gas that sets knights on fire. This leads to a fantastic scene with a cure from Jacob that involves vomiting up a tremendous amount of French cheese, Époisses, which Jeanne describes as tasting like life, "Rotten and strange and rich and way, way too strong." As the tales are told, we come to learn that King Louis is planning a book burning that the children will inevitably be part of. In fact, he has had his monks gather up all the texts written in Hebrew and  created an enormous bonfire in the heart of Paris. Being an oblate, William has a deep reverence for books, knowing the time and effort that goes into copying out a text. Being Jewish and able to read, Jacob also has a great reverence for books and the word of the Talmud. It is this reverence for books that leads the three children and Gwenforte to an amazing standoff with the king and his terrible mother at Mont Saint-Michel, the incredible island commune in Normandy.

While The Inquisitor's Tale has a deep vein of Christian thought and history running through it, Gidwitz makes his story richer and more engaging by also highlighting those who suffered in the face of Christianity. He begins the book, which he researched for six years and includes an extensive and interesting author's note as well as an annotated bibliography, with a quote from poet W. H. Auden that calls for loving "your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart." It is this thought, one that Jacob reads in the Talmud and Jeanne notes that Jesus said, but in reverse, that drives the story and the children. As their adventures escalate and they meet many broken, crooked, questionable adults (they are the only children in the story) and they forgive and love their neighbors over and over. When they find themselves discussing Cain, Abel and the use of the word "bloods" (and not "blood," which William attributes to drunk scribes) they compare the loss of one life, which is really the loss of many - the descendants that person may never have - to the loss of books and the knowledge they contain and can eventually touch many lives with, Willam saying, 

A scribe might copy out a single book for years. An illuminator would then take it and work on it for longer still. Not to mention the tanner who made the parchment, and the bookbinder who stitched the book together, and the librarian who worked to get the book for the library and keep it safe from mold and thieves and clumsy monks with ink pots and dirty hands. And some books have authors, too, like Saint Augustine or Rabbi Yehuda. When you think about it, each book it a lot of lives. Dozens and dozens of them.

To this, Jeanne adds, "Dozens and dozens of lives, and each life a whole world." Having worked in almost all aspects of the world of kid's books at this point in my working life, I feel compelled to add to this idea. It is truly amazing, even in this day when books are printed by machines and illustrations can be created on computers, to realize how many hands touch a written work before it becomes a book on a shelf, from the literary agent (and the agent's assistant) to the editor at the publishing house to the booksellers, reviewers and librarians who embrace the story and pass it on, retelling it to invite new readers. And that's not even mentioning the writer's critique groups and family and friends who read manuscripts in the early (and late) stages. Storytelling touches us all, whether we write the words or not, and I am grateful to Adam Gidwitz for reminding us of this - especially with such a highly entertainingly readable book like The Inquisitor's Tale!

source: review copy











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15. जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी

जिंदगी का फलसफा दोहरी जिंदगी जीते और जिंदगी का सच निगलते हम लोग .. ये एक ऐसा कडवा सच है जिसे आप और हम जी रहे हैंं. जिंदगी का सफर जिंदगी का सच यही है कि वाकई, हम दोहरी जिंदगी जीने लगें हैं एक सोशल मीडिया पर दूसरी असल जिंदगी में. कुछ दिन पहले मेरा […]

The post जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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16. It’s Slice of Life Tuesday!

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOL bloggers. Today’s inspiration comes from… Continue reading

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17. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16


Excited that fall is finally here -- and that the sea ice can begin to freeze again in Arctic waters!

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18. Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman

"Brave" director Brenda Chapman reveals big new plans in an exclusive interview with Cartoon Brew.

The post Life After Pixar: An Interview with Brenda Chapman appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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19. A Greek Lunch

Spinach pie and feta cheese
And grape leaves stuffed with rice
Formed the basis for a lunch
That really was so nice.

Eggplant dip, tzatziki sauce
And salad, smartly dressed
And served with olives; who could ever
Sit there unimpressed?

Sliced up chicken, pita bread
Plus other dips and cheese
Made a meal which all could see
Was meant to sate and please.

Of course, there also was dessert
And snacky treats before,
The kind of food that fills you up
But still, you eat some more.

So thank you, Pam, my hostess friend,
For starting off my week
With a lovely luncheon, filled with dishes
Tasty, fresh and Greek!

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20. Celebrating Banned Books Week!

How fantastic is it that the theme for this year's Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 - Oct. 1) is Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content? We are all about books with diverse content here (well, not ALL, but it's one of the themes we feature... Read the rest of this post

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21. Sprains, Strains, and New Directions

New Akashiya Sai Watercolor Pens: the full set!

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I was on the way to my writer’s group at the Albuquerque Museum and while I was walking through the car park, I stepped on an extended sprinkler head hidden by a covering of gravel. The pain of the event is indescribable: a spike through the ball of my foot, sending me into a contorted loss of balance, that then resulted in a totally twisted ankle and foot. Somehow I limped to my meeting, managed to converse for the next few hours, and then went home to collapse. Ice and pain killers got me through the worst of it, but my foot is still very tender as is my other foot and leg, as well as my back and shoulders from all the strain of hop-hop-hopping along every day to get from A to B.

By the third day of hoppity-hop I wanted to know WHY this had happened to me. Besides knowing that I wasn’t looking where I was going (I rarely do), I wondered if there could be some sort of symbolism or metaphysical lesson to be learned here. I did a quick Google search and got the same message several times over: a sprained ankle is an indication that you are to seek out a new direction. 

Sitting with my foot elevated and my stack of books and journals handy, I decided that the only new direction I wanted at that moment was to close my eyes and nap all day. But apparently the universe had other ideas. Almost immediately after reading several websites each saying the same thing about following new paths, the mail arrived and I received some new pens I ordered online several weeks earlier: a twenty-color set of Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens, along with a sampler set of eleven black drawing pens. Thirty-one pens in total. For a minimalist such as myself, the number was mind-boggling, and thoroughly distracting. It was like when I got a ball of Silly Putty when I was five and had chicken pox.

Right away I forgot about my nap and started to try out my new pens. After all, my journal was right there in front of me. As I was doodling, I then naturally got some new ideas (no, no, please no new ideas): 

  • Why not try Inktober this year? Similar to NaNoWrimo for writers, Inktober is a challenge to produce, and post on social media, an ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. I've always wanted to try it, but never had the courage to post daily. While I was thinking about this, I then had the idea to:
  • Finally start that children’s picture book I’ve been dreaming of since last year, which involves:
  • Learning to draw horses and ponies (the most difficult subject I can think of). 


Three new directions that are entirely do-able, don’t interfere too much with my already carefully-laid plans to work on my new novel, and if anything, enhance what I’m doing already. For instance, I draw every day anyway—so why not just work with ink for a month? And although I am currently marketing my picture book based in Barcelona, wouldn’t it be a good idea to be able to tell editors I am working on a second book? 

An interesting side note about learning to draw horses is that horses have delicate legs and ankles. Their feet must be considered and cared for in a serious and responsible way. Where they walk, how their shoes fit, and how they're exercises all matters. It made me think that what I need to do until the end of the year is to keep my eyes open, pay attention, and sit still long enough to get my work done. 

Thankfully, I can report that my own foot is on the mend and I'm certain I'll be  back to my old self in another week or two. But I also understand that there’s plenty of room for a new self, too--especially the one that gets to sit down all day!

Tip of the Day: According to metaphysical practitioners, there’s a lot we can learn from illness and injuries. In my case, despite the pain and inconvenience, I feel I’ve come through with some valuable insights and renewed energy for my art and writing. The next time you’re under the weather, ask if there is anything you are meant to understand or explore on a deeper level. Like me, you might be surprised at what you discover.

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22. So not a form: Structure evolves from dramatic ideas

The sonata concept served some of the greatest imaginations in the history of music, but seriously it is, as I like to say to students, “so not a form”. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms were not in need of a standardized template, and in essence what has come to be called sonata form is more like courtroom procedure: a process that allows for an infinite variety of stories to be unfold, from a fender bender to vandalism to murder.

The post So not a form: Structure evolves from dramatic ideas appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. आस


बस हवाओ से होती रही बातें,
कदम यह ज़मीन में कब रखे,
टकराया धरती से जो एक बार,
मॅन में अल्फ़ाज़ मैने तब रखे

इंद्रधनुष से दिखने वाले है जो,
बेरंग ज़िंदगी का ढंग वो रखे,
बरखा से मिलने जो मैं जाऊं,
जलते सूरज का संग वो रखे,

सपनों की सुंदर, उस नगरी से
कोसो दूर का रिश्ता, वो रखे,
कोई जो जाए, चंदा के पार,
न कोई ऐसा फरिश्ता, वो रखे,

इसलिए बस मौन ही रहता हूँ,
दिल की बात, दिल कब रखे,
हर तरफ है, मुखौटे ही मुखौटे,
दोस्त बनने की चाहत, कब रखे

समंदर से पूछ लेता हूँ अक्सर,
शांति की आस ये मन, कब रखे,
बंद है सब खिड़की और दरवाज़े,
रोशनी की आस ये तन, कब रखे ||

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24. Coloring Page Tuesday - Hobbit Ewok

     This thank you card was for one of the interns who helped us out at Hollins University this past summer. She struck me as somebody who was into Star Wars and maybe The Hobbit too - so out came this Ewok Hobbit. Strange? What do you think the key is all about? Hmmm.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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25. Excursions on Second Cruise by Margot Justes



The second one is also  a 14 night cruise, and on this one there will be 5 days at sea, the rest of the time will be spent visiting ports.  The lovely part is that I’ll be joined by lifelong friends for the 2 upcoming cruises. This is my first time taking them back-to-back...will let you know how that works out.

The first stop on this 2nd cruise from Rome, is Valetta, Malta.

This will be my second visit to Malta. It is beautiful, and a delight to tour, people are warm, and friendly, filled with history, and natural beauty, it is an amazing place to visit. We’ll stop to see the Hagar Qim Temples, that date back  to 3600 BC and described by the World Heritage Sites committee as "unique architectural masterpieces". This tour includes  a lunch at a local resort in Golden Sands.  We’ll visit the ancient city of Mdina, where St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands in 60 A.D. Tour includes a visit to the crafts village in Ta’ Qali, filled with handmade items by local artisans.

Piraeus, the port of Athens.

I have been to Athens before, and have climbed the stairs to the Acropolis, the last time was in 2014.  For this tour, I opted for a walking excursion that will end in the Plaka, the touristy street, filled with cafes, restaurants, and gift shops. This tour includes a visit to the marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896.   

Ephesus, Turkey.

This one is a repeat visit as well, but the ruins are amazing, and well worth multiple visits.  I’ve extended this tour to visit the Magnesia Gate, the once-public steam baths of Scholastica, and Temple of Hadrian, the Great Theatre, one of the largest theaters in antiquity, and the  Arcadian Way, the main street of Roman-era Ephesus,  it is reputed that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. The tour will end with lunch at Cittantica Ephesus Park. I always look forward to sampling the local cuisine.

Mykonos, Greece is next.

I have visited Mykonos before, but instead of touring the Island, I took an excursion to Delos, an island about 45 minutes by ferry from Mykonos. Delos is an architectural site, filled with amazing ruins, it is an ongoing research facility, and a marvel to behold. The only people allowed to live on the island are the archeologists, and security staff. There is a museum on site, and the ferry brings the tourists in the morning and picks them in the afternoon. The winds can be quite brutal, and loud as they whip up in fury. The whole island is a magnificent ruin, and not to be missed. I may repost my Delos blog-it is unique.
This time I’ll spend the day in Mykonos, and hopefully find the wonderful Windmills, and stop for a cup of Greek coffee in one of the many cafes.  The ship docks within walking distance of the center of town. The main tourist street is along the shore, with water lapping against the stones, the souvenir shops lure you in, and for me a cafe and delicious Greek coffee always beckon.

Haifa, Israel

I lived in Haifa many, many years ago, and this will be an interesting visit. The school I attended is still there, walled in, high atop Mt. Carmel. The tour includes a visit to the magnificent topiaries in Haifa's Baha'i gardens, that were built on 19 terraces, and I hope to enjoy the panoramic city views from atop Mount Carmel.  That should bring back a few memories.

Ashdod, the port of Jerusalem, we dock overnight.

The first day I booked a long 10 hour tour that will take me to Masada, and the Dead Sea, said to be the lowest point on earth. I have never been to Masada, and am really looking forward to the tour. Since it’s such a long day, they have to feed us, and lunch will be provided by one of the resorts in the area, and it will be Mediterranean fare with the Dead Sea as a backdrop.  

The second day in Jerusalem will be spent in the city of Jerusalem.
The tour is called Eternal Jerusalem, all the key points of the ancient city will be covered, visit will include Yad VeShem Holocaust Museum, the Children's Memorial, and of course there is a stop  at the Jewish quarter of the Old City, the Western Wall, and the Tomb of King David.

Last stop on this cruise is Katakolon, Greece

Katakolon is rather small,  and offers a few of the customary tourist trinkets, but its main claim is that it is the getaway to Ancient Olympia, the site of the 1st Olympics in Greece. The ruins of the temples of Hera and Zeus-hopefully some of  the Greek Mythology I read ages ago, will come back to me.  The tour will end will local snacks and Greek Folk dances.

We again end in Rome, and the last cruise in this itinerary is the transatlantic one, it will take me back to Florence, Italy, Provence, France, Barcelona, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The excursions will not be repeated, I selected different places to visit, Europe is rich with history, there is so much to see that it is not a problem to revisit.  The last stop will be in Tenerife, Canary Islands. We cross the Atlantic, and spend 7 days at sea, relaxing before disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The best part, there is no jet lag, the time is adjusted daily while at sea.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com





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